CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Cody Kessler exited Sunday’s 24-9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers after the third quarter of play due to a concussion, his second such injury during the regular season.
And Kessler’s second head injury in the last month has veteran quarterback Josh McCown concerned for the young signal-caller’s long-term health.
“It is never good for anybody in this game,” McCown said. “For it to be someone who is in your position group and is close to you, to have another concussion is tough.
“Obviously, the league is doing such a good job now a days protecting guys to heal. He will go through the protocol, I am sure, and do all that. Hopefully, he comes out fine and he gets back healthy. You just never want that for anybody.”
On the final play of the third quarter, Kessler took a snap from under center at the Browns’ 25-yard line and avoided the initial pass rush by escaping to the right of the formation and launching a 16-yard pass down the field to rookie wide receiver Corey Coleman.
However, as Kessler let go of the ball, he was getting pulled down by Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier and got leveled by Lawrence Timmons. The hit drove Kessler’s head into the ground and he was finished for the game.
“I think just trusting protocols and the doctors and just letting yourself get back healthy,” McCown said. “Once you’re healthy and you’re cleared, then you have to go back at it. It’s unfortunate for something like that to happen this early, but I have no doubt with Cody’s resolve, that he’ll follow the protocol, he’ll trust the steps and follow the doctors and he’ll be ready to go whenever it’s time, when they tell him he’s good, but you never want to see that for any young guy.”
The veteran-laden Steelers showed their physical superiority over the much younger Browns and registered eight sacks in the lopsided win. Both Kessler and McCown absorbed the punishment of four sacks each.
Six players collected sacks against the Browns, led by the 2.5 from Stephon Tuitt, and Pittsburgh’s top two tacklers, Ryan Shazier and Lawrence Timmons, registered one each. Shazier added a forced fumble that was recovered by nose tackle Javon Hargrave in the end zone for a touchdown.
Prior to the win over the Browns, the Steelers had just 13 sacks on the entire season.
“We have to do a better job of protecting the quarterback,” Browns left tackle Joe Thomas said.
“It’s always a concerted effort. It’s the line getting against the guys that we want to be on. It’s the running backs knowing who they are blocking. It’s the quarterbacks understanding who we are blocking and readjusting the protection. We haven’t been on the same page enough.”