Browns coach Eric Mangini said running back Jamal Lewis first reported concussion symptoms on Monday, following Sunday's 16-7 loss at Cincinnati.
''The first we were aware of it was after the next day,'' Mangini said. "We immediately started testing. We wanted to go through the whole process and talk to everybody as thoroughly as possible.''
The Browns placed Lewis on injured reserve Wednesday, ending his 10-year career. Lewis said after the Nov. 1 game at Chicago that this season would be his last.
He finishes 21st on the league's all-time rushing list with 10,607 yards.
''Jamal had such a tremendous career,'' Mangini said. ''This is not the way he wanted to finish it up. I can't say enough about the contribution he's made, his work ethic, his toughness, his commitment to the younger players, all the things he's done in my short experience with him.''
Mangini would not get into the specifics of the concussion symptoms Lewis is experiencing.
Lewis did not address the team before he left, but Mangini said he would be open to that if Lewis asked to. Mangini also said the Browns had not had time to plan any sort of tribute to Lewis at Sunday's home game against San Diego.
After the jump, read Mangini's Wednesday press conference.
(Opening statement)- “Good morning everybody. How are you doing? As you know, yesterday we put Jamal (Lewis) on IR and Brodney (Pool) on IR. [It is] obviously disappointing for them. Jamal has had such a tremendous career and [this is] not the way he wanted to finish it up. I can’t thank him enough for the contributions he’s made, his work ethic, his toughness, his commitment to the younger players and all the things that he’s done just in my short experience with him. With Brodney, I really thought that he had continued to develop throughout the course of the season. I think that the strides he’s made in the deep part of the field and understanding the system, all those things have been real positives. It’s not the way that he wanted to finish the season either, but it was really the best decision right now for the players from a medical perspective. We claimed Ramzee Robinson off of waivers. [He is a] cornerback. We currently have one spot open. We’ll see how the week goes in terms of how we’re going to fill that spot.
“With practice today, [we are] working on third down and reemphasizing some of the things that we did yesterday. They’ll do some similar things on first and second down that they do on third down. There are some game plan specific things that we’ll have to adjust to once we get into the game. They are a multiple team in terms of their attack offensively and defensively in that area, so we’ve got our work cut out for us here today.”
(On if Lewis suffered brain trauma)- “I’m not going to get into specifics of the injury. When we were aware of him having symptoms we did the testing and at that point the doctors felt it was best for him to go on injured reserve, so that’s the decision that we made.”
(On if Lewis was hurt during the Cincinnati game or before)- “The first that we were aware of it was after the game, actually not directly after the game, but the next day. Immediately, we started testing and that’s when the doctors made the decision. We wanted to go through the whole process before and talk to everybody and make sure that we were as thorough as possible before making the final decision, but that was the process.”
(On if Lewis is seeing a specialist today)- “With both he and Brodney, they’ve gone through a series of tests. They’ll continue to do that. We’ll do everything organizationally and in working with them to make sure that we get all the information possible, not just in the short term but in the long term.”
(On if there have been more concussions this year or if the NFL is just taking them more seriously)- “In my experience in New York, we always treated [concussions] very seriously and tried to do everything possible in terms of pretesting, post testing, anything that we could do to make sure that player safety was the priority. I think a lot of teams do the same thing. In terms of trends, I’m not sure what the trends are, what the numbers are, but I can tell you that personally, from a head coaching perspective, it was a priority for us in New York. It’s been a priority here. The emphasis is on player safety.”
(On the league’s emphasis on concussions)- “I think the league each year tried to develop things that protect the players and I think that’s a great thing. They spend a lot of time researching it. They talk to a lot of different people, the leading experts in the field and I think that’s very positive. The more that we can keep guys healthy and on the field the better it is for everybody.”
(On if he encourages players to wear mouth guards)- “Really with all protective equipment, I think there’s benefit to all of it. There’s a reason for all the different components of protective equipment. The mouth guard in relationship to concussions, again I’m not sure what that study is, but I know that if it has any positive affect there, it’s a good thing.”
(On if Lewis had complained about concussion symptoms before Cincinnati)- “The first that we were made aware of it was this week. Immediately, we started testing and that’s when we found what we found and then went through the process.”
(On how the decision to put Pool on injured reserve worked)- “With any injuries it’s driven by the medical staff. You make sure that you have all the information. You go through all the testing and then you make a decision after that. It’s as thorough a process as we can possibly have and again, the priority is on player safety.
(On if Pool’s season would still be over if his injury had occurred earlier)- “Again, it’s based on the doctors and what they think and what the staff thinks collectively. It’s not where you are in the season, what your record is. It’s none of those things. It’s based on player safety.”
(On if the doctors gave Pool a timeline for returning)- “We talked about it more in terms of the season and we’ll address moving forward after that.”
(On if he is convinced Lewis will retire)- “That’s really Jamal’s decision and that’s a very personal decision for each player. I’d rather leave that question up to him. Whatever decision he makes I’ll support.”
(On if the team will do anything Sunday to honor Lewis)- “Marla (Ridenour), this is so new that we haven’t really talked in terms of those things. Really the emphasis has been on preparing for the game from my perspective. Obviously with this news and this transition, that’s taken a lot of time as well and it’s an important thing. At the game, that wasn’t something that I personally talked about with anybody. He has had a tremendous career and I respect all the things that he’s done.
(On if the team goes outside of their medical staff to evaluate head injuries)- “Anytime there’s a specific injury, what we’re always going to try to do is get the best information, however we can do that. If it’s independent, it’s independent. Whatever we need to do to get the best information is what we always adhere to.”
(On if Lewis and Pool have only seen doctors in Cleveland)- “Yes.”
(On if he thinks players have a false sense of security about safer helmets)- “I really couldn’t answer for all the different players. I know that as an organization you’re trying to get the best possible equipment. You’re always looking for trends. It could be related to concussions. It could be related to dehydration. There are often new things that become available. I know there were some items that became available this year in terms of dehydration that we tried during camp. You’re constantly looking for anything that can protect the players. It could be in the form of a helmet. It could be in the form of types of undershirts again for hydration, things like that. Best practices, you’re always searching for best practices.”
(On why he did not say anything to the media on Wednesday about Lewis’ injury)- “It’s like anything else, Tony (Grossi), you have to go through the process and go through the testing. Until you have concrete information, that’s what you do.”
(On if the team needs another running back)- “We usually activate two more often than not. We’ll look at different guys. We’ve brought different guys in not just week but all throughout the course of the season at all positions. We have Thomas Brown on the practice squad. He’s done a nice job. We’ll evaluate all those things. Typically we bring two to the game and that’s what we have on our roster.”
(On if the team needs a running back better than who they already have)- “I think that both those guys (Jerome Harrison and Chris Jennings) have done a nice job when they’ve had opportunities. Jerome has had some good games. I like the progress that they’re making. I think Chris Jennings is a guy that has done a good job with the opportunities that he’s had and he’s working to create more opportunities and they’ll have that now. Again, you never want to see anybody injured or lost. It is a great opportunity for younger players or guys that maybe weren’t in that lead role to make a case for themselves and step up and be productive.”
(On how much injuries complicate an already difficult season)- “Injuries happen at different rates each year. You’re constantly stressing flexibility, depth. I know we talked about that a lot during training camp and the early part of the season. There’s the counterargument about continuity versus flexibility. You just don’t know when it’s going to happen. You don’t know at what rate it’s going to happen. You don’t anticipate losing two middle linebackers, but it happens and it’s happened [to] different teams, different places, different positions. You’re constantly trying to build depth. Hopefully the guys that you have there and that have been working there then step up and are able to fill the void.”
(On if the league mandating the use of an independent neurologist is in affect yet)- “Often times you do that anyways, but that’s something that’s going to be in place. I think anything that helps the process is a good thing.”
(On the specific hit that triggered Lewis’ symptoms)- “As I said, Tony (Grossi), the first that we were made aware of it was on Monday. At that point, that’s when we did the testing.”
(On if Lewis said when he was hit)- “It wasn’t really that type of discussion. It was more symptom-based and that’s when we initiated the testing.
(On what symptoms Lewis complained of)- “I’m not going to get into specifics of all the different things.”
(On the upside he sees in Pool)- “I’ve seen him make progress throughout the course of the year. I was happy with a lot of the things that he was doing in the deep part of the field. [I] really liked the range that he showed. I think he became a better communicator as the season went on, as he got more comfortable not just working in the system but working with whether it be Abe (Elam) or Mike Adams or whoever he was back there with. Those things are all positive. Like with any new system, as you get more comfortable you tend to play faster because you’re not thinking through the adjustments. You’re not thinking about what your responsibilities are. It’s much more of a reaction type thing. I was pleased with that. I would imagine that any of the guys that come back who have had experience and reps would continue to improve. It’s always a plus and you’re always able to do more and more individually and collectively.
(On if Pool has a fierce enough personality to come back because he is soft-spoken)- “I’ve known a lot of guys that are really soft-spoken off the field but play with a great intensity on the field. I don’t think necessarily the personality off the field is a direct relation to the personality on the field. Again, with the future, he’s had a lot of good reps, a lot of good experience, a lot of good progress so I anticipate him continuing along that path.”
(On if he thinks Lewis is a Hall of Famer)- “I don’t get a vote in that, but I think he’s had a tremendous career. You hope, you hope [he makes it]. He’s done a lot of good things. He’s had an impressive career.”
(On if Lewis had a chance to talk to the team before he left)- “That wasn’t something that he and I talked about or he mentioned him wanting to do. I’d be happy for him to do that if that was something that he’d like to do.”