TAMPA — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ chances of slowing Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson on Sunday — or winning a third consecutive game — could be compromised by the loss of safety Dashon Goldson to a one-game, league-mandated suspension.
Goldson was suspended without pay by the NFL on Monday for violating league safety rules when he made helmet-to-helmet contact with Falcons wide receiver Roddy White in the second quarter of the Bucs’ 41-28 victory on Sunday.
Goldson is expected to appeal, according to the Bucs.
Goldson was unavailable for comment and the team declined additional comment.
Goldson successfully appealed a one-game suspension in September for a hit on Saints running back Darren Sproles in Week 2. The suspension was reduced to a $100,000 fine.
The most recent violation of the league’s safety rules is the third of the season for Goldson, who was also fined $30,000 for hitting Jets tight end Jeff Cumberland in the head and neck area during the Week 1 loss to the New York Jets.
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, suspensions may be appealed within three business days and an expedited hearing and decision requested in advance of Sunday’s game.
Appeals are heard and decided by either Matt Birk or Ted Cottrell, the officers jointly appointed and compensated by the NFL and NFLPA to decide appeals of on-field player discipline.
Should Goldson not win an appeal, a time for which has yet to be established, he will miss his third game of the season. He sat out games against Carolina and Seattle with a knee injury.
Goldson, a seven-year veteran who spent his first six seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, came to the Bucs as a free agent this past offseason after signing a five-year, $41.25 million deal.
The suspension would cost him $264,705 in salary.
Goldson is coming off one of his better games of the season, one in which he had an interception, two pass breakups and a forced fumble to go along with two solo tackles.
But Goldson’s dalliance with the rules of the game has long been a problem. He has been penalized 18 times for personal fouls since the start of the 2010 season — including five this season — though a closer look at those violations supports his recent claims that he’s not a dirty headhunter.
Since the start of the 2011 season, Goldson has been flagged 13 times for personal fouls. Of those, four were for helmet-to-helmet hits and one was for a hit on what the league ruled was a “defenseless player.’’
Of the others, two were for engaging in shoving matches after the whistle had blown, one was for removing his helmet, one was for taunting, one was for a shoulder-to-chest hit and one was for hitting a sliding quarterback.
This is the first season the league instituted tougher rules to protect defenseless receivers, with special emphasis on hits to the head.
After an 0-8 start, Tampa Bay won its past two games against the Dolphins and Falcons. The Bucs play Sunday at Detroit, which is coming off a 37-27 loss to the Steelers.
Johnson leads the NFL in receptions (59), receiving yards (1,083) and touchdown receptions (11). The Bucs are expected to put four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis on Johnson, but teams often help their corners by having a safety cover him, as well.