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Report: NFL unlikely to ban low blocks in 2014

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com

Cut blocks will remain a part of the game for now. (USATSI)
In Week 1, Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey was lost for the year with a torn ACL when a teammate accidentally hit him low while trying to cut block a Titans defender. Last Sunday night, 49ers defensive tackle Ian Williams suffered a broken ankle on a low block, prompting teammate Patrick Willis to challenge blockers to "be a man, hit me up high."

But these season-ending injuries don't mean a rules change is on the horizon for 2014, according to FOXSports.com's Alex Marvez.

"Competition committee chairman Rich McKay said Wednesday his group decided earlier this year against advocating NFL team owners to ban the kind of low block that Seattle Seahawks guard J.R. Sweezy placed on Williams in last Sunday's game," Marvez wrote.

Offensive coaches worry that running games would suffer if low blocks were abolished, and the committee has tightened up the rules on peel-back blocks that cost Texans linebacker Brian Cushing most of the 2012 season.

"We brought in offensive line coaches, defensive line coaches, defensive linemen and linebacker coaches this year to the competition committee to talk about cut blocking, that very play (involving Williams) and those types of plays,” McKay said Wednesday “We really came out recommending no change.

“Do I think you'll go back and talk about it again? You will. We've talked about it numerous times and made a lot of changes in close-line play over the years … It doesn't mean there won't be more.”

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, previously a defensive assistant in Tampa Bay and Minnesota before coming to Pittsburgh, and now a member of the competition committee, doesn't think cut blocks should be illegal.

“I like the rule as it is,” he said after Pouncey landed on injured reserve because of a cut block gone wrong.

One of Tomlin's players, defensive end Brett Keisel, feels differently.

“I am not saying all cut blocks, but when someone is engaged, then I don't feel like it is a safe play,” he said via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Every year guys get hurt. You wonder how many guys have to go down before something happens.”

We just might find out.

Worth noting: At least 24 of 32 teams must approve a rules change recommended by the committee before it goes into effect.

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