On November 1, Browns cornerback Joe Haden experienced his second concussion of the 2015 NFL season. Haden was playing in his first game back after missing the two prior weeks due to his first concussion of the year.
Haden's first concussion of the season came in the Browns' Week 5 win over the Baltimore Ravens. The second occurred in the Browns' Week 8 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Haden allowed a 68-yard touchdown to Cardinals' receiver Michael Floyd when the injury occurred, and may have been kicked in the head by Floyd after he caught the ball.
Haden has played in only five games this season, and hasn't made it through two of those five games. He didn't play in the Browns' Week 4 matchup with the Chargers due to a broken finger and bruised ribs.
To put it lightly, 2015 hasn't been a good year for the Browns' star cornerback who's in the second year of a six-year, $74.678 million deal. Concussions can take months or even years in some cases to heal, though in many cases, symptoms dissolve and players are back on the field within a few short weeks.
But, what makes the situation in Cleveland so troubling is Haden isn't the only Browns player who has experienced a concussion this year. He's not even the only Browns player to experience two concussions this year.
Josh Mccown experienced a concussion in the team's Week 1 loss to the Jets. The concussion occurred on the first series of the year. Nickelback K'Waun Williams also missed two games due to a concussion this year, his third concussion in less than 12 months. Other Browns players including Taylor Gabriel, Brian Hartline, Donte Whitner, Justin Gilbert, and Andrew Hawkins have all also had concussions this season.
In the Bengals' Week 9 matchup with the Browns, Hartline, Hadens, Hawkins, and Whitner all missed the game with concussions. This week, it's looking likely that Haden and Hawkins will both miss the game and Gilbert, who experienced a concussion on a return during the Ravens game may miss the matchup, too.
Hawkins, the former Bengals wide receiver, has had two concussions this season, which have been considerably serious and troublesome.
Today, Mike Pettine said the Browns may get to the point soon where they need to consider placing Haden and Hawkins on Injured/Reserve due to their concussions. The statement was a clear sign the duo's chances of playing this week against the Bengals are slim to none and that they're not near returning to play.
It's believed this is the play that resulted in Hawkins' second concussion of the season:
After the Browns' game against the Steelers in Week 10, Hawkins was admitted to the hospital and said he didn't remember the game or how he got a concussion.
Hawkins' first concussion of the season occurred during the Browns' October 25th game against the St. Louis Rams in Week 7, just 14 days prior to his second concussion.
"When you deal with a topic as sensitive as concussions, the longer guys are out, I think those conversations will come up," Pettine said today via Ohio.com. "We're not there yet. You also have Hawk who's been out for some time, too. With the season winding down, those are potential discussions to have. It's a sensitive topic and something that ultimately has to come to the table."
Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green had a phone call Tuesday with the Cleveland media. During the call, Green touched on Haden's concussion and his belief that he'll be able to return from it once healthy. Green has had experience dealing with concussions of his own, as his most recent concussion kept him out of the Bengals' playoff game with the Colts last season. "It's very concerning because you never want to play with a concussion because that has to deal with your head," Green said. "He's been a great player for so long, and my heart goes out to him because I know he wants to play. But he has to be safe first. He has to look at the long term and let this thing heal so he can come back and after football, he'll be alright. I'm just praying for him. I know he'll be back, though."
Concussions are a scary. Unlike a broken arm or pulled hamstring, you can't put a timetable on the return from a concussion. Concussions differ from person to person and even in the same person, if you're unfortunate enough to have a second concussion, it won't be like your first. There's no way to know how long it will take to heal, until it does.
Pettine admitted Haden still hasn't been able to pass the early stages of the NFL's concussion protocol, and though Haden and Hawkins may progress enough in their recovery to play at some point in the last few weeks of the NFL season, it may be in their best interest to call it a season and look to return healthy in 2016.