As NFL concussion protocol changes stall, Rams lineman returns from head injury
On the day that Rams offensive lineman David Edwards cleared concussion protocol and said he would play Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, the NFL players’ union Friday released a statement urging the NFL to implement changes to the protocols immediately.
Friday’s union action was spurred after Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa left and then was allowed to return to a Sept. 25 game against the Buffalo Bills after a suffering a head injury. Tagovailoa then suffered head and neck injuries during a Sept. 29 game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“Our union has agreed to change the concussion protocols to protect players from returning to play in the case of any similar incident to what we saw on Sept. 25,” the NFLPA statement said. “We would like these changes to go into effect before this weekend’s games to immediately protect the players and hope the NFL accepts the change before then as well.”
The NFL responded with a statement.
“As we have discussed with the NFLPA, we agree that changes to the joint NFL-NFLPA protocols are necessary to further enhance player safety,” the statement said. “We have already spoken to member of the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee and the leadership of the Unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultants and Independent Certified Athletic Trainers who serve as spotters to discuss these likely changes.”
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Edwards, the starting left guard, sat out last Monday’s 24-9 defeat to the San Francisco 49ers after self-reporting symptoms the Friday before.
The Rams’ injury-plagued line gave up seven sacks against the 49ers and now faces a Cowboys defense that ranks tied for second in the league with 15 sacks.
Coach Sean McVay is happy to have Edwards back.
“It’s big-time stability,” McVay said.
Edwards, 25, said he had absorbed a “shot” during practice “that was normal and consistent with everything we’ve done up to this point.”
While playing with his children that night, however, he said he “just didn’t feel right.”
Edwards attended team meetings the next day.
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“Just told myself if I still don’t feel right, I’ve got to say something,” he said.
Edwards reported his symptoms to Reggie Scott, the Rams vice president of sports medicine and performance, and said he also spoke with McVay and team medical personnel before entering concussion protocol.
McVay said last week that “You can’t be too careful with some of these things” and lauded Edwards for “taking the right steps, especially with the [Tagovailoa] situation that occurred.”
Asked Friday if he was influenced by Tagovailoa’s situation, Edwards said that he was not.
“It was just the first time in my life where I just didn’t feel right,” he said. “I felt like I owed it to my family and myself to speak up and say something.”
Edwards said he still felt “terrible I couldn’t be out there with the guys, like I was letting guys down.”
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But he said he learned from his experience playing through a shoulder injury during his final college season at Wisconsin in 2018.
“I just owed it to myself and my family just to say something,” he said. “It’s one of those things — you can scan a shoulder and say you’re out for four to six weeks. You can’t scan you’re brain and say you’re out for four to six weeks.
“It’s kind of how you’re feeling.”
Offensive tackle Rob Havenstein and injured center Brian Allen were among teammates who offered support, Edwards said. But he said he felt “almost like hopeless” watching his teammates struggle without him against the 49ers.
“You’re seeing guys out there battling and you just want to be out there, but you’re sitting on your couch doing nothing,” he said, adding “I’m sitting there being, ‘Oh my gosh. I’m sitting at home watching a football game when I should be out there, kind of thing,’ you know what I mean?
“That was the hard part.”
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