Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly didn’t want to talk about the circumstances surrounding his ejection against Green Bay last season, although the play was part of the impetus for an NFL rules crackdown.
Kuechly was tossed after swinging his arm back toward back judge Steve Freeman late in the third quarter of the Packers’ win. Kuechly was in a pile after Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy fumbled, and said he didn’t realize it was an official trying to pull him out of the scrum.
“That was last year. I’m not even going to worry about that,” Kuechly said. “I was bummed I couldn’t finish the game, but that’s how it goes.”
The play and several others like it prompted the NFL to begin penalizing players who pull opponents off the pile. Carolina center Fernando Velasco was flagged for unnecessary roughness Monday against Indianapolis when he tried to get a Colts’ player off the pile following Jonathan Stewart’s second quarter fumble.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera, whose team hosts the Packers on Sunday, called it a good rule.
“I get it because it is about player safety. Because when you start pulling guys, guys react and then the next thing you know you’ve got a big melee,” Rivera said. “So when Fernando got it and they told me what had happened, I just looked over at Fernando and said, ‘We’re the guys they made the rule about so we should know better.’”