Steelers rookie starting QB Kenny Pickett suffered a concussion on Sunday and Wednesday was listed as a full participant in practice. No concussed players this season have returned to full practice on their first day of reporting. The normal pattern is to go from Did Not Practice (DNP) to Limited Practice (LP) to Full Practice (FP) and then cleared.
Earlier in the week, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin indicated Pickett was the likely starter if cleared. That seems to be a foregone conclusion for the Dolphins game right now, barring a setback. This goes against the grain for what has happened in the NFL this season, especially in light of the Tua Tagovailoa controversy. Coincidentally, Tagovailoa will likely be Pickett’s counterpart in Sunday’s game.
Of the 39 concussions tracked this season at Sports Injury Central, none were returned to full practice in three days. Only six of them were cleared to play the following week. None of the Sunday concussions were cleared to play on Thursday. An “FP” designation on Wednesday would be required before clearance for the midweek game.
I am not suggesting the Pittsburgh medical staff or UNC are doing anything wrong and the team is known to have top worldwide head injury experts on staff. I am saying that this pattern is very unusual and has not been seen this season. There may be a good medical reason for the quicker-than-usual progression through the protocol. Given the attention and controversy of concussions, it would behoove the NFL to provide that explanation for transparency.