Safety Brandon Meriweather likely faces disciplinary action by the NFL, either in the form of a sizable fine or a suspension, after being penalized for two illegal hits on receivers during the Washington Redskins’ triumph Sunday over the Chicago Bears at FedEx Field.
Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said he’s hopeful that Meriweather isn’t suspended.
“I sure hope not,” Shanahan said, “because I know it’s not intentional.”
A person familiar with the league’s deliberations called it “premature” to speculate whether Meriweather will be suspended.
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Meriweather was fined $42,000 by the league earlier this season for a hit on Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy. He was penalized Sunday for hits on Bears wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall.
“The last two, three weeks, I tried everything possible,” Meriweather said after the game. “I lowered my target. As y’all could see, I lowered my target. I stopped using my head. I’m using my shoulder. No matter what I do, honestly I feel like I’m gonna be in the wrong. If I hit you with my shoulder and I slide up, they’re gonna say it’s head to head. If I hit them too low, I think somebody just got flagged for hitting somebody too low. So I think it all depends on who’s watching. I don’t think we can be right.”
Meriweather addressed his hits Sunday and his interactions with the league at length with reporters.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I think that’s a rule based on who’s watching. One ref said it was good. One ref said it was bad. I think it’s gonna be just like that with the NFL. I think one person will look at it in slow motion and say, ‘He could have did this. He could have did that.’ One person will be like, ‘Look, man, going full speed you have no time to think about that and it’s a good hit.’ So I think it all depends on who’s watching.”
Meriweather said repeatedly he does not believe he is being unfairly singled out by the league.
“Am I being targeted? No, I don’t want to say that,” he said. “I would hope not. In a profession where I play, my play [dictates] how much money I make. I hope I’m not getting targeted. … I think they’re trying to be safe and I think the only way to be safe is to do what they’re doing. But at the same time, this is tackle football. I think a job of a safety is to instill fear.”
He already has adjusted the way he plays, Meriweather said.
“I have,” he said. “If y’all go watch my first five years compared to the way I played the last three, four games, everybody in the league would tell you I have changed the way I hit. I’m not necessarily launching myself into people. I’m actually squaring them up. I’m trying to tackle the way that I’ve been coached to…. I talked to them about my last fine and they told me, ‘Go lower.’ And I did that, and I still got flagged for it. So I really don’t know. You really don’t.”
Meriweather also defended his hits Sunday, saying: “I feel like every hit that I took was a legit hit. I wasn’t trying to be dirty. I wasn’t trying to hurt nobody. I didn’t launch with my head. I used my shoulder like they told me to do. Everything I did was a pointer from them [league officials]…. You’ve just got to play. There ain’t nothing I can do about it. I just go out there and play.”
Said Shanahan: “It’s tough. It’s one of those things that you want people to be aggressive. But you want them to hit lower, mainly from the team standpoint. I’m not even talking about the possible injury, the possible fine and the things that go with it. We’ve got to eliminate those 15-yard penalties. I know Brandon is gonna work on it as hard as he can…. He wants to contribute. He’s just got to aim a little bit lower.”
Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at email@example.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag on Tuesday.
● Brian Orakpo discusses the feeling of his interception return touchdown.
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Photo gallery: Images from FedEx Field on Sunday