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JENSEN: Lovie Smith says Bears’ concussion policy isn’t automatic week off

Earl Bennett can dream about flashy touchdowns like this one while he’s sitting out Sunday. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Earl Bennett can dream about flashy touchdowns like this one while he’s sitting out Sunday. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: January 10, 2013 6:26AM



In the last four games, four Bears players have suffered concussions.

All four missed the next game.

On Thursday, Bears coach Lovie Smith ruled out receiver Earl Bennett — who didn’t play in the second half of last Sunday’s 23-17 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks — for today’s game against the Minnesota Vikings. In previous weeks, Jay Cutler, Shea McClellin and Devin Hester sat out a game.

So is that the team policy?

‘‘It’s on an individual basis,’’ Smith said. ‘‘It’s not a, ‘Concussion, you’re out this many games.’ We just don’t do it like that. We follow the NFL protocol on how you should handle a concussion. But then there’s a protocol we have.’’

Smith didn’t outline the specifics of how the Bears handle concussions. But Cutler has said Smith and team medical officials informed him and McClellin after they suffered their concussions against the Houston Texans that they were most likely going to miss the next game at San Francisco.

Cutler even noted that he was bored at Halas Hall because doctors didn’t want him to think too much in advance of the 49ers game.

‘‘For anyone, it’s definitely frustrating when you’re out with an injury, no matter what it is,’’ McClellin said. ‘‘It’s always frustrating when they tell you, ‘Hey, we’re going to sit you.’ ”

At Boise State, McClellin suffered a concussion in 2010 against Wyoming and didn’t miss a start.

‘‘It was fine, and I probably could have played the next week after I had the concussion here,’’ McClellin said. ‘‘But it was better to get held out that extra week and let your brain heal more. I appreciate what they did. I think its good for our future.’’

There have been numerous instances of NFL players returning quickly after a concussion, most notably Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy clearly looking loopy after a helmet-to-helmet blow from Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison last season. After sitting just two plays, McCoy was re-inserted into the game.

Two Vikings players left the game against the Bears two weeks ago with concussions. But both safety Harrison Smith and tight end Kyle Rudolph were cleared for practice the next Wednesday and played last Sunday in Green Bay.

Earlier in the season, though, Vikings tight end John Carlson missed two games with a concussion after Arizona Cardinals safety Rashad Jones illegally blindsided him on a punt return. Jones was fined $21,000 for the hit.

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said he entrusts head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman to determine when a player is ready to return from a concussion.

‘‘There’s so much emphasis on player safety that in my role as head coach, I have to be hands off but make sure we’re doing it the right way,’’ Frazier said. ‘‘I don’t want to pressure [Sugarman] to try and get a guy ready. I just want us to do it the right way.’’

JENSEN’S NOTEBOOK

Bouncing back

The 23-17 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday left a terrible taste in the mouths of many in the Bears organization. Few in sports know disappointment more than Marv Levy, a Chicago native who on Tuesday was presented a Hometown Hall of Famer plaque at his alma mater, South Shore High School, by Allstate and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Levy, of course, led the Buffalo Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls as a coach — all losses.

‘‘That was a heartbreaker’’ Levy said of the Bears’ loss to the Seahawks. ‘‘But you’re not going to win them all. OK, back in ’72, Miami won them all, but that was the only time.’’

So how does a team bounce back?

Levy said initial anger is natural but noted that high-character players and coaches have to lead the rebound.

‘‘And I’m pretty impressed with the leadership they have from Lovie [Smith],’’ Levy said. ‘‘There’s no formula, but you don’t come in and just give them a pep talk.’’

Feel the burn

STATS defines ‘‘burns’’ as receptions allowed by defensive players when the selected defensive player is the target.

The Washington Redskins’ DeAngelo Hall has been ‘‘burned’’ the most, giving up 838 passing yards, followed by the New York Giants’ Corey Webster with 810.

Where do the Bears’ starting cornerbacks rank?

Tim Jennings has given up the 11th-most yards on ‘‘burns’’ (627), while Charles Tillman has given up the 38th-most (444).



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