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Rams coach Jeff Fisher's comments on Case Keenum's concussion and protocol

St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher met with reporters on Monday. Here is what he said about quarterback Case Keenum suffering a concussion late in Sunday's loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher met with the media on Monday for his weekly day-after game press conference. The hot topic was the concussion suffered by quarterback Case Keenum late in Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens and the failure to pull him off the field.

Here are all of Fisher’s comments on the subject, as transcribed and distributed by the Rams’ media relations department… 

(On going through the concussion situation with QB Case Keenum)

“I’m going to give you background. I’ll start with background. A couple of years ago, the committee was approached by the league office, Dr. Pellman and the league office, to discuss in detail to see if there were any competitive issues with respect to the ATC observer. The committee didn’t see any competitive issues. The committee was 100 percent in favor of implementing this process. It’s a process that basically will permit the ATC trainer, the independent observer, to contact the officiating department in case he sees something that may create a player safety issue, specifically concussions. The committee went through everything and we were good with it because it’s a medical timeout; it’s not going to be a charged timeout. From a competitive standpoint, we didn’t see anybody abusing it. So, the committee was 100 percent in favor of it. We’ve been working through this process now for a couple of years. Any time you implement something there are things that you have to work through. There are unintended consequences that come up. I think yesterday was a combination of unusual events that took place and I’ll start with the hit. I was in a position on the sideline where I didn’t necessarily see…I saw Case go down, but I didn’t see anything else that took place. I didn’t see him struggle to get up. I didn’t see anything from my vantage point on the sideline as far as Case’s slow recovery. The shots that you’ve seen where he got up slow, that we’ve seen out there, I didn’t see that. I was in the game management mode at that point, less than a minute left. And you guys asked me about the timeouts and the third-and-10 versus the third-and-5 and all of that - that’s where I was. Obviously, (QB) Nick (Foles) is watching every step that Case takes because that’s his responsibility as a backup quarterback. So, Nick saw with a different vantage point. Nick saw something and he got ready and obviously he thought he was going to have to go in. The officiating department at the same time, they are enforcing the measurement. We have a defensive offsides, so they’re enforcing it. So, the officiating department didn’t see it. However, our head trainer did go on the field and he got out there and he spoke to Case and he questioned Case. Case said he felt okay. And then our head trainer was instructed to leave the field by the officiating department. What happens is, with the ATC, is that his responsibility is to call down and notify the officiating department if he sees anything. Well, because he saw our head trainer on the field, he didn’t feel it was necessary to make the call. And then for whatever reason, we went on with the two plays. I didn’t know until after I visited with you after the game that Case was being examined for a concussion. I was unaware of that. Because he came out two plays later, he started in the examination process as we got into the locker room. They were examining him and then I didn’t find out until after I finished the press conference.

“To circle back and wind everything up, basically, we have a new system in place that is designed to protect the players. It’s designed for player safety, specifically as it relates to head trauma and concussions. The League, the Players Association, our organization, the officiating department - we’re all working to perfect that. There was a chain of events that happened that just prohibited, that did not allow the call to come down to the officiating department; particularly because they saw our head trainer on the field. Now, the head trainer’s perspective is very simple. The head trainer was told to leave the field. (Director/Sports Medicine & Performance) Reggie (Scott) had to make a tough decision to go out there. He made the right decision to go out there. But, keep in mind we’re in a critical part in this game. When the head trainer goes out there, you’re usually going to be charged with an injury timeout or if you don’t have an injury timeout, there’s going to be a 10-second runoff. Reggie went out there to check on our quarterback and then Case said he felt that he was okay and Reggie was told to leave the field. That’s what happened. We have some things to work out and we’re communicating with the league, Players Association and Dr. Pellman and everybody else, so that we ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”

(On what could have been done differently)

“I don’t know in this case. I don’t know in this case because under the current system, if the trainer goes on the field, then there’s no need for the ATC guy to wire down to call down and tell the officiating department there’s a problem because he’s a assuming that the head trainer saw it. We’ve got some moving parts. Again, it’s a new system. Everybody worked really well together: the Player Association, the National Football League, our health and safety commission, Dr. Pellman - everybody worked really well. And that also includes the competition committee to put this system together. But, it’s a new system and we’ve got to continue to work to get it better.”

(On if there will be anything punitive to anybody involved)

“No, you cannot under these circumstances place blame on anybody.”

(On if Director/Sports Medicine & Performance Reggie Scott felt he had enough time)

“We weren’t in an injury timeout and they’re winding the play clock. It was one of those things that happened.”

(On if Scott had not gone out there and the ATC would’ve called down, there would’ve been no injury timeout)

“The assumption is the ATC would’ve called down had Reggie not gone out there. That’s the assumption. He called to check after Case came off the field when the defense was on the field.”

(On it not being seen from the sidelines, but being clear on the TV replay)

“Well, there are no TV replays on our sideline and we did not see it on the jumbotron. Had we seen that, then we would’ve taken a different course of action. But, we weren’t aware of that. Like I said, had I seen that, then I would’ve sent Reggie out there on the field and say, ‘Hey, get him off the field.’ We didn’t see it. We didn’t know. And that’s the issue. You’re dealing with another component in that in that our… I think it was (OL) Garrett (Reynolds) got up there and picked him up. Our guys are going to pick each other up. That’s what they’re instructed to do. So, Garrett got up and picked him up. He got him off the ground. Had Garrett not picked him up and he might have been on the ground a little bit longer, things might have changed. It was just a combination of a lot of different things that led to this situation.”

(On the broadcast crew not mentioning Keenum’s possible concussion until they saw the replay)

“Well, again, the ATC has…he has access to all the 22 in addition to the network feed. His assumption, because our trainer was on the field, was that it had been taken care of. That’s why the officiating department was not notified.”

(On if there is any implication of a problem or failure with the protocol)

“It does not. It’s one of those things that happened. The ATC…when the ATC is instructed to…the trainer is out there tending to a player, then the assumption is that the trainer is going to take care of it.”

(On when he got a chance to talk to Scott about Keenum)

“This morning. I mean, I talked to Reggie after I left you guys, when I get the final injury report before we get on the airplane. But, that was the first time that I had talked to Reggie.”

(On if he talked to Scott after he saw Keenum on the field)

“No, I did not.”

(On what he thinks would be the solution to this protocol issue)

“Well, look, I didn’t construct it. I didn’t write it or create this rule. I think the appropriate thing to do is to get everybody together as the league office stated…we have to get clubs together, trainers together, ATC people together, the players’ association together and just make sure it doesn’t happen again. There may be some additional communication that’s required or perhaps a way to identify the head trainer when he goes out on the field. There’s just a lot of dynamics right now. It’s unfortunate. Fortunately, Case feels really good this morning. He’s in the protocol. He feels good. He’s got a chance to practice this week and obviously play this weekend. So, that’s the good news. The bad news is that we had an issue, an issue with everybody involved and we have to get it straightened out.”

(On if Keenum had concussion symptoms after the game)

“Yes, he did.”

(On if he can disclose what Keenum’s symptoms were)

“No, he went into the protocol after the game.”

(On if Keenum’s health has improved today)

“Yes, that’s what I said. He feels much better today.”

(On if a possible solution would be to add another spotter)

“You know, I don’t know what he’s looking at and when he’s looking at it. I just don’t know. They’re independent. There’s a different one at every game. I don’t know what he’s looking at. I can tell you that personally, had I seen it, then Case would’ve been standing by me. I didn’t see it from my vantage point, plus I was in that, ‘Okay, I have a second-and-five and a third-and-five.’ We had a third-and-10, I was going to run the football and punt the ball away, as I told you guys yesterday. Third-and-10, we had third-and-five, so I decided to throw it to try to win it.”

(On if the booth spotter/ATC is responsible for all injuries on the field or just concussions)

“The original design of the spotter is for head and neck injuries, not necessarily those other injuries.”

(On if he thinks there needs to be more than one spotter in the booth)

“That’s not really fair for me to answer. I can’t help you on that. I didn’t design the system.”

(On if he feels like the play that Keenum got hurt on should’ve been blown dead when the player jumped offsides)

“Well, I think in those situations, when you get a defensive offsides like we did…Case could’ve avoided the situation because they were clearly in the neutral zone. Just throw the ball down the field like (Packers QB) Aaron Rodgers does all the time. That’s part of what teams do now. For some reason, Case held the ball.”

(On C Tim Barnes playing every snap last week and being diagnosed with a concussion after the game)

“That’s a really good question. Any time a player comes in in the morning on Monday morning with the slightest headache, we’re going to put him in the protocol from a precautionary standpoint. ‘Timmy’ doesn’t remember getting hit in the head. He remembers the game, didn’t remember getting hit in the head. But, he came in and complained about a headache on Monday morning. So, we put him in the protocol, and we cleared him in a couple days. So, that’s what we do here. I mean, we’ve impressed that upon our players to be honest with us and let them know how they feel in the morning as they start their recovery process.”

(On how many days Keenum needs to practice to be able to play this weekend)

“I can’t say that. It’s going to be day to day. I mean, tomorrow we have kind of an active walk-thru and things. We’ll see how he is tomorrow. Wednesday is a big day and then, Thursday’s a big day. Based on what I’ve been told right now, he’s feeling much better. He watched the tape. He’s feeling better.”

(On if he talked to Keenum after the game)

“Yes, I did.”

(On if Keenum seemed okay when he spoke with him)

“I talked to Case on the aircraft last night on the flight home. He said he felt good. Disappointed in the loss but felt fine.”

(On QB Nick Foles will play if Keenum doesn’t pass concussion protocol)

“Then Nick plays, yes.”

(On how QB Case Keenum played)

"He made some plays. There were a few plays that he missed, there were a couple opportunities. He’s really disappointed in – it’s windy and cold and he couldn’t get that ball to (WR) Kenny (Britt), where they picked up the pass interference call. He was hoping he could have got that done. But, he made some plays. Scrambled around and showed you what he’s capable of doing.”

(On if Keenum clears the concussion protocol, if he will start this week)

“That’s correct.”

(On if Keenum seemed fine on the final two plays of the game)

“He missed a flat route to (WR) Wes (Welker) and then (LT) Greg (Robinson) blew the protection and was late off the ball, and Greg got him hit. But, no he knew what he was doing and was making protection calls and doing all of those other things.”

(On if someone should have seen Keenum grab his helmet after he got hit)

“I’m confident that the ATC (spotter) saw it. And our trainer saw something and that’s why he went on the field. So, somebody saw it. We didn’t see it. But, I’m confident that he saw it. I’m going to assume that he saw it because he had the TV feed. When the trainer goes out to tend, then there’s not a call to the officiating department.”

(On if there was something that went wrong with the process)

“Well, that’s what we’re looking into. That’s why we’re trying to solve this issue because it’s like any other play in the game, every situation is different. Every set of circumstances: timing, players, what have you – they’re all different. Nothing is the same. We had a rare instance yesterday where there was a set of circumstances that for whatever reason – that’s what we’re trying to find out - led to a player being allowed to play after he was obviously concussed. And that’s not right. Nobody wants that. Nobody wants that. As I said in my opening comment is we’re getting everybody involved to figure out how that happened and to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter at @NateLatsch or email him at natelatsch@gmail.com


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