Chargers’ mystery behind Joshua Palmer’s delayed concussion

When Chargers head coach Brandon Staley met with reporters just before noon on Wednesday, he offered injury updates for five players.

Keenan Allen, Corey Linsley, Donald Parham Jr., Joshua Kelley and Dustin Hopkins were all mentioned when Staley consulted a list he took to his regular press conference.

About three hours later, the team’s injury report included Joshua Palmer, who the Chargers said was off practice because of a concussion.

So what happened during the time gap that sidelined Palmer — seemingly out of nowhere — with something so significant?

He began showing symptoms of a head injury, general manager Tom Telesco explained, nearly 48 hours after suffering the injury.

On Friday, Staley said he was surprised to discover Palmer had symptoms, especially after Palmer was deleted during Monday’s Chargers game and played 81 snaps that night.

“When I say surprised, you’re constantly learning how that can happen,” Staley said. “This isn’t the only time this has happened or someone has expressed more symptoms after the ball game.”

This isn’t Palmer’s first experience of a concussion this year. He was also drafted into the NFL’s roster after the Chargers’ second preseason game in mid-August.

Under the league’s concussion guidelines, any player who is assessed during a game is re-evaluated 24 hours later, even if the player was initially acquitted, Dr. Allen Sills, the league’s chief medical officer, during a news conference earlier this month.

The follow-up is designed to intercept situations similar to those Palmer is now experiencing.

The Chargers' Joshua Palmer (5) runs after a catch and is about to make helmet-to-helmet contact as Broncos defenders chase him.

Chargers receiver Joshua Palmer (5) runs after catching a pass and is about to make helmet-to-helmet contact as Broncos defenders chase him.

(Jeff Lewis/Associated Press)

Speaking to reporters two weeks ago, Sills explained “a phenomenon or principle of concussion with delayed presentation.” He said he’s seen patients walk up to four days before feeling symptoms.

“Sometimes concussion symptoms don’t show up at the time of the injury or at the time of the same competition,” Sills said. “So you need to make sure you proceed with the reviews.”

The Chargers had a similar situation in 2017 with quarterback Philip Rivers, who self-reported symptoms a day after playing all 69 offensive snaps in a game in Jacksonville.

That afternoon, Rivers absorbed two obvious shots that could have resulted in a head injury — one in the first quarter and one in overtime. He cleared the league’s concussion log for the next week and didn’t miss a game.

Palmer was injured from scrimmage against Denver in Monday’s opening game. He fell backwards and hit his head on the SoFi Stadium turf while tangling with the Broncos’ Damarri Mathis.

Palmer grabbed his head with both hands immediately after the game, resulting in a pass interference penalty on the Denver cornerback.

On the next snap, Palmer collided with Broncos safety Kareem Jackson while blocking a run play and was then hit by defensive lineman DJ Jones. Palmer grabbed his head again, this time just briefly.

He was then removed from the game and examined in the medical tent on the Chargers sideline.

Palmer missed the rest of the series but was cleared by one of the NFL’s independent neurotrauma advisors and a Chargers team doctor, Telesco said. Palmer returned to the field the next time his team had the ball.

He finished with 12 goals and nine receptions, both career highs for the sophomore. The 81 snaps was also the most Palmer has played in an NFL game.

As of Friday afternoon, Palmer remained on concussion record, the Chargers announced he will not play in their next game, Sunday against Seattle.

Staley called the issue of concussions one of “utmost importance” for a league that recently dealt with a high-profile case involving Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

Following this situation, the league and the NFL Players Association agreed on updated protocols aimed at better protecting players.

“I think all the clubs in the league are trying to do whatever they can,” Staley said. “You just know it’s tough in this sport and sports like it. It’s hard to be perfect. All you can do is be intentional about your process to get it right…

“That’s all we can do as a league, do anything to let these players and their families know we’re thinking of them. I know that I stand there, we stand as a club. We will keep trying.”

The Chargers also lost Parham, their backup tight end, for Sunday’s game Monday to a concussion, his second in 10 months.

He suffered his first concussion during a game against Kansas City in December and had to leave the field of SoFi Stadium on a stretcher.

Parham missed the rest of the 2021 season and then, after suffering a hamstring injury in training camp, the first four weeks of this year. The game against Denver was his second since returning.


The Chargers didn’t rule out Allen for Sunday, with Staley calling the wide receiver’s availability “more of a game-time decision.” Allen has been out since the second quarter of the season opener with a hamstring injury. Officially considered questionable, Allen said Friday he hopes to play the Seahawks. “We’re not going to send him out there unless we know he can go,” Staley said. “How much he goes … it’s his first game back. So there will be some sort of pitch count… when he goes. If there’s any apprehension, then he won’t go.” …Rookie running back Isaiah Spiller will be active Sunday, replacing Kelley (knee), Staley said. … The other Chargers who will play are center Corey Linsley (food poisoning), Trey Pipkins III (knee) and defenseman Sebastian Joseph-Day (ankle). Chargers’ mystery behind Joshua Palmer’s delayed concussion

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