We will no doubt learn more—even if just a bit more—than we know now about how Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Ladarius Green is feeling later today during Head Coach Mike Tomlin’s weekly pre-game press conference, but there is naturally already some cause for concern that the free agent in his first year with the team will miss their biggest game of the season.
The fifth-year veteran suffered a concussion—as we can assume, since it was said that he is in the concussion protocol—after securing his fifth reception of the day on Sunday against the Bengals, a 28-yard pass that converted a key third down that allowed the offense to close out the game without giving Cincinnati another opportunity to score.
After bringing in the ball in between several defenders in the midst of a gap in the zone coverage, Green began to race up the field, where he was met by two defenders. While he was in the process of being wrapped up low by one defender, he also encountered safety George Iloka looking to bring him down.
The tight end braced for impact and lowered his head, and Iloka raised his, the two making helmet-to-helmet contact. While there has been some discussion as to whether or not this hit merited a penalty, I don’t think there is enough evidence to say either way. That he was hit in the head is not the point, because he was, at that point, a runner, but if the league views Iloka’s hit as having launched himself, then he may receive a fine, though I would not bet on it.
Be that as it may, what we are currently dealing with at this point is a player who spent half of the season injured, returning for five games only to suffer a concussion. This is a player who has had a history of concussions, which raises the level of concern on a variety of levels, but most immediately, increases the chances of his concussion symptoms extending beyond a week, since repeated concussions can produce more severe and more prolonged symptoms.
Recently, Steelers rookie Javon Hargrave just missed a week due to a concussion, while B.J. Finney was able to play in the following game after suffering one, which just goes to show that you cannot use another player’s baseline to judge how long another may be out.
In recent weeks, Green has gradually becoming more and more a key part of the Steelers’ offense. Though his snaps were limited in his first three games, he has now played in six games and secured 18 receptions for 304 yards and a touchdown. Many of those receptions have converted on third down, and seven of them have been explosive plays.
The positive spin is that the Steelers have already played half the season without Green, so if they have to adjust without him, it shouldn’t be too difficult, even if his absence will be felt. More importantly, though, is simply the hope for a rapid relief of symptoms.