Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown didn’t suffer concussion; why he couldn’t return under new NFL rule

Detroit Free Press

Amon-Ra St. Brown passed all concussion testing on the sideline after he was pulled from Sunday’s 24-6 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, but the Detroit Lions second-year receiver could not return to play because of a change to the NFL concussion policy instituted earlier this month.

“My understanding is he looked a little disoriented, certainly, and then go to the (medical) tent (for further evaluation) and you’re going to go through the whole process of clearing him, and in the meantime they look at the video,” Lions coach Dan Campbell explained Monday. “So when they see the video plus what they saw there, it’s automatically you’re out now.”

The NFL and NFL Players Association agreed to changes in the concussion protocol after two high-profile incidents involving Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa earlier this year.

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Tagovailoa briefly left a Sept. 25 game against the Buffalo Bills after a hit by linebacker Matt Milano. Tagovailoa stumbled around the field after the play, but re-entered the game after halftime. Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said after the game Tagovailoa suffered a back injury and was not placed in concussion protocol.

Four days later, Tagovailoa suffered a brain injury when his head was slammed to the turf in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Under the new policy, players who show ataxia are barred from re-entering a game. Ataxia is an abnormality in balance, stability, motor coordination or dysfunctional speech caused by a neurological issue.

St. Brown took a forearm to the head from Cowboys linebacker Anthony Barr as he was tackled after a short catch with 4:28 to play in Sunday’s first quarter.

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After the play, St. Brown lowered his head to the turf while hunched on all fours before returning his feet. Umpire Roy Ellison immediately stopped the clock and sent St. Brown to the Lions sideline, and appeared to help the Lions receiver steady his balance before he left the field.

Campbell said St. Brown “had cleared up, he had passed everything” by the time he was escorted from the medical tent to the locker room a few minutes after the play.

With St. Brown out the final three-plus quarters, the Lions used Josh Reynolds, Kalif Raymond and Tom Kennedy as their primary receivers. St. Brown finished with one catch for 4 yards and played 10 snaps, and the Lions (1-5) failed to score a touchdown for the second straight game.

Campbell said St. Brown remained in concussion protocol Monday “just to go through the process of it, but I would anticipate us having him this weekend.”

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Asked for his thoughts on the new concussion polic, Campbell said, “That’s out of my department. … That’s what they deem and I dont mess around with head stuff.”

“With the way kind of things kind of unfolded a couple weeks ago, they’re kind of on edge about a lot of stuff, which is smart in a way,” Lions defensive tackle Alim McNeill said. “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.

“It goes both ways sometimes. Amon-Ra being cleared, he felt good, he could have went back out there, but it’s a safety thing as well. You can really go both ways with it.”

No regrets

Campbell expressed frustration after Sunday’s game that he did not challenge the spot on tight end Brock Wright’s catch one play before Jamaal Williams goal-line fumble. Wright was hauled down inside the 1-yard line after a 17-yard gain on a tight end screen pass. Replays showed Wright was stopped just short of the end zone, but officials might have erred in spotting the ball at the 1.

“I was trying to get a call on the review,” Campbell said Sunday, adding, “I was waiting for my person upstairs. That’s who I’m listening to. I have a devoted line to that.”

With no call to challenge the play, the Lions handed the ball to Williams on first-and-goal. Williams lost the first fumble of his career, the Cowboys recovered and the Lions did not sniff the end zone again.

On Monday, Campbell said it was the right decision to forgo the challenge. The Lions trailed, 10-6, at the time and had all three of their timeouts and both challenges with 12:29 on the clock.

“I think it probably wasn’t clear enough to challenge it knowing you got four downs on the 1,” Campbell said. “So I don’t — it was, we’re good.”

Brunell back

Lions quarterback coach Mark Brunell will return to the team this week after missing Sunday’s game for personal reasons, Campbell said.

John Morton, a senior offensive assistant and the former offensive coordinator of the New York Jets, handled Brunell’s coaching duties Sunday.

“Anytime you don’t have a position coach for a little bit it, you spread the load out with everybody else but I know that he and (Jared) Goff and really that quarterback room was pretty close,” Campbell said. “He’s been a guy that he’s kind of the sound board. He delivers the message, he coaches him but he’s also the sounding board and the buffer between Goff and everybody else. It’ll be good to get him back.”

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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