Early reports from the Cleveland Browns indicated the team dodged a bullet after a scary Monday collision.
Second-year linebacker Mack Wilson collared Nick Chubb near the sideline in Cleveland’s first practice in pads.
Chubb’s head hit the ground hard and he left practice to be evaluated by the trainers.
Here’s the video of Mack Wilson taking down Nick Chubb which injured his head/neck. #Browns
— MoreForYouCleveland (@MoreForYou_CLE) August 18, 2020
But even though initial reports were good, Chubb is now in the league’s concussion protocol.
That means Chubb can’t return to practice until neurologists clear him.
Chubb almost took the NFL rushing title in his breakout sophomore campaign.
In an offense loaded with weapons, Chubb is in line to be the workhorse.
While he is unlikely to miss any regular-season games, he will miss precious time in a condensed preseason.
With a new offense to be mastered, that time is even more valuable.
Perhaps that is why players and coaches reacted angrily to Wilson’s high tackle.
David Njoku was in Wilson’s face immediately after the play.
Kevin Stefanski had 1 on 1 talk w Mack Wilson after high tackle of Nick Chubb in tackling period. Chubb left field.
— Tony Grossi (@TonyGrossi) August 17, 2020
Defensive coordinator Joe Woods yelled from across the field while Stefanski pushed through the players to pull Wilson aside.
That was nothing compared to the fans’ reaction on social media.
This better be how the rest of the team does Mack Wilson if Nick Chubb is really hurt pic.twitter.com/SkrsSNrDjM
— adrian #D4L (@Ayyeeedrian__) August 17, 2020
What it Means for Nick Chubb
Concussions are a serious matter for the NFL ever since players rebelled against alleged neglect of the issue.
Multiple concussions can lead to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.
Chubb should recover uneventfully from what is believed to be his first concussion.
But you never know for sure until a concussion is experienced.
The normal treatment for a concussion includes physical and cognitive rest.
Nick Chubb came 47 yards shy of the NFL rushing title despite:
A bottom 10 blocking line.
Sharing the field with Kareem Hunt for 8 games.
There's only one Rb that dominated regardless of everything working against him. The best back in the NFL is Nick Chubb. pic.twitter.com/6cGiRteoiM
— Nick Karns (@karnsies817) August 12, 2020
That means avoiding computer screens and loud or bright places.
Keeping up with Stefanski’s practices will be difficult if Chubb can’t watch live or review on video.
Cleveland did not say what type of concussion symptoms prompted Chubb’s designation.
But once those symptoms pass and Chubb feels back to normal, he will ease back into practice.
The league protocol prescribes gradually increasing aerobic exercise as long as symptoms don’t return.
Once the team doctors feel the player is ready for full practice, an independent neurologist has to concur.
The process can take a few days or several weeks.
It opens a door for Kareem Hunt, Dontrelle Hilliard, and others.
But it is highly unlikely Chubb has to worry about reclaiming his starting role upon return.
What it Means to the Browns
Kevin Stefanski wants Chubb to be comfortable in his new offense and prefers he be on the field.
But his injury could actually help with preseason preparation.
The condensed timeframe and limited contact leave little time for peripheral players to stand out.
Chubb’s absence will increase touches for backup candidates Dontrelle Hilliard and D’Ernest Johnson.
It also might afford some exposure for undrafted rookies Brian Herrien and Benny LeMay.
Chubb proved to be a quick study of Freddie Kitchens’ offense.
There is no reason to doubt he will master what he needs to know before the Browns take on Baltimore.
But even if he makes a mistake, Chubb has the moves and power to make it work out.
Most rushing yards after contact by RBs since 2017:
1. Derrick Henry – 2,742
2. Ezekiel Elliott – 2,601
3. Todd Gurley II – 2,224
4. Nick Chubb – 1,980 pic.twitter.com/Ul4FI6uqTd
— PFF (@PFF) August 17, 2020
Meanwhile, Mack Wilson is in the dawg house for a while.
#Browns Mack Wilson paying his dues today after his horse collar tackle of Nick Chubb yesterday. Replaced in the starting lineup for team drills by Tae Davis
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) August 18, 2020
His excuse that he gets excited about contact even in practice only goes so far.
Especially since the incident happened minutes after Stefanski warned about being over-zealous.
But he will recover if he can get through the rest of the preseason without injuring anyone else.
Chubb’s prompt and complete recovery will assure that.
And the third-year rusher already said he and Wilson are fine.