The NFL will keep a close eye on hits to the knees of defenseless players this season with the possibility of extending the rules protecting such players.

If the league's competition committee finds enough evidence this season that hits to the knees are "becoming a problem" it could take action chief of football operations Ray Anderson told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The committee could make a recommendation to the owners next March to prohibit direct hits to the knees of defenseless players. The owners would then vote on such a change.

"We are always looking at plays that may elevate themselves and we do include in that category hits on defenseless players" Anderson said. "And certainly the hits to knees of players who have not had the opportunity to protect themselves or are not looking in the direction of where the hit comes from -- we have had a couple hits whereby a player was hit below [or at] the knees."

Outspoken Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark didn't hesitate to tee off on the league's plan to monitor low hits on defenseless players.

"I'm so disgusted with the NFL right now about those situations but if an offensive player makes enough stink about something they'll change it" Clark said Tuesday. "If they decide to change this rule they might as well put flags [on players] because then you give a guy like myself who's 200 pounds a two-foot area to stop a guy who's 240 250 running at full speed and that's going to be kind of hard to do."

Clark said tackling low is the one way that defensive backs know they can get a player on the ground without getting fined. Taking those kinds of hits out of the game Clark said would put defensive backs at a disadvantage and may even compromise their safety.

Currently hits to the head and neck of defenseless players are banned. But two direct hits to the knee in preseason games that injured Miami tight end Dustin Keller (by Texans rookie D.J. Swearinger) and Minnesota defensive tackle Kevin Williams (on a low block by 49ers guard Joe Looney) have drawn complaints from some players.