Pittsburgh – Kenny Pickett felt good at first. After absorbing a big hit from Ravens linebacker Roquan Smith and hitting his head on the turf, the Steelers’ rookie quarterback walked out of the Week 14 game and went to the blue injury tent at the sideline to be assessed for a concussion.
He was cleared and re-entered the game on the Steelers’ next drive. But over the course of the fast three-play series, Pickett noticed changes in his vision position. That’s when he knew something was wrong and reported his symptoms when he walked off the field.
“I thought I was fine, I felt fine,” Beckett said Thursday. “And I went back in and started running, and they started playing more. I’m moving around and things are going fast. That’s when the symptoms started coming in, and I had to go inside.”
“… I came off the field, I didn’t feel good, and that’s why I went in.”
Pickett was limited in practice during the week that followed, and although he felt better by the end of the week, he decided it was safest to hold off returning to action until after the Week 15 game against the Carolina Panthers.
“I went by the doctors and listened to what they said,” Beckett said. “And certainly the right call was not playing last week. I could have kind of pushed it. But I think the right call was to sit out for a week and keep working this week.”
Beckett was officially cleared of concussion protocol earlier this week and will start facing the Las Vegas Raiders, head coach Mike Tomlin announced Tuesday. After a concussion – his second in eight weeks – Pickett switched to a different helmet on the recommendation of the team’s medical staff.
Now, he wears a helmet with a special design and a padding on the back to cushion Pickett’s head in case he takes another heavy hit to the ground. Tight end Pat Freiermuth wears a similar sized helmet after also suffering multiple concussions during his first two NFL seasons.
Beckett added a mask to his face mask, not because of light sensitivity, but because one mask tried to obstruct his vision and the other left a large area unprotected.
“The face mask gap is very wide,” Beckett said. “I don’t know who designed this, but it’s so wide a fist can literally go through it. I don’t want to get punched in the face on Saturday, so I was like, ‘You know what, maybe I’ll put a mask on, and we’ll be fine.'” “
Pickett’s concussion, which he said had more severe symptoms and lasted longer than his first, occurred when he ran from a potential sack and tried to extend the play before Smith knocked him down.
And while Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada acknowledged that Pickett might have played this game differently—likely throwing the ball away after escaping the first sack attempt—if he had re-doed it, Pickett said the concussions wouldn’t have significantly affected the method. He plays with his designed rounds or how he takes risks.
“It just comes with the attitude,” he said. “It’s about playing football, and it’s going to happen. I was lucky early in my career and in college really didn’t have as many or at all concussions as I’ve had in the last two years. It happens. It’s football.”
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