Defensive players faking injuries is becoming a growing concern in today’s game where the offense du jour is up-tempo. We saw it at least twice in Monday night’s game (Rick Reilly says he swears he thought he saw Kedric Golston grab the wrong leg in the first quarter) .
The rules regarding injury timeouts can be read here in their entirety. An injured player must leave the game for 1 down, unless a timeout is taken, the injury is the result of a foul, or the period ends or 2 min warning occurs. There are 2 entries in the Supplemental Notes of Article 4 that concern me –
(4) The Competition Committee deprecates feigning injuries, with subsequent withdrawal, to obtain a timeout without penalty. Coaches are urged to cooperate in discouraging this practice.
(5) There can never be a 10-second runoff against the defensive team.
Obviously, #4 above is meaningless, as it is a waste of time to simply 'discourage' the players from doing something that benefits them but has no repercussions. I am fairly certain that players will have their fair share of "cramps" going against us this year. However, I also expect that with all the attention up tempo style offenses are getting, combined with Brian Urlacher’s recent admission that they actively game planned to take dives to stop play, the topic of defensive players feigning injuries to stop the no huddle will be increasingly discussed by the media. If enough noise is made about the subject, perhaps the competition committee will review it for the 2014 season and propose an update for the policy on when a player for whom an injury timeout was taken can return to a game, say not until the next quarter (or if in the last 2 min, after the next quarter). I am unsure such a rule change would garner enough support though, either from players or the league, as it is a slippery slope.