We’re all thinking it. The story of Drew Brees’ last NFL game was overshadowed last night by another question. What happen to Mahomes, and will he play? Here’s the video.
It may not look bad from the hit, but Mahomes couldn’t stand on his own after the contact and had to be half-lifted to the blue tent. He wouldn’t return to the field as backup QB Chad Henne finished off the lacklustre Cleveland Browns, and he’s now been officially moved into concussion protocol. But what does that look like?
Step 1: Rest And Recovery
Mahomes will be made to rest, at home, until all signs and symptoms are clear and he can pass balance and basic cognitive tests. If the look on the field was an accurate estimate of his status, he may not leave this stage for several days; he did however jog to the locker room and was active on twitter after the game. This is the most crucial step on his return to play, and any delay in this action will prolong his absence.
Step 2: Light Exercise
With direct supervision by the team’s medical staff, Mahomes may participate in escalating cardiovascular exercise, as well as balancing and dynamic stretching exercises. This is procedural, but a necessary step.
Step 3: Introduction Of Strength Training
Supervised strength training is introduced and the team may ramp up his individual exercise workload, mimicking football actions and activities. Another formality, as he will breeze through this step as well once cleared.
Step 4: Football Activities
Mahomes now may return to football activities, though entirely non-contact, and participate in drills that may be position-specific such as throwing, catching, running routes, etc.
Step 5: Full Practice
Once he completes all 4 previous steps, the Chief’s medical director must agree to his clearance from the protocol and sign all waivers. These papers must then be approved by an unbiased independent physician who will conduct their own examination. If they agree with the team physician, he will be cleared for full contact practice and will be able to play on gameday.
Does he play?
This is a tough call at this stage, and if you came here for something definitive, you’ll be disappointed. Concussion recovery is not always linear, and it won’t follow a specific timeline. If at any time during this process, Mahomes regresses or begins to display symptoms again, he’ll be immediately struck from the game and will begin the process again. Head Coach Andy Reid told media after the game that he expects his QB to be ready for the AFC Championship, and that things were alright. From how it looked on the field, however, he likely won’t play Sunday, but if he commits himself to recovery half as well as he plays QB, he might just make it back.