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The news that Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb broke his fibula on a hit by Matt Elam certainly won't sit well with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but Ravens coach John Harbaugh at his Monday news conference defended Elam.
Rodgers was upset with Elam after the play, which occurred late in the second quarter. As Cobb caught the ball over the middle near the Ravens 10-yard line, he was hit at the knees by Elam.
Cobb immediately buckled over and grabbed his leg. According to multiple reports on Monday night, the injury is a broken fibula and will sideline Cobb for six to eight weeks.
Rodgers immediately confronted Elam after the play, and Ravens safety James Ihedigbo stepped in to defend his rookie teammate.
After the game, Rodgers said that, "I think he could have hit him in the proper hitting zone and that's what I told him," according to ESPN Wisconsin. “The other safety came over and made actually a very knowledgeable point – which I appreciated a little intelligent banter back and forth – about some of the issues defensive players have to deal with with the target area.
"I totally understand that and get that. I just felt like, from my vantage point, (Elam) had plenty of time to not take out a guy’s legs in that situation."
Defensive backs are increasingly in a tough spot. They are flagged and fined for helmet-to-helmet hits, and the emphasis has been on keeping the hits down, away from the head area. But hitting lower, as Elam did, can lead to leg or knee injuries. And all of this happens in a split-second, with fast, moving parts.
As to Rodgers' take on the "proper hitting zone," Elam was apparently within that zone. There was no blow to the head of a defenseless receiver, and in fact there was (correctly) no penalty called.
And on Monday, Harbaugh made clear that he had no issue with the play.
“I think Matt made a tackle," Harbaugh said. "He was scrambling to catch up with that route as best he could to make the tackle.
"To say that it could have been more artistically palatable is pretty hard for me to understand," he added. "That’s a fast route; they ran a very good route there. Aaron made a good quick throw in there, and Matt did the best he could to try and stop that play. I have no idea what he’s talking about.”