The scene of Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa laying motionless on the field in Thursday’s game against the Bengals, his arms outstretched and his fingers flexed after taking a hit, was frightening.
The hit came four days after Tagovailoa was slammed to the ground against the Bills, and the back of his head and helmet bounced violently off the ground.
Upon getting up from that hit, Tagovailoa took a few steps before collapsing.
It initially looked as if Tagovailoa had suffered a head injury. But the Dolphins insisted he suffered a back injury and cleared him to play against the Bengals.
Then came the hit in which Tagovailoa suffered a concussion. He was taken by ambulance to a Cincinnati hospital, but was later released and flew back to Miami with the team.
Questions have been raised about how diligent the Dolphins followed the concussion protocols after Sunday’s incident. In fact, the NFL Players Association is conducting an investigation into it.
“We have those protocols in place, exactly for those reasons,” said Raiders fullback Jakob Johnson, the team’s alternate players association rep. “There’s an investigation going, so we’ll see if those protocols have been followed.”
The Raiders are no strangers to the process, with center Andre James, wide receiver Hunter Renfrow and cornerback Nate Hobbs sustaining concussions this season.
James missed the past two games but was cleared to play Sunday against the Broncos. Renfrow will miss his second straight game Sunday. Hobbs, who suffered his injury in Week 3, was cleared to return to full practice Friday and hopes to play Sunday.
Each has been subjected to a slew of league-mandated tests and protocols by the team’s medical staff and an independent third-party doctor in which strict guidelines have to be met before a player is cleared to play.
It was James’ first time going through the concussion protocol.
“They did a really good job with going through the whole process,” he said. “Great shout out to everyone in the athletic training room to help me get cleared and back to normal. It took awhile because there’s a lot of steps to it.”
Coaches aren’t part of the decision-making process in clearing players.
“The medical people, that’s their area of expertise,” Raiders coach Josh McDaniels said. “We are 100 percent in line with whatever they tell us.”
Johnson said he thinks the NFL has made strides in combating head injuries but that the process still needs to improve. He cited the use of technology to track head hits in games and practices.
“It’s a process; that’s why we have the union to fight for those things,” Johnson said. “I think there will be more things that come out over the next few years to protect the players. It’s a violent sport — that’s why we like it. The more we can do to protect the players the better.”
Moreau listed as out
Tight end Foster Moreau has been ruled out of Sunday’s game with a knee injury. He didn’t practice all week after sustaining the injury against the Titans.
Cornerbacks Sam Webb (hamstring) and Rock Ya-Sin (knee), who have practiced on a limited basis this week, are listed as questionable.
The Raiders hope to get linebacker Denzel Perryman (ankle) and safety Tre’von Moehrig (hip) back Sunday. They have missed the past two games but were full practice participants Friday.