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Sapp, Graham fined by league for illegal tackles

Chicago Bears defensive back Corey Graham has been fined $7,500 by the NFL for an illegal "horse-collar" tackle, and Oakland defensive tackle Warren Sapp was fined $5,000 for a low hit on Miami quarterback Trent Green last week.

Graham, 22, is at least the fourth player in the league this year to be sanctioned for the horse-collar tackle, which was outlawed by NFL owners in 2005. Ironically, one of the other players fined was Dallas strong safety Roy Williams, whose frequent use of the maneuver, especially in the 2004 season, helped precipitate its ban.

With the rule now in its third season, game officials appear to be calling it more.

The play for which Graham was fined was on a Detroit punt return in the second quarter.

Lions wide receiver Troy Walters returned a Brad Maynard punt 15 yards to the Chicago 40-yard line. In making the tackle on the play, Graham pulled Walters down by the back of the shoulder pads, drawing a 15-yard penalty that moved the ball to the 25-yard line. Walters was not injured on the play.

The Lions' possession ended when Bears safety Danieal Manning blocked a 39-yard field goal attempt.

A fifth-round draft pick from New Hampshire, and earning a rookie minimum base salary of $285,000 for 2007, Graham said he is uncertain if he will appeal the fine.

Sapp's hit on Green was a below-the-knee shot that did not result in a penalty during the game. But league officials reviewing video of the game determined that it violated the rules governing contact on a quarterback in the pocket.

Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com.