Miami Dolphins left guard Richie Incognito took exception to being called a dirty player by Houston Texans defensive lineman Antonio Smith.
"I'm an easy target because of my transgressions in the past," Incognito said Thursday on The Joe Rose Show on WQAM (560-AM). "Obviously, the eye in the sky don't lie and I'm falling back on that. It's a physical game and I get after people. But I play it the right way."
Asked about his comments on punching opposing defensive linemen in the stomach to avoid tipped passes at the line of scrimmage, Incognito said, "That was really the only answer that we came up with when the media was just blasting us with questions [about the numerous tipped passes in Sunday's 30-10 loss to the Texans]. After a tough loss, they come in the locker room and ask what we could do to get their hands down. A couple of us jokingly said, 'Well, the only thing we can really do is punch them in the stomach.' "
The seven-year veteran admitted it will be hard to shed his 'dirty player' image.
"I've had two players call me dirty to the media, and both of them used to play for the Arizona Cardinals -- Darnell Dockett and Antonio Smith. I get after people and I play physical. But the video shows, there's nothing illegal being done. I'm holding his leg, I'm laying on his leg and I don't get the benefit of the doubt because I have that 'dirty' label. I'm just going to continue to play my game, and that is being physical. I don't go out there to injure people, but I do get after people."
Incognito said the team is focused on eliminating batted balls at the line of scrimmage, starting with Sunday's home opener against the Oakland Raiders.
"We've just got to really attack them when they throw their hands up to get them to take their hands down to protect themselves," he said. "We're going to be real physical and stay on our blocks. As far as the quarterback, [Ryan Tannehill] has to get a feel for the pocket and move around and find those throwing lanes."
He also praised Tannehill for his maturity despite being a rookie quarterback. "He's very mature, smart and has a lot of confidence, and we have a lot of confidence in him. He understands the offense and he's very poised."
RICHIE INCOGNITO - MIAMI DOLPHINS