Hasselbeck insists his tackle didn't deserve fine from NFL

6:48 AM, Nov 8, 2012   |    comments
Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (8) tackles Bears cornerback Kelvin Hayden (24) on a fumble return last Sunday. Hasselbeck was fined by the NFL for a horse-collar tackle. - GEORGE WALKER IV / THE TENNESSEAN
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By Jim Wyatt and John Glennon | The Tennessean

Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has a photo showing him tackling Bears cornerback Kelvin Hayden.

He hopes it will prove to the NFL that he didn't tackle Hayden illegally.

"Here's Exhibit A," Hasselbeck said on Wednesday.

The league fined the veteran quarterback $15,750 for a horse-collar tackle during last Sunday's game. Hasselbeck said he is appealing the fine.

Hayden was returning a fumble when Hasselbeck took him down at the 4-yard line. The Bears were leading 44-12 on the way to a 51-20 victory.

"It's funny to other people, not funny to me," Hasselbeck said. "We have rules in place and obviously I was trying to play within the rules, I wasn't trying to hurt anybody or anything like that.

"I have been getting a lot of jokes today. Everyone likes to make jokes. We'll see. The guy who got tackled probably didn't even notice. There was nothing violent about the hit."

The photo might get Hasselbeck off the hook. It shows his hands clutching the top of Hayden's uniform, not inside the neck of his shoulder pads.

C.J. surging: The Dolphins haven't given up 100 yards to a running back in 22 games, but that might be the kind of challenge Chris Johnson is seeking going into Sunday's game.

Johnson rushed for 141 yards against the Bears last week, becoming the first back in 19 games to surpass 100 against Chicago. He gained 80 of those yards on a TD when the Titans were trailing 51-12.

He also rushed for 141 yards against the Texans on Sept. 30, making him the only back to surpass 100 against Houston in 18 games.

The Dolphins are ranked third against the run, allowing 83.9 yards per game. The Bears were ranked first going into last Sunday's game.

"We played Pittsburgh when they were in the top two or three and then last weekend Chicago was pretty darn good," coach Mike Munchak said. "We did a pretty solid job running the ball in those games."

Johnson rushed for 91 yards against the Steelers.

Gray in booth: Defensive coordinator Jerry Gray worked from the coaching booth last Sunday and is expected to stay there the rest of the season, Munchak said.

"We'd talked about it, and he came in last week and said he thought it would be a good idea to see how it looks from up top," Munchak said. "I think things ran smoothly. ... It allows Jerry to see things quicker. There's no dramatic reason why we did it, it was just trying something different."

Assistant secondary coach Steve Brown moved from the booth to the field. Linebackers coach Frank Bush called in plays from the sideline.

Offensive coordinator Chris Palmer has been in the booth since the Oct. 11 game against the Steelers.

McCarthy sits: Middle linebacker Colin McCarthy, who hasn't been 100 percent since suffering a high-ankle sprain in the season opener, did not practice on Wednesday.

In past weeks, he practiced on Wednesday and Friday then rested on Thursday. The Titans changed the schedule in hopes of helping him heal a little faster. He has missed four games overall.

The Titans practiced on their indoor field at Baptist Sports Park.

"We thought we'd rest him today, especially being inside on this turf," Munchak said. "We're trying to find different ways to help him get healthy ... so you'll see us try different combinations."

Titan turned Dolphin: Former Titans defensive tackle Randy Starks is a big contributor for the Dolphins, who have given up the sixth-fewest points in the NFL.

Starks has 18 tackles, 3.5 sacks, an interception and five passes defensed.

The 6-foot-3, 305-pounder spent 2004-07 with the Titans before signing with the Dolphins.

"He's still moving well," Munchak said. "We'll see a lot of him. Containing him is going to be a big key."

Other injuries: Safety Al Afalava (ankle) and linebacker Xavier Adibi (knee) did not practice. Linebacker Patrick Bailey (ribs) and cornerback Tommie Campbell (ankle) were limited.

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