Brett Keisel knew it was friendly fire that ended All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey's season eight plays into the opening game. But to Keisel that's not an excuse.

The Steelers' defensive end called David DeCastro's ill-judged cut-block attempt on the Titans' Sammie Hill which tore Pouncey's right ACL and MCL “ridiculous” after Sunday's loss. That reignited the discussion of how the cut block is not only legal in the safety-conscience NFL but also endorsed by many decision-makers including Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.

“I like the rule as it is” said Tomlin a member of the eight-person competition committee that decides on rule changes in the offseason.

Other low blocks have been legislated out of late including all on special teams. Crack-back and peel-back blocks are no longer permitted but the cut block remains.

Keisel this week remained upset with the legality of the cut block this week in preparation for Monday's game at Cincinnati.

“I am not saying all cut blocks but when someone is engaged then I don't feel like it is a safe play” he said. “Every year guys get hurt. You wonder how many guys have to go down before something happens.”

Texans linebacker Brian Cushing was a cut blocked last season and missed the remainder of the year. The NFL promised to look at the rule in the offseason but no change was made.

“As far as I am concerned it is a block that I can do without” safety Ryan Clark said. “The game wouldn't suffer without it but it isn't something I see that's going to be taken out of the game anytime soon.”
There's a reason for that.

A rule change requires a three-fourths majority (24 votes) from owners who rely heavily on coaches' opinions. Because the cut block is an integral part of the outside zone-blocking scheme that's become popular it's unlikely the rule will be altered.

“It is in the game because owners and the people on the competition committee allow it” Clark said. “So many teams utilize it as part of their offensive package that it is going to be tough to get a guy from the Houston Texans to vote against having that block in the game.”

The Steelers probably would vote the same way as they also have moved to a zone-blocking scheme.

For years nose tackle Casey Hampton was a victim of cut-blocking that the Steelers criticized. It is a way to get a run-plugging guy on the ground in order for the running back to have a cut-back lane.
It never went over well with the Steelers but times have changed.

“If you can't beat them join them” guard Ramon Foster said. “One of our points of emphasis is to chop them down. It slows them up. We aren't trying to injury anybody. It's legal. Until they change the rule we are going to do it right along with them.”

Coincidentally the only outside zone play the Steelers ran against the Titans resulted in Pouncey's injury.
Retired NFL center Shaun O'Hara now an NFL Network analyst called it a freak accident and has no problem with the technique.

“All cut blocks don't end in injury” O'Hara said. “Defenders realize that it is coming too. Defensive linemen understand it that it is part of the game. They practice it. It is part of their individual drills.”

That's where the difference in opinion comes in. The league cites that a defender who is engaged with a blocker and is cut low by another lineman no more than one spot removed can anticipate the block making it legal.