The Tua Tagovailoa effect? At least a dozen players benched Sunday under NFL concussion protocols
Following a storm of health and safety criticism directed at the NFL for its handling of Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa last week pulled at least 12 players from Sunday’s games under league concussion protocols.
Neurological assessments took place in eight of Sunday’s 14 games and appeared to suggest a cautious increase in stress from the previous week’s numbers. During the league’s Week 3 roster, only three players appeared to have been benched after completing concussion protocols. This group did not include Tagovailoa, who hit his head while facing the Buffalo Bills then stumbled to the ground as he attempted to walk towards the huddle, raising concerns over whether he had suffered a concussion. Tagovailoa underwent a neurological evaluation at halftime of that match and was eventually cleared to return to the pitch. This decision led the NFL Players Association to immediately call for an investigation into whether proper concussion protocols had been followed.
Four days later, in Thursday’s prime time league game, Tagovailoa suffered a concussion against the Cincinnati Bengals and had to be taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital. Following this incident and following pressing questions about what happened during the Buffalo game, the NFLPA exercised its right to fire the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant who examined Tagovailoa and allowed him to continue. to play against the Bills. It also prompted the NFL and NFLPA to open discussions about revamping the league’s concussion protocols, with a focus on removing players who exhibit motor instability during play. The NFL and NFLPA have announced potential “modifications” to concussion protocols on Saturday, leaving open the possibility that changes could be instituted as early as Week 5.
The announcement also set the stage for Sunday, when officials and teams were expected to monitor players more closely and act quickly to remove them from the field if concussion protocols are deemed to be were justified. This resulted in a series of reports and reviews that affected two quarterbacks, two star linebackers and a handful of other key players in games.
Indianapolis Colts All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard was taken off the field and diagnosed with a concussion during the second quarter against the Tennessee Titans. He was injured after a bad collision with his teammate Zaire Franklin, who left Leonard needing help before being taken straight to the locker room. It was Leonard’s first game of the season after back surgery before training camp.
On the Sunday night primetime show, Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate looked shaken twice in the first half against the Kansas City Chiefs, finally eliminated in the second quarter. He was assessed and placed on concussion protocol and did not return to play after halftime.
Three players went into concussion protocols and did not return in a game between the Las Vegas Raiders and Denver Broncos. The trio included the Raiders Pro Bowl linebacker Denzel Perryman, along with a pair of Broncos safety PJ Locke and linebacker Aaron Patrick. The Raiders had already been shorthanded on Sunday due to concussions, with a wide berth Hunter Renfrow and Start Center Andre James was sidelined due to protocols.
Two New York Giants reached protocols in their game against the Chicago Bears: quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who came on with a starter injury Daniel Jones and security Julian Love. Taylor was hit in a sideline scramble and ejected from the field for evaluation by referee Carl Cheffers, while Love was identified and ruled out by one of the NFL’s concussion spotters. Both players were later confirmed to have suffered concussions.
Two players in the game between the New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers, including Patriots quarterback Brian Hoyer, who was already starting in place of an injured Mac Jones. Hoyer suffered the concussion during a sack in the first quarter. The Packers also lost Adrian Amos, who is one of their most experienced veteran defensemen, to a tackle by Patriots running back Damien Harris in the first quarter.
The Pittsburgh Steelers lost starting safety Terrell Edmunds in the second quarter of their game against the New York Jets, following a helmet-to-helmet collision between Edmunds and Jets running back Michael Carter II. Edmunds had to be helped to his feet after the hit, then went to the locker room after a checkup in the team’s medical tent. He was later confirmed to be in concussion protocol.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie suffered a blow to the head in the third quarter against the Baltimore Ravens, catching a pass from Josh Allen, then taking a hit that led to him being pulled from the field by staff team sports training. The Bills later confirmed that McKenzie suffered a concussion on the play.
The Houston Texans lost linebacker Blake Cashman in the second quarter of their game against the Los Angeles Chargers. Head coach Lovie Smith confirmed after the game that Cashman had been taken out and was in concussion protocols.
That’s a solid number of players knocked out just three days from Tagovailoa’s concussion and could hint at the direction the revamped protocols will go when the NFL and NFLPA finalize the changes.
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