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Officials told to be on alert

They’ll watch closely for concussion symptoms

Associated Press / November 3, 2011

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The NFL has told its game officials to watch closely for concussion symptoms in players.

Ten days after Chargers guard Kris Dielman sustained a head injury against the Jets and later a seizure on the team’s flight home from New York, the league’s injury and safety panel issued the directive yesterday.

“Our game officials will receive concussion awareness training and will remain alert to possible concussions during games,’’ league spokesman Greg Aiello said. “If an official believes a player may have suffered a concussion, he should take appropriate steps to alert the team and get medical attention for the player.’’

Dielman was concussed with approximately 12 minutes remaining in the Oct. 23 game, after which he struggled to maintain balance. He finished the game despite the head injury and was not assessed until afterward.

Dielman suffered a grand mal seizure near the end of the charter flight, although he was cleared of all long-term complications surrounding the concussion and seizure.

The Chargers came under scrutiny for how they handled Dielman’s injury, but coach Norv Turner said at the time he believed the team dealt with the situation as best it could.

“Everything was handled extremely well,’’ Turner said. “All the proper precautions were taken. Kris was evaluated when we landed and all the tests were excellent. We’re fortunate, he’s fortunate, and we’re moving on.’’

Dielman never came out of the game despite intermittent signs of struggle, although he performed well as a blocker. The Chargers said they never saw a reason to evaluate their Pro Bowl left guard. Dielman sat out Monday night’s loss at Kansas City.

Bradford practices, Kolb doesn’t

Rams quarterback Sam Bradford was on the field for practice yesterday, a change from the last two weeks when he’s spent that time in the training room, and is hopeful of playing at Arizona on Sunday. He’s out of a walking boot and wearing a less cumbersome brace to protect a high left ankle sprain. A.J. Feeley quarterbacked the Rams to an upset of the Saints last Sunday. “There’s no quarterback controversy,’’ Feeley said. “That’s absurd. This is Sam’s team, Sam’s the guy. I gladly accept my role when he comes back.’’ . . . Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb sat out practice with turf toe, and said he would be able to play on Sunday with limited practice. If Kolb can’t play, the Cardinals would turn to second-year pro John Skelton, who started four games as a rookie.

Falcons’ Baker out 3-4 weeks

Falcons left tackle Sam Baker will miss 3-4 weeks with a back injury, coach Mike Smith said. Baker, a late first-round draft pick in 2008, has started 41 of 44 career games. Early in his rookie season, Baker had surgery to repair a herniated disk . . . Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams will have a better idea on the status of his injured left foot next week when the protective boot he’s been wearing for the past two weeks will be removed, but has been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Jets . . . Former Patriots cornerback Darius Butler was back at practice with the Panthers after missing last week’s game to be with his 3-month-old daughter, Milan, who underwent successful open heart surgery . . . The Jaguars placed receiver Mike Sims-Walker on injured reserve and were awarded receiver Brian Robiskie off waivers from the Browns. Sims-Walker, signed two weeks ago after being cut by St. Louis, injured a knee in last Sunday’s game at Houston . . . The Saints put Charles Brown, who started five games at right tackle in place of injured veteran Zach Strief, on IR after he hurt his right hip during last Sunday’s game at St. Louis. Strief practiced, and coach Sean Payton said he’s ready to return from his sprained right knee . . . Bubba Smith, the NFL player-turned-actor and TV pitchman, died of acute drug intoxication and other conditions, the Los Angeles County coroner’s office said. A caretaker at the 66-year-old Smith’s home in Baldwin Hills, Calif., found his body Aug. 3. Autopsy results showed the 6-foot-7-inch Smith had high levels of the weight-loss drug phentermine in his system. He also had heart disease, an enlarged heart, and up to 75 percent blockage of some blood vessels . . . Tommy Watkins, a running back for the Lions in the 1960s who also excelled at returning kicks, died Saturday at the age of 74. Obituary, B14.

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