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League reviewing hit that injured Carolina QB

August 11, 1997 GMT

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) _ The NFL is reviewing a hit by Denver linebacker Bill Romanowski that left Kerry Collins with a broken jaw, sidelining the Carolina Panthers’ quarterback for an estimated six weeks.

It likely will take several days for the NFL to determine whether the hit was illegal and warrants a fine, league spokesman Greg Aiello said Monday.

Aiello said the league did not wait for a request from the Panthers to look into the matter, opting instead to initiate the review on its own after seeing television replays of the hit in Saturday night’s exhibition game.

``It’s a matter of routine,″ Aiello said in a telephone interview from the NFL offices in New York. ``Any plays involving helmet-to-helmet hits on quarterbacks in the pocket, those types of plays have to be reviewed for possible discipline. Those are explicitly against the rules.″

The Panthers appear to have already made up their minds about Romanowski’s hit, which occurred early in the second quarter as Carolina was driving deep into Denver territory. Collins was standing in the pocket and had just released a pass when he took a hard shot to the bottom of his face mask from Romanowski, who had come charging in from Collins’ left side.

``I think it was a high hit,″ coach Dom Capers said Monday after Carolina went through a two-hour workout. ``I think the intent of the rule was to try to keep defensive players from the head area of the quarterback. We’ll just have to wait and see how they rule.″

Offering similar thoughts was Steve Beuerlein, who takes over at quarterback while Collins recovers. Collins underwent a four-hour operation Sunday in which surgeons inserted four plates into his jaw, two to stabilize a fracture on the left side and two more to stabilize a break up front.

``It was the kind of hit that the league is trying to eliminate,″ Beuerlein said. ``I think that if there were any action taken, they could really justify this one for sure.″

After the game, Romanowski said he was merely doing his job by rushing the quarterback and trying to prevent him from throwing the pass.

``It was very unfortunate that he got hurt,″ Romanowski said. ``It wasn’t my intention to hurt him, but that’s the way the game goes.″

If the league determines that sanctions against Romanowski are warranted, it would be the second time in less than a year that a hit on Collins resulted in punishment by the NFL.

Atlanta defensive end Chuck Smith was fined $25,000 last November for lunging at Collins’ knees from behind. Collins had to leave the game with what was diagnosed as a sprained ligament in his left knee, but he was able to play the next week.