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HOUSTON (AP) — Texans coach Bill O’Brien said Monday that he wouldn’t have let Tom Savage re-enter Sunday’s game after an alarming hit that gave him a concussion and left the quarterback’s hands shaking if he had seen the video of the hit.
Savage was injured with about nine minutes remaining in the second quarter of Houston’s 26-16 loss to San Francisco when he was driven to the ground on a hit by Elvis Dumervil.
Replays showed Savage looking dazed after his head hit the ground with both of his arms shaking and lifted upward.
He was taken to the medical tent where he stayed for less than three minutes before returning to the bench and going back in for the next series.
Savage threw two incompletions on that drive, and Houston’s team doctor approached him after he returned to the sideline at the end of that possession.
He was then evaluated again and taken to the locker room after it was determined that he did have a concussion.
“There’s no video on the sideline. All there are are tablets,” O’Brien said. “There’s no video, there’s nothing like that. With benefit of seeing the video … (and) the care for the player, I would’ve never let that player back in the game, and I don’t believe that (trainer) Geoff Kaplan would’ve allowed that player back in the game. I don’t have benefit of the video. I did not see anything.”
Also on Monday an NFL spokesman said the league is looking into whether concussion protocol was properly followed after Savage was injured.
League spokesman Joe Lockhart said the NFL and the players’ association “together will conduct a thorough review of the incident focused on whether the protocol was properly followed, but we’re also continuing looking at the protocol to look for ways to improve and strengthen it.”
O’Brien talked at length about the way Savage’s concussion was handled and explained the series of events that led to him leaving the game. He shared what he was told after the second evaluation.
“They came to me, they were not satisfied with his answers to the questions that they were asking him, and they pulled him from the game,” O’Brien said.
The hit occurred in the end zone and O’Brien said he was near the 50-yard line when it happened and that he did not see it live. He said he assumed Savage got hit on the play, which was an incomplete pass, but didn’t know for sure until later.
“At no point in time is there anything more important to me than the safety of our players,” he said. “I love our players and I care about them and I cannot stand when players get injured. Again, with benefit of seeing the video that people are seeing, I would’ve never put him back in the game.”
O’Brien didn’t have an update on Savage’s condition on Monday, but said that he expects backup T.J. Yates to start on Sunday against the Jaguars. Yates took over against the 49ers after Savage was injured for his first game action since 2015.
Savage and Yates are the only quarterbacks on Houston’s roster so the team will likely need to sign another quarterback to back up Yates on Sunday.
While O’Brien discussed what happened on Sunday, he wouldn’t share his feelings about how the process of evaluating players for concussions could be improved or if he finds it worrisome that the procedure allowed Savage to return when he had a concussion.
“I think these are great questions, but I’m just here to tell you what my role is in it and I think those are questions for someone else. I really do,” he said.
AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner contributed to this report.
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP—NFL
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CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago woman involved in a beating of a mentally disabled man that was shown on Facebook Live has pleaded guilty to a hate crime and been placed on probation for four years.
Nineteen-year-old Brittany Covington entered her plea Friday in a case that received national attention because it involved a white victim and four blacks who taunted him with profanities against white people and now-President Donald Trump.
Covington has been in jail since January when the video, which she narrated, surfaced. Her three co-defendants remain in custody and their cases are pending.
In exchange for pleading guilty to committing a hate crime, aggravated battery and intimidation, prosecutors dropped a kidnapping charge and others.
The judge ordered Covington to not use social media for four years. She also must perform 200 hours of community service.
NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL will look into adding targeting as a specific category for video review.
Troy Vincent, the league’s football operations chief, says it is on the agenda to discuss with the competition committee and the players’ union after the season.
In responding to questions about helmet-to-helmet hits and players launching to make tackles, Vincent said Wednesday that the NFL has seen targeting reviews “work to a degree” in the college game.
“I think it is something that we have to consider,” Vincent said. “We’ve seen that it has worked to a certain degree, it’s clean. … We think there have been some positives and we have talked to some of the conferences and the officials there, as well as with some student-athletes. It is a deterrent and something that we will consider; it is one of our agenda items to discuss during the offseason as we speak to the coaches and the competition committee.
“It needs to be discussed because there are a lot of other ramifications that come along with that. It is on our agenda to be discussed beginning in February.”
Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap wants no part of the college’s targeting ejection system.
“I don’t want to do all that. I think they go overboard in college with the ejections,” he said. “You know some of them are football plays. If a kid gets ejected for that, I don’t think that’s right. But they don’t have fines in college, so I don’t know how you handle that one.”
Vincent also noted that coaches, general managers, owners and players are adamant about not wanting players ejected from games unless there is no other option.
“We don’t want to be in the business of ejecting players,” Vincent said. “There are only 17 weeks and the philosophy is, if it gets out of control, we ask the referees to maintain control of the game, give them that flexibility. They have that flexibility, but we really emphasize let the players play, but if things begin to get out of control, you must maintain control of the game during that window.”
There have been nine suspensions in 2017 for on-field acts. Ejections are much rarer, of course.
“We have had clear directives from the competition committee,” Vincent said. “They asked us and the players to remove some of the helmet-to-helmet hits that we have seen, as well of some of the blindside blocks and other types of disparaging techniques and behaviors on the field.
“We have clear directive that this is not something that should be progressive, but that we strongly consider removing a player that is using these techniques that we want out of our game immediately.”
The league also will consider adding a category for non-football acts that break the rules, such as Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski’s hit on Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White.
Gronkowski drew a one-game suspension under unnecessary roughness guidelines. White is in the league’s concussion protocol.
“We’ve seen a few of these on occasion. It’s something that Jon (Runyan, who handles some NFL disciplinary cases) has raised to myself, and he’s actually raised to the appeals officers,” Vincent said.
“He’ll bring that up in February when we begin meeting with our competition committee, our coaches’ subcommittee and our GMs. We will also bring this up with the NFL Players Association, but it is something that we do need to review.”
Asked about potential mixed messages the NFL could be sending when it suspends Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and Bengals safety George Iloka one game apiece for egregious hits in Monday night’s game, then changes Iloka’s discipline to only a fine on appeal, Vincent insisted the appeals reviews have been “very consistent, fair and firm.” He emphasized that appeals officers James Thrash and Derrick Brooks are employees of the league and the union.
“I just think they try to send a message more than anything,” Steelers player representative Ramon Foster said. “They screwed it up. You say you’re concerned over player safety, but you had a guy who blatantly had a helmet to helmet and didn’t get suspended. You had a guy that just did a taunting and you try to justify it by suspending him. That’s not player safety.
“Then you have another situation where a guy plows into another guy and you suspend him for one game. Why one game? Why not multiple games? Because the Steelers play the Patriots next week.”
AP Sports Writers Joe Kay in Cincinnati and Will Graves in Pittsburgh contributed to this report.
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