Allen Park — If the head injury suffered by Detroit Lions receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown on Sunday happened in Weeks 1-3, maybe he would have finished Sunday’s game in Dallas. But under the NFL’s amended concussion protocol, which took effect after the scary head injury suffered by Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in Week 4, Lions head coach Dan Campbell said St. Brown was prohibited from reentering the game.
The amended protocol states any players who show signs of ataxia — impaired balance or coordination from damaged brain or nerves — will not be allowed to return to the game and will be designated as having a concussion, regardless of whether they pass a concussion test in the medical tent.
St. Brown was sent to the medical tent by an official after taking a hard hit in the first quarter and was cleared of a concussion in that tent. But because he appeared to “shake the cobwebs” out and stumbled a bit after suffering the hit, Campbell said he had no chance of actually going back in. Campbell said he “would anticipate” St. Brown being available against the Dolphins on Sunday.
“My understanding is, he looked a little disoriented, certainly, and then, you go to the tent, you’re gonna go through the whole process of clearing him, and in the meantime, they look at the video,” Campbell said. “So when they see the video, plus what they saw there, it’s automatically, ‘You’re out’ now.”
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When asked if there was any circumstance where a player who’s sent off could come back in the game, he said, “My understanding is that’s gone now.”
St. Brown might have been one of the first casualties of the new rule, but this situation likely will become a new norm. And though the Lions lost a major playmaker this past Sunday, it does feel as though this is a fair tradeoff to ensure long-term player safety.
“It’s smart, in a way, ’cause I mean, what can you do? You don’t really know for sure if the player’s good or not. They’re worried about your health, ultimately,” Lions defensive tackle Alim McNeill said. “It goes back and forth. It goes both ways sometimes.
“With Amon-Ra being cleared, he felt good and he could have went back out there, but it’s a safety thing as well.”