Chicago Bears rookie linebacker Jon Bostic received a $21,000 fine on Wednesday for lowering his head while hitting San Diego Chargers wide receiver Mike Willie in a preseason game last Thursday, according to multiple reports.
Bostic hit Willie in the chest area on a short pass in the Bears' 33-28 win. The force of the blow caused Willie to drop the ball. No penalty was called.
Teammate and fellow Bears linebacker Lance Briggs confirmed the news Wednesday morning when he tweeted, "Bostic's hit illegal. Hit on Dustin Keller. Legal."
Keller, a tight end for the Miami Dolphins, is out for the season after suffering a knee injury on a low hit that the NFL considers legal by Houston Texans safety D.J. Swearinger in a preseason game last weekend.
Bostic will have the option to appeal the fine.
---Houston Texans defensive end Antonio Smith was officially suspended for the team's final two preseason games and the regular-season opener for using the helmet of an opponent as a weapon.
Smith was given the ban based on his history and apparent intent. However, he said he will appeal the ruling and told the Houston Chronicle the he considered the suspension harsh because he "pulled back" when swinging the headgear.
During a play in the preseason game against the Dolphins, Smith ripped the helmet off Miami guard Richie Incognito, then swung at Incognito. The swing missed its target. The suspension costs Smith $352,944 in lost wages.
Smith and Incognito have clashed previously. Smith received a $21,000 fine for kicking Incognito in last year's opening game, but the penalty was reduced to $11,000 after Smith successfully argued he was retaliating after Incognito twisted his ankle.
The suspension was imposed by NFL Vice President of Football Operations Merton Hanks, with Smith's actions deemed "a flagrant violation of NFL safety rules."
Rule 12, Section 2, Article 16 of the NFL Rule Book states: "A player may not use a helmet that is no longer worn by anyone as a weapon to strike, swing at, or throw at an opponent."
---In an overdue step in the right direction, former Oakland Raiders punter Ray Guy, as well as former defensive lineman Claude Humphrey, were named Wednesday by the Seniors Selection Committee to be among the final 17 candidates considered for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2014.
This means they will join 15 yet-to-be-named modern-era candidates on the list of finalists from which the Class of 2014 will be selected. The Hall of Fame selection meeting will be held Feb. 1, 2014, the day before Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey.
Although Ira Miller of The Sports Xchange was a key proponent for Guy on the Seniors Committee, the great punter had strong backing from two Hall of Fame player advisers -- Joe DeLamielleure and Ken Houston, who knew Guy's abilities firsthand.
DeLamielleure played for the Buffalo Bills (1973-75, 1985) and the Cleveland Browns (1980-84). Houston was with the Houston Oilers (1967-72) and Washington Redskins (1973-80).
Although 15 senior players were considered, the primary goal of DeLamieleure and Houston going into Wednesday's meetings was to nominate Guy, The Sports Xchange was told by a source close to the process.
Guy was the first punter drafted in the first round when the Oakland Raiders selected him as the 23rd overall pick in the 1973 NFL Draft. He was All-Pro six straight times from 1973 to 1978 and was named to seven Pro Bowl teams.
Guy played in 207 consecutive regular-season games and 22 postseason games, including three Super Bowls. In 1994, Guy was named as the punter on the NFL's 75th Anniversary All-time team.
Humphrey was selected as the third player overall in the 1968 draft by the Atlanta Falcons and was the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Sacks did not become an official statistic until 1982, but Humphrey is unofficially credited as having 122 career sacks with the Falcons (1968-1978) and Philadelphia Eagles (1979-1981).
Humphrey was a five-time All-Pro and six-time Pro Bowl pick and fought back from a potential career-ending knee injury that forced him to miss the entire 1975 season. He compiled a career-high 15 sacks in 1976. He finished his career with three final seasons in Philadelphia, including a 1980 season in which he had 14.5 sacks as the Eagles won the NFC championship and a berth in Super Bowl XV.
This is Guy's first nomination by the seniors committee, but he was previously up for regular selection eight different times from 1992 through 2008.
---Former No. 2 overall pick Jason Smith was released by the New Orleans Saints, coach Sean Payton announced.
The second pick in the 2009 draft previously washed out with the St. Louis Rams, who drafted the former Baylor left tackle to be a linchpin of their offensive line and then traded him to the New York Jets in 2012.
Smith, 27, could find work because of his athleticism and ability to play left tackle and right tackle. He wasn't a fit with the Saints, who use a quick tempo and almost immediately determined Smith wasn't the ideal player at the all-important left tackle spot charged with protecting the blind side of Drew Brees.
Several teams with ailing offensive lines, including the New York Giants, San Diego Chargers and Dallas Cowboys, might consider taking a short-term flier on Smith. The NFL's first required roster cutdown, from 90 to 75 players, is Tuesday.
---New York Jets fullback Lex Hilliard suffered a broken scapula during Tuesday's practice and was to undergo season-ending surgery, according to reports.
The Jets announced that Hilliard was placed on injured reserve and the team signed wide receiver Marcus Rucker to replace him on the roster.
Hilliard, who was competing with rookie Tommy Bohanon at fullback and fighting for a roster spot, was slated for the surgery on the shoulder blade on Wednesday, ProFootballTalk.com reported.
---Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back Le'Veon Bell is getting a second opinion on his mid-foot sprain and likely will miss Saturday's preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs, coach Mike Tomlin said.
According to multiple reports, Bell may have a Lisfranc injury. ESPN reported that he will be out six weeks. The team was awaiting a diagnosis from the second evaluation.
Bell underwent an MRI on Tuesday, but Tomlin said Wednesday that he did not know the severity of the injury. Bell was hurt during the first quarter of the Steelers' 24-13 loss to the Washington Redskins on Monday night.
The second-round draft pick had missed Pittsburgh's preseason opener with soreness in his left knee. He made his NFL debut against the Redskins, rushing for 9 yards on four carries before the injury.
Also, Steelers tight end Matt Spaeth is projected to miss eight to 10 weeks with the Lisfranc injury.
---New York Giants offensive lineman David Diehl was slated to undergo surgery to repair instability in his right thumb.
Diehl struggled at right tackle through the first two preseason games and was moved to left guard for Tuesday's practice. He wore a cast on his hand, but said it didn't affect him.
The surgery was to be performed by Dr. Robert Hotchkiss at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan.
---Kicker Rian Lindell signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the 14th-year veteran stands a good chance to open the regular season as the team's kicker.
The Bucs lost Connor Barth to a torn Achilles tendon over the offseason and signed Lawrence Tynes, but Tynes has been unable to practice due to a knee injury. That has left inexperienced Derek Dimke as the only healthy kicker in camp.
Lindell spent the past 10 seasons with the Buffalo Bills and holds franchise records in field goal percentage (83.3), consecutive PAT's made (225), field goal percentage in a single season (92.0) and consecutive field goals made (18), but was released this week as the Bills chose to go with sixth-round rookie Dustin Hopkins.
Tampa Bay also announced it has waived linebacker Joe Holland.
---Houston Texans running back Arian Foster was added to the team's active roster and moved off the physically unable to perform list.
Foster practiced with the team for the time in training camp. A back problem has kept Foster out of camp and the team's preseason games. He was placed on the PUP list initially because of a calf injury suffered during organized team activities.
The Texans would welcome Foster's return to good health for their regular-season opener on Sept. 9 against the San Diego Chargers. He rushed for 1,424 yards and 15 touchdowns on 351 carries last season.
---The Miami Dolphins terminated the contract of veteran cornerback Richard Marshall, the team announced.
The Dolphins tried to trade Marshall but found no takers, ProFootballTalk.com reported. He was listed as a starter on the Dolphins' depth chart ahead of Dimitri Patterson and Nolan Carroll.
As a free agent, Marshall can sign with any team. If there are no takers, the Dolphins might be interested in re-signing him, according to Pro-FootballTalk.com.
After signing a three-year, $16 million contract with the Dolphins in 2012, Marshall was able to play in only four games last season because of a back problem. He was placed on injured reserve in November.
By releasing Marshall now, the Dolphins won't have to pay his $4.55 million base salary in 2013. He had a $5.3 million base for 2014.
---The Baltimore Revens traded wide receiver David Reed to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for running back Delone Carter, the teams announced.
Carter played in 26 games over two seasons for the Colts, rushing for 499 yards and five touchdowns on 133 carries. As a rookie, he ran for 377 yards on 101 rushes.
Reed was with the Ravens for three years and totaled five catches for 66 yards and also returned kickoffs, averaging 29.5 yards, in 29 games, and played on special teams.
Tight end/fullback David Johnson was activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list by the Pittsburgh Steelers. The fifth-year veteran suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Steelers' preseason opener in 2012, and was re-signed in March.