While the NFL will consider implementing college football’s targeting rule after Monday’s Steelers-Bengals game included several head-on collisions, a pair of Panthers’ defensive leaders aren’t sure ejecting players is the way to proceed.
Public pressure for a stricter rule has been building since two players were suspended for one game for their head-first hits in the Monday night game. Pittsburgh wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster led with his head on a big block on linebacker Vontaze Burfict, while Cincinnati safety George Iloka was penalized for a hit on Antonio Brown.
Iloka’s suspension was overturned on appeal and replaced with a $36,000 fine.
Panthers safety Kurt Coleman said the difficulty in ejecting players for targeting, which is what happens in the college game, is determining intent.
“Sometimes you can tell the intent of a player on film. Other times the only (person who knows the intent) is the person that actually did it himself. I don’t know, it’s not easy,” Coleman said.
“I understand they want to make it safer and safer. There’s times when I’ve put myself in a vulnerable position knowing that I can’t hit a guy a certain way. If they make the rule, I guess we all have to adapt to it.”
Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly understands the NFL wanting to make the game safer, but doesn’t believe many players are head-hunting.
“I like to think for the most part guys don’t do that stuff on purpose. I think sometimes with the speed of the game it just happens,” Kuechly said. “I don’t want guys to get kicked out of games for stuff that just happens bang-bang.
“I think they’re always trying to look at ways to improve player safety and I think most guys appreciate that. But that targeting thing with the ejection, I think that’d be an interesting topic I’d be curious to see what people say about it moving forward.”