Reports Monday said Packers receiver and returner Randall Cobb would likely miss the next six to eight weeks of the season including the November 4 Monday Night Football game against the Bears at Lambeau Field. Cobb took a hit late in the second quarter of Sunday's game against the Ravens and missed the second half with what has now called a fractured fibula.
The hit, dealt by Baltimore safety Matt Elam, looked like it caught Cobb near the knee. As the third year Packers player recoiled in pain, Twitter erupted in some weird melting pot of horror, solace, fantasy ramifications and "what do you expect?" Even Shannon Sharpe noted the inevitably of low hits and their subsequent effects in a tweet Monday night.
The NFL tried to solve a long term problem with the high hits, but created a more immediate problem with the low hits. #crossroads.— shannon sharpe (@ShannonSharpe) October 14, 2013
Several Bears defensive players agree that the Cobb injury is just the latest in a growing trend. Players are fined and teams are penalized when defenders go high, whether intentional or otherwise. So guys are erring on the side of caution and aiming lower. The result is more lower body injuries.
"Whenever you limit the places you can hit someone it makes it very difficult." Bears safety Chris Conte said. "Playing the safety position, it's probably the most difficult on the field to limit the areas you can hit on someone because it's such a fast game and those things happen so quickly."
An anonymous player on the Bears roster likened the preferred target area to baseball's strike zone, a space that varies from player to player depending on his size. "If you're off a little, it's gonna be bad," he said.
"Someone's being manipulated by another guy or they're diving for a ball, it's hard to really judge where you're gonna end up hitting someone."
Defenders acknowledge tackling across the league is affected by the lack of it during training camp. Stopping an opponent by wrapping him up is preferred but not always an option.
"You can't always wrap someone up especially when you're coming downhill and there's a guy coming at you. The best way to get there is get there as fast as you can before he can see you coming." Conte added.
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Conte says defensive backs are most conscious about where to hit before the play begins, well before contact occurs.
"I’ve already decided beforehand, if I'm going to hit someone across the middle of the field, I'm going to hit them low. That's something you have to predetermine. I'm just not gonna hit guys high."
Another anonymous player half-joked about how to make a tackle. "What are we supposed to do? Hit a guy high, get a fine. Hit a guy low, maybe end his career. Ask the league, find out. Come back and tell me."