AP Source: Thomas fined $8,286 for chop block
The Associated Press
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians didn’t want to talk about Julius Thomas’ chop block anymore and apparently neither did the Denver Broncos’ Pro Bowl tight end.
A person with knowledge of the penalty said Thomas was fined $8,286 for his chop block on Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell last weekend. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the fine hadn’t been announced yet by the NFL. ESPN first reported the fine, the first of Thomas’ four-year career.
Arians, who had called the chop block Sunday the worst play he’d seen in 37 years of coaching and refused to believe it wasn’t intentional, told reporters in Tempe, Arizona, he had no reaction to the fine.
“No, I’m tired of all that,” Arians said.
Thomas, who expressed remorse Monday for hurting Campbell and said it was a matter of miscommunication, not malice, wasn’t in the locker room during the media’s 45-minute window Wednesday.
On Monday, Arians called for Thomas to be suspended for as long as Campbell is out. Campbell is expected to miss up to three weeks with a strained right MCL.
The league, however, fined Thomas the same amount it penalized Peyton Manning in August for his taunting foul of Texans defensive back D.J. Swearinger following the swaggering safety’s hard hit on Wes Welker.
Campbell had this to say about Thomas’ fine: “It’s a max fine for an illegal block for a first-time offender. It makes sense that the NFL did something and hopefully he won’t do it no more.”
With Campbell rushing off the right edge in a three-man front early in the second half Sunday, Manning motioned for Thomas to come out of the two-tight end backfield and line up next to left tackle Ryan Clady.
At the snap, Thomas dived at Campbell’s knees thinking he was cut-blocking him. But it was flagged as a chop block because Clady stood in a pass block stance and didn’t back away from the line of scrimmage.
“Never before have I been blocked like that,” Campbell said. “It (stinks). I don’t think it was a great football play but it’s over and done with. I’d like to move past it and get back to playing good football again.”
Thomas leads the NFL with seven TD catches and has an NFL-high 19 touchdown receptions since 2013, but blocking isn’t his forte. He only began playing the position as a senior at Portland State in 2010 after he’d exhausted his eligibility on the hardwood, where he was a power forward.
“It’s frustrating to get hurt in a situation that could have been avoided, but you can’t do anything about it now,” Campbell said.
Thomas has been lambasted in the Cardinals’ locker room and across the airwaves over the chop block. Among the most critical comments were those of Arizona linebacker Larry Foote. On Monday, he said: “That looked like ‘Karate Kid.’ Sweep the legs, Johnny.’ It was ugly. That’s a black eye to football — period. Even their own players knew it. Yeah, they said something, even the linemen. Hopefully it isn’t coming from the sidelines. I don’t want to play that game. But that should be dealt with. It don’t get no uglier than that.”
Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton came to Thomas’ defense Wednesday.
“If you look at it from a defensive lineman point of view, how (Campbell) was lined up, he should have initiated contact with Julius,” Knighton said. “He should have been more aware, I think, because he was lined up on Julius. So, it wasn’t like Julius came in and hit him. He just went forward. I don’t know how they teach it there, but here when we’re in that technique, we play tight end.”
Knighton blamed all the fuss on how bad the play looked and Campbell’s status as a star and reputation as one of the classier players in the league.
“So is Julius,” Knighton said. “But it’s football. We’re past it. Julius isn’t that type of player. If they want to dwell on it, they can. But we’re not.”
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