Ray Lewis thinks NFL isn’t rough enough on passers, calls QB protection ‘embarrassing’

Peyton Manning is hobbled by a sensitive right ankle.

With Jay Cutler, it’s the left ankle.

Aaron Rodgers is out at least until U.S. Thanksgiving because of a broken left collarbone, although reports out of Green Bay say the star quarterback can reach down now to put on his socks in the morning without too much pain.

Former linebacker Ray Lewis isn’t feeling sympathy for any of them.

An injury epidemic has hit NFL quarterbacks this season, pushing the league to determine this week it would investigate expanding rules that protect quarterbacks.

Lewis scoffs at the thought.

The former Baltimore Ravens star, who retired after last season, was asked Friday on ESPN Radio whether there were any more ways to make the game safer for quarterbacks.

“The only thing they can do next is put flags on them,” Lewis replied scornfully.

“That’s not football.”

In his mind, quarterbacks already are pampered to the point of thinking they’re untouchable, as if the game were flag football. Lewis said anytime a quarterback gets knocked down, he looks to the officials to call a penalty.

“Seriously, there is nothing more you can do for the quarterback position,” Lewis said. “It is almost embarrassing how they’re so different from everybody else who plays the game. Everybody puts their pants on one at time. Everybody is a man.  I have always felt  everybody should be treated equally (on the football field).”

Except that some teams are running out of quarterbacks. Seneca Wallace replaced Rodgers as the Green Bay Packers’ starter last week, but he suffered a groin injury so third-stringer Scott Tolzien takes over this week.

The Packers are the fourth team to go to a No. 3 quarterback this season, following the Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings.

The Chicago Bears’ Cutler is sidelined for the second time this season, having recovered from a torn groin muscle just in time to sprain his left ankle against the Detroit Lions last week. Josh McCown is back at quarterback for the Bears this week.

Manning has been a limited participant in practice this week with the Denver Broncos but is expected to start Sunday night against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs.

Dean Blandino, the NFL vice-president of officiating, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the league’s competition committee in the off-season would probe whether quarterbacks should get expanded protection from low hits or head hits. “Part of the conversation will be: Should that protection be expanded to all times when the quarterback has the ball in the pocket?”

“Currently the quarterback is as protected now as he’s ever been,” Blandino said, “but I think that’s been the case for eight or nine years.”

Only 20 of the 32 teams have had the same starting quarterback in every game this season. Imagine how much worse that figure could be if Lewis were still playing.

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