The NFL will never be a safe sport.
But never safe.
Because for all the studies and rule changes and fines levied, massive hits to the head are still happening.
One happened to Dolphins receiver Allen Hurns, who 15 days after getting knocked out on an unflagged, unfined hit in Dallas, remains in the concussion protocol.
And one happened to Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph on Sunday, and it literally knocked him out cold. Ravens safety Earl Thomas struck Rudolph square in the jaw with the crown of his helmet.
Rudolph was unconscious before he even hit the ground, and remained out for several minutes before coming to. Not surprisingly, he was concussed. Thomas was assessed with a 15-yard penalty but not thrown out of the game.
To make matters worse, the medical cart was broken, so Mason had to be carried off the field and into the locker room.
“Our concerns and thoughts are with @Rudolph2Mason after his concussion yesterday,” the NFL Players Association wrote on Twitter on Monday. “Our players insist on every health & safety protocol and procedure available. In light of yesterday’s events, we will continue to be vigilant on specific requirements to protect our men.”
Dolphins coach Brian Flores watched football on his off day (the Dolphins were on their bye Sunday) and had the same reaction as many:
“A scary moment to watch it, and then you just hope the best for the player. Hope he’s OK.”
Flores’ thoughts on the ugly play in particular, and hard hits in general?
“It was a good collision there. It’s part of the game. I don’t think there was anything malicious. I think it was guys playing fast, and it happens. It’s unfortunate. You never want to see it. I saw it up close and personal with Allen. Try to protect players as much as possible. Coach it. It’s a fast game, it’s an aggressive game. Sometimes, you try to hit the strike zone and the strike zone moves. Occasionally, that happens. You never want to see it.”
The good news for Hurns? He is “definitely getting better,” Flores said, and while he has not been cleared to play in Sunday’s game, Hurns practiced on Monday.
▪ More Dolphins injury news: Cornerback Bobby McCain (hamstring/shoulder), receiver Albert Wilson (calf), offensive tackle Jesse Davis (arm), and cornerback Jomal Wiltz (groin) practiced Monday after missing the Dolphins’ most recent practice.
Three Dolphins were not spotted at practice Monday: wide receiver Jakeem Grant (hamstring), defensive back Chris Lammons (toe), and linebacker Trent Harris (foot).