LAKE FOREST — As the NFL continues to add rules to make the game safer, players get more confused about what is legal and what will get you fined.
Rookie linebacker Jon Bostic got quite the lesson on that front when he was docked $21,000 for his hit on Chargers wide receiver Mike Willie. Bostic got fined for lowering his head and using his helmet to forcibly hit a “defenseless” opponent.
Willie got back up and even caught a touchdown later in the game. Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller received a hard hit from D.J. Swearinger that tore his ACL, MCL and PCL.
Keller is out for the season, but Swearinger was not fined and some Bears are scratching their heads.
“The navel … and below,” said veteran Lance Briggs about where the “target zone” is now for defensive players. Briggs tweeted about the discrepancy between the two plays. “There’s not a lot of area to hit when you’re playing at 100 miles an hour and you’re told to react right now.
“One thing you do know is that you can’t hit in the head-neck [area], really in the chest area, so what does that leave left? That’s it.”
Safety Chris Conte got fined $21,000 last year for his hit on Panthers wide receiver Brandon LaFell. As a safety, he now has to consider the “target zone” when making hits as well.
“They do a pretty good job of trying to explain it, but it's just how fast things happen,” he said. “You know what you’re not supposed to do, but in the heat of the moment, you’re not trying to hit somebody in the head, but it ends up happening.
“On the other end, you try and hit a guy low and then there’s injuries and knee injuries now, too. It’s a tough thing to really deal with.”
The Bears have to hope the situation doesn’t negatively affect the play of Bostic, whose hitting is a big part of his impressive skill set.
Positive signs: Marc Trestman said he is encouraged by what he is hearing from his medical staff about Earl Bennett, Henry Melton and Jonathan Scott. On Scott, who would be a top reserve tackle if healthy, Trestman said, “The best I’ve heard from Jonathan is that he’s back up, his knee is cleaned out and we’re encouraged that he’ll be working soon.”
The Black Hole: Trestman will return to Oakland this weekend, where he was offensive coordinator from 2001-03. When asked about the unique Raiders fan base, Trestman responded, “There’s a little bit of villain there, but they really aren’t. They’re good people that have day jobs like the rest of us, they come out to the stadium to, in their own way, to support the team. I think it’s a great environment for us to go in to.”