The NFL’s concussion protocol has already ended the season early for Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden and wide receiver Andrew Hawkins. It could end quarterback Johnny Manziel’s season a week earlier than he would like.
Wednesday, Manziel was placed into the concussion protocol after reporting to the team’s headquarters in Berea and complained about concussion like symptoms. The Browns were proactive and sent Manziel for tests.
The Browns have had their share of players be placed into the concussion protocol this season. Every one has missed at least a game once they entered the protocol. Cleveland leads the NFL with 14 players placed in the league protocol this season.
“I know he took a pretty good shot in the game,” head coach Mike Pettine said. “We also had a similar circumstance with (DB) Tramon (Williams). Sometimes guys don’t feel great after and think it will go away, and when it doesn’t, certainly need to bring it up. Again, we will take the very conservative approach with it.”
It’s not exactly known when Manziel could have suffered the possible concussion in last Sunday’s 17-13 loss to the Chiefs in Kansas City.
The injury could have happened on the first play of the fourth quarter. Manziel would scramble out of the pocket and would run down the far sideline before being tackled by Chiefs defensive end Allen Bailey. Manziel’s head did hit the ground and he appeared to be a little shaken up following the play, but remained in the game.
Manziel has not officially been ruled out for Sunday’s season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Manziel didn’t practice on Wednesday. Austin Davis took the first team snaps and will be the starter in Manziel is not cleared from the protocol by this weekend.
“I think just with the way the NFL handles concussions now, you have to be prepared to go in a situation like this,” Davis said. “When someone’s experiencing symptoms like (QB) Johnny (Manziel) is, you kind of have to assume that he’s going to be out and adjust if he’s not.”
“If he does not go, then obviously, Austin will be the starter,” Pettine said. “Then, we are in the process now, we will know by the end of the day whether or not we would sign – we have to wait to hear the news on Johnny and then the ripple effect from that, whether we would go with (WR Terrelle) Pryor as the two or sign a two. All that is to be determined.”
The news of Manziel going into the league protocol caught Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin by surprise during a conference call with the Cleveland media on Wednesday. It could mean a change to their game plan if Davis gets the start on Sunday.
“We will obviously be ready to defend both with that information,” Tomlin said. “That is news to me so I haven’t had a chance to process it. I wouldn’t give you a fair answer as I sit here right now.”
Josh McCown even took a few minutes to address the concussion issue as it pertains to the Browns and Manziel. McCown was with the team in Kansas City for last Sunday’s game. As one of the players who went through the protocol this season, did he notice if anything was wrong with Manziel.
“No, I didn’t think so,” McCown said. “The things we talked about on the sideline, stuff that we always go through, I felt like he was engaged and in the game. There was not anything I could tell. When I was coming out of the protocol myself, it is part of what is changing in the league. It is a good thing, but for all of us that have been in this for a while, it is different because there is a concern for it. The positives that we can draw from it are that we are really showing people we are trying to make this game safer and that we are going to be aware of the hits and try to make the best decisions possible to protect guys from themselves.”
Manziel set a career high in passing yards in the first meeting against the Steelers back on November 15. Manziel complete 33 of 45 passes for 372 yards with a touchdown and an interception in the 30-9 loss.
If Manziel is unable to play in Sunday’s season finale, he’ll finish the 2015 season with a 2-4 record in six starts. In nine games played, Manziel completed 129 of 223 passes for 1,500 yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions. Is that enough to convince team management that he’s the quarterback of the future? It looks like we’ll have to wait till next year to find out.