TEMPE, Ariz. — Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Monday that wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald still must undergo several tests under the NFL’s standard concussion protocol before he can be cleared to play, leaving his status for Sunday’s game at Seattle in question.
Fitzgerald’s father tweeted earlier in the day that his son had passed tests, leading to some confusion.
“He passed whatever test he needed to pass to come out of the stadium,” Arians said, “but that’s still a long ways to go from being cleared.”
But on his weekly Westwood One radio segment before Monday Night Football, Fitzgerald said he saw an independent neurologist on Monday who tested Fitzgerald to compare his score with the baseline test Fitzgerald took this spring. Baseline tests are used to ensure a person is at or near the same level of cognitive function they were before the head trauma occurred.
“Those tests came back positive,” Fitzgerald said. “I was right where I needed to be. (Tuesday) I will see another independent neurologist to get another independent look, and at that point it’ll be how I feel going through the week. But right now I’m feeling good, and I’m going to get some rest today, some rest tomorrow and get back to work for a big game against Seattle.”
Fitzgerald was injured during an onside kick that led to the Titans’ game-tying touchdown at the end of regulation in Arizona’s 37-34 overtime win in Nashville. It looked like a penalty should have been called for helmet-to-helmet contact on Jackie Battle. That hit will likely result in a fine, but it could be far more costly for the Cardinals if Fitzgerald misses time.
Fitzgerald said he doesn’t remember much about the play aside from watching the ball into his hands and then being helped off the field.
“I was a little out of it,” he said. “Equilibrium was lost a bit but our training staff did an unbelievable job. [They] felt that it was in my best interests not to come back into the game. And I appreciate those guys looking out for my best interests because I really wanted to go back in.”
His status for Sunday’s game in Seattle won’t be known until later in the week under the normal steps in the league’s protocol.
“I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that I am recovering at a fast rate so I can be out there with my team come Sunday,” Fitzgerald said.
Here is a portion of the league protocol that teams and players follow.
“The initial treatment is rest, and the team doctors and athletic trainers begin monitoring to see when a player appears to have returned to baseline functioning. Do symptoms return when a player watches practice or when he watches film? Is there return of symptoms with physical activity?
“Once symptoms have completely subsided, the player again performs more comprehensive neuropsychological tests interpreted by the team neuropsychologist. There are no pass-fail grades, only additional data for physicians to consider.
“If the player is progressing, he would be become eligible for increased physical activity. The workouts would ramp up over a few days if no symptoms occur.
“A player feeling normal one day after the game might pass cognitive testing Tuesday and begin a light exercise program, intensify their exercise routine Wednesday, participate in non-contact aspects of practice on Thursday and return to full practice Friday. But if a player has a history of concussions or isn’t progressing as quickly as planned, the process moves accordingly.”
In other Cardinals injury news, free safety Rashad Johnson sustained a high-ankle sprain that could sideline him against the Seahawks. That’s a concern because the Cardinals already lost rookie free safety Tyrann Mathieu for the season when he suffered a torn ACL and torn LCL the week before against the St. Louis Rams.
If Johnson can’t play, Arians said rookie Tony Jefferson would start in his place, and Curtis Taylor would back him up.
Quarterback Carson Palmer suffered a sprained left ankle but finished the win over the Titans with it taped. He should be ready to go Sunday in Seattle. Running back Andre Ellington sustained a thigh bruise but also should be able to play. Tight end Rob Housler missed the game with a groin injury and is day to day.
“I think that’s probably the best news we could get coming out of the game with the way it looked with guys in (walking) boots and the way they were walking coming out of the locker room,” Arians said. “It was a physical ball game.”