Setback forces Purdue to restart clock on Sindelar’s concussion protocol

The Boilermakers are hoping quarterback Elijah Sindelar makes rapid progress in his recovery from concussion symptoms this week.
David Calvert-USA TODAY Sports

Purdue quarterback Elijah Sindelar already has spent two weeks going through the concussion protocol. He’ll need better results this week to be cleared for Saturday’s Big Ten opener against Minnesota.

Coach Jeff Brohm indicated Monday that Sindelar suffered a setback late last week that could keep the Boilermakers‘ starter out for a second straight game.

“We’re still doing exactly what the doctors say,” Brohm said during his weekly news conference. “I think he’s making progress. We’ll see how this week goes. Really, last week we thought he was making progress Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, it wasn’t until Thursday where some things popped up again, and that’s where we had to start the process over.”

Sindelar was injured on Purdue’s final offensive play in a 42-24 victory over Vanderbilt on Sept. 7.

Brohm acknowledged later Sindelar probably wouldn’t have finished that game if the Boilermakers (1-2) had had another possession. At the time of the injury, Sindelar led the Football Bowl Subdivision with 932 yards passing and was tied for the national lead in touchdown passes with nine.

Doctors didn’t clear Sindelar in time to face TCU the following week — and the difference was noticeable.

Redshirt freshman Jack Plummer made his college debut in the 34-13 loss, going 13 of 29 with 181 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Plummer likely will start again if Sindelar can’t play against the surging Golden Gophers (3-0), who have won five straight and six of seven — a stretch that began with last year’s 41-10 rout of the Boilermakers.

But Brohm knows there was plenty of blame to spread around and hasn’t lost faith in Plummer.

“I think he’s going to be a very good quarterback, and sometimes you have to go through a few struggles to improve,” Brohm said. “We have to improve as a team, there’s no question about that, and we’re going to need to show that this Saturday, and I don’t think we’ve been getting the performance out of everyone that we need in order to win.”

Sindelar isn’t the only player the Boilermakers hope to get back.

Right guard Matt McCann, Purdue’s most experienced lineman, and receiver Jared Sparks both missed the TCU game with ankle injuries. Receiver David Bell hurt his shoulder in the second half against the Horned Frogs, and defensive tackle Lorenzo Neal isn’t expected back until at least early October as he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery.

Brohm said Sparks and Bell were held out of practice last week and McCann’s availability will be determined later this week.

Still, the hope was last week’s bye would give Sindelar enough time to be cleared to play heading into this week. Instead, the process restarted and now Brohm again must wait.

Whoever takes the snaps, Brohm wants to see better play at quarterback.

“While Elijah is our starter, at the same time you have to have more guys ready to compete, and you saw that really in Game 3,” Brohm said. “It’s not all on Jack, but we lost our starting quarterback, didn’t play well on offense. It’s important you have two quarterbacks, it’s important you have multiple guys at other positions because you never know when they’re going to be down, and that’s what we’ve got to build.”