D.J. Swearinger says he went low on Dustin Keller to avoid fine

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

Swearinger ended Dustin Keller's season with a knee-level tackle on Saturday. The rookie safety said afterward that current NFL rules designed to prevent concussions incentivize defenders to aim low.

While the NFL continues its public campaign to minimize concussions, Houston Texans rookie safety D.J. Swearinger believes the league ought to be paying more attention to knee injuries, according to Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post.

After a blow from Swearinger's helmet resulted in a season-ending knee injury for Miami Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller on Saturday, Swearinger told Abramson that he went low in order to avoid the hefty fines the league is now imposing for helmet-to-helmet contact.

"I was making a hit playing football," Swearinger said. "In this league you’ve got to go low. If you go high you’re going to get a fine."

The injury came midway through the second quarter of Saturday's preseason game between the Texans and Dolphins. After receiving a short pass from Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, Keller was met low by Swearinger, whose helmet crashed into Keller's right knee and forced it to bend sideways at a gruesome angle. Keller tore all of the major ligaments in his knee on the hit and will miss the entire 2013 season as he attempts to recover.

Despite the severity of the injury, Swearinger's low blow was a completely legal play under current NFL rules.

"The rules say you can’t hit high so I went low and I’m sorry that happened," Swearinger said. "I would think you’d rather have more concussions than leg injuries. Leg injury, you can’t come back from that. A concussion, you be back in a couple of weeks."

Dolphins tackle Tyson Clabo also spoke to Abramson on the subject, agreeing that the league needed to consider rule changes to limit lower-body injuries.

"If [the league] can protect defenders from low blocks, they should be able to protect offensive players from that type of play."

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