LAKE FOREST — With the Bears moving indoors to prepare for the ever-important third preseason game in Oakland on Friday night, all attention was on a play from last Thursday night.
Rookie linebacker Jon Bostic was fined $21,000 for lowering his head into what the NFL deemed a defenseless receiver, Chargers wideout Mike Willie.
“I don’t have any reaction right now about anything. When I looked at it, other than to say that I thought it was a clean hit, his head was up and he hit with the shoulder from my vantage point on the field,” said head coach Marc Trestman. “Upstairs looking at it on the tape I thought it was a clean hit. That’s all I need to say about it.”
Trestman clearly did not want to discuss the fine itself or his opinion on the league’s decision until he got more information, but he did add, “I thought [Bostic] had his head up and he hit him with his shoulder. It was a violent hit, no doubt about it, but I believe from what I saw that it was in the frame of the rules.”
It was veteran Lance Briggs who first alerted the Twitter world to Bostic’s fine by tweeting about it Wednesday morning.
“The league thought it was an illegal hit; I disagree,” he told reporters after practice. “I think that if you ask around the league, probably 100 percent of the league’s going to say it was a legal hit, but it’s not my call.”
With the play happening at full speed, the big question for players is what should Bostic — in only his second NFL game — have done to avoid a fine.
“He could have allowed the receiver to run him over, that’s another technique,” Briggs said. “We could play the catch technique, we could take a charge. I don’t know, you gotta play football.”
Bostic didn’t have a lot to add — he said he hadn’t heard from the league, yet, as he found out about the fine from his agent.
“I’m just finding out about it. I haven’t really heard anything yet, so I’m just waiting to see what happens,” Bostic said. “The older guys said they are going to help me through it and to just keep playing how I’m playing.”
Bostic was known for being a big hitter during his time at Florida, and the hit on Willie jarred the ball loose, but since he fell under the NFL’s definition of “defenseless,” Bostic’s wallet will take a hit.
“I didn’t really pay attention to it,” Bostic said when asked if he thought the receiver seemed defenseless. “It was a good play that I had on film but it wasn’t one of the main focuses I was looking on. There’s a lot of stuff I’ve got to clean up in those situations.”
Safety Chris Conte knows this situation well, as he was fined $21,000 for a hit last year in a game against the Panthers. His fine was reduced, though, after an appeal.
“I thought it was a clean hit. But I thought mine was a clean hit too. That’s not saying much,” he said. “He’ll appeal it and hopefully they’ll reduce it. It’s a lot for a rookie — he did get drafted in the second round, so he’s got a little bit of money. But still, it’s a tough thing, especially in preseason. But the best thing you can do is appeal it and hope it gets reduced.”