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Incognito explains video of him holding Antonio Smith’s leg

Brian Cushing,  Richie Incognito

Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing (56) intercepts a pass as Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito (68) tackles him in the second quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012, in Houston. (AP Photo/Dave Einsel)


Texans defensive end Antonio Smith has accused Dolphins guard Richie Incognito of dirty play. Incognito has denied it.

Several of you have forwarded to us a video that seems to indicate Incognito doing something inappropriate to Smith’s leg.

At first blush, it looks like Incognito is a hungry dog and Smith’s femur is the ham bone. But Incognito explained himself via a stream of Twitter direct messages to PFT.

“I have seen the video,” Incognito said. “Once the ball was fumbled I grabbed his legs to stop him from recovering the fumble. It’s clear that I wrap my arms around both his legs. I was trying to keep him from scrambling to the ball.

“After the ball was recovered I felt him kicking me. I was trying to protect myself. Kind of like a turtle in a shell. At no time was I turning his ankle. My intent was to keep him from getting to the ball.”

But Incognito was pragmatic. “Obviously in a case like this I have no ground to stand on [because] of my reputation,” he said. “There is no evidence of me trying to injure him. The reason I’m seen holding onto one of his legs [because] he started kicking me in the arm and neck the the other. I had both legs in my grasp. The fact of the matter is I’m laying on his leg. There is no twisting motion whatsoever. He is clearly kicking me in the neck. Talk about dirty?”

We don’t expect anyone who already has concluded that Incognito is dirty to agree with him. But it’s only fair to consider his side of the story before reaching a conclusion. Given his desire to keep Smith from recovering a fumble, it actually was a smart play -- regardless of whether the stuff happening out of view would consist of something objectively dirty.

Still, as Incognito said, Smith plainly can be seen kicking Incognito in the neck. How is that any different than the move that got Ndamukong Suh suspended two games?