Chris Rainey received what he called a “Welcome to the National Football League” type of hit on Sunday.
There’s no doubt commissioner Roger Goodell has seen it, and he may have to look at it a second time.
On just the third play from scrimmage in the Steelers’ preseason win over the Colts, the former Gator running back took the handoff on a reverse and showed what he’s equipped to do. He used his blazing speed to turn the corner and dart through a hole for eight yards.
At that instant, Colts cornerback Jerraud Powers was there to meet him and revealed what Rainey isn’t equipped to do.
Powers lowered his shoulder into Rainey’s head, which recoiled as the 5-foot-9, 180-pounder fumbled the ball and crumbled to the turf. Rainey remained on the ground for a few minutes while trainers attended to him. Pittsburgh’s medical staff examined him in the locker room for a possible concussion, but Rainey passed the tests and returned late in the second quarter.
However, some people — including Ralph N. Paulk of the Tribune-Review in Pittsburgh — are questioning the team’s decision to put Rainey back on the field, especially after hearing what the team’s fifth-round pick had to say afterwards.
Rainey, who struggled to make his way off the field and into the locker room to be tested, implied that he may have been unconscious for some period of time.
“I woke up, and I’m still here,” Rainey said. “I thought he dove at my head, and I thought there was a penalty.”
If a player loses consciousness, NFL rules in 2007 say that player should not be allowed to return to that same game. If Rainey was in fact out of it for any period of time, he should have been kept on the bench and forced to have further tests before returning to practice Tuesday.
After being looked at, Rainey said he pleaded his case that he was back to normal, but later admitted that he wasn’t.
“I kept slipping on cuts, and I dropped a couple of passes. I didn’t like it,” said Rainey, who rushed six times for 20 yards and returned kickoffs. “I’m taking all the opportunities I can, and sometimes you’ve got to deal with getting hit.”
In an effort to reduce concussions, Goodell sent all 32 teams a memo stating that a player who suffers a concussion should not return to action on the same day if he shows certain symptoms. Among those is persistent dizziness. The others include an inability to remember assignments or plays, a gap in memory and persistent headaches.
Given the fact that the pile of concussion lawsuits are only taking up more and more of Goodell’s desk space, one would assume that he’ll review this incident. While he’s at it, he’ll likely fast-forward to another hit that took place in the same quarter of that same contest. Steelers linebacker Larry Foote collided with Colts receiver Austin Collie, who was diagnosed on Monday with his third concussion since November 2010.
Another game involving the Steelers back in December spurred Goodell to take action on the issue of concussions. Linebacker James Harrison’s hit to Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy’s head took him out of the game, but only for one snap. Goodell publicly criticized the Browns, and the league re-evaluated its procedures.
It was later declared that a player who may have been concussed is taken immediately out of games, scrimmages and practices. Now, coaches and trainers are to keep players out until they are cleared by further testing.
After what happened with Rainey, Goodell may not be done re-writing those guidelines.
HADEN KICKED OUT OF PRACTICE
During the Browns’ final day of training camp on Wednesday morning, cornerback Joe Haden was kicked out of practice for “being a little too rough” after he tackled rookie receiver Travis Benjamin. Haden has previously been warned about his physicality, and apparently this was the last straw for second-year head coach Pat Shurmur. The two exchanged heated words before Haden removed his pads and left for the Browns’ practice facility with president Mike Holmgren following.
Haden is the best defensive player on a Browns defense that ranked fifth in average points allowed last season (19.2) and second in passing yards allowed (184.9), but he may miss a few games at the start of the regular season after testing positive for the prescription drug Adderall.