Concussion Watch: NFL Head Injuries in Week 11

The line of scrimmage between the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs during the Kansas City Chiefs against the Denver Broncos in an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013 in Denver, Colorado.

The line of scrimmage between the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs during the Kansas City Chiefs against the Denver Broncos in an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. (AP Photo/Tom Hauck)

November 20, 2013

Through 11 weeks of the 2013 NFL season, a total of 80 concussions have been reported on the league’s official injury report. All but three teams have reported a head injury, with just three positions — wide receiver, cornerback and safety — accounting for close to half of all concussions this season.

This past weekend, FRONTLINE’s Concussion Watch project counted another seven possible head injuries. These are the names we’ll be watching for on the next injury report, as well as our roundup of the top concussion-related headlines from the past week:

Justin Bethel, Arizona Cardinals

Cardinals cornerback Justin Bethel left with a concussion in the first half of their game against the Jaguars and didn’t return, Fox Sports reported. Cornerbacks have suffered 14 concussions so far this season, more than any other position in the league.

Mason Foster, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mason Foster was forced to leave the field in Week 11 after a bruising helmet-to-helmet hit collision with Dashon Golson. “After a 5-yard completion from Matt Ryan to Tony Gonzalez, Goldson took a 7-yard run to the pile, lowered his head and blasted … Foster in the head,” reported The Tampa Bay Times.

Head Coach Greg Schiano told reporters that Foster was being observed by team trainers, but could be ready to play for Tampa Bay in Week 12.

“I feel good,” Foster told reporters. “It’s one of those things. I’m going to go talk to the trainers and get it all taken care of. I’ve never had a concussion, so this is the first time something like that came up, but we’ll deal with it. It doesn’t worry me. We’ve got great trainers, so I know I’m in good hands.”

Jermaine Kearse, Seattle Seahawks

The only injury from the Seahawks’ win over the Vikings in Week 11 was a concussion to linebacker Jermaine Kearse, said Coach Pete Carroll.

“He felt a lot better,” Carroll said a day after the game. “He will benefit, obviously, from this [bye] week and having two weeks before he has to get back. We would think he’ll be able to make it. He has to go through the [concussion] protocols, but he has plenty of time to get well.”

Because teams do not provide injury data during their bye week, Kearse’s concussion will not appear on the league injury report unless the Seahawks add it to the Week 13 report.

Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins

Jordan Reed suffered a concussion during the Redskins’ 24-16 loss to the Eagles in Week 11, according to ESPN. Coach Mike Shanahan confirmed the injury after the game.

Craig Steltz, Chicago Bears

A scary moment came for Bears safety Craig Steltz on an overtime kickoff against the Ravens in Week 11. As USA Today reported:

Steltz, a former safety at LSU, got run over by Baltimore rookie Kyle Juszczyk on the kickoff return in overtime, and what followed is your Sunday reminder that yes, football is a violent sport. Juszczyk outweighs Steltz by about 30 pounds, and the Bears’ safety didn’t get low enough on the tackle attempt. After getting trucked, Steltz tried to get up, staggered, and fell down. His teammates must have seen in his eyes that he wasn’t right, and held him up. Then coaches held him up.

John Sullivan, Minnesota Vikings

Vikings Coach Leslie Frazier told reporters that center John Sullivan sustained a concussion during Minnesota’s loss to the Seahawks in Week 11, but no other details about the injury were available. Sullivan was also sidelined by a concussion during the 2011 season.

Wes Welker, Denver Broncos

Wes Welker re-entered the game for the Broncos after reportedly suffering a concussion against the Chiefs in Week 11. Per ESPN:

Welker sustained the injury on a 20-yard catch-and-run play in the fourth quarter Sunday, when he was tackled by Chiefs defensive end Allen Bailey but also was hit in the helmet by safety Eric Berry. Welker started to leave the field and then took a knee.

Welker was checked by Broncos doctors and re-entered the game for five plays, but was pulled from the game after the fifth play, a 9-yard reception.

“My understanding is we followed protocol, he was cleared to return, he had symptoms that came up and he was pulled,” [Coach Jack] Del Rio said Monday. “He’ll go through the protocol this week. … [Doctors] checked him, allowed to return, symptoms came that were problematic and he was pulled.

Around the League

  • The team of UCLA researchers who earlier this month discovered signs of chronic brain damage in three living NFL retirees said they have been inundated with inquiries from former players about undergoing testing. “Since last week, the researchers … said that well over 100 former players have inquired, as have many parents of youth athletes,” according to a report from ESPN. In tests of nine former NFL players, the UCLA research team has found signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in all nine cases.
  • The nation’s largest youth football program, Pop Warner, saw its participation rate drop 9.5 percent from 2010-2012, according to an “Outside the Lines” report by League of Denial authors Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada. “Pop Warner lost 23,612 players, thought to be the largest two-year decline since the organization began keeping statistics decades ago,” the report found. “Pop Warner officials said they believe several factors played a role in the decline, including the trend of youngsters focusing on one sport. But the organization’s chief medical officer, Dr. Julian Bailes, cited concerns about head injuries as ‘the No. 1 cause.'”
  • NFL analyst Bob Costas said that if he had a son, he would not allow him to play football, while recording a podcast with Slate. “I’d tell them no. I’d tell them no. I know that goes viral tomorrow,” Costas said. “Maybe the better answer is: Be advised of the extreme dangers, know what you’re getting into. But let me put it this way: If it were my son and he was 13 years old and had reasonable athletic ability I would encourage him to play baseball, or to play basketball or to play soccer or something other than football.”


Jason M. Breslow

Jason M. Breslow, Former Digital Editor



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