NFL questions Texans' protocol

Updated: September 30, 2012, 2:46 PM ET
By Chris Mortensen | ESPN

The Houston Texans were questioned by the league about the team's handling of quarterback Matt Schaub's return to action after one play in last week's win over the Denver Broncos after he suffered a jarring blindside hit by linebacker Joe Mays, sources said.

Schaub was examined by Texans team doctor Walter Lowe, who determined Schaub had not suffered a concussion and that a tear of his ear lobe was the extent of his injury. Schaub sat out one play.

League and NFLPA medical personnel inquired as to why the Texans did not review Mays' hit on Schaub via the bench TV monitor that is available to assess the collision. Dr. Lowe explained he did not need the monitor because he had a clear view of the hit from the sideline and understood its potential consequences, sources said.

The recommendation from the league's Head, Neck and Spine Committee is that a player involved in a significant collision should be removed from the field so the doctor can utilize the NFL Sideline Concussion Tool, which has six basic cognitive tests, all of which must be passed by the player. On average, a medical source said, the test takes about eight to 10 minutes to administer.

However, the league has not disciplined the Texans because of Dr. Lowe's explanation and because the team has a strong history of letting its medical professionals determine the play-time of players after an injury. Also, Dr. Lowe conducted further examination in the locker room after the game and Schaub did not display any concussion symptoms during the week of practice leading into Sunday's game against the Titans.

One medical source affiliated with the Head, Neck and Spine Committee said the concussion protocol remains a "work in progress." He cited data that makes a player more susceptible to subsequent concussions and said Schaub's play will be "unofficially" monitored today.

Meanwhile, Mays' hit on Schaub resulted in a one-game suspension and a $50,000 fine for Sunday's Broncos game against the Oakland Raiders.

Mays was suspended with pay, however. Since he makes $205,882 per week, he will make $155,882 on Sunday despite being suspended.

The NFL said vice president of football operations Merton Hanks determined it was the appropriate discipline for that incident, and declined further comment.

ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter contributed to this report.

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