Player safety and the NFL’s concussion protocol dominated the news cycle this week in the wake of controversy surrounding Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and the way the team handled his situation.
The Rams on Saturday joined the discussion when coach Sean McVay announced that offensive lineman David Edwards would not play against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night because he had been placed in the concussion protocol.
Bobby Evans will start in place of Edwards at left guard, putting quarterback Matthew Stafford behind a different line alignment for the fourth time in four games.
Last Sunday, Tagovailoa started against the Buffalo Bills, left after sustaining an apparent injury and then was allowed to return after going through a concussion evaluation. Four days after the Bills game, Tagovailoa started against the Cincinnati Bengals, and was hospitalized after suffering head and neck injuries.
Edwards, a fourth-year pro, self-reported being “a little bit foggy,” McVay said, and did not practice Friday because of what was listed as illness on the Rams injury report. Edwards entered the concussion protocol on Saturday, McVay said.
“You can’t be too careful with some of these things,” McVay said, adding, “Great for him to be able to kind of communicate and took the right steps, especially with the [Tagovailoa] situation that occurred on Thursday.
“But really, just in general, regardless of whether or not that happened with Tua, something we take very serious and I appreciate him handling it the right way.”
McVay acknowledged that Tagovailoa’s situation heightened awareness regarding player safety. But the Rams followed their regular protocol with Edwards, McVay said.
“It’s about the person before the player,” McVay said.
Edwards was the second Rams player this week to be placed in concussion protocol, which requires players to pass a series of tests and benchmarks before they are cleared to practice and play in games.
Rookie cornerback Derion Kendrick was evaluated for a concussion after last Sunday’s victory over the Arizona Cardinals. Kendrick was a limited participant in practice on Thursday but was a full participant Friday and Saturday and will play against the 49ers.
“I was straight, really immediately, but they didn’t want me to go back in, you know, just to take precautions,” Kendrick said Friday. “I was in protocol throughout the week so I’m good.”
Injuries have forced the Rams to reshuffle the offensive line every game. Center Brian Allen remains sidelined because of a knee injury suffered in the season-opening loss to the Buffalo Bills, and guard Tremayne Anchrum suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the second game against the Atlanta Falcons.
The Rams gave up seven sacks against the Bills. They allowed only one sack against the Atlanta Falcons and the Cardinals.
The line on Sunday will include left tackle Joe Noteboom, left guard Evans, center Coleman Shelton, right guard Alaric Jackson and right tackle Rob Havenstein.
Evans, a fourth-year pro, has played tackle and guard.
Asked if Tagovailoa’s situation made players more aware of safety, Evans said, “That was probably just like a wake-up call for all the teams around the league teams to just kind of be conscious about when guys are not feeling well.”
Star cornerback Jalen Ramsey acknowledged that he did not know the details surrounding Tagovailoa’s situation. But Ramsey said the NFL’s emphasis should be on important issues such as player safety — not trivial issues such as uniform code violations.
Ramsey, a seventh-year pro said he has been fined during his career for violations related to socks, pants, T-shirts and tights. He said he had been fined every week this season.
“We need to talk about player safety,” Ramsey said, “like that’s the stuff that they need to put an emphasis on. Not freakin’… ‘Oh, his socks are too high,’ or “his socks are too low,’ or something like that. Like that’s so lame.”
Cornerbacks David Long (groin) and Cobie Durant (hamstring) will not play against the 49ers, McVay said. Safety Jordan Fuller (hamstring) was a full participant in practice and will play on Sunday, McVay said.