Brandon Meriweather has chosen to appeal the two-game suspension he was handed for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Baltimore wide receiver Torrey Smith on Saturday, according to Redskins coach Jay Gruden and free safety Ryan Clark.
Meriweather was handed the punishment on Monday, two days after he hit Smith in the second quarter of the Redskins’ preseason game against the Ravens. Clark said he had already told DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, that Meriweather would be appealing.
“They were collecting the film to begin readying the appeal,” Clark said. “Brandon’s definitely going to appeal it. I’m on the executive board, so I’ve already been reaching out to people, doing what I can to make sure that we fight this thing to the fullest of our ability.”
Meriweather, through a team spokesman, declined to comment on the suspension. Asked directly if there was anything he wanted to clarify, Meriweather simply smiled.
Per the terms of the suspension, Meriweather will not be permitted to have any contact with the Redskins, including being in team facilities or speaking to team personnel, from Sept. 1 through Sept. 15.
Smith wrote on Twitter on Monday that he didn’t think Meriweather should be suspended. That, Clark said, is part of the reason why he also believes Meriweather should avoid such punishment.
“I also think you should take a guy’s intent [into account] when it comes to suspending him,” Clark said. “If you fine him, I understand. If you fine him by the letter of the law, I get it. But in a situation where a guy led with his shoulder, lowered his strike zone, the ball was a badly thrown ball, the defensive player moves his head into his shoulder and then also comes out after the game and says, ‘I don’t think it was a bad hit’? Nobody’s concussed. Nobody’s got a head injury from it. I just think it’s just a tough call for them to make on Brandon.”
“I know Brandon has been working really hard to lower his target,” Gruden said. “He’s done very well since his last suspension. He hadn’t had any issues. This is the first one that’s come up. They’re unfortunate incidents. He tried to lower his target, I thought. I thought it was a legitimate football play. But, the NFL didn’t see it that way. We’ll just have to fight it the best way we can to get it dropped or reduced.”
In Meriweather’s absence, the Redskins could turn to Phillip Thomas, who missed all of last season, his rookie year, with a Lisfranc sprain in his left foot. But Thomas, who also strained a hamstring in training camp, has experienced soreness in that foot in recent days and did not practice on Monday or Tuesday.
That could lead to Bacarri Rambo, also entering his second season, beginning the season as the starting strong safety. Rambo has worked as the second-team free safety through much of training camp and the preseason.
“I can play either one,” Rambo said. “Just watching film, and Coach Raheem and the older guys – just watching them and talking to them, I really could play both,” Rambo said. “If they need me to play strong, I’ll play strong. If they need me to play free, I can play free.”
“I just hope everything gets cleared up about it, [and] once he gets back, he just stays on the team and don’t get suspended anymore and just goes out there and plays ball and makes plays and do what Brandon Meriweather do,” he added.