One of the subplots heading into the Bills-Broncos Week 2 preseason game was the battle for Denver's backup quarterback gig. By the time it was over, Brady Quinn appeared like the clear-cut No. 2 behind Kyle Orton. But a bigger story emerged from Saturday night: the rash of serious injuries, one of which will almost certainly earn Denver rookie safety Rahim Moore a hefty fine for his hit on Buffalo wide receiver Donald Jones.
Broncos coach John Fox said after the game that "[Moore's] a rookie, so I'm not going to fault him," before adding: "I think it was helmet-to-helmet, I'll have to go back and view it, but either way, they viewed it as a penalty."
Moore sounded contrite but also realistic given his line of work. "I want the guy to at least make it out of bed the next morning," he said, according to the Denver Post's Mark Kiszla. "I mean no harm. But you know what? It's football. … If you don't be physical, somebody else will."
Moore continued: "I'm a jokester, I laugh a lot. But once I strap up, I turn into a different person. ..I don't want to hurt anybody to where it jeopardizes his season or his career. If it was the wrong thing to do, I apologize." Kiszla writes that, once Moore returned to the sidelines, he was advised to play smart but coaches also told him to "keep it up."
The hit led to shoving by players from both teams. When asked at halftime about tempers flaring, Bills head coach Chan Gailey, with pursed lips and a steely gaze, only said "Be smart -- but don't back down from anybody," before heading to the locker room.
Jones' teammates weren't happy about Moore's hit, either. "For someone to come after ... our guy, that didn't sit well with us," QB Ryan Fitzpatrick said, adding that he saw Jones at halftime and the wideout appeared OK. "We're not going to be pushed around by anybody."
The Bills' receiver wasn't the only player who had to leave the game with what appeared to be a head or neck injury. Running back Johnny White was carted off the field on a stretcher after being slammed to the ground by Broncos linebacker Mario Haggan.
"I know the injuries were a concern to everyone, and the good news right now is there were no serious injuries out of the night," Gailey after the game, according to the Buffalo News. "Guys will miss awhile but they're going to eventually be fine." White was healthy enough to fly back to Buffalo with the team.
Haggan later left the game with a shoulder injury, and Denver running back David Bruton also ended up in the hospital with a head injury after attempting to make a tackle during the fourth quarter.
Josina Anderson of Denver's Fox31 tweeted early Sunday morning that sources said Bruton initially couldn't answer standard memory questions like how he got to the game, details of the game, or repeating numbers backwards.
The NFL has implemented recent rules changes specifically designed to reduce injuries. There's always a lag between when rules are made and how long it takes players to adjust to them, but ultimately, it should make the game safer. Unless, of course, the owners truly are interested in pursuing the 18-game-schedule idea that didn't come close to making into the latest collective bargaining agreement.
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