TAMPA — The NFL sized up the play of hard-hitting Bucs safety Dashon Goldson and delivered a big wallop Monday, suspending him one game without pay for violation of player-safety rules.
Goldson collected his second personal foul in as many weeks for his helmet-to-helmet collision with Saints running back Darren Sproles on Sunday in Tampa Bay's 16-14 loss to New Orleans. Goldson was fined $30,000 last week for his blow to the helmet of Jets tight end Jeff Cumberland.
Goldson, 28, leads the NFL with 15 flags since the start of 2010, including 11 for unnecessary roughness, three for unsportsmanlike conduct and one personal foul. But Bucs coach Greg Schiano said that wasn't a concern in March when Tampa Bay signed him to a five-year, $41.25 million contract.
Goldson is not allowed to practice this week or play Sunday against the Patriots and will be reinstated Monday. The suspension will cost him one game check or $264,705.
Under the collective bargaining agreement, Goldson can appeal within three business days and request an expedited hearing prior to Sunday's game.
NFL vice president of football operations Merton Hanks informed Goldson of the suspension in a letter Monday.
"You had an unobstructed path to your opponent," Hanks said. "It is clear that you lowered your head and unnecessarily rammed the left side of your helmet into the left side of your opponent's head. You delivered a forceful blow with your helmet and made no attempt whatsoever to wrap up your opponent or make a conventional tackle on the play. This illegal contact clearly could have been avoided."
Before the suspension was announced Monday, Schiano said Goldson is trying to change his ways.
"No, when we made the decision to bring Dashon here, that was not a concern," Schiano said.
"Was I aware that he was a big hitter? Yes. And it's not a concern now. It's a concern that he may get suspended but — when you look at the Jets hit — Dashon is trying to do the right thing. He's just got to lower his target point. Now sometimes the point moves while you're going to hit, so that means you have to go even lower still. He certainly is trying. It's not one of those, 'Oh, I don't care.'
"By the same token, I want our guys to play hard, and I don't think anybody is trying to intentionally (make illegal hits). So we just have to be more and more aware of that situation and make sure we avoid that as much as we can."
After two games, the Bucs are tied with San Francisco for the most penalties in the league with 24 and are first in penalty yardage with 220. Six of those penalties have been personal fouls, five resulting from helmet-to-helmet hits.
Fifteen players have collected penalties for the Bucs in two games, 10 on their defense. Tampa Bay has four penalties for unnecessary roughness. Only six other teams have more than one.
"Right now it's a lot of self-inflicted errors, self-inflicted wounds that we need to make go away," Schiano said. "And that's no disrespect to the Jets or to New Orleans, because they're both good football teams. Some of those errors are forced by them. But some of them aren't, and the unforced errors we have to get our arms around because just eliminating those and we're 2-0 instead of 0-2. That's where we find ourselves."
Linebacker Mason Foster said Goldson is not deliberating targeting opponents for hits to the head.
"He plays hard, he plays fast and it's definitely unfortunate," Foster said. "But he's not out there targeting people, trying to hurt people on purpose. He's just out there playing football the way he knows how."
Goldson was an All-Pro last season with San Francisco, which drafted him in the fourth round in 2007. He joined the Bucs as a free agent, signing a five-year, $41.25 million deal.
Goldson was unavailable for comment Monday, but after the Saints game, he didn't seem remorseful.
"We're not worried about those penalties, man, we're really not," Goldson said. "That's football. You can't worry about penalties. We learn how to tackle when we're young. We've been doing this for a long time. The refs are going to make the call. You can't worry about something like that."