NFL may target offensive players on head-hunting

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NFL may target offensive players on head-hunting

According to The Concussion Blog, through Week 12 of the NFL 127 concussionshead injuries had been diagnosed and reported. Every team in the league has had at least one player suffer a concussion, with Atlanta and Houston (1) the least affected, and the Raiders (9) hit hardest.
But while fines, rule changes and even game suspensions have been handed down to players leading with their helmets on defenseless offensive players, the numbers between offense and defense concussions are closer than most think.
Through Week 12, 70 offensive players have been diagnosed, compared with 57 defensive players.
Defensive backs have suffered the most concussions (32), followed by wide receivers (24), linebackers and running backs (15), running backs (14), tight ends (13), offensive linemen (12), defensive linemen (10), and lastly, quarterbacks (7).
It's no surprise that wide receivers and defensive backs lead the league in diagnosed concussions, as the game becomes faster and the passing game continues to take over.
And while many of the league's strict rule changes and overall culture change in how defenders attack offensive players are set to ensure the safety of the defenders, too, the numbers tell a story that offensive players can also pack a punch.
In an exclusive on OnMilwaukee.com, Jim Owczarski received an email statement from Greg Aiello, the NFL's senior vice president of public relations, saying "helmet-to-helmet contact between a runner and defender (especially in the open field) will be reviewed in the off-season by the Competition Committee."
A rule handed down by the NFL could follow suit of that which the NCAA has, stating that "No player shall target and initiate contact against an opponent with the crown (top) of his helmet. When in question, it is a foul." (Section 1. Personal Fouls, Article 3)
Owczarski interviewed several Green Bay Packers, who said most offensive players lower their head to protect their bodies and make contact with their shoulders, not to intentionally go after defenders.
Concerns over whether offensive players not being able to lower their heads would slow the game down, make players more timid to protect themselves and potentially result in more injuries not related to the head.
The concussion rules are sure to be changed, improved and changed again over the coming years, but adding the new wrinkle to offensive players being subject to personal foul penalties for hits on "defenseless defenders" or review from the NFL after the games would be a major change.
What are your thoughts on this potential move from the Competition Committee?

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott wasn’t exactly hunting for his first shot, but the first time he touched the ball in an NBA game in nearly a month wasn’t the optimal situation for him to let one fly.

It wasn’t in transition where he runs to an opening behind the 3-point line, nor was it a drive-and-kick situation where the help defense collapsed and left him open. It was a regular, simple, pass to the perimeter and McDermott’s defender was in reasonable proximity with 3:23 left in the first quarter.

He launched and the crowd soon roared its approval as his sweet jumper was sorely missed by the Bulls bench brigade—and moments later when he ran the floor for a fearless layup that caused Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to call a timeout, McDermott showed he missed the United Center crowd too, calling for more noise on his way to the bench.

“Anytime you have a guy like Doug, he comes back and makes his first 3, that’s hard to do,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He stepped up with confidence on that first shot. I’m sure he had a lot of nerves getting back out there.”

Missing 12 games and suffering two concussions, McDermott looked right at home in 25 minutes of run Thursday as the Bulls were able to rely on their reserves in some form in their 95-91 win over the previously perfect road warriors known as the Spurs.

“We defended and kept them off the foul line,” McDermott said. “Coach (Jim) Boylen was with them, so we feel we know them and I think all this time they were missing my defense.”

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The last statement was certainly tongue-in-cheek, but the Bulls’ bench production was certainly missing in action while he was out with the concussion protocol. So much so that his return prompted the Bulls’ coaching staff to call out the reserves in the morning shootaround, demanding more.

“It’s definitely Dwyane (Wade) and Jimmy (Butler) and (Rajon) Rondo (but) the coaching staff kinda called out our bench like, we gotta have you tonight, bench,” McDermott said. “We took that to heart, we were really locked in.”

Seemingly his presence aided the Bulls’ spirits and production, as the Bulls’ bench had the least effective scoring bench in the NBA since Nov. 13, the day after McDermott hit the unforgiving floor against the Wizards for his second concussion this season.

Their net rating ranks ahead of only the Wizards, Mavericks and Nets, who are a combined 17-45 this season. Their effective field goal percentage, which takes into account 3-pointers, is worst in the league in that span (42.3 percent).

When McDermott was healthy for that smaller sample size, the Bulls’ bench ranked fifth in offensive efficiency, seventh in net rating, and fifth in efficient field goal percentage. Whether McDermott – and his absence – was directly related to those numbers, it’s clear the Bulls are better when they have their best reserve – and only true floor spacers on the second unit – on the court.

“We’re all professionals and we want to help the guys who are busting their butts in the first unit to get us the leads,” McDermott said. “Tonight we did a great job of sustaining it. We take it personal when teams come back on us.”

[MORE: Pau Gasol relishes consistency with Spurs he couldn't find with Bulls]

Nikola Mirotic was four of eight from the field, and Cristiano Felicio seems to be back in Fred Hoiberg’s good graces as he’s carved out a rotation spot for himself with nine points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes.

It seems as if Hoiberg will stick with this rotation of players, at least for a little while until Michael Carter-Williams returns from his injuries. If McDermott is the mark of the Bulls’ bench going from bottom feeder to adequate, it should show this month.

“When he’s out there on the floor and we get him coming off screens, it forces the defense to shift as another person they need to be aware of,” Hoiberg said. “It opens up driving lanes for our guys. It was great to have Doug back with us.”

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

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