FOXBORO, Mass. — David Andrews and Jabrill Peppers both hated to see Rhamondre Stevenson hobble off the field during Sunday’s Patriots loss.

But neither wants the NFL to ban the type of tackle that injured the star running back.

Stevenson suffered an ankle injury on a “hip-drop tackle” by Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Tuli Tuipulotu, defined as a defender grabbing a ball-carrier and then dropping his weight downward to tackle him. He had to be helped to the locker room and did not return as New England lost 6-0 at Gillette Stadium.

Initial X-rays on the ankle reportedly were negative, but Stevenson still could miss multiple games.

Story continues below advertisement

No Matchup Found

Click here to enter a different Sportradar ID.

There’s been a recent push to outlaw hip-drop tackles, which also caused serious injuries to players like Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard and Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews. Data collected by the NFL revealed hip-drop tackles “have 25 times more likelihood of injuring a player than other tackles,” according to a report this week from The Athletic’s Ted Nguyen.

    What do you think?  Leave a comment.

Andrews and Peppers, however, both do not believe the play should be banned.

“There’s been a lot of rule changes since I came into the league, right?” said Andrews, the Patriots’ longtime center and co-captain. “We used to be able to cut on the perimeter. (Defenders) used to be able to cut us on the perimeter. You’re talking about the drop tackle that people are talking about — you’re going to eventually take away everything in the game.

Story continues below advertisement

“It’s the defense’s job to tackle guys, and I don’t think people are doing that with malicious intent. Eventually, you keep taking away certain plays, taking away certain plays, taking away this, taking away that, what’s going to be left of the game? Look, it’s an unfortunate reality of this game, and no one wants to see that. Guys on other teams don’t want to see guys get hurt. We don’t want to see guys get hurt. But it’s an unfortunate reality of playing in the NFL — playing football at any level.”

Peppers, a hard-hitting safety and one of the vocal leaders of New England’s defense, unsurprisingly echoed that sentiment.

“It’s football, man,” Peppers said. “People try to soften the game up. It’s football. Injuries are going to occur. Every team has them. Every team deals with them. There’s but so many ways you can tackle these guys already. Now they’re trying to take away (more). It’s football.

“Rhamondre, he’ll be all right. He’s a tough guy. But it’s football, man. However you’ve got to get a guy on the ground that’s legal, you do it.”

Story continues below advertisement

Stevenson touched the ball on 10 of the Patriots’ first 16 plays before suffering his injury. His exit resulted in the largest workload of Ezekiel Elliott’s Patriots tenure, as the former Cowboys star carried a season-high 17 times for 52 yards and caught four passes for 40 yards in the loss.

Elliott, who was teammates with Pollard when he fractured his fibula on a hip-drop tackle last season, acknowledged that “you see a lot of injuries coming from it.”

“(But) I don’t know how you can necessarily eliminate that tackle,” he added. “At some point, you’re going to make it two-hand touch. You’ve got a bunch of unnecessary roughness. I don’t know how guys come in and hit or come in and make tackles. It seems like it’s always a different rule on how they can play. But you definitely don’t want to see guys getting hurt. I don’t know.”

Barring an unexpectedly quick recovery from Stevenson, Elliott likely will be the Patriots’ lead back Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers. New England also has Ty Montgomery and JaMycal Hasty on its roster and Kevin Harris on its practice squad.

Story continues below advertisement

Featured image via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images