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The biggest drama of the Week 2 preseason games involved New York Giants rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux’s knee injury. The low block that caused the injury divided the football world. Some thought it was a dirty hit, while others said it is just part of the game. Former NFL linebacker A.J. Hawk even went so far as to explain how the whole thing was Thibodeaux’s own fault for being hesitant.

The Kayvon Thibodeaux injury divided the football world 

Early in the second quarter of the New York Giants preseason game vs. the Cincinnati Bengals, Giants rookie pass-rusher (and No. 5 overall draft pick) Kayvon Thibodeaux came around the right side of the line on a Bengals running play.

The play went to the left, and Bengals tight end Thaddeus Moss came across the line to block the backside of the play. The TE threw a low cut block at Thibodeaux and hit the former Oregon Duck’s knee in a scary-looking way.

The Giants training staff brought the cart out for the DE, but Thibodeaux eventually walked off under his own power. Fortunately for all involved, it seems as though the Kayvon Thibodeaux injury is relatively minor. He does have a sprained MCL that will keep him out three to four weeks, but from the looks of the incident, it could have been much worse.

The immediate reaction to the play was swift and furious.

Former NFL linebacker-turned-TV-host Emmanuel Acho called the play “ridiculous, dangerous and cowardly.” Football analytics guru Warren Sharp tweeted it was “DIRTY AF,” and NFL Network host Rich Eisen said on Twitter that the hit deserved a “Penalty. Hefty Fine. Suspension.”

However, after the initial firestorm, many former and current players came out and defended the play as a clean, routine block that just happened to have an ugly-looking result.

It was also within the rules as cut blocks like the one Moss threw are legal within the” tight end box” (five yards on either the line of scrimmage and two yards outside the tackles), per the NFL rulebook.

In fact, the next day, former NFL linebacker A.J. Hawk even went so far as to explain how the play was Thibodeaux’s fault for making a rookie mistake.

A.J. Hawk blamed Kayvon Thibodeaux’s inexperience for his injury

The aftermath of the Kayvon Thibodeaux injury in the New York Giants vs. Cincinnati Bengals preseason game.
Kayvon Thibodeaux | Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The day after the horrific-looking Kayvon Thibodeaux injury, A.J. Hawk discussed the play as part of his co-hosting duties on the Pat McAfee Show.

Hawk first explained that Thibodeaux should know a TE coming across the line like that was possible in a “split zone look.” The former Green Bay Packer also said the rookie got fooled by the “ghost motion” of the fake end around to the wide receiver on the play.

In the end, Thibodeaux’s inexperience showed, and his hesitation because of the ghost motion caused him to plant his right leg, which Moss hit. Hawk explained that the WR, in that case, is someone else’s responsibility, but he understands how it caught the young defender’s eye.

And when asked directly if the Kayvon Thibodeaux injury was the result of a dirty play by Moss, Hawk responded emphatically, “No. Come on, now. It’s not dirty.”


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It was a great explanation of a complex football play by an experienced player. Hawk’s breakdown of how the unfortunate injury happened and how it was just part of the game was the type of thing fans and media don’t see like players do.

After receiving similar feedback from players, even Rich Eisen turned around. The next day on the Rich Eisen Show, the host offered a mea culpa for not realizing it was a legal hit. However, he did add the caveat that blocks like that should be outlawed.

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