It has been a long, somewhat lonely month of recovery and rehabilitation since Jerel Worthy suffered a concussion during the Buffalo Bills’ final preseason game of 2017. Worthy, a defensive tackle, was expected to step in and contribute to a potent front four, but instead, found himself relegated to the sidelines — and the NFL’s concussion protocol, after sustaining a hit from Joe Powell of the Detroit Lions.
As soon as Powell knocked Worthy to the New Era Field turf, Worthy told Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News he knew something was wrong.
“I had one before, but it was like five years ago. You kind of get shaken up, you feel weird,” Worthy said. “When I got back into the locker room, I felt normal. Maybe a little bit dazed, but I started feeling like myself once I got up the tunnel.”
The process cost Worthy nearly a full month of game time and practice time, but after a frustrating month off the field, Worthy returned to the practice field in time for Wednesday’s session in advance of Sunday’s road game with the Atlanta Falcons (3-0). The road to recovery was long and lonely, Worthy said, and his path included more than its fare share of low points.
“I think after a couple of weeks of dealing with headaches, it makes you think twice a little bit,” he said. “It was a different thing for me. I’ve never really dealt with anything that’s lasted as long as it did.”
Once a player enters into the concussion protocol, they must abstain from team activities until the concussion symptoms have subsided. A concussed player must demonstrate that his cognitive and balance tests have returned to their normal “baseline” level established before the concussion occurred.
Everyday activities that non-football players take for granted, like checking your cell phone, watching television, or driving could bring about unexpected issues as a player tries to rehabilitate from their concussion.
“If you have any signs of any type of symptoms, they’re not going to let you participate,” Worthy said. “They’re not going to let you go until everything is completely clear. You’ve got to go through a tough protocol to get cleared. The process is long.”
Worthy said the time away from the facility was difficult, but he’s ready to move on and help the resurgent Buffalo (2-1) defense.
“I’ve been chomping at the bit for a few weeks now, missing my guys, missing my teammates,” Worthy said. “You know, it’s hard trying to be at home. You watch the guys battle, and how well our D-line has been playing and just want to get a piece of it.”
Worthy and Marcell Dareus, Buffalo’s under-performing defensive tackle, could both return to the field for Sunday’s showdown with the high-flying Atlanta Falcons. Without Worthy and Dareus, the Buffalo defense still ranks sixth in the NFL in yards allowed ( 278.3) and is tops in points allowed (12.3/game).