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Calais Campbell on hit that hurt Tannehill: ‘I reached out and I apologized to him’

Dec 12, 2016, 3:39 PM | Updated: 4:46 pm
Arizona Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell (93) tackles Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tanneh...
Arizona Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell (93) tackles Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17), during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Tannehill was injured on the play. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

TEMPE, Ariz. — For the second time this season, a low hit by Cardinals defensive lineman Calais Campbell on a quarterback has come under fire.

The first time, just more than a month ago in Carolina, resulted in no penalty flag being thrown but Campbell later being fined by the NFL after he hit Panthers QB Cam Newton.

Besides being upset about the lack of a flag, Newton was otherwise fine.

Ryan Tannehill cannot say the same.

In the fourth quarter of Miami’s eventual 26-23 win over the Cardinals, Tannehill got a pass away just before Campbell landed on his leg. At the time it was feared the QB had torn his ACL, but further tests revealed Monday that he suffered an MCL/ACL sprain, and not a tear.

It looks like Tannehill will not need surgery, which was great news to Campbell.

“You never want to see a guy go down, especially a serious injury like that — ACLs, they take a long time to recover and heal,” he said Monday. “So I’ve got a lot of respect for him as a player; you watch tape, you see he works real hard and loves the game.

“I’m glad it wasn’t as bad and hopefully he has a good recovery. I’m praying for him.”

On the play where he hit Tannehill, Campbell said he was just playing football. He tried to beat the offensive lineman, and the next thing he knew he was hitting the quarterback as he was throwing the ball.

Campbell’s coach agreed with his player.

“It was just a football play,” Bruce Arians said. “I hope Ryan gets better fast. I have heard it did not tear, hopefully. That’s great news because he’s a heck of a young player. Calais was hustling and got blocked into him.”

Arians, who two seasons ago said a chop block by then-Broncos tight end Julius Thomas that injured Campbell was the “dirtiest play I’ve seen,” said Monday he does not believe Campbell deserves a fine because there was no flag on the play. Also, as the coach noted, Campbell was pushed into the quarterback, which is a take FOX Sports officiating analyst Mike Pereira agreed with and Campbell himself said is shown on the tape.

If Campbell was indeed blocked into Tannehill, then no flag should have been thrown and the play, while unfortunate in its result, would be chalked up to some bad luck.

“Football, you know, injuries happen way too often,” Campbell said. “You try to eliminate them, take them from the game. It’s (hurting someone) never on purpose. You’re just playing as hard as you can, and bad things happen sometimes. But I’m glad it wasn’t as bad as it originally seemed. I’m definitely hoping he comes back this year.

“They’re a good team, and I know they’ve got a lot riding on it. So, I’m praying for him.”

After the game, before Tannehill’s status was officially known and the game’s emotions were still fresh, some Dolphins players came out and said they felt like Campbell’s hit was wrong.

“I was the one blocking him. It looked like it was illegal to me,” Dolphins tackle Branden Albert told the Miami Herald.

However, the Dolphins’ head coach, Adam Gase, said Sunday it appeared to him that Campbell was simply making a football play, and on Monday his stance had not changed.

“He’s never been a guy that I would say is a dirty player,” Gase said. “I’d be shocked to say that he did that intentionally.”

Gase went on to explain how his team’s protection scheme combined with Campbell’s path to the quarterback led to what happened.

“I think it was just kind of one of those football things,” he said. “I don’t think he meant anything intentional by it.”

Gase went on to say he wasn’t even sure Campbell could have stopped from hitting Tannehill even if he wanted to, which seems to at least in part absolve the two-time Pro Bowler from much blame.

But even if it was not intentional, Campbell, who does not see himself as a dirty player, still felt bad.

“I reached out and I apologized to him,” he said, of a text he sent Monday. “It definitely wasn’t on purpose; I wasn’t trying to hurt the guy — that’s not who I am. I’ve never been that kind of guy, never will be that kind of guy.

“I know how hard people work to play this game, so I never want to take that away from them, to play this game.”

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Calais Campbell on hit that hurt Tannehill: ‘I reached out and I apologized to him’