EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Kevin Williams appears to have avoided disaster on a hit to his right knee that could’ve done much more damage.
Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said he is hopeful to have his star defensive tackle on the field for the season opener in Detroit, but that bit of good news did little to quell the outcry from some of his Pro Bowl teammates after the NFL said San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Joe Looney would not face any discipline for the block in the third quarter of Sunday night’s preseason game.
Jared Allen and Chad Greenway both called the hit a dirty play and said the league’s focus on player safety seems to hold defensive players to a much different standard than their counterparts on offense.
“I have a problem when we talk about player safety in this league and we have a clear case of a guy intentionally trying to hurt a guy and we do nothing about it,” said Allen, who has been fined several times in the past for hits. “We pat him on the back and say it’s OK.”
The collision occurred on a running play to the right.
Williams was about 10 yards away from the play and started back to his right when Looney went down and hit him in the knee. An MRI revealed no ligament damage to Williams’ knee and the Vikings said he had a significant bruise and a hyperextension.
Frazier said on Tuesday that Williams was listed as day to day.
He did not practice on Tuesday.
The Vikings open the regular season at Detroit on Sept. 8.
“It definitely could’ve been worse,” Frazier said. “The fact that we have a chance to have him back for Detroit is big for our football team.”
Frazier said he spoke to league officials about the hit.
“There’s a big emphasis regarding player safety and that play really endangers our players’ safety,” Frazier said. “It’s not something that the league wants. It’s not something that any of us want as we are trying to make the game safer for our players.”
The NFL said Looney’s hit was a legal play because Looney was not moving toward his own goal line, which is the definition for a peel-back block that has recently been outlawed by the league.
“It is the type of play, however, that after the season the Competition Committee will look at with respect to player safety,” NFL spokesman Randall Liu said in an email.