BEREA - The standard procedure for dealing with a concussion suffered by a football player is for him to sit out at least one game.
There's no set procedure in place for how a coach deals with questions that come after the injury. As of now, Browns coach Pat Shurmur probably wishes he could take two aspirins and the controversy surrounding quarterback Colt McCoy's concussion would go away.
No such luck. Shurmur was hit with more questions about what protocol was or wasn't followed by the medical staff after McCoy was the victim of a helmet-to-helmet hit by Steelers linebacker James Harrison last Thursday. McCoy returned three plays later, only to have a pass intercepted by William Gay late in the fourth quarter of a 14-3 Steelers' win.
The day after the game Shurmur said that he was told in the immediate aftermath of the play that McCoy had suffered an injury to his left hand. He said there was no mention of a concussion, which is what McCoy went back into the game.
Chris Mortensen of "ESPN" reported a different story on Sunday. He said that the medical staff didn't initially administer the standard Sports Concussion Assessment Tool2 (SCAT2) on the sideline before McCoy returned. NFL rules state that a player can't return to a game once he has suffered a concussion.
Shurmur became defensive when asked about the ESPN report after practice Monday. He said he was unaware of the report.
"We followed all of the proper medical procedures," Shurmur said. "I don't know what was reported other than what you're telling me now. I don't know what the report was, but I'll find out."
The Browns were hit hard by concussions in the game. Tight end Ben Watson left and didn't return after suffering a second concussion this season. Rookie fullback Owen Marecic also left and didn't return after suffering his second concussion of the season.
"There's a process you go through when there are concussion-like symptoms," Shurmur said. "We follow the guidelines strictly, so I'm very confident that that happened. We followed all the proper medical procedures. We follow all the protocol medical procedures. If a player is able to play, it's important he plays, but I do not want to put a player at risk and will not play him if there is a risk."
Offensive tackle Tony Pashos defended the procedures that took place along the sideline. He noted the high number of injuries that occupied the time of the medical staff.
"The only fault was that we had like 30 injuries going on at the same, exact time," Pashos said. "It's hard to have a type of triage that night when you have concussions that are pretty severe. Then you had Josh's (Cribbs) groin. If anything, you're going to see more hands on deck."
According to his father, Brad, McCoy wasn't of a sound mind when he re-entered the game. He told his dad that he didn't remember throwing the interception. McCoy, according to Shurmur, didn't develop concussion-like symptoms until after the game.
"Colt is a gamer," Cribbs said. "I doubt that our training staff would mislead him at all. He took a shot. He got back up and got his head back together. He wanted to play. He knew where he was. That's football. That's what we signed up for. We're gladiators. That's the sport we play."
The reaction of a medical staff immediately after a hit to the head is unquestionably critical. The situation becomes more complicated in the chaos of the final minutes of a close game.
"Colt's been hit hard a lot, and it's very understandable that he goes back in the game," offensive tackle Joe Thomas said. "I think it's a case-by-case basis. Sometimes a guy gets hit really hard and is not hurt. Sometimes a slight hit and a guy is out for weeks."
McCoy didn't participate in practice Monday. Shurmur isn't sure if McCoy will be able to play Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.
"We're hopeful he'll be back, but we're following the procedures," Shurmur said. "We won't know until he comes back out here."