Independent medical observers stopped five NFL games in 2015 and two so far in 2016 - the first two seasons in which the ''Medical Timeout'' has been employed as a method to identify players with major injuries or possible concussions.
In its 2016 Health and Safety Report , released Tuesday, the NFL said an average of 29 health care providers, including two unaffiliated neurotrauma consultants, attend games. Many of them, along with on-field officials, can rule a player out due to a concussion or other severe injury.
In a new move last season, the NFL stationed athletic trainers in spots high above the field and allowed them to watch replays - and to call time out if they saw injuries that otherwise went unnoticed.
Rams quarterback Case Keenum stayed on the field after his head slammed to the turf near the end of a game last season, spurring questions about how well the new rule worked.
In this season's opener, Carolina quarterback Cam Newton stayed in the game despite repeated hits to his head, including one that left him doubled over on the sideline.
The report offered no new data since preliminary figures released in January accounted for 182 concussions over the 2015 season. That was a 58 percent increase over the same time period in 2014, and a 25 percent increase over the average from 2012-14. The NFL has suggested that the increase is partly due to an increase in awareness and reporting.
An Associated Press report released the same week as the NFL's concussion data found only 39 of 100 players surveyed across the league were more concerned about the long-term effects of concussions than those of other injuries.
Tuesday's report also touted the NFL's new ''Play Smart, Play Safe'' initiative and said the league and its owners have pledged $100 million to support medical research and engineering advances, in addition to $100 million already being spent on medical and neuroscience research.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL