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Report: After controversy involving Browns, QB Colt McCoy, NFL to assign independent trainers to monitor concussion-related injuries

By Nate Ulrich Published: December 20, 2011

In the aftermath of the concussion controversy surrounding the Browns and quarterback Colt McCoy, the NFL has changed its protocol for handling head injuries.

Starting this week, independently certified athletic trainers will be assigned to monitor all suspected concussion-related injuries during games, an NFL official told ESPN's Chris Mortensen. The independent trainers will be paid by the NFL and approved by the NFL Players Association, league spokesman Greg Aiello told Mortensen. The trainers will be situated in an upstairs booth with direct communication access to each team's sideline, Mortensen reported.

Teams have not yet received a memo from the league outlining the changes. In an e-mail response to the Beacon Journal, Aiello said the Browns and the other 31 teams will receive the memo "probably tomorrow."

McCoy played with a concussion Dec. 8 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He sat out two plays and re-entered the game after taking a devastating helmet-to-facemask hit from Steelers linebacker James Harrison with about six minutes left in the fourth quarter.

McCoy was not tested for a concussion on the sideline before he returned to action. Browns President Mike Holmgren said the standard Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 2 test was not administered because McCoy didn't immediately show any symptoms of a concussion and the team's trainers and doctors did not see Harrison's hit because they were working on other injured players on the sideline.

The lack of testing prompted the NFL and NFLPA to meet with the Browns and discuss changes to the league's protocol for handling concussions and how the team dealt with McCoy's injury. The NFLPA has not yet decided whether to file a grievance against the Browns, union spokesman Carl Francis wrote today in an e-mail response to the Beacon Journal.

McCoy has not practiced since he was hurt. Browns coach Pat Shurmur said today quarterback Seneca Wallace "more than likely will be the starter, for sure" Saturday against the Baltimore Ravens.

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