Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Calais Campbell, playing in South Florida where he was a star for the Miami Hurricanes — badly wanted a win against the Dolphins on Sunday.
Campbell also much preferred that both teams leave Hard Rock Stadium with no major injuries.
Neither of those two things happened.
Campbell, a huge man — even by NFL proportions — at 6-8 and 300 pounds, broke through the interior of the Dolphins offensive line and hit quarterback Ryan Tannehill low.
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Tannehill immediately clutched his left knee and was removed from the game.
He did not return, and reports indicate that he is out for the season with a torn ACL.
None of that makes Campbell feel good.
“I was rushing as hard as I could,” Campbell told the Miami Herald, describing the play from his viewpoint. “I got a crease. The [Dolphins’] left tackle [Branden Albert] gave me a shove in the back.
“It was slippery. … It sucks. You never want to see a guy down and go out for the game. I hope he’s OK. I hope he’s not seriously hurt. I’m praying for him.”
Campbell, a 30-year-old native of Denver and a Cardinals second-round pick in 2008, seemed genuinely sorry that his actions caused Tannehill’s injury, even if there were extenuating circumstances and no malicious intentions.
This is certainly not a dirty player or someone with that reputation. He was the Hurricanes’ MVP in 2006, earning first-team All-ACC honors that season.
He has become an NFL star, already making two Pro Bowls (2014 and 2015) and is a key part of a Cardinals defense that is solid despite the team’s 5-7-1 record.
In addition, Campbell last year donated $1.5 million to the Hurricanes to establish a scholarship for defensive linemen.
So, clearly, Campbell hasn’t forgotten about Miami. The injury to Tannehill, it would seem from his comments, hurt him deeply.
But no matter how nice a person Campbell is, the hit he put on Tannehill is sure to be scrutinized further — fairly or not — even though the field was wet, and even if he did get pushed from behind.
In fact, the second-guessing has already begun.
“I mean, that’s what happens when you go low,” Dolphins right guard Jermon Bushrod said. “That’s just what happens, and we’ve got to continue to … I don’t know man. We fight to protect quarterbacks.
“That’s just a tough situation.”
Campbell was asked whether he knew Tannehill was injured seriously when he hit him, or if he heard the quarterback yell in pain.
“I don’t remember man,” Campbell said, clearly uncomfortable with the topic. “It’s football. I don’t remember exactly what he said or what he felt.
“I just know he was down, and I said prayers that it’s a healthy, speedy recovery.”