CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati Bengals punter Kevin Huber may have looked like a man who suffered a jarring, season-ending hit a few days ago, but he certainly didn't sound like one.
Meeting with reporters Wednesday for the first time since having his jaw fractured and vertebrae cracked by Pittsburgh linebacker Terence Garvin, Huber wore a large neck brace and a larger smile while answering questions honestly and humorously.
"There's not really much I can do about it now," Huber said. "Me getting mad and stressed about it is only going to make it harder to get through. It is what it is. It's part of the game, big hits. Unfortunately, I got one of the big hits and I got hurt and I have to deal with it. I'll be fine. I'll be back next year."
The Bengals placed Huber on season-ending injured reserve on Tuesday and signed former Buffalo punter Shawn Powell to replace him.
Huber said he never lost consciousness after the blow and remembers everything about it.
He even changed his Twitter avatar to a photo of the hit, which the NFL admitted Tuesday was illegal and should have drawn a flag that would have negated Antonio Brown's 67-yard punt return for a touchdown that put the Steelers ahead 21-0 late in the first quarter.
"Huber, he's a punter and the key is he's defenseless throughout the down," NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino said in an appearance on NFL Network. "Even though he's pursuing the play, he still gets defenseless-player protection. You can't hit him in the head or neck, and you can't use the crown or forehead parts of the helmet to the body.
"This is an illegal block. It should have been a flag for a 15-yard penalty," Blandino continued. "You'll see the close-up where you can see the contact to the head or neck area. So this will certainly be a point of emphasis this week, especially with our referees who are responsible for the punter on plays like this. We want to flag hits like that."
Huber, who admitted it was news to him that punters are considered defenseless, said the league admitting the error doesn't mean much to him.
"It's great they said it, but at the end of the day it doesn't do anything unless it's done in the game," he said.
Asked if he had heard from Garvin or anyone with the Steelers, Huber said he hadn't and didn't expect to.
"If some guy would call to apologize for every hit they made, guys would be on the phone all the time," he said. "I'm not expecting any calls."
But Garvin told Pittsburgh reporters Wednesday he intends to reach out to Huber.
"I'll probably say something to him, let him know I'm praying for him and hope he gets healthy," the rookie linebacker said, adding that he expects to be fined for the hit."
According to published reports, Garvin received a $25,000 fine. The league minimum for unnecessary roughness is $21,000.
Garvin said there was no intent to injure Huber.
"I fell down on the play and I got up and saw (Brown) coming toward me, so I was like, 'Oh, I've got to try and help him break on this play,'" Garvin said. "I wasn't out there trying to be vicious. When you're in the game, you're really just trying to make a play and help your team out."
Huber had his jaw temporarily wired shut Sunday night but had the wire removed Monday. He said he will have oral surgery Friday, after which the jaw will be held in place by rubber bands until it heals in four to six weeks.
"I've been going to Smoothie King and a couple of those places," he said. "I'll get a little blender and hopefully I'll get some recipes from people who have been through it before."
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