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‘Crazy calls’: Flag on Bears’ Kyle Fuller exposes issues with NFL’s helmet rule

We’re only in the preseason, and inside linebacker Danny Trevathan already has seen enough of the NFL’s crackdown on lowering the helmet to initiate contact.

“There’s a lot of crazy calls getting called, man,” Trevathan said. “It’s tough on all of us out there. They kind of just threw it out there and told us to deal with it, and we’ve got to do it. But I think [there are] some that should have been overlooked. Some were called that shouldn’t have been called, and some that weren’t called should have been called. It’s picky, picky, but all in all, we’ve got to get a little bit better, and I think [the officials] . . . if you’ve got to think about it, just hold on to it.”

The issue came into focus for the Bears on Saturday night, when cornerback Kyle Fuller was called for a violation when he lowered his helmet to make a shoulder tackle on Broncos fullback Andy Janovich. Replays indicated the call was an egregious error — further proof that officials are inadvertently muddling the issue by penalizing normal (and safe) textbook football plays.

“I thought it was a clean hit — shoulder right into [Janovich’s] chest,” Trevathan said. “I guess the angle that I had wasn’t the same one the referee had, so we all make mistakes.”

Bears nose tackle Eddie Goldman (91) hits quarterback Case Keenum of the Broncos after Keenum threw a pass in the Bears-Broncos preseason game Saturday in Denver. | Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Bears nose tackle Eddie Goldman (91) hits quarterback Case Keenum of the Broncos after Keenum threw a pass in the Bears-Broncos preseason game in Denver. | Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Fuller took the call in stride.

“I saw a flag; I didn’t know what it was for,” he said. “I was like, it could possibly be for that, just knowing what they’ve been doing. I think I heard one of the refs say, ‘Hey, did you see the shoulder?’ And I’m thinking he was going to talk to him maybe. But he didn’t.”

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Unless NFL officials get a handle on the lowering-the-helmet issue, it’s sure to heat up when the games count in the standings.

“Yeah, it’ll be weird,” Fuller said. “I guess I’ll stay positive, thinking that they’ll get it fixed.’’

Fuller suggested using video replay to avoid incorrect calls. That’s always dicey, but at the rate the crackdown is going, the alternative to replay is not a great one.

“Hopefully they get it right,” Fuller said. “I think if they challenge some of them . . . you can see it on film and make the right call. There are some where I can see what they’re talking about, but I think there are too many that weren’t.”

All the players can do is hope for the best.

“I think they’re trying to make a [statement] . . . because the NFL has been getting badgered about the concussion protocol,” Trevathan said. “I think it’ll get better. We all have to do some learning. Hopefully it doesn’t slow down the great games we have coming up.”