When Patriots receiver Julian Edelman took a huge shot to the head on Thursday night against the Jets, it was obvious that he sustained a concussion. He was dazed, confused, and pounded. There are no such things as “dings” anymore. They’re all concussions. The difference is just the degrees.
As soon as the game concluded, Patriots fans immediately asked, “When is he going to be back?” The simple answer is, nobody knows, not even the player or the team.
There is a protocol for players on how, when, and why they can return from a concussion. The Patriots don’t talk about these things — a request for the team’s concussion protocol was not answered Friday — but other teams do.
The Eagles make trainer Rick Burkholder available to the media on just about every injury, including concussions. Burkholder talked about the Eagles’ process (every team’s program differs) regarding quarterback Michael Vick.
There are basically four components: the baseline cognitive test, a rehab program, the independent neurologist, and the team physician. A player may pass most of the criteria, but he will not be cleared until he passes all of it.
■ Baseline: The Eagles use the ImPACT Test, which is short for Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing. Each player is given a baseline brain test before the season starts. He will not clear the ImPACT test until his postconcussion baseline test is close enough to the preseason exam.
“It’s sensitive enough that you know that they can’t fudge it,” Burkholder said. “We’re dealing with symptoms, and when we’re dealing with symptoms, the players have to tell me what they are and I have to believe them.
“On this ImPACT test, there’s enough sensitivity in the test that they can’t fudge it. They can’t get away [with it]. It’s matching and matching designs and looking at and recognizing colors and stuff like that that they can’t hide.”
■ Rehab: There are five phases, in which the heart rate is increased each time, and the player has to go through it without showing symptoms — 30 to 40 percent of target heart rate; 40 to 60 percent (including some dumbbell and balance work); 80 percent with sprint work, full weight work in a noisy environment; return to football activity with non-contact skill work; and finally contact football work.
Usually, 24 hours of recovery is given between each phase, and the players must emerge asymptomatic from each one.
■ Team physician: He or she will see the player a handful of times, and improvement is sought with each checkup.
■ Independent neurologist: Usually the final hurdle to make sure everything has checked out and that the player is ready to return to the field.
As far as Vick (left), he has been having trouble getting past the ImPACT test.
“He has not gotten back to baseline on that,” Burkholder said. “He’s still off in a few areas.
“That’s not alarming to us. It happens, and he will not return to total football practice until I can get him to do a little better on that ImPACT test, and that’s what I was telling you guys last week.
“None of this stuff is like, ‘Well, if he passed the ImPACT, does he do this?’ No, they’re all independent of each other. He’s got to fulfill this criteria.
“Some guys pass the ImPACT right away and can’t get through the rehab program. Some guys get through the rehab program but can’t do the ImPACT test. Some of them do everything and won’t get cleared by the neurologist. Some won’t get cleared by [team doctor Gary] Dorshimer.
“That’s why I tell you that every day we take it day by day. In reality, he hasn’t checked anything off of his sheet yet except the first three phases of rehab.
“I’m encouraged at the way he’s [going], but that’s not what I get paid to do. If he plays, he plays, and if he doesn’t, he doesn’t. But he’s going to be healthy before he plays.”
Burkholder, who is in his 14th year with the Eagles, feels that the NFL has done a good job of getting all the teams on the same page as far as concussions.
“I think the other guys that do what I do in the National Football League are the same,” he said. “I think the National Football League has done a tremendous job in giving us assistance in handling these and getting the message out to not only the coaches and the fans, but the players.
“To handle these things right, it takes everybody. It takes the players, it takes the coaches, it takes the athletic trainers, it takes the physicians, it takes [the media]. Everybody’s got to be responsible with this thing and we’ve got to take it very seriously.
“The NFL has done an amazing job of making this priority No. 1 when it comes to the players’ health and safety, and I’m happy about that because anytime in anybody’s job you take the gray area out of it, you’re better off, and they’ve helped us with that.
“Concussions are concussions; there’s still gray area. But they’ve done an amazing job of trying to eliminate a lot of the stuff.”
Todman sets sights on regular-season debut
The interesting NFL road traveled by New Bedford native Jordan Todman might finally be getting into gear.
Last week, the running back was signed to the Jaguars’ active roster from the Vikings’ practice squad, and may soon get his first regular-season action. Perhaps as early as Sunday at Buffalo.
“The playbooks are kind of similar to Minnesota, so I’m picking that up pretty well, and I’m out here competing on special teams,” Todman said. “I’m traveling with the team, bringing all my equipment, so it will likely be a game-time decision if I’m going to dress.
“I definitely see it happening before the end of the season. It’s going to be big.
“Preseason is cool and it’s fun, it’s live bullets and game speed, but when you’re playing out there on Sundays, it’s a different feel. Everybody’s watching and you’re showcasing what you can do for every other team and your team, and proving what you can do.”
Todman, the Globe’s Division 1 Player of the Year in 2007 at Dartmouth High, has been fighting for this shot for a couple of years. He came out of UConn a year early but wasn’t selected until the sixth round by the Chargers in 2011. San Diego waived him early, then signed him to its practice squad. The Vikings came calling in December after Adrian Peterson was injured. Todman was bothered by an ankle injury for must of camp but opened eyes with 114 yards on 10 carries in the final exhibition game. Still, he was released, but re-signed to the practice squad.
Now it was the Jaguars’ turn to poach Todman, who is still just 22. Jacksonville has been without starter Maurice Jones-Drew since Week 7, backup Rashad Jennings was benched, and Jalen Parmele has a leg injury.
“It’s probably not the normal path, but it hasn’t been hectic,” said Todman. “The Vikings offered to put me on their 53-man roster, and I chose to come here because I feel like it’s a better opportunity.”
This group is worthy of career advancement
It’s that time of year when teams start to look at shuffling the deck after the season with the general manager and/or head coach. Here are some of the top names that should be in play as prospective GMs:
1. Eric DeCosta, Ravens assistant GM: Every year, teams come calling for the Taunton native, but the Ravens keep upping his pay and title to keep him as Ozzie Newsome’s successor-in-waiting. It would take a lot for DeCosta to move his family, but somebody might come up with the right package.
2. Tom Gamble, 49ers director of player personnel: With the talent San Francisco has stockpiled in recent years, others are going to want to copy that formula. You don’t find candidates more well-rounded; he’s done everything in his time with the Eagles, Colts, and 49ers. But you wonder why he hasn’t gotten a job yet (interviewed with Rams and Raiders). Seems too good not to.
3. Steve Keim, Cardinals vice president of player personnel: Has extensive experience on the pro and college personnel tracks, and mostly runs Arizona’s personnel while general manager Rod Graves runs the business side of it.
4. Marc Ross, Giants director of college scouting: Has been interviewed by the Seahawks, Bears, and Colts the past couple of years and will undoubtedly be a hot candidate again after this season. Résumé lacks pro personnel experience, but it’s not like it’s a foreign concept to him.
5. Chris Polian, Falcons area scout: Was general manager of the Colts when he was ushered out of Indianapolis when his father, BillPolian, was fired as vice chairman following the 2011 season.
6. David Caldwell (Falcons), George Paton (Vikings), Brian Gaine (Dolphins), Matt Russell (Broncos): All are directors of player personnel or assistant GMs with the same background — mostly on the pro personnel side before recently handling more of the college duties.
BC coaching search may turn toward pros
It will be interesting to see which direction Boston College goes in its coaching search. With a new athletic director, Brad Bates, it’s tough to get a read on whether he’ll prefer a coach from the college or pro ranks. The past two pro coaches, Tom Coughlin and Jeff Jagodzinski, were among the most successful in school history.
There are reports that BC will talk with Saints offensive line coach Aaron Kromer, who served as interim coach the first six games when Sean Payton and Joe Vitt were under suspension. Kromer’s warm personality is probably his best attribute and it would probably fit well in a college atmosphere. Bates and Kromer have a connection from shared time at Miami (Ohio), and both probably realize that Kromer isn’t likely to get an NFL head coaching position, so college might be the best route.
You would think Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr., a BC alum, would be at the top of the list, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. That’s probably because Carmichael is more cerebral and not exactly outgoing and may have difficulty selling the program to recruits and donors.
You also have to think that two former BC offensive line coaches, Jack Bicknell Jr. (Chiefs line coach) and Jim Turner (Dolphins line coach), will be interviewed at some point. Bicknell, a former Eagles player and son of the former coach, has head coaching experience at Louisiana Tech. Turner, a star of the Dolphins’ “Hard Knocks’ series this season, could be a good fit.
One name to watch a few years down the line: Patriots safeties coach Brian Flores. He’s a former BC linebacker and is well-respected by the Patriots players, but he’s only in his first year as a positional assistant. His time is coming, however.
1. Seems pointless to have a discussion on the effect Adderall might be having in the NFL when we don’t even know for sure that’s what the players are using. By the way, the NFL needs to change the rules so they can be specific about the drug that led to a suspension. Public embarrassment should be part of the deal. And until we know who’s clean and who’s not, the NFL is in a baseball-esque period in which no one knows who’s cheating. Maybe the NFL likes it that way. So did baseball. Remember that.
2. The Patriots didn’t put in a claim on former Eagles defensive end Jason Babin, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have interest. Sounds like the price ($1.471 million for the final five games) was too high, and they would have checked in had Babin cleared waivers. He can help anybody as a situational pass rusher, especially for a team like the Patriots that puts players in position to succeed.
3. I think he’s a dirty player, but I did not think that Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh deserved to be suspended for his “kick” to the groin of Texans quarterback Matt Schaub. If Suh had looked up, it might have been different. But he never did, so it is nearly impossible to say he did it on purpose. If he did it without looking, Suh might be a Jedi.
4. Said it when Drew Brees broke the record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass, and I’ll say it again when Tom Brady breaks it in Week 7 next year now that Brees’s streak ended Thursday night: It’s a meaningless streak in today’s NFL. If you’re a quarterback on a halfway decent team in this pass-happy league, you should be throwing at least one touchdown a game.
5. Congratulations to Patriots punter Zoltan Mesko for receiving the Boston Children’s Hospital Champion Award. That’s a huge honor and well-deserved. Mesko, through the work he does with his foundation, should be honored as the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year in short order.
Lions receiver Titus Young, a second-round pick in 2011, hasn’t made many friends among his teammates. According to various reports, he has been dismissed from practice twice this season by coach Jim Schwartz, and purposely lined up out of position against the Packers and was benched. “It’s not a distraction because we have moved on from him,” center Dominic Raiola told the Detroit News. “If he wants to be an [expletive], let him be an an [expletive]. It’s not my problem. What we can control is the guys who want to be here. I want people who want to be here.” . . . Now the Jets coaches are speaking out of turn. Offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo said he has been told to play former UMass lineman Vlad Ducasse in a rotation with starter Matt Slauson against DeGuglielmo’s wishes. “It’s directed from high above me,” DeGuglielmo said. Ducasse, he said, has “played well enough to be an every-third-series guy. Maybe.” . . . Bills general manager BuddyNix threatened to hang up on a weekly show on WGR radio in Buffalo if the hosts didn’t get off the subject of whether coach Chan Gailey and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick would return next season. “You can change the subject, or we can let this thing go dead,” Nix said. Last month, Nix said he wanted to draft a franchise quarterback, and has said Gailey’s job is not on the line. “You know, I addressed that about two or three weeks ago, and the reason was so that I wouldn’t have to do it every week or after every loss,” Nix said.
Greg A. Bedard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @gregabedard. Material from interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report.