By Paul Gallant, SportsRadio 610By Paul Gallant

HOUSTON (SPORTSRADIO 610) – Texans head coach Bill O’Brien began his Monday press conference with his perspective on the concussion that quarterback Tom Savage suffered in Sunday’s 26 – 16 loss to the 49ers:

“I figured that he got hit, but really didn’t know if he got hit. There’s 12 bodies around him. It’s very difficult from the 50 yard line where I’m standing to see if he even got hit. With benefit of the video – which I do not have benefit of any video, there’s no video on the sideline, all there are are tablets, there’s no video, there’s nothing like that – I would have never let that player back in the game. And I don’t believe that [Texans Senior Director of Sports Medicine and Head Athletic Trainer] Geoff Kaplan would have allowed that player back in the game.”

“The medical people on the sideline come to me and say ‘we’re going to check Tom for a concussion’. They take him into the tent. They check him maybe two, three minutes. Not very long period of time. I’m not sure what goes into that. You can ask the medical people, the NFL. I’m a coach, I don’t really know what goes into that.”

“They say that Tom can plan. He’s good to go. He can play in the game. So I make the determination. Talked to Tom ‘Hey, here’s the plays we’re going to go with in the next series.’ And we put Tom back out there.”

“After that next series – it was a three and out – the [medical people] came back over to me and said ‘We’re going to check him again.'” I also said to [Geoff Kaplan] at that point ‘Look, I think we need to check him again.’ This was all going on at the same time. It wasn’t anything that I particularly saw on the field. I just said ‘Look, that was a quick check. It was a three and out on that series. Let’s continue to check him to make sure that the player Tom Savage is ok.’ They went. They checked him. They came to me. They were not satisfied with his answers to the questions that they were asking him. And they pulled him from the game. Then I put T.J. Yates in the game.”

“At no point in time is there anything more important to me than the safety of our players,” concluded O’Brien. “I love our players and I care about them and I cannot stand when players get injured. Again, with benefit of seeing the video that people are seeing, I would’ve never put him back in the game. But I don’t see that. I’m not passing the buck. I don’t have any – anybody that’s been on the sideline of a football game knows that, from a coaching standpoint, you really can’t see things like that, especially when the ball’s in certain areas of the field.”

Bill O’Brien was asked a variety of questions after his opening statement:

  • If there was anything that could be done to help streamline the process of getting coaches more information on the sideline
  • If he was worried that the concussion protocol allowed for Savage to get a quick checkup and then get back into the game
  • If it’s easy to see concussions symptoms
  • If there was data on the helmets with advanced technology preventing concussions

But for the most part, he declined to answer . . . saying they were questions for league officials and doctors.

The Texans have had six concussions in the past few weeks. And preventing head injuries is much easier said than done. But O’Brien does believe the league is trying its best.

“The speed of the game has definitely changed in the last 20, 25 years,” said O’Brien. “I mean, there’s no doubt about the strength of the players, the speed of the players, all those things. I will say this, and I’ve said this in the past, since I think it’s 2002, there’s been 50-plus rule changes made relative to the safety of the game. I do believe that the NFL is setting the tone for trying to really impress upon people how important it is, how important player safety is. I do believe as coaches we are always – when we go to the owners meeting, when I’m on conference calls with other coaches, I can tell you that player safety is all we talk about. Trying to remove the head from the game, all those things. I have great respect for the 31 other coaches in this league. Great guys, really care about the game and we are always trying to teach our players and think about ways where we can take the head out of the game. Very difficult to do that, 100 percent, but I know we’re always working towards doing that.”

Paul Gallant hosts “Gallant at Night” – Weeknights 7-11 PM CT – on SportsRadio 610. He also hosts SportsZone Unfiltered – Fridays at 10 PM – on The Kube: Channel 57. Get in touch with Paul via email or his facebook page.

Paul Gallant hosts “Gallant at Night” – Tuesday 9-11 PM CT, Wednesdays and Fridays 8-11 PM CT – on SportsRadio 610. He also hosts SportsZone Unfiltered – Fridays at 10 PM – on The Kube: Channel 57. Get in touch with Paul via email or his facebook page.

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