Update, Tuesday 10:20 p.m.: The NFL has reduced Cowboys defensive tackle Trysten Hill’s suspension from two games to one, the league confirmed Tuesday night. The decision came after Hill met Tuesday with appeals officer Derrick Brooks, a Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker who is jointly appointed by the NFL and NFLPA to oversee on-field hearings. The decision means Hill will still miss the Cowboys’ game at New Orleans on Thursday, but his eligibility has been reinstated for Dallas’ Dec. 12 game at Washington. The Cowboys received news of the suspension on Monday after game preparation was already underway. “His coaches have spoken to him,” Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said Tuesday morning from the hotel at which he’s quarantining with COVID-19. “He’s obviously apologized for it, really the next day. … He’s acknowledged the fact that what he did was not right. “We’ll deal with that and move ahead accordingly.”
The Cowboys had already lost several coaches and a player to COVID-19 entering Thursday’s Saints game.
Now, they’ll be without defensive tackle Trysten Hill as he serves a league suspension.
The NFL announced Monday afternoon that Hill has been suspended two games without pay for violations of unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct after the Cowboys’ 36-33 overtime loss to the Raiders on Thanksgiving. Hill delivered “an open hand punch to his facemask, forcible enough to cause [Raiders offensive lineman John Simpson’s] helmet to come off,” NFL vice president of football operations Jon Runyan wrote.
“As both teams were shaking hands, you waited more than 50 seconds for your opponent at the 50-yard line,” Runyan added in a letter to Hill. “When you located him, you then walked toward him in the opposite direction of your locker room.”
Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Trysten Hill (72) on the field before the game against the Atlanta Falcons at AT&T Stadium.
Runyan cited the league rule that prohibits “striking, swinging at, or clubbing the head, neck or face of an opponent with the wrist(s), arm(s), elbow(s), or hand(s).” League rules also prohibit “any act which is contrary to the generally understood principles of sportsmanship.”
Barring a successful appeal, Hill will be unavailable for the Cowboys’ Thursday visit to New Orleans and a Dec. 12 division road contest at Washington. He’s eligible to rejoin the Cowboys roster on Dec. 13, ahead of the Cowboys’ visit to the New York Giants.
Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said on a Friday conference call that he would discuss the altercation with Hill.
“He will be getting a call from me, that’s for sure,” Quinn told local reporters. “Like just making sure we keep our discipline right. And it takes a lot of discipline to unclench your fists, sometimes more than clench it. And so, I think on those ones, let’s make sure we, we know how to have that kind of discipline too.”
Hill has played in just three games this season after 13 months rehabilitating a torn ACL. The Cowboys’ Thanksgiving game was arguably Hill’s best career performance, as he posted five tackles while showing athleticism in downhill pursuit that pleased coaches. Quinn praised Hill’s square, strong stance against the run as well.
“I definitely feel his effort and energy to play,” Quinn said. “He’s making the improvements you want him to make.”
Since Dallas selected him in the second round of the 2019 NFL draft, he has played in 15 games and started five. Hill has collected 24 tackles including six quarterback hits and no sacks in that stretch.
Cowboys defensive tackle Neville Gallimore has been sidelined since the preseason with an elbow injury but was activated Wednesday to his 21-day window toward return. The Cowboys started rookie Osa Odighizuwa and veteran offseason acquisition Carlos Watkins at interior defensive line Thursday, but Hill played 45% of snaps (39 total).
The Saints are averaging 111.2 rushing yards per game (29th) and 309.4 yards total (27th). The Cowboys defense ranks 13th in rushing yards allowed, at 107.3.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Dallas Cowboys’ Trysten Hill suspended 2 games for punching Raiders OL