Skip to main content

Concussion discussion Week 2 rage


"Decimated." That word actually has a specific meaning, focused on an ancient Roman punishment. Some teams feel like they've been decimated and, in the modern sense, some have. There are a lot of injuries coming with "season-ending" tags on them, but remember that "season-altering" is just as bad from a fantasy context. While losing a top pick like a Ryan Grant is bad, it could have been any of the players in the top tier. You have to remember each player is one play, one moment away from ending things. After Tom Brady's near-miss accident -- in which the person in the other car is still in serious condition -- last week, we should all realize just how close we all are. Injuries are going to happen. You just have to be prepared, draft (and now find) depth, and focus on putting up points on a consistent basis. Given how many significant injuries we've had in Week 1, I wonder if the NFL and NFLPA will take a closer look at what an 18-game schedule might do to the health of players and the quality of play.

First, a heads-up: You're about to read about concussions. Each and every week, you'll likely read about a star player suffering this injury. Through the work of people like the Sports Legacy Institute and Alan Schwarz's Pulitzer-worthy work on the subject at The New York Times, the situation is starting to get taken more seriously. It's not just a problem in the NFL; we're seeing this in colleges and high schools, in baseball (Justin Morneau) and others. Dr. Tim Kremchek, the team physician for the Cincinnati Reds, has a facility for doing ImPACT testing at his clinic. He's seeing an explosion of need among area high school athletes. I watched Stand Up 2 Cancer, a benefit to raise money for a worthy cause, led by celebrities last week that aired on all the broadcast networks. It's time for sports to do the same. Each sports network - ESPN, Versus, NFL Network, MLB Network, even halftime of network games - would donate several hours of airtime for a similar benefit, both to raise money for research and for taking care of the players who are and will be disabled while it is figured out. Call it "Heads Up" or something, but it's time to take this issue seriously enough that we'll stop talking and actually do something. People will say "what does it take, someone being killed?" People, that's happened. It takes us taking it seriously, together.

Now, on to the injuries:

The story on the Eagles and concussions has been written largely and loudly this week, as it should be. The irony is that eagles trainer RickBurkholder is one of the leaders in the field, a man who was selected by his peers to help formulate the new concussion policy and how it would be carried out. It's clear this wasn't incompetence; this was either a mistake -- a terrible one -- or this policy is unable to be carried out under the current conditions.

With four full-time athletic trainers, at least three doctors, and likely some sports medicine interns on the sidelines Sunday, the team still didn't have enough eyes to monitor the field while conducting an examination of an injured player. While I don't know the specifics of how the Eagles handle things on game day, one NFL athletic trainer shared how his team handles this: "First, I'm not criticizing Rick. This could happen to anyone. We try to have one [trainer] watching our guys at all times, two if possible. If there's two, one's watching the backfield, offense or defense, while the other is watching the line. The problem is when there is something that comes up, one of those guys now has to help with something or re-tape an ankle and, sometimes, not everything is getting watched. You can't count on the coaches, since they're as bad or worse than the players about reporting. It's just the game." I asked him whether there should be some form of communication between trainers, like the coaches, and their headsets. He thought that would be a good idea, but tough to get a team to agree to unless there was a league-wide mandate. He also liked the idea of having another trainer in the booth, watching for injuries, but "that's another salary."

With Dr. Robert Cantu saying proper evaluations take 10-15 minutes, NFL teams are going to have to get used to the idea they're going to lose players for quarters at a time or they're going to have to increase manpower on the sidelines.

There are a couple other issues within this story. The NFLPA initially said the Eagles had followed procedure on both concussions. I'm a bit dubious of how the union handled this. While concussions or any injury shouldn't be part of any labor ploy, I'd have liked to have seen someone, anyone, taking the side of the player on this, questioning the dangers. Second, I'm very concerned about how Kolb's injury was initially reported. The press was told Kolb had a "jaw injury." Well, yes, he did. He got hit on the jaw, resulting in a concussion. A few years ago, rugby's governing body came up with guidelines for concussions, putting a player out for 30 days after a concussion was suffered. The immediate consequence was concussions were only reported in the most serious cases, with the minor ones being hidden as things like "neck injury," "upper body bruise," and, yes, "jaw injury." We're going to have to keep a close eye to make sure the NFL doesn't start using weasel words like this.

As for Kolb and Bradley's availability, Kolb is out after failing his concussion screening on Monday. The policy requires five symptom-free days before a return and the Eagles responded quickly by saying he'd be unavailable. There's been no word on Bradley, though that will be clarified when the OIR is released.

Watching any player get his knee blown out is tough. Leonard Weaver's was ugly, reminding me of Napoleon McCallum, which was the worst injury I've seen on an NFL field as far as sheer "eww" factor. Jenkins' injury, happening so early and so clearly on the replay, made me first cringe and then wonder -- why was he not wearing a brace? Jenkins, coming off knee surgery last year, has no excuse for not protecting himself. With Weaver, it's a bit more understandable, but time and time again, I saw players without available safety equipment. I wish I could remember who, but there was a QB last weekend who got rolled up on, almost Tom Brady-style, and just got lucky. Knee braces are light, inexpensive, and could prevent million-dollar injuries for players. Even a top-of-the-line brace like this one costs about $900. Jenkins is making about $2.2 million in salary this season, which might have been saved if he'd been wearing a brace. Both players are done for the season, with Jenkins having many questions about a return at all.

After Week 1, Ryan Grant's season is over. Immediately after the game, there were varying reports about the severity of his injury. I was told Grant had a Grade II ankle sprain after an inversion sprain. He was put in a Louisiana wrap, then a walking boot as he left the stadium. It turns out is was much more than that: a rupture of one of the strongest ligaments, which is rare due to the ankle's structural nature. You seldom see this occur without a fracture, but that's the report. The result is surgery to repair the ligament, the placing of Grant on the IR, ending his season.

I asked Dr. Philip Kwong, the top foot and ankle guy in the country,of Kerlan-Jobe about this unusual injury and he told me this is one of the most severe ankle injuries. His expectation was someone with this injury wouldn't be weight-bearing for three months and even at the six-to-twelve-month mark, the prognosis is going to be unknown. That means we might not know if Grant can come back from this until training camp next year. The immediate impact is the elevation of Brandon Jackson to a top-20 standing among RBs. He's sure to be the subject of bidding wars and waiver claims this week. Remember, Grant himself was a castoff who couldn't crack the RB rotation in New York. All he needed was an opportunity and the right system. That's what Jackson is about to get.

Again? That's what Matthew Stafford and the Lions, not to mention their fans, have to be thinking. After being driven into the turf by JuliusPeppers, Stafford stayed down. His shoulder was once again separated by the impact, much like last year. This was a clean hit by Peppers and one thing that all QBs fear. The separation created a sprain in his throwing shoulder. Remember, a sprain is a stretching or tearing of the fibers of a ligament, so while you'll hear both terms -- separation and sprain -- they're essentially the same thing in this case. Cause and effect.

Stafford is likely to be out around six weeks, with a two-to-eight-week range on the injury. That leaves ShaunHill with the keys to the offense now, though it seems like handing the ball to JahvidBest might be the Lions' plan in the short term. Stafford should be able to come back and be effective, but, as SamBradford learned last year, there's a high recurrence risk for this injury.

As bad as concussions like Kolb and Bradley's are, repeat concussions might be worse. Ignoring for now the long-term implications of concussive and sub-concussive impacts on players (which we're only beginning to learn about) repeat concussions are a known danger.

Kevin Boss left Sunday's game with a concussion, and in the aftermath, Tom Coughlin admitted the Giants had hidden a concussion last season. (They did it within the NFL's reporting rules, due to a long post-Thanksgiving week.) Boss, like any player, is going to see a couple things. First, concussions have a cumulative effect; the second is usually worse than the first and the third is worse than the second. This is a general rule, but as the concussions add up, things get dicier for a player. Second, a concussion comes with an impact. Just as Kolb was diagnosed with a jaw injury, Boss also had his neck bent awkwardly under trauma. These hits not only impact the brain, but you'll see the direct effects of the trauma as well. Boss has been ruled out for Week 2 against the Colts, giving the Giants a week to figure out how to replace him. Travis Beckum is the best fantasy option, though whether Eli Manning will build confidence in him this week remains to be seen.

KevinKolb might be getting all the attention for his concussion, but MattMoore got knocked out of his first game as well. JimmyClausen didn't get much time at the QB1 slot and it looks like Moore will be back this week. He was cleared on Tuesday and was expected to practice Wednesday. If all goes well and he remains symptom-free, Moore will get the start against Tampa, which should be a better matchup. The Giants rank No. 1 against the pass after Week 1, but how much of that was their defense and how much was Moore? That's a tough fantasy question to answer right now. Knowing that, on top of the risk of a second concussion, Moore's a tough fantasy play this weekend unless you just have no other options.

Things looked mostly positive for Steven Jackson in his first game back after back surgery last season. He ran pretty well, put up solid, if not spectacular, numbers and, in the clips I saw of him, appeared to be the same Steven Jackson we saw before the injury. The downside was he had significant inflammation in his knee after the game, enough so the Rams sent him for an MRI. The inflammation is most likely related to minor meniscus damage, but this could be the start of something like what we have seen with Maurice Jones-Drew and the rumors of his knee problem. Function is the key here and Jackson didn't show that he's anything but a must start heading into his Week 2 matchup with Oakland. If you have Jackson, you should have already had a solid backup cadre of RBs anyway, but double-check if you're not as comfortable now.

I was surprised Bob Sanders was able to come back at all, but less than a quarter into his first game of the season, Sanders tore his biceps tendon and saw his season end just that fast. The Colts brought Sanders back out of one part stubbornness and one part salary cap, but there's little chance they'll bring him back in 2011. Sanders tore the biceps tendon on the other arm from last year, implying that those big muscled arms simply can't handle the forces of the NFL game. How it happened remains a question. The play in which he went over Owen Daniels and landed oddly appears to be the cause, but some sources say it happened even earlier. Either way, Sanders pulled himself up using both arms after that play as a teammate assisted him. If you get a chance, watch the video, though I can't find a link to it. Sanders continued to play after the injury and practiced lightly on Monday. It's a confusing series of events with a sad ending. The Colts were prepared for this and Melvin Bullitt doesn't hurt the Colts defense significantly.

Is Knowshon Moreno's hamstring injury serious enough that the Broncos brought in Laurence Maroney? There are many who think the two facts go together ... Fred Taylor was limited on Wednesday with a toe issue. Watch this one ... The Bears listed both Matt Forte and Devin Aromashadu as limited Wednesday with knee issues. Neither is thought to be serious ... There's a rash of ankle dislocations in the league this year. Many are questioning the impact of some shoes in combination with new turf. Having two "stickier" substances could be a part of the reason we're seeing more of this devastating injury ... Michael Hoomanawanui will miss a month or more with a high ankle sprain ... Anthony Gonzalez will miss Week 2 and likely more after leaving early with a high ankle sprain ... Michael Bush is practicing this week, but he's still not close to 100 percent after thumb surgery. The Raiders would be taking some risks if they put him in as much more than a decoy, though it appears they're at least considering it in practice this week.

I'll be back Saturday with the weekly Med Check and on Sunday with constant updates both here on and on Twitter, where you can follow me @injuryexpert.