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The Early Lead
Posted at 11:19 AM ET, 09/30/2011

Packers’ Erik Walden fined $15,000 for high hit on Jay Cutler

While Michael Vick is asking NFL officials (and his struggling offensive line) for more protection in the pocket, several other quarterbacks are taking shots in the pocket without quite as much fanfare.
It ain’t easy being the most-sacked QB in the NFL two years in a row. (Scott Boehm - Getty Images)

Sam Bradford, Chad Henne and Alex Smith have each been sacked 11 times so far this season — which could be one reason why their teams are a combined 2-7.

But topping the list (to no one’s surprise) is Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler, who has been sacked 14 times in three games.

Sunday in a 27-17 loss to the Packers, Cutler absorbed a relatively respectable (for Bears standards) three sacks, but took several more hits, including a high-low combo takedown by linebackers Erik Walden and Clay Matthews.

On Friday the NFL fined Walden $15,000 for his high hit. Walden was flagged on the play, which negated an interception by teammate Tramon Williams.

“I didn’t lead with my head, I didn’t lunge,” Walden told the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “Clay was at the bottom, so I tilted to give (Cutler) a little hit with my shoulder. I was jumping over him but I didn’t land on him or send him to the ground, and I didn’t lead with my head. And I didn’t launch myself into him, so I don’t know.”

Is this further evidence to support Vick’s claim that other quarterbacks get more calls for late hits in the pocket? Hardly. Cutler — who was sacked a league-high 52 times in 2010 — spends about as much time on his back as he does upright on Sundays, but the two quarterbacks can sympathize with one another. Neither has an offensive line that can provide consistent protection, both are frequently accused of holding onto the ball too long and both will likely continue to get pummeled in the pocket as the season goes along.

By  |  11:19 AM ET, 09/30/2011

 
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