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Originally published Tuesday, November 3, 2009 at 8:04 PM

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NFL | League players seldom practice tackling

On long touchdown runs, some skeptical observers might wonder, don't players practice tackling anymore? Uh, no. Not really. Go watch a practice...

On long touchdown runs, some skeptical observers might wonder, don't players practice tackling anymore?

Uh, no. Not really. Go watch a practice. It seldom involves tackling.

"We teach tackling fundamentals," Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said. "But there's no reason to tackle our own guys."

Instead, defensive players are taught not to tackle at practice. They get up to the person with the ball and hit the brakes, just missing him or giving him a bump. Make full contact, and coaches and teammates get upset.

Sure, that keeps people healthy, but some Sundays can look ragged. Many players get a chance to tackle at full speed only during exhibition games. It shows once the regular season begins.

"A lot of people don't tackle now because of the salary cap," Washington safeties coach Steve Jackson said. "You lose a guy because of a tackling drill, you're the dumbest guy on the planet."

There are exceptions to the no-tackling rule. But, as Miami defensive end Jason Taylor said, "Even if we are in full pads, you're not going to tackle a guy, you're going to thud him up.

"You can never simulate what it's going to be like in a game because there's nothing else on the planet like an NFL football game."

Training camp used to be about getting in shape and hitting hard.

"We had 130 guys, and you could practice for six weeks," said Washington coach Jim Zorn, a former Seahawks quarterback and quarterbacks coach. "There were a lot of those kinds of scrimmages; we'd go live. But nowadays, with 80 players and really the idea that you want to keep everybody as healthy as you can, you have to limit that."

Taylor, with a laugh, said the old days weren't necessarily more demanding.

"You just showed up for training camp, you smoked cigarettes at halftime, a lot of things were different back then," he said. "So, we don't do all that now. We don't tackle, but we don't smoke at halftime, either."



Daniel Snyder, owner of the 2-5 Washington team, said, "We just feel terrible. We're disappointed. We're embarrassed, and we hope to get it going soon."

• Kansas City was awarded receiver Chris Chambers, 31, who was waived by San Diego, via a waiver claim.

• The San Francisco 49ers have signed cornerback Keith Smith to a one-year contract, a day after learning Nate Clements would be sidelined up to eight weeks because of a broken shoulder blade. Smith, 29, was released by Detroit before the season.

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