The Washington Post

Ryan Clark sees no need to reconsider hard-hitting approach despite concussion alarms

Ryan Clark is expected to help solidify the back end of Washington’s defense. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

RICHMOND — The evidence linking repeated concussions and brain injury has never been greater. But it’s not strong enough to persuade Redskins safety Ryan Clark to rethink his hard-hitting approach to the game, much less walk away from football altogether.

“It’s a dream, and this is what we decide to do,” Clark said of playing in the NFL. “And if you love it, you do it. The stuff you deal with in the end, you deal with. And that’s the way God planned it. God gave us these talents, and He put us in this position. Who am I to question where God has put me?”

The topic came up Sunday, when Clark, 34, who re-signed with the Redskins in March, was asked whether he had spoken to fellow safety Brandon Meriweather about reining in his notoriously aggressive tackling style.

Clark said he hadn’t, noting that he has been involved in some of the biggest collisions in football himself.

“You’re supposed to play this game with reckless abandon,” said Clark, a 13-year NFL veteran and member of the top-ranked defense that helped the Pittsburgh Steelers’ to the 2008 season’s Super Bowl championship. “I think when you don’t play it full speed, when you don’t play it as physical as you could possibly play it, you leave yourself at a disadvantage. You put yourself in harm’s way.”

Meriweather, 30, a two-time Pro Bowl safety, was docked more than $100,000 in fines last season and suspended for one game for a series of illegal hits that cost the Redskins precious yards, injured opponents and may prove to have ramifications for Meriweather’s own long-term health.

“We’ve talked about it in the sense of him keeping his money and a sense of him staying on the field,” Clark added about his conversations with Meriweather, who views him as a mentor. “But some of us understand the risk we take when we play this game.

“ … I’m going to try to talk him out of as many fines as I can this year. But I don’t want him to change his game. I want him to lower his strike zone the best he can because that’s the rule. But other than that, man, ‘Just keep playing football.’ ”

Find Mike Jones’s practice observations here, and all blog posts from training camp here.

What’s ahead:

Washington practices on Monday at 8:35 a.m. in Richmond. Here’s our camp guide.

Also from The Post:

Observations from Day 4 of training camp | Photos

The philosophy of Jay Gruden

Reid: Empowerment approach may be hard to maintain

Keenan Robinson ready for signal-calling duties

More NFL coverage: Home page | D.C. Sports Bog | The Early Lead | Fancy Stats

Follow: @MikeJonesWaPo | @lizclarketweet | @Insider | Insider on Facebook

Liz Clarke currently covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. She has also covered seven Olympic Games, two World Cups and written extensively about college sports, tennis and auto racing.
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