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Chargers place cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. in concussion protocol

Chargers cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. walks back to the locker room during a game against the Vikings.
Chargers cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. has entered the NFL’s concussion protocol for the second time in three weeks.
(Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)

In the NFL’s concussion protocol for the second time in three weeks, Asante Samuel Jr. doesn’t have to search for learned advice.

He can turn to Joey Bosa, the Chargers’ three-time Pro Bowl edge rusher who suffered two concussions in the second half of last season.

The teammates already spoke after Samuel’s first concussion in a Week 8 loss to New England.

“I just let him know that it was a real tough time for me,” Bosa said Monday, “and it was important to talk to somebody if you’re feeling depressed or feeling down about anything.”

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Samuel, a rookie cornerback drafted in the second round, missed one game before returning Nov. 14 in the Chargers’ loss to Minnesota.

He went down again Sunday after tackling Pittsburgh running back Najee Harris. A short time later, the Chargers announced that Samuel was back in concussion protocol.

Coach Brandon Staley said it was too early to speculate on Samuel’s status. Medical personnel were still determining the severity of his condition when Staley met with reporters early Monday afternoon.

“We’re concerned about all of our guys, making sure that they’re safe and sound,” Staley said. “That’s our biggest priority.”

Justin Herbert is a run threat, the Chargers are capable of late-game magic and more takeaways from the team’s 41-37 win over the Steelers on Sunday.

Samuel said he had never before suffered a concussion before last month, something Staley said “makes you feel good about his overall wellness.”

Samuel began his NFL career impressively, intercepting passes in Weeks 2 and 3, and repeatedly showing his toughness when tackling.

Like any rookie cornerback, he has had his rough moments, too, but has shown plenty of promise and was playing well Sunday before having to leave the game.

“I’ll definitely talk to him again because having a couple kind of close together like that is a scary thing,” Bosa said. “It could definitely affect your thought process and your mood and how you’re feeling.”

Bosa has been open publicly about the mental struggles he went through when dealing with his concussions. He said he continues to have a difficult time watching some of the collisions that happen in football.

“There were a lot of nasty hits [Sunday] night,” Bosa said. “It makes me cringe watching that stuff. I could watch any other any injury, but a hit to the head always makes me cringe.”

Bosa said Samuel should be fine as long as he is patient. Staley said the Chargers will approach the situation with caution.

“They should take plenty of time off, make sure he’s totally healthy,” Bosa said. “If you give your brain time to rest, it’s going to heal. But it’s when you get those multiple concussions in a row …”

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool hauls in a long pass over Chargers cornerback Asante Samuel Jr.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool hauls in a long pass over Chargers cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. at SoFi Stadium on Sunday.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Tevaughn Campbell replaced Samuel against the Steelers and likely will take over opposite Michael Davis as the Chargers prepare to play at Denver this weekend.

Both Campbell and Davis have had problems with consistency. Against the Vikings, Campbell struggled mightily when he had to replace Davis, who was out with a hamstring injury.

On Sunday, Campbell gave up four receptions on five targets for 30 yards, according to Pro Football Focus. He also had a fourth-quarter pass-interference penalty near the goal line when the Steelers were trying to convert a fourth down.

On the next play, the Steelers scored on a one-yard run by Harris to pull within 27-20.

“It was just more unlucky than anything,” Staley said. “He was connected on the route. We were in a really good coverage system. It’s just one of those bang-bang plays. He was being aggressive, and I think that he’ll learn from that.”

Davis surrendered seven receptions on 10 targets for 96 yards and a touchdown, according to PFF. He gave up a 32-yard catch to Diontae Johnson and a 28-yarder to Chase Claypool.

Staley said there was evidence — in terms of conditioning and consistency — that Davis hadn’t been in a game since injuring his hamstring Oct. 31.

In March, Davis signed a three-year contract that has $15 million in guarantees and can be worth up to $25.2 million.

He has had difficulty at times transitioning to the scheme Staley began installing after taking over as the Chargers coach in January.

“Playing consistent fundamentals down in and down out over the course of an entire game against elite competition,” Staley said, speaking of Davis and Campbell, “that’s where both of those guys need to go with their game.”

On Sunday, the Chargers face a Denver team that entered Monday ranked 19th in the NFL in passing yards.

The Broncos have veteran Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback, with Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick and Jerry Jeudy as their three top wide receivers.

The Chargers allowed the Pittsburgh Steelers to rally from a 17-point deficit before pulling off a 41-37 victory on a Mike Williams touchdown catch.

Etc.

The Chargers placed defensive tackle Linval Joseph on the COVID-19 reserve list Monday. The veteran is unvaccinated, meaning he’ll have to quarantine for 10 days. Joseph missed the game Sunday because of a shoulder injury.

He joined fellow defensive linemen Jerry Tillery and Christian Covington on the virus list. It remains uncertain when Tillery and Covington will be able to return.

Bosa came off the COVID list Saturday. He missed no games.


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