Williams#039; injury upsets Bengals

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 29, 2004

CINCINNATI (AP) - Defensive tackle Tony Williams had surgery Wednesday to fix his left ankle, broken and dislocated by a low block that has his Cincinnati Bengals teammates upset.

Williams was chasing Denver quarterback Jake Plummer on Monday night when lineman George Foster dived at his lower leg. The Broncos have a reputation for such tactics, known as cut blocks.

''It was unnecessary,'' Bengals defensive tackle John Thornton said. ''He said he didn't mean to do it, but they're coached to do it. I blame Mike Shanahan.''

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The Broncos coach adamantly defended the play Wednesday, telling reporters in Denver that it's a common practice. Bengals players said the tactic is legal but unethical, reigniting the debate about whether it should be banned.

''They need to do something about it, either fine the guy or look into a team that does it a lot,'' said cornerback Deltha O'Neal, who played four years in Denver.

''Denver is known for doing that. They need to police that.''

Williams was chasing Plummer when Foster came in low from the side. Foster said a few words to Williams and gave him a pat before he left the field on a cart.

Doctors realigned his ankle and inserted a screw on Wednesday. He'll need six months to recover.

''He put somebody out for the season,'' Thornton said. ''He should be fined a lot. If we put two hands on the quarterback, we get fined. You should be fined for breaking somebody's ankle.''

O'Neal doesn't blame Foster, who was the Broncos' top draft pick last year and apologized to Williams on the field.

''If they're teaching him to do it and he refuses to do it because he doesn't believe in it, they're probably going to release him or bench him and put somebody else in,'' O'Neal said. ''So he feels, 'I've got to make a living, too. I've got to do my job.' They just need to do some other methods of teaching how to block.''

Although low blocks occur around the league, the Broncos have a reputation for emphasizing it. Jacksonville's Paul Spicer also is out for the season after taking a low block from a Broncos lineman.

Foster's block drew immediate and widespread criticism because Williams wasn't close to the quarterback, didn't see it coming and could have easily been taken out with a high hit.

''Although people may say it's not illegal, it doesn't necessarily have to be a part of the game,'' Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. ''There was no reason to block a man low like that when he has his back basically turned to you. There is no reason to chop the guy like that.''

Quarterback Carson Palmer was on the sideline and didn't see the block. He heard all about it as soon as the game ended.

''My dad was yelping about it on the phone to me after the game,'' Palmer said. ''It sounded like a cheap shot. I guess he was looking down the field and the guy came back and took a cheap shot at his ankle behind the play.

''That's not part of the game, taking cheap shots on people like that.''

Defensive tackle Langston Moore, the Bengals' sixth-round pick last year, thinks the play will be remembered for a long time.

''George is a young guy,'' Moore said. ''He probably wasn't thinking. It was in the heat of the moment, but he can never live that down. He'll probably have that label as a dirty player for the rest of his career.''

Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher, co-chairman of the NFL's competition committee, said the block was legal but showed poor judgment that didn't respect the game. He said the committee will look into the issue.

''There are always things that happen in the game year after year after year. You can't just go ahead and make a rule based on things that happen once a year even though in this case there's an unfortunate injury,'' Fisher said.