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Low hit by Thaddeus Moss on Kayvon Thibodeaux was legal, even if it wasn’t clean

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Kayvon Thibodeaux injured his knee during a preseason tilt against the Bengals, but while Chris Simms is hopeful about him coming back from the injury, he wasn't particularly impressed by the rookie's performance.

On Sunday night, a cut block by Bengals tight end Thaddeus Moss resulted in a knee injury to Giants defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux. While early indications are that Thibodeaux will be fine, it was the kind of hit that tears ACLs.

But it was a legal play. Cut blocking -- a device long recognized by the sport of football as the only way smaller guys can get bigger guys to the ground -- had been perfectly legal without many restrictions, for decades. In recent years, the NFL has begun to limit the practice. Last year, the league eliminated blocking below the waist outside of the tackle box.

Moss hit Thibodeaux within the tackle box. No flag was thrown. No fine should be imposed.

But whether it was legal doesn’t make it clean. NFL players hate having their knees targeted, regardless of whether it’s a legal play. It causes potentially serious injury. It’s one of the reasons why receivers would much rather take a blow to the head. A concussion fades fairly quickly. A torn ACL may permanently alter a career, and it definitely will derail it for months.

What if that’s how the play was drawn up? Moss, going in motion, prevents Thibodeaux from pursuing the ball carrier on the back side of the play. As Chris Simms said on Monday’s PFT Live, Moss should have aimed higher, toward the hips. He still could have eliminated Thibodeaux from the play without potentially blowing out his knee.

The fact that it was a preseason game creates even more questions and scrutiny. Even if Thibodeaux is fine, it’s the kind of technique that is increasingly frowned upon by NFL players.