Updated Tuesday, 10:16 a.m. ET
Following a physical Sunday in the NFL which saw multiple helmet-to-helmet collisions that left several players injured, the league will announce that starting in Week Seven, players who lay "devastating hits" and "head shots" may receive suspensions, even if they are first-time offenders.
NFL Network reporter Jason La Canfora tweeted on Monday morning, "Ray Anderson, VP of football ops, tells me suspensions could be coming immediately for helmet-to-helmet hits, even for 1st time offenders....Anderson was not pleased by what he's seen and called some of Sunday's hits 'egregious,' 'flagrant,' and 'really disturbing.'"
Anderson told ESPN's Chris Mortensen, "We can't and won't tolerate what we saw Sunday. We've got to get the message to players that these hits and head shots will be met with a very necessary higher standard of accountability."
The outcry for the league to greater enforce the helmet-to-helmet rules comes after a series of big hits in Week Six. Players such as Patriots FS Brandon Meriweather — who struck Ravens TE Todd Heap with his helmet of the second quarter of their game following an incomplete pass — and Steelers LB James Harrison — who went for the head on a pair of hits vs. the Browns, knocking both Josh Cribbs and Mohamed Massaquoi out of the game, could face suspensions in the future for similar hits.
Falcons CB Dunta Robinson, who laid out the biggest hit of the day, would also be subject to a fine or suspension. He charged at Eagles WR DeSean Jackson headfirst as the receiver was reaching for the ball, leaving Jackson in a defenseless position. Both Jackson and Robinson suffered concussions on the play, likely forcing them both out of their team's Week Seven games.
The way we see it
Four-figure fines do not seem to be getting the message across to players that helmet-to-helmet hits are not allowed, so perhaps forcing players to cut fatter checks and miss game time will have an impact. This issue will be a serious one to keep an eye on as the league's owners want to add two games to the schedule in the coming years.