BEREA, Ohio – Whether or not proper procedures were followed after James Harrison hit Colt McCoy last Thursday night was the prime topic with Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur at his Monday briefing with the media.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported on Sunday's pregame show that the Browns the medical staff didn't initially administer the standard Sports Concussion Assessment Tool2 (S.C.A.T. 2) on the sideline before McCoy returned. Players are prohibited from returning to the game once they have suffered a concussion. Shurmur said McCoy didn't show any symptoms until after the game.
Shurmur said he was unaware of what ESPN reported, but repeatedly stood by his answer that the Browns followed proper procedures.
"The sideline procedure is to determine if a player can play," Shurmur said. "We followed them. Hopefully, that clarified that.
"Our medical staff works with the players and determines if the player can play. They work with them and talk with them. That's what they do."
Shurmur answered most questions the same way in the briefing that was dominated by the topic.
"We followed all of the proper medical procedures," Shurmur said. "I don't know what was reported other than what you're telling me now. I don't know what the report was, but I'll find out."
Shurmur was asked if the Browns administered the S.C.A.T. 2 tests to McCoy.
"There's a process you go through when there is concussion-like symptoms," he said. "We follow the guidelines strictly so I'm very confident that that happened.
"We followed all the proper medical procedures. We follow all the protocol medical procedures. If a player is able to play it is important he plays, but I do not want to put a player at risk and will not play him if there is a risk."
Shurmur said he wouldn't have done anything differently.
"I said it today and I feel like we followed the procedures," he said. "(McCoy) was deemed ready to play."
Shurmur was asked if he feels it's unfair he's receive the fallout on the subject.
"I'm not angry about holding the bag," he said. "I'm the head coach of the team and trying to get them ready to play."
Ben Watson and Owen Marecic have been removed from two games — including the Steelers game — with concussion-like symptoms. Mohamed Massaquoi and Scott Fujita had also been removed from games this season with concussion-like symptoms.
There has been talk about having an independent doctor or neurologist on the sideline to check for concussions.
"I think there are going to be procedures and changes. There are changes all the time," Shurmur said. "I'm for whatever is for the safety of the players."
Joe Thomas thinks it would take some of the pressure off of the training staff.
"It would help," Thomas said. "Trainers have some many things going on at the same time."
Tony Pashos agreed.
"I have no fault with our medical staff," Pashos said. "We had injuries going on with several guys at the same time. (Trainer) Joe (Sheehan) had held out some of our key players. Owen and Ben were a big part of our game plan and they were held out."
Sheldon Brown feels the Browns training staff is one of the best in the NFL.
"They are one of the best training staffs that I've been around, hands down," he said. "They don't care if you're a free agent or a first-round pick."
Cribbs said the Browns trainers do a great job in deciding who should be allowed to play.
"I feel like they go above and beyond," Cribbs said. "Last year, I had a concussion and I wanted to play, but it's a serious matter. Our training staff is one of the best."
Cribbs said sometimes players don't report concussion symptoms.
"I think it happens frequently because a lot of guys don't report concussions because they want to play," he said. "It's a serious matter."
Some of the players weren't surprised McCoy was back in the game.
"Colt's been hit hard a lot and it is very understandable that he goes back in the game," Thomas said. "I think it is a case-by-case basis. Sometimes, a guy gets hit really hard and is not hurt. Sometimes, a slight hit and a guy is out for weeks."
"Colt's a gamer," Cribbs said. "He took a shot and was woozy, but he wanted to play. That's football."
Pashos and Evan Moore were in the huddle after McCoy returned.
"He was pretty gung ho," Pashos said. "I'm not a professional. The guy I saw was pretty ready. I'm not evaluating anybody."
"He stepped into the huddle and called the play," Moore said.
Shurmur isn't sure if McCoy will be able to play Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. McCoy was not at practice for concussion-like symptoms and he was not in Berea when Shurmur met with the media.
"We're hopeful he'll be back but we're following the procedures, but won't know until he comes back out here," he said. "I've had good conversations with him."
Ward, Cribbs Hopeful: Defensive back T.J. Ward has missed the past five games with a foot injury and he's hopeful he can play this week against the Cardinals.
"I'm just taking it slow," Ward said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to play. We'll see. Every game I miss hurts."
Shurmur said he's hopeful Ward might be able to get back on the field this week, as well.
"He's progressing," he said. "We'll see."
Cribbs injured his groin against the Steelers early and hopes to be back this week.
"I'm hopeful," he said. "I'm trying to get back out there."
Marecic and Watson left the Steelers' game with concussions, as well. They will follow the concussion protocol and their status is unknown.