The next thing the New York Jets rookie linebacker knew, he was waking up in a hospital bed.
''I'm thinking to myself, `OK, how did I get in the hospital? I thought I was just on the field,''' Mauldin recalled Wednesday. ''I had known something had to have happened because I wasn't on the field and I wasn't on the bus to go home after the win.''
Mauldin was involved in a scary scene at MetLife Stadium, suffering a concussion in the Jets' season opener against the Browns on Sept. 13. In the fourth quarter of New York's 31-10 victory, Mauldin closed in on Manziel and punched the ball out of his hands as Muhammad Wilkerson sacked him.
Manziel rolled onto Mauldin, who stayed down for several moments before standing, taking two steps and dropping to the turf.
''I think I took a blow to the jaw or something,'' Mauldin said while speaking to reporters for the first time since the injury. ''I had a migraine before that play, but it was going away. I'm thinking that it maybe triggered something. They say I caused a fumble, but I couldn't even enjoy that because I don't remember it.''
Mauldin, the team's third-round draft pick out of Louisville, stayed face-down and motionless as trainers and medical staff rushed over to him. His facemask was removed and he was strapped to a spinal board before being lifted onto a cart - with an entire stadium fearing he had suffered a serious neck injury.
''I was out,'' Mauldin said, ''so I don't remember any of that, being carted off or guys touching me or talking to me.''
A battery of tests at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan ruled that out, and he was diagnosed with a concussion. Mauldin was in and out of consciousness throughout the night before fully coming to early the next morning. Teammates, including wide receiver Brandon Marshall, visited him and offered encouragement and wishes for a quick recovery.
''They told me that they were worried and were glad I was OK,'' Mauldin said. ''They prayed for me and everyone was looking out for me, and I'm blessed to be here again with them.''
Mauldin was released from the hospital later that day and placed in the NFL's concussion protocol. He missed Monday night's game at Indianapolis, but is hoping to fully return to the practice field soon.
''I feel good,'' he said. ''I'm back to myself, normal, 100 percent.''
Mauldin wore sunglasses for about three days after the concussion, to help with dulling the bright light that sometimes gives him migraines. He takes medication to help alleviate them, and has also been prescribed tinted contact lenses that he'll wear during games.
He started doing some physical activities on Tuesday, and is still hopeful to be ready to play on Sunday against Philadelphia - although that might be a long shot.
''I've gotten all the mental part and passed all the mental things,'' he said, ''so I'm just hoping to get the physical part down.''
For now, Mauldin has avoided watching any replays of the scary moments when his career appeared in jeopardy, and maybe worse.
''I didn't want to,'' he said. ''I wanted to keep moving on. It really didn't matter to me how it happened. I just wanted to get better.''
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