- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 7, 2000

Washington Redskins safety Mark Carrier was suspended for one game yesterday by the NFL for his helmet-to-helmet hit of Carolina tight end Wesley Walls, according to NFL and team sources. However, Carrier's appeal is being considered before sanctions are announced today.
Carrier traveled to the NFL's New York City office to discuss the second-quarter hit that left Walls on the ground for several minutes. Carrier has been reprimanded five times for illegal hits, including two one-game suspensions.
The NFL is also considering whether to fine Carrier after levying a $50,000 penalty along with a one-game suspension in 1999, according to NFL sources.
Carrier returned to Redskin Park in the evening but declined comment.
Coach Norv Turner wouldn't comment on possible sanctions, but reserve safety Matt Stevens practiced with the starters and cornerback Tyronne Drakeford will be activated against the Detroit Lions on Sunday. However, Turner defended the hit in which Carrier's helmet hit Walls' shoulder pads before grazing the latter's helmet.
"Mark gets both hands on the ball. His vision is clearly directed to the ball. There's contact," Turner said. "I don't know if he could have avoided contact the way it happened and still played the ball."
Several players confirmed the suspension but were clearly upset over what they considered to be an unavoidable hit. Indeed, officials did not penalize the Redskins for the play.
"There was some helmet-to-helmet, but that's something you can't control," safety Sam Shade said. "I can't say I'm going to knock a ball down without some type of contact. The helmet is part of our body, and that guy has a helmet, too. Sometimes heads are going to bump. I don't think it's right you have to surgically hit a guy. You can't do it.
"Those kinds of things happen when you're back there on defense. They teach us to go for the ball, especially Coach [Ron] Meeks. I have always been the kind of guy, if I can't definitely make the interception, then I'm going for the hit, but Meeks has been teaching us to go for the ball in all scenarios and all cases. I think Mark was definitely going for the ball. He understands what can happen. He understands the consequences. He knows that he's walking a fine line."
Said Stevens: "They didn't throw a flag so if they have Mark in New York I think it's cheap. It wasn't a devastating knockout blow. It looked like he was going for the ball. It didn't look like he was maliciously trying to go helmet to helmet. It's hard to change your trajectory when you're in mid-stride."
Certainly, it was the type of pad-popping hit for which Carrier is known after 10 seasons with Chicago (1990-96) and Detroit (1997-99). However, the three-time Pro Bowl choice. who signed with Washington in February, told teammates afterward that contact was incidental when batting away a pass.
"We always sit together on the sideline, and Mark was saying, 'Shoot, man, I was going for the ball. You would have known if I was trying to hit him,' " Shade said. "When the play came up on the film on Monday, it looked like he was going for the ball."
Even Detroit coach Bobby Ross defended his former player, saying Carrier's two suspensions with the Lions for illegal hits were unwarranted.
"There's not a cheap-shot bone in Mark Carrier's body," Ross said. "He's a very good cover guy. One of the best deep middle people. He has great range. He plays extremely smart."

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