Lions safety Kerby Joseph drawing some ire for low hit on Rams tight end Tyler Higbee

After another low hit to a tight end on Sunday night, Detroit Lions safety Kerby Joseph is drawing some ire and being labeled as a dirty player.
David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Ask any NFL wide receiver or tight end, as as Cris Collinsworth noted on the broadcast Sunday night, and they'd say they'd rather be hit in the head than to the knees. The NFL has rightly tried to take dangerous hits to the head out of the game, but it's also very hard to be a defensive player these days. "Mommas, don't let your babies grow up to be DBs."

On Christmas Eve, Detroit Lions safety Kerby Joseph hit Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson low, upending him to get him on the ground. Hockenson suffered a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee as a result of the hit, of course ending his season and surely impacting his availability for the beginning of next season.

Late in Sunday night's game against the Los Angeles Rams, Rams tight end Tyler Higbee couldn't quite corral a pass from Matthew Stafford. Joseph was the nearest Lion in coverage, and he went low on Higbee to break up the play.

Note: Please heed the warning before playing the clip below.

Joseph, again and surely fearing picking up a penalty for a high hit, makes no effort to make a play on the ball or Higbee's body. Higbee's right leg is planted, and his leg bends awkwardly upon being hit by Joseph. In this case and the Hockenson play, it was helmet to knee contact. Clips have shown Stafford saying something to Joseph.

Twitter reaction to another low hit by Lions safety Kerby Joseph

In the wake of Higbee's ugly-looking injury, the reaction on Twitter calling Joseph a dirty player has come. Some of is Vikings fan-tilted, due to the same kind of thing happening to Hockenson that happened to Higbee, but there's a good sampling of others too.

Again, Joseph's two notable low hits in the last few weeks are legal and they won't draw a flag like going higher has a good chance to. And being a defensive player in the NFL these days is extra difficult as contact is being legislated out of the game.

But it does seem like Joseph could be a little more aware, and these hits on Hockenson and Higbee were not operating under the fundamental "see what you hit", with his head and neck in awkward position and risking injury himself. At times we correlate helmet-to-helmet hits with using your helmet as a weapon, but a helmet-to-knee hit like Joseph has done is no better.

It's probably a stretch to call Joseph a dirty player. But he's starting to get a little bit of a reputation as such, and he needs to put the kibosh on it before it grows.


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