DENVER — There is no way Teddy Bridgewater should play next Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Not if the NFL truly cares about A) players’ safety and B) taking every extra precaution in the treatment of head injuries.
Bridgewater didn’t just suffer a head injury as his helmet slammed to the turf following his airborne conversion of a first down in the third quarter of the Broncos’ 15-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals here Sunday at Empower Field at Mile High.
He was knocked OUT.
One reason why he didn’t give the customary thumbs up to Broncos fans or loved ones as he was getting carted off immobilized on a backboard is, sources say, Bridgewater wasn’t fully conscious until sometime after he left the field.
He was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he will stay overnight for further evaluation. The team did report a few minutes after Bridgewater left the stadium that he had movement in all his extremities – a relief given the serious nature of the injury.
"Everything has checked out good up to this point," Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said in his postgame press conference. "They’re going to keep him overnight for observation. But they think he should be, and will be, fine."
Bridgewater was replaced by Drew Lock, who had started 18 games previous to Teddy’s arrival this season. And it seems logical that given the traumatic head injury Bridgewater suffered, Lock should be the starter next week at Las Vegas with Brett Rypien as his backup.
And Bridgewater staying back home to rest.
Fangio said he didn’t have enough information on Bridgewater’s situation to make a call. But what should also be considered is this was the second time this season Bridgewater was knocked out of a game because of a head injury. He suffered a concussion in game 4 against Baltimore and didn’t play in the second half.
The league has experienced enough civil lawsuit defeats in court to former players whose head injuries haunt them long after their careers are finished to make sure Bridgewater sits out at least one full week, if not the final three games of the season.
By losing to the Bengals 15-10 Sunday, the Broncos now have a slim chance of making the AFC playoffs even if they do sweep their final three games – at the Raiders, at the Chargers, then home against the Chiefs.
On second and 5 from his own 30 with 5:51 left in the third quarter and the Broncos trailing 9-3, Bridgewater scrambled right and was taken out low by Bengals linebacker Joe Bachie, who suffered a knee injury on the play. Bridgewater flew forward over Bachie and past the 35-yard line for a first down. As Bridgewater was falling, he was drilled from the side by the Bengals’ hustling defensive tackle B.J. Hill. Unable to brace himself, Bridgewater’s helmet was the first point of contact with the ground.
He instantly went motionless. Players from both sides gathered around as the Broncos’ medical team attended to Bridgewater, immobilized him on a backboard, and had him carted off.
"It’s scary," said Broncos’ outside linebacker Bradley Chubb. "You saw it earlier in the week with (tight end Donald) Parham of the Chargers hitting his head and just being out cold. And you saw Teddy lying there and you wish for the best at the time and when you see him turn over and move his hands a little bit you know he’s OK. But it’s still traumatizing a little bit. It’s still sad to see your leader, your quarterback, go down.
"At this point football doesn’t matter, man. His health is most important. I hope he does everything he can to make sure his mind’s right and everything with him is OK. Because at the end of the day you don’t want to have a traumatic brain injury."
Exactly. What Chubb said. Besides, Lock threw a touchdown and had his team in position to score another until he fumbled away a goal-to-go chance.
"First off, I’m happy to hear that Teddy’s all right," Lock said. "I think everyone in that locker room is happy to hear that Teddy’s all right and looking forward to the next time we get to see him."
For Broncos fans, for Teddy’s well-being, let’s hope the next time we see him playing quarterback at the very least is not next week at Las Vegas.
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