Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was fined $21,000 by the NFL for a hit in the Eagles' preseason opener last week, a league spokesman said Friday. The hit occurred in the first quarter of the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Rodgers-Cromartie left his feet and lunged into Steelers quarterback Byron Leftwich.
The league determined that the cornerback unnecessarily struck a defenseless player in the head and neck area. A similar hit last season would have cost Rodgers-Cromartie $20,000, but the minimum fine increased by 5 percent in the 2012 league year, per the NFL's collective bargaining agreement.
There was speculation that Rodgers-Cromartie might draw a heavier fine - perhaps as high as six figures. Rodgers-Cromartie scoffed at that notion when asked about it after Friday's practice. He said it was not a vicious hit because Leftwich got up.
"I say I left my feet, I can understand that, I can understand the fine coming," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "Six figures? Nah."
Asked whether the fine would affect the way he plays in the future, the Eagles cornerback conceded it factors into his mind, but also acknowledged that there is inherent violence in football.
"I wouldn't do it again. In place, you never know," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "It's football. You have to keep playing. Play through it."
Nnamdi Asomugha sat out Tuesday's practice and was only a partial participant Thursday, but he participated fully on Friday. It came four days after Asomugha was in a violent collision at training camp that left him with a lacerated lip and whiplash.
"Neck's fine, yeah," Asomugha said. "It's just my mouth now."
Asomugha said that he is having trouble talking, but he is happy to return to the field. He also knows the crash could have been worse.
"I didn't know what was going on," Asomugha said. "It was just the initial pain in my spine. But beside that, it's fine."
Asomugha is entering a critical second season with the Eagles. He was the prized acquisition of last offseason, but it took time for the all-pro cornerback to become comfortable in the Eagles defense and for the team to best determine how to use him. When defensive coordinator Juan Castillo was asked how to best feature Asomugha, he said that it would depend on the opposing offense. In Oakland, Asomugha was used primarily as a shutdown cornerback.
"There's some things that we could probably do in the New England game, if it was during the season that we will not do," Castillo said. "I think it depends on the receiver. Dominique, the same thing. I think in the season, there will be some things that we won't do in the preseason, so it's an advantage for those two guys."
Polk at fullback?
Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg does not like to discuss hypotheticals, but he at least entertained the notion that running back Chris Polk could spend time as a lead blocker, a role that traditionally goes to a fullback.
"It certainly has been discussed and thought of," Mornhinweg said. "He is a physical player, isn't he? I think Chris Polk is an excellent football player. I think he is an excellent ballcarrier and think he could be an excellent blocker as well."
He still does not have the blocking experience or body of fullbacks Stanley Havili and Emil Igwenagu, but Polk worked as a lead blocker on designed rushes by quarterback Jake Locker when both played at the University of Washington.
"If I can make the team, whatever it takes," Polk said.