Eagles defenders criticize new rules on hitting

Eagles linebacker Ernie Sims (right) called the new NFL rules on hitting "crazy." He said he will not change the way he plays. (David Maialetti / Staff File Photo)

If you ask most Eagles defenders what they think about the NFL's crack down on helmet-to-helmet hitting -- instituted in part because of a vicious shot on teammate DeSean Jackson -- the response is near universal: they think the league is putting another limit on defenses.

And they don't like it.

Linebacker Ernie Sims called the new rules "crazy" and was among several defenders who said they don't intend to change their styles of play. He said he can't go out thinking about exactly how to hit a ball carrier.

"I can’t play like that. The moment I play like that, an offensive player is going to take my head off," he said. "I believe every other football player in this league is going to do the same thing."


How confident are you that Jeremy Maclin can fill the void while No. 1 receiver DeSean Jackson recovers?

Sims said he believes the hit on Jackson was a clean one.

Tight end Brent Celek said he understands the league's intention, but as a pass catcher, often left vulnerable to a big hit as he reaches and watches a pass, "I knew what I was getting into," since second grade, when he began playing football.

Linebacker Omar Gaither was one of the few players who said he expects defenders to change their style, out of necessity.

"If you want to play this game, you have to adapt," he said, citing the possibility of suspensions and heavy fines. Gaither added that he doesn't have $75,000 to give away.

More on this later.

On the field, head coach Andy Reid said Kevin Kolb will start this week, with Michael Vick playing an unspecified back up role (it's not clear if he will be the second or third quarterback). DeSean Jackson will not play.

It sounded like a long shot for either Brodrick Bunkley or Jason Peters to play this week, though Reid did not formally rule them out.