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NFL REPORT: New wedge guideline may be full of holes
The days of three linemen and a tight end lining up hip-to-hip to form the wedge on kickoff returns ended last month when NFL owners voted to allow only two-player wedges.
But special teams coaches, including Washington's Danny Smith, are still figuring out some of the nuances of the rule and are waiting for the league to send out explanatory video.
“This is strictly a player safety thing,” Smith said. “To me, though, it's so far-fetched in this sense - the old days about the maniac taking on the wedge and blasting the guy head-on and knocking heads like two rams and getting concussions, you don't see that anymore. I tell my guys, 'You can give a guy a concussion, but he wins because he got the block.' I watch about every play of every game in the offseason, and I don't see [concussions being an issue].”
If the return team uses a wedge that includes more than two players, the penalty is 15 yards or half the distance to the goal line from the spot of the foul. The Redskins had employed a four-man wedge about 10 to 12 yards in front of the return man.
The gray area for Smith is if he sets up a two-man wedge and has one player on each side with a crease between them and the wedge. Are the outside players allowed to close the opening when a player attacks the wedge? The league has told him that's legal.
“What have we solved?” Smith said. “Is that a change? Not really.”
Depending on how it's enforced, the rule could affect which personnel are used on kickoff returns.
“If you have a guy playing in space, he better have good feet because he'll have to move to make the block,” Smith said.
The league told Smith he will have the video next week, but a supervisor won't be at Redskin Park until May 13 - even though the Redskins hold minicamp May 1-3. Smith has pushed working on kickoff returns to the end of organized team activities.
AROUND THE NFC
c Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson said he wants to bulk up from his 2008 playing weight of 217 pounds to somewhere in the 225-230 range. Coach Brad Childress isn't crazy about the idea. “From [217 to 230], just put a 10-pound sack of potatoes on your back and think how that works for you,” he said. Peterson reasons that the added weight will help him survive the season.
c Seattle linebacker Leroy Hill is scheduled to make $8.3 million as the Seahawks' franchise player this year, but he wasn't on the field for a voluntary minicamp this week - just another example of how shortsighted players are when it comes to the franchise tag. Hill wants a new contract, but this isn't the way to pursue it.
c Philadelphia running back Brian Westbrook disputes the notion that the Eagles are rebuilding. “I still think we have a strong core of guys here,” he told reporters. “I think we're just kind of rebuilding… getting new talent in here, some younger guys and some guys who can still play the game.”
AROUND THE AFC
c The Bills had to be surprised this week when receiver Terrell Owens showed up for a few voluntary workouts. Owens had said he would be present only for the mandatory sessions. This is typical T.O. - start a small fire by not showing up, then act like everything is dandy when he makes an appearance.
c Former Redskins defensive end Jason Taylor could end up back in Miami. He has expressed interest in signing with New England but went public with his desire to return to the Dolphins and play opposite Joey Porter in a 3-4 alignment. Problem is, Taylor said he won't play for the league's minimum salary.
c Pittsburgh (April 20-21) will be the first team to conduct organized team activities. Each team is allowed 14 OTAs, and the last team to finish up is Tennessee on June 26. The Redskins have their OTAs on May 4-7, June 1-4 and June 8-11.
INSIDE THE DRAFT
c It would be stunning if the Bears don't address their receiver corps. Chicago traded its first round pick to Denver in the Jay Cutler deal last week and has only two selections in the first 100. The five receivers on the Bears' roster combined for 86 catches and five touchdowns last year - all by two players (Rashied Davis and Devin Hester).
c Missouri wideout Jeremy Maclin continues to impress. At the Tigers' pro day, he ran a 4.43-second 40-yard dash and had a 35.5-inch vertical leap. If teams get scared off by Michael Crabtree's foot injury, Maclin could be the first receiver drafted.
c Hailredskins.com has tracked down 198 mock drafts, and the results are as follows: 41 mocks have the Redskins taking Michael Oher, 99 have them taking an offensive tackle and 106 have them taking an offensive player. Only 15 mocks have the Redskins drafting a linebacker.
FRIDAY FIVE ” Mr. Irrevelants (final draft choices) since 2004
2004: LB Andre Sommersell, Oakland - Cut in training camp. Now a coach in Germany.
2005: TE Andy Stokes, New England - Cut in training camp. Released by Arizona in 2006.
2006: WR Kevin McMahan, Oakland - Cut in training camp. Released by Giants in 2008.
2007: CB Ramzee Robinson, Detroit - Made practice squad. Has played in 19 games.
2008: LB David Vobora, St. Louis - Played eight games, including one start (the first for a Mr. Irrelevant since 1994).
By Tammy Bruce
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