Two of the NFL’s starting quarterbacks suffered concussions in last week’s games, injuries that could have playoff implications as the season comes down to the final seven weeks.
Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears and Alex Smith of the San Francisco 49ers have slowly worked their way back in the past days. Now their clubs do battle on Monday night in an important NFC matchup. Of the two, Smith seems the furthest along in his recovery.
“I feel good. Better,” Smith said. “I’m just going along with the process right now. Nothing’s been decided. It’s a whole long process that’s up to the doctors. I just kind of do what they tell me. Being cleared for contact, obviously, is the final straw.”
Players who suffer concussions must be cleared by an independent neurologist, so the matter of whether they’ll play is out of their hands, no matter how big the game.
Smith, who was injured when St. Louis Rams linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar hit him in the back of the neck, said he was unsure whether he would be cleared to play Monday. Six plays after the hit by Dunbar, Smith said he had blurred vision and was uncertain exactly when he was injured.
“It’s all speculation. It certainly didn’t help. Talking to the neurologist, it probably contributed, for sure. Whether it loosens you up for the next one, I don’t know.
“I felt fine after that though. The sneak, six plays later, was definitely when I came up and my eyesight went wrong.”
Cutler and Smith were not the only ones affected by concussions, with the Philadelphia Eagles’ Michael Vick also being sidelined. With the concussion came headaches and nausea that Smith said were more severe than he experienced a year ago when he suffered a concussion.