LA Rams must be careful: 2 players, 2 concussions, 2 consecutive weeks

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

The LA Rams are struggling to find any reason for hope, any catalyst to turn this season to the positive. That level of desperation can get a lesser team into trouble, particularly if there is a chance to get a player off the ever-growing injury list and onto the playing field. But there are plenty of reasons not to do so, and the LA Rams, a club just coming off winning Super Bowl LVI, is pioneering new territory in that category.

Among the many injuries, the Rams have had two players enter the NFL concussion protocol this season. While that is not newsworthy, the fact that both players were re-entered into the same NFL concussion protocol is.

The Rams have had two players: Left guard David Edwards, and now quarterback Matthew Stafford, enter and be cleared from the five-day NFL concussion protocol. And in both cases, those same players reentered the same NFL concussion protocol the following week. Since the entire protocol was designed to prevent that from happening, there will be plenty of eyes trained upon the Rams handling of Stafford’s situation this time around.

Are the Rams adhering to each step in the process? Is documentation adequate to support promoting the player to the next step? If the process is itself failing, should the NFL/NFLPA implement more stringent measures to ensure no relapses?

The overriding objective is not to get a player back onto the football field, but rather to ensure the full health of the injured player. Curiously, that outcome is not being met for the LA Rams with their recent players. That’s concerning.

Player health is the priority

This is no longer the day of the ‘Just rub some dirt in it,’ mindset in the NFL. As players have become bigger and far more athletic, the injuries continue to become more frequent and have greater long-term health implications without proper treatment and recovery time. The trouble with player injuries is that even if medically cleared, evidence suggests that many NFL players could fight the long-term effects of their playing days in pain or limited in some way.

The Rams must be conservative on how they handle both Stafford and Edwards now. Even if they clear all hurdles set in the NFL concussion protocol, there is no need to rush either player back. Whatever message we believe the team should send to players, the first message should be bona fide concern for the players.

The desire to win a game takes a backseat right now. Per ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio, the NFLPA is monitoring the Matthew Stafford situation. But I don’t think the reasons are nefarious or some sting operation to catch the Rams in the act of doing something wrong.

The NFL and NFLPA deployed the NFL concussion protocol to ensure players would be removed from competition to promote health and avoid repeat injuries. If, as evidence suggests from the LA Rams’ recent experience, that objective is not being met, then it’s the NFL protocol and not the LA Rams, that is the target of any investigation.

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