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Cleveland Browns CB E.J. Gaines in concussion protocol, out Sunday


BEREA, Ohio — Cleveland Browns cornerback E.J. Gaines was placed in concussion protocol on Thursday and will miss Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay.

Coach Hue Jackson said Gaines reported in the morning and complained about symptoms. He was placed in protocol soon after. Jackson said Gaines was not hurt in practice.

That means the Browns are down two cornerbacks as they prepare to face the NFL’s top-ranked passing offense — the Bucs average 368.4 yards per game and have 16 passing touchdowns compared to one rushing. Gaines was playing because starter Terrance Mitchell broke a bone in his wrist earlier this season.

“It’s tough,” Jackson said. “But again, next man up.”

T.J. Carrie will move from nickel back to starting at corner. Briean Boddy-Calhoun moves from backup safety to the nickel spot.

Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston threw for 395 yards and four touchdowns in a loss to Atlanta on Sunday. He is completing 75.4 percent of his passes and has five touchdowns in two games this season.



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Detroit Lions plan to put Jamal Agnew (knee) on IR; T.J. Lang improving from concussion


The Detroit Lions are planning to place All-Pro returner and cornerback Jamal Agnew on injured reserve this week because of a knee injury he suffered against the Green Bay Packers, a source tells ESPN.

But Agnew would be a candidate to be activated off IR and return to the Lions later this season if Detroit is making a playoff push, according to the source.

The Lions received better news on veteran guard T.J. Lang, who is showing signs of improvement after suffering a concussion last month, according to a source.

Despite suffering at least five concussions since 2015, Lang is feeling better and is no longer experiencing any fogginess, according to the source. If he passes his baseline test this week — and there is optimism and an expectation that he will — Lang would be expected to play next Sunday at Miami after Detroit’s bye this week.

Agnew, 23, was an All-Pro as a rookie last season, when he scored two touchdowns off punt returns and averaged a league-best 15.4 yards per punt return.

Lang, 31, suffered his most recent concussion on Sept. 30 against the Dallas Cowboys and did not play last week against the Packers. The two-time Pro Bowler had been working through a back injury throughout the first few weeks of the season and dealt with a foot injury during training camp.

ESPN’s Michael Rothstein contributed to this report.



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Behind-the-scenes look at the NFL game-day concussion protocol


In recent years, the term “concussion protocol” has become such a part of the NFL lexicon that everyone refers to it — from players to coaches to those of us who cover the league to all the fans who watch. But how many of us could actually describe the different elements of the protocol? Or identify the roughly 30 medical personnel present at every game?



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Tennessee Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan (concussion) cleared to play


Tennessee Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan has cleared concussion protocol and is set to return Sunday after being inactive for Week 2.

Lewan was limited in practice on Wednesday, but spent extensive time working one-on-one with head coach Mike Vrabel during the open period of practice, jokingly telling Vrabel, a former NFL outside linebacker, he’s lost a step.

Lewan met with an independent physician and was cleared after being a full participant in practice on Thursday. He was also a full participant on Friday.

Getting Lewan back is a major addition for the Titans offense as they prepare for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who boast one of the NFL’s top defensive fronts, led by defensive end Calais Campbell.

“Taylor is ready to go. He’s cleared and will be playing again. Anybody that we can get back is a boost,” Vrabel said.

Added Lewan, “I feel good. I wouldn’t have passed the protocol if I didn’t. I have a wife and kid. I don’t want to be that guy who is 45 years old and don’t know my name.”

Lewan may not be the only player returning to the field for Tennessee this weekend. Quarterback Marcus Mariota has made progress this week and had what offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur called his best day of practice on Thursday. Mariota continued to wear a modified glove that had the index and middle fingers cut out of it to help him grip the football.

Vrabel said Mariota will be listed as questionable for Sunday’s game but said he will be cautious not to put his quarterback out there if he can’t protect himself.



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Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR DeSean Jackson expected to be cleared from concussion protocol


Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson is expected to clear concussion protocol and play against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, a source told ESPN.

Jackson caught five passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s 48-40 win over the New Orleans Saints but left the game with a concussion. He participated in practice late in the week and is listed as questionable.

Jackson spent his first six NFL seasons with the Eagles, scoring 32 touchdowns from 2008-13.

He has five career 1,000-yard receiving seasons, but he struggled in his first season in Tampa with 50 catches for 668 yards and three touchdowns.

The Bucs need Jackson’s vertical threat against the reigning Super Bowl champions while Ryan Fitzpatrick replaces the suspended Jameis Winston at quarterback.



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Carolina Panthers’ guard Trai Turner won’t play against Atlanta Falcons because of concussion


CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Carolina Panthers will face NFC South rival Atlanta on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium with center Ryan Kalil the only offensive lineman that began training camp as a starter.

Pro Bowl right guard Trai Turner is the latest in a long list of casualties on the line, suffering a concussion in the opener against Dallas that already has him listed as out for the Falcons.

The Panthers earlier this week put right tackle Daryl Williams on injured reserve after he re-injured his right knee for the second time since camp opened.

Starting left tackle Matt Kalil (knee) began the season on injured reserve and left guard Amini Silatolu missed much of training camp with a knee injury.

Add to that Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen re-fractured his foot against Dallas and his return will be re-evaluated on a monthly basis.

Despite the rash of injuries coach Ron Rivera refused to use the term “position catastrophe” as he did two years ago when several linemen were out at the same time.

“As long as we have guys we have in position like we do with the backups, I think we’re going to be fine,” Rivera said. “And I feel really good about the guys we brought in. I’m really comfortable and confident in them.”

Veteran Chris Clark wasn’t on a roster when the Panthers signed him on Wednesday. He suffered ankle injury that ended his 2017 season with Houston.

But with 53 starts between left and right tackle the 32-year-old could get the start based on experience. With his most recent experience on the left side he could be called on to protect quarterback Cam Newton‘s blind side.

That would move Taylor Moton, who played left tackle in the opener, back to the right side where he moved when Williams was injured in training camp. Moton began camp competing with Silatolu for the left guard spot.

Greg Van Roten, who replaced Silatolu in camp, will remain the starting left guard. Guard/center Tyler Larsen or Silatolu likely will replace Turner on the right side.

Having a mobile quarterback like Newton can be an equalizer in terms of his ability to avoid pressure. The 2015 NFL MVP rushed 13 times for 58 yards in the opener.

Protecting Newton also takes time for tackles to adjust because he sometimes is unpredictable with his movement in the pocket.

That again makes Clark a more viable option at tackle than Corey Robinson, acquired in a trade with Houston after the final preseason game.

“The biggest thing for guys when they first get involved with what we do and how we do it is understanding the pace that our quarterback works at,” Rivera said. “It’s also important being next to one of our guards that has been in it has been very helpful.

“We’re working through some things and we’ll see how we do.”

Having Kalil, a five-time Pro Bowl selection at center, directing everything also helps the Panthers.

“It’s like the stabilizing force,” Rivera said. “Tyler Larsen is as good as it gets, too, as a guy that has been able to step in and play for us. But Ryan controls it and handles it very, very well.

“He’s got a great rapport with the other guys, but also a great rapport with the other guys.”

Wide receiver/kick returner Damiere Byrd also was listed out with a knee injury. First-round pick D.J. Moore will be first up in Byrd’s return duties, but running back Christian McCaffrey also could be used.



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Evan Engram of New York Giants leaves in first half after suffering concussion against New York Jets


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — New York Giants tight end Evan Engram left Friday night’s 22-16 preseason win over the New York Jets with a concussion.

Engram suffered the injury after he caught a pass and was sandwiched by Jets linebackers Darron Lee and Avery Williamson in the second quarter. Engram lost the ball at the end of the play. It was originally ruled a fumble before being overruled in a review.

In addition to losing Engram, Giants tight end Rhett Ellison left the contest with an eye injury.

Meanwhile, Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley were not in the Giants’ lineup Friday night. Barkley is dealing with a tweaked hamstring, and Beckham, who continues to seek a new deal, hasn’t played in a game since breaking his ankle last season.

When asked about the decision to not play Beckham, coach Pat Shurmur said Beckham’s “not quite ready yet” and the Giants are playing it safe. Shurmur told ESPN with a slight smile “we’ll see” when asked if there was any concern for Beckham by Week 1.

Engram is expected to play a significant role in the offense this season. He had 64 catches for 722 yards and six touchdowns as a rookie; it was the second-most productive season for a rookie tight end in Giants history.

The Giants open the regular season on Sept. 9 at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars.



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CB Kevin Johnson of Houston Texans exits preseason game with concussion


HOUSTON — Houston Texans starting cornerback Kevin Johnson left Saturday’s preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers with a concussion and will not return.

Johnson sustained the concussion when he landed hard on the turf while defending a pass from Jimmy Garoppolo to Marquise Goodwin on the first series of the game. The cornerback was down on the ground while he was checked out by the training staff after he landed on the sideline. Johnson was eventually able to walk off the field under his own power and was taken to the locker room.

Texans receiver Sammie Coates also suffered a concussion and was ruled out for the game.

Johnson, a 2015 first-round pick, is expected to start alongside cornerback Johnathan Joseph this season. Johnson has dealt with injuries the past two seasons and has played in just 18 of 32 regular-season games in that span.

In 12 games in 2017-18, Johnson had 45 combined tackles and two passes defended. According to Pro Football Focus, he was ranked 121st out of 121 eligible cornerbacks last season.

Johnson was replaced by cornerback Johnson Bademosi on Saturday.



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Ben Roethlisberger of Pittsburgh Steelers fine after concussion scare


Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is doing fine and is expected to resume football activities soon, according to a source.

The team placed Roethlisberger in the concussion protocol after the Pro Bowl quarterback took a fall during Tuesday’s practice. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports Roethlisberger is out of the concussion protocol.

Teammates said Roethlisberger’s head whipped back onto the turf after he became tangled with linemen on a rollout to his right, but after the play he assured center Maurkice Pouncey that he was good.

Roethlisberger traveled with the team to Green Bay for its second preseason game, for which he was ruled out before getting hurt.

This is the first time since 2015 that Roethlisberger entered concussion protocol. Roethlisberger, 36, took at least 40 sacks six times from 2006 to 2013 but is averaging 1.4 sacks per game in recent years behind a veteran offensive line, which he credits for prolonging his career.

Roethlisberger lost weight this offseason to alleviate joint pain, and coach Mike Tomlin said the quarterback had an “awesome” training camp as a performer and collaborator with coaches and players.

The Steelers on Thursday will play rookie Mason Rudolph and Josh Dobbs at quarterback while Roethlisberger and backup Landry Jones sit.

The Steelers will be off Friday and likely resume practice Saturday.



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Ben Roethlisberger of Pittsburgh Steelers in concussion protocol after sustaining hit in practice


PITTSBURGH — Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is in the concussion protocol after sustaining a hit early in Tuesday’s practice.

Coach Mike Tomlin said in a statement that team doctors are evaluating the six-time Pro Bowler.

Teammates huddled in concern as Roethlisberger fell to the turf at Latrobe Memorial Stadium. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert said Roethlisberger was rolling to the right side on a goal-line play and ran into Gilbert and linebacker Keion Adams.

Roethlisberger got up on his own accord and talked with teammates and trainers, who eventually walked him out of the stadium. He appeared to leave the premises in a car.

Center Maurkice Pouncey said Roethlisberger told him “he was fine, he was good,” and reserve quarterback Mason Rudolph said the quarterback appeared in good spirits after the play.

“It happened so fast. I saw his head whip back,” Gilbert said. “I’ve got to see the film to see what happened. That’s my guy. No one wants to see anything happen to him, especially in a practice like this, coming to work and going and not tackling.”

Roethlisberger, 36, was last in the protocol in 2015 after taking a hit from then-Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett. Roethlisberger was vocal last offseason that long-term brain health would be a factor in how long he plays. Roethlisberger said this offseason that he’s eyeing three to five more seasons.

Earlier in the day, Tomlin praised Roethlisberger’s training camp performance. The team officially breaks camp Wednesday.

“Man, he’s been awesome,” Tomlin said. “Been really sharp, not only in terms of what he does, just how he’s communicating and helping and aiding in the development with the people that are going to be working alongside him. It’s been a very positive experience.”

Prior to Roethlisberger’s early exit from practice, Tomlin had ruled him out for Thursday’s preseason game, along with fellow veteran Landry Jones. Rookie third-round pick Mason Rudolph and Josh Dobbs, Pittsburgh’s fourth-round selection in 2017, will see all of the playing time when the Steelers visit the Green Bay Packers.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.



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