NFL concussion spotter pulled Hawley on final drive
Lost in the chaos of the Bucs' final drive to set up Roberto Aguayo's game-winning kick Monday night was the fact the NFL's independent concussion spotter had Bucs center Joe Hawley come out of the game, suspecting a potential concussion to be evaluated.
The Bucs had running back Jacquizz Rodgers run to the right side for a 3-yard gain, and Hawley, in blocking the run, was down on the field with his head down for a brief moment at the end of the play. The NFL's certified athletic trainer on hand to identify potential concussions alerted game officials, and play was stopped and Hawley pulled from the game -- Evan Smith, who had replaced him for one drive after a knee injury in the third quarter, returned at center for much of the game-winning drive, though Hawley was back on the field for the end of the possession.
"That was a concussion protocol thing, because I got up slow from a play," Hawley said after the game. "I guess the NFL policy. I'm kind of glad they did it. That's the first time I've seen them do that. It means they actually care about us."
Hawley said he was scheduled to have an MRI on his knee injury but "felt good" and was pleased that Bucs coach Dirk Koetter was so committed to the run game as Jacquizz Rodgers rushed 30 times for 101 yards in the win.
"Dirk did a great job play-calling. I think he wanted to get back to pounding it," Hawley said. "Last couple of games, we got a little pass-happy. He's comfortable with Quizz, had Quizz in Atlanta and he trusts him. Quizz did a great job, hit the holes. We were pounding them, 3-4 yards. I'm really proud of the way the guys fought today."