Raiders strong safety Mike Mitchell said he favors the league cracking down on helmet-to-helmet hits by defenders this season, but only to a certain point.
"They've got to do what they've got to do to keep it safe," Mitchell said Wednesday.
That's precisely what the league said it is going to do from here on out in light of a handful of vicious hits in Sunday's games, in particular.
Several players were knocked out of their games on Sunday with head injuries, and the league responded with fines that reached as high as $75,000 for a helmet-to-helmet shot delivered by Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison.
Raiders coach Tom Cable said he likes the rule the way it is and thinks the NFL is biting off too much in legislating against helmet-to-helmet hits.
"Certainly, we want to protect the players and all that," Cable said, "but some of these plays are so bang-bang, I don't know how you tell a player to do that. A lot of injuries happen when guys pull up at the last second. Someone gets rolled up on or a guy gets hit at a bad angle or something that you don't teach fundamentally. So, we're kind of teetering on telling them something negative here that may, in fact, hurt even more."
Mitchell arrived from Ohio University in 2009 with a reputation for doling out big hits on receivers and running backs. He said there's a way to maintain aggressiveness without compromising effectiveness.
"We're not out here to hurt
At the same time, he said, the league has to ensure that the game doesn't become too watered down.
"We've got to watch to make sure we're not taking away from players' aggressiveness, but I definitely agree that we have to have these steps taken to crack down a little bit and make this thing a little safer. I just hope that one day we're not playing flag football."
Raiders free safety Michael Huff said in training camp that rules changes designed to deter players from launching themselves at vulnerable receivers is something he and others have to live with.
He said he doesn't intend to change his style of play for fear of it detracting from his instincts, even if it means paying the price.
"No, I'll just make the play and pay the fine or something," Huff said. "But the main thing is just making the play, and I'm not going to worry about it too much."
Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a memo to each of the league's 32 teams. He outlined his stance on the topic and warned of stiffer penalties for transgressions from here on out.
"From this point forward, you should be clear on the following points: Players are expected to play within the rules. Those who do not will face increased discipline, including suspensions, starting with the first offense.
"Coaches are expected to teach playing within the rules. Failure to do so will subject both the coach and the employing club to discipline."
Also, he added, game officials have been instructed to emphasize the enforcement of "illegal and dangerous hits, and particularly from hits to the head and neck."
Some hits merit ejection from the game, Goodell said.
Again, Cable said, the league is going too far.
"The rule's in place, and it's a good rule," Cable said. "The way it is now, I totally agree with it. It's just in this game, with the caliber of athlete and the training they do, athletes get better and better with all the great training we have every year. To ask those guys, 'OK, stop!' It's impossible."
Raiders (2-4) at Denver (2-4), 1:15 p.m., CBS