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Steelers' Mike Tomlin outlines how Kenny Pickett's concussion played out, says QB 'was cleared to continue'


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Steelers rookie Kenny Pickett is in the concussion protocol after he suffered a head injury during a Week 14 game. 

Pickett is now in concussion protocol for the second time this season. On Tuesday, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin shed some light on how Pickett's injury played out and how the quarterback ended up back on the field.

"After the first series he was evaluated by the medical experts. He was cleared to continue. Even though we clear someone to continue, oftentimes they are continually evaluated," Tomlin told reporters during his media availability. 

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Pickett appeared to suffer the injury when he was flung to the ground by Baltimore Ravens linebacker Roquan Smith in the first quarter. He briefly sat on the ground before he was helped up by offensive guard James Daniels.

He left the game briefly before returning for three more plays. Pickett was later removed from the game and was ruled out with a head injury. Mitchell Trubisky replaced Pickett under center for the remainder of the day.

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Kenny Pickett was cleared from concussion protocol Sunday after his head hit the ground on a sack, and the rookie quarterback returned for three plays before being ruled out with a head injury.

After the game, Tomlin was asked about Pickett going back into the game only to leave just a few plays later.

"When he became symptomatic, he was pulled from the game and evaluated for concussion," coach Mike Tomlin said. "I don’t know about the sequence or the details regarding the sequence."

The NFL and NFL Players Association revised the language in the protocol earlier this season after Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was allowed to return after experiencing stability issues when he was hit by a Buffalo Bills player in September.

When asked if he believes the protocol should be amended in light of the delayed onset of symptoms for Pickett, Tomlin replied "not at all."

"When someone in the protocol is evaluated by the experts, they’re either cleared to participate or not," Tomlin said. "Even when they are (cleared), which (Pickett) was, they watched him continually. As they continued to watch him, they decided to pull him and that’s the reality of it."

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Pickett did not appear to have any mobility issues as he walked off, but he was taken into the blue medical tent for evaluation.

Tomlin said he is taking a day-by-day approach with Pickett's availability.

"The last time (Pickett) he sustained a concussion he was in the protocol but he was allowed to work. We'll see what this procedure is like. His ability to work oftentimes will determine whether or not he gets an opportunity to. We'll take it day-by-day."

The longtime Steelers coach did not say who would get the start if Pickett is ultimately ruled out of the team's Week 15 matchup against the Carolina Panthers.

Tomlin said that the team would "work both guys" if Pickett can't go and called them both "capable" of running the offense. Tomlin also mentioned that he is "not even looking toward the end of the week" when it comes to who would get the start.

Pickett sat out for the second half of a win over the Buccaneers on Oct. 16 after being placed in concussion protocol. He start game in the following week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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