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Similar situations arise every so often. Last season, for example, the St. Louis Rams thought a New York Giants player faked an injury to slow down their offense. In college, after California limited high-octane Oregon to 15 points in 2010, Cal defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi was suspended for a game after acknowledging he instructed a player to fake an injury.
There doesn't really appear a way to prevent it.
"Referees certainly don't want that burden of having to determine who's healthy and who's not. They're having a hard enough time with the concussion issue right now. And really, on almost any play, when you get right down to it, you could lie on the ground and say you have a concussion, and who the heck is going to say anything to that? So as long as teams are willing to do it, there's nothing really that I know of that can stop them," Collinsworth said.
"The only way you're ever going to get around it is in cases that appear to be fairly obvious," he said. "You fine the teams an escalating amount of money and find out just how valuable those timeouts really are. You get a $100,000 fine for faking an injury, you're probably not going to take any more of those fake timeouts."
Whether or not Sanders really was dealing with debilitating cramps, he caught the league's attention.
"It was fairly obvious what was going on," Collinsworth said. "Every team has a signal: `Time to fake an injury.' And why not?"
The AP spoke to a handful of players around the league who said their team doesn't have such a signal -- but players also indicated they didn't think that sort of formal instruction was necessary.
"Some guys are smart and just know when to do it," Redskins linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said.
"Everybody does it," Alexander added, "so it's not like, `Aw, they're cheating.'"
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL
AP Sports Writers Will Graves, Joe Kay and Joseph White, AP National Writer Eddie Pells and AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton contributed to this report.
Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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