Concussion Watch: NFL Head Injuries in Week 10

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At least nine NFL players appeared to suffer a concussion this past weekend, but what made Week 10 especially noteworthy was that four of those players have already been sidelined by a head injury this season.

If any of the four is added to the NFL’s injury report with a concussion, it will mark the first time this season that a player has been officially diagnosed with multiple concussions. In 2012, FRONTLINE’s Concussion Watch project saw a total of 10 players suffer more than one head injury.

As Week 11 approaches, here are the names we’ll be watching for on the league’s next injury report, as well as our roundup of the top concussion-related headlines from the past week:

Stephen Burton, Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars receiver missed six weeks following a head injury he suffered in Week 3, and went down again with another concussion midway through his first game back in Week 10.

The Jaguars confirmed the injury on their website, making Burton the first player in 2013 to officially be diagnosed with multiple concussions.

Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers lost Vernon Davis in the second quarter of Week 10 after their star tight end suffered a blow to the head on a dropped pass, ESPN reported.

The concussion was the second for Davis in less than a year. Davis was diagnosed with a head injury during Week 16 of the 2012 season, but he was back on the practice field for the 49ers just four days later.

King Dunlap, San Diego Chargers

King Dunlap suffered his first concussion of the 2013 season in Week 3. He appeared to go down with a second head injury in Week 7, but because the Chargers did not play the following week, the potential injury was not noted on the Week 8 injury report.

In Week 10, Dunlap was down again with what would appear to be his third concussion in less than three months.

“He had some symptoms on the sideline — obviously it was the first drive of the second half there — that kind of just came on shortly before we were entering the field,” said Coach Mike McCoy, who noted that doctors were still examining Dunlap.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Dunlap “attempted to play through it for an unspecified period of time before the Chargers medical staff was made aware of the injury.”

Ryan Griffin, Houston Texans

The Texans confirmed on Twitter that tight end Ryan Griffin suffered a concussion midway through their Week 10 loss to the Cardinals, though it is not clear how he was hurt.

Chris Hogan, Buffalo Bills

The Bills are one of three NFL teams that have yet to report a concussion this season, but in Week 10 receiver Chris Hogan was pulled from the field with what Coach Doug Marrone described as “concussion-like symptoms.” On Monday, Marrone told reporters that Hogan was “OK from the game,” and said the team expects him to be available for their Week 11 matchup with the Jets.

In October Hogan told The Buffalo News that he’s “seen stars” many times after from hits to the head, although he had suffered only one documented concussion.

Paul Posluszny, Jacksonville Jaguars

Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny was one of two Jaguars players to be sidelined by a concussion in Week 10. Coach Gus Bradley said Posluszny was hurt in the fourth quarter of Jacksonville’s 29-27 win over the Titans, and was uncertain if he would be ready to return in time for Week 11.

“I don’t know [if Posluszny will miss a game],” Bradley said. “I’ve seen it around the league where it hasn’t been that way. Everybody’s different.”

Bradley also told reporters that Posluszny originally fought to stay in the game. “He wanted to get back in there, but to his credit he followed our advice,” Bradley said.

Eric Reid, San Francisco 49ers

Eric Reid suffered his second concussion of the 2013 season after he was bowled over in Week 10 by 250-pound fullback Mike Tolbert. As USA Today reported, Reid “bounced off Tolbert and immediately went to the ground.”

The rookie safety appeared to be knocked out but got up after a few minutes and was able to walk off the field under his own power.

Kenny Vaccaro, New Orleans Saints

Kenny Vaccaro said via his Instagram account that he will miss the Saint’s Week 11 game with the 49ers after suffering a concussion in Week 10 against the Cowboys.

“Mad I can’t play this weekend. We will take care of business. Thanks for the support. WHO-DAT,” Vaccaro said on Instagram.

Vaccaro was hurt in the second half after taking a knee to the head from Cowboys tight end Jason Witten. The concussion was the second in three games for the New Orleans rookie. Vaccaro was also injured in Week 8, though he returned from that injury without missing a game.

Benjamin Watson, New Orleans Saints

Benjamin Watson was taken out of the Saints’ Week 10 game against Dallas with a concussion, the team announced on Twitter.

Watson left the game after slamming his head on the turf while attempting to haul in a pass in the endzone. The concussion was Watson’s first of the year, but in 2011 he was forced to end his season early after suffering three concussions while with the Browns.

Around the League

  • Researchers at UCLA last week discovered telltale signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the crippling brain disease, in three NFL retirees: Hall of Famers Tony Dorsett and Joe DeLamielleure, and former All-Pro Leonard Marshall. The discovery marked the second time that the degenerative neurological condition has been found in living players. In an interview with FRONTLINE, DeLamielleure said that after “hundreds” of concussions in the NFL, he now wrestles with depression, sleeplessness and episodes of unexplainable anger. “This is a job-related injury for me,” said DeLamielleure. “There’s no other way I got it. I didn’t go pounding my head into the wall. I didn’t do drugs. I didn’t drink. I didn’t get punched in the head one time. It’s from continuous hits to the head.”
  • Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw told USA Today that the physical pounding he sustained over 13 seasons in the NFL has affected his memory and led to occasional bouts of depression. Bradshaw said his health problems led him to a California clinic four years ago to learn more about his condition. “I couldn’t focus and remember things, and I was dealing with depression,” said the Fox NFL Sunday analyst. “I was frustrated I couldn’t remember stuff, and I got real upset. It was driving me nuts. I got tested to see what condition my brain is in. And it’s not in real good shape.”
  • After just three seasons in the NFL, Broncos lineman John Moffitt said he is retiring from football because he is no longer willing to jeopardize his health. “I think it’s really madness to risk your body, risk your well-being and risk your happiness for money,” Mofitt told the Associated Press. Mofitt did not have a history with concussions, but he acknowledged that head injuries factored into his decision: “I’m not trying to be the poster boy for ‘Oh, I thought I should leave because of concussions.’ I’m just saying, it’s a valid point.” In a farewell message to fans on Twitter, he joked, “Football was fun but my head hurts — ha ha kidding roger goodell.”
  • Ridley Scott, the director behind such blockbusters as Gladiator and Black Hawk Down, is reportedly in talks on a new film about the NFL’s concussion crisis. As Deadline Hollywood reported, “Scott wants to create a drama focusing on the debilitating effects that concussions are taking on our sports heroes, and the role that league owners play in allowing it to happen. His plan is to create a morality tale on that issue, much the way that Michael Mann’s The Insider took on the tobacco industry’s complicity in covering up the addictive and cancer causing effects of cigarette smoking.”
San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid (35) lays on the ground after being injured during the second half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in San Francisco, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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