Steelers’ Kenny Pickett says he self-reported concussion symptoms

PITTSBURGH — Kenny Pickett initially felt fine. After absorbing a big hit from Ravens linebacker Roquan Smith and banging his head on the turf, the Steelers rookie quarterback walked out of the Week 14 game and went into the blue injury tent on the sidelines to be checked for a concussion .

He was erased and re-entered the game on the Steelers’ next drive. But over the course of the quick three-game streak, Pickett noticed that his eyesight was changing. That’s when he knew something was wrong and self-reported his symptoms as he got off the field.

“I thought I was ready to go, felt good,” Pickett said Thursday. “And I came back out and started running, and they got more into the game. I move and things go fast. Then symptoms appeared and I had to go inside.

“…I came off the field, not feeling well, so I went in.”

Pickett was restricted in practice the following week, and while he felt better by the end of the week, he decided it was safest to wait until after the Week 15 game against the Carolina Panthers to return to action.

“I went through with the doctors and listened to what they said,” Pickett said. “And definitely it wasn’t the right decision to play last week. I could have pushed it somehow. But I think the right decision was to sit out a week and be full this week.”

Pickett was officially released from concussion protocol earlier this week and will face the Las Vegas Raiders, coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday. After the concussion — his second in eight weeks — Pickett switched to a different helmet on the recommendation of the team’s medical staff.

He now wears a helmet that features a special design and padding on the back to cushion Pickett’s head in the event of another violent impact with the ground. Tight end Pat Freiermuth wears a similarly sized helmet after also suffering multiple concussions in his first two NFL seasons.

Pickett added a visor to his face mask, not because of light sensitivity, but because one mask he tried obstructed his vision and the other left too much unprotected space.

“The gap between the face mask is too big,” Pickett said. “I don’t know who designed this one, but it’s just a little too wide for a fist to literally go through. I don’t want to get slapped in the face on Saturday, so I was like, ‘You know what, I’ll probably wear a visor and we’re good to go.'”

Pickett’s concussion, which he said had more severe symptoms and lasted longer than his first, happened while escaping a wannabe sack and trying to lengthen the play before Smith tripped him.

And while offensive coordinator Matt Canada conceded that Pickett might have done that play differently — possibly throwing the ball away after escaping the first sack attempt — Pickett said the concussions wouldn’t drastically affect the path if he ran again plays with his designed runs or how he takes risks.

“It just comes with the position,” he said. “It comes with playing football, and it’s going to happen. I was lucky early in my career and in college that I really didn’t have a lot of concussions or even really experience what I’ve experienced the last two. It’s happening. It’s football .” Steelers’ Kenny Pickett says he self-reported concussion symptoms

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