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Vontaze Burfict in NFL concussion protocol

The Bengals linebacker may not play on Saturday in Houston.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict is now in the NFL’s concussion protocol following Sunday’s game against the Steelers.

Burfict left the game in the second quarter with a head injury and remained out throughout the rest of the first half.

The injury came following a second-and-10 rushing play with Le'Veon Bell carrying the ball three years. Burfict was making his way toward Bell when David Decastro came in for the block and hit Burfict helmet-to-helmet. The injury looked pretty bad as Burfict's head and neck were put in a compromising situation. There was no flag on the play.

When the Bengals returned to the field following halftime, Burfict was with the rest of his teammates and re-joined the lineup; he played throughout the rest of the matchup. Burfict finished the game with a team-leading 9 tackles.

Burfict was required to pass the concussion tests of both the Bengals’ doctor and an independent neurologist to make it back on the field. He apparently did that, while having a concussion.

The Bengals linebacker self-reported the concussion this week, after being cleared by the doctors on Sunday. It’s pretty questionable that he was allowed back in the game following the concussion testing. But, it is possible that his symptoms took time to develop. All concussions are different, and some take time for the symptoms to show.

It’s also possible that Burfict hid his symptoms from the doctors due to his desire to play in the game. We of course can’t know for sure what happened, but, Burfict is now in the NFL’s concussion protocol and his status for Saturday’s game against the Texans is very much in question.

If the Bengals allowed Burfict to return to the game while knowing he had a concussion, that would be a finable offense by the NFL and a clear violation of league rules. Not to mention, it would be an incredibly foolish move as Burfict’s safety and health must come before any NFL game.

During the 2016 offseason, the NFL and NFLPA created a new policy regarding concussions and playing through them. Per ESPN, when a team's medical staff or other employee is determined to violate the concussion protocol, the team could be subject to discipline -- either fines of anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000 for a first violation, or loss of draft picks.

You’d have to assume that the Bengals are well aware of this and that Burfict did in fact pass the concussion testing that was conducted on Sunday. That brings up a bigger question of whether the NFL’s in-game concussion testing is thorough enough. For now, we can just hope for a speedy recovery for Burfict.

Burfict is also noted as having a knee injury on the Bengals’ Wednesday injury report. I wouldn’t expect the Bengals linebacker to play on Saturday in Houston, but, we’ll see how he progresses throughout the week.