NEW YORK – Seven NFL teams received an off-season “targeted intervention” for higher than normal practice concussion rates, league medical executives said Tuesday, according to multiple reports.
At league meetings in New York, medical officials said their interactions with teams included discussions with football operations staffs, an exam of practice habits and drill designs plus talks with team staffs regarding top protection level helmets, USA Today and ESPN reported.
“In six of those seven clubs, the numbers did go down after the intervention,” NFL chief medical officer Allen Sills said. “That group as a whole had 23 (pre-season) practice concussions in 2017. They went down to nine practice concussions in 2018.”
None of the seven teams involved in the extra-intense concussion prevention measures were identified.
Sills and NFL executive vice president of health and safety Jeff Miller said pre-season concussions in games and workouts were down 13.2 percent this year, 79 in all down from 91 in 2017. There were 71 reported concussions in 2016 and 83 in both 2014 and 2015.
The league also reported zero concussions on kickoffs in this year’s pre-season contests compared to three last year. The league enacted new rules this season aimed at reducing injuries on high-speed kick coverage plays.
“This is good. But no one is claiming victory,” Miller said. “There’s a lot of work to do. We have played six weeks of the regular season and have 11 weeks ahead of us, plus the post-season before we evaluate whether some of the tactics we’ve talked about have been successful.
“We are pleased with where we are so far, but we’re far from declaring victory.”
The league has stressed to referees that defenders should be penalized for landing with most of their weight on quarterbacks.
NFL officials called 53 roughing the passer penalties in the first six weeks of the season compared with 38 last year and 32 in 2016 over the same span.
But such calls are down since a conference call with referees last month to clarify techniques in roughing the passer hits. After 34 roughing the passer calls in the first three weeks, there were only 19 in the past three weeks.