NFL owners could vote in March whether to ban hits to the knees of defenseless players, such as the one this preseason that ended Miami Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller's year. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)
The NFL's competition committee will take a closer look at hits to the knees of defenseless players this season in an effort to decide whether to possibly ban such a move in the future, chief of football operations Ray Anderson told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
According to the report, the committee will monitor plays throughout the season and study the data when the group meets after the season. Based on the findings, the committee will decide whether hits to the knees of defenseless players are an "aberration or becoming a problem." If it finds that these hits are an issue, the committee could possibly recommend to NFL owners that they vote in March on whether to prohibit direct hits to the knees of defenseless players, Anderson told the AP:
''We are always looking at plays that may elevate themselves and we do include in that category hits on defenseless players. And certainly the hits to knees to players who have not had the opportunity to protect themselves or are not looking in the direction of where the hit comes from - we have had a couple hits whereby a player was hit below (or at) the knees.''
Currently, a hit to the head and neck of a defenseless player is not allowed. Anderson said that with the outlawing of hits to the head and neck, there has been some discussion as to whether players will lower themselves to areas including the knees and below:
"This issue has not directly come up. But when we have had discussions when making the head and neck area completely off-limits to players, there was some concern players might lower their targets and might include knees and below. We will look at that going forward."
This preseason, there have been a couple of games that involved direct hits to the knees of a defenseless player that have drawn criticism from players, including hits to Miami Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller, which ended his season after he tore several knee ligaments on the play, and Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams., who is currently rehabbing a hyperextended knee and has no timetable for a return.