Jim Caldwell defends medical staff

BAGSHOT, England -- Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell admitted right tackle LaAdrian Waddle played one play -- a kneel-down against the New Orleans Saints -- with a concussion Sunday.

Caldwell said Waddle suffered the concussion on the team's extra point following its go-ahead score during Detroit's 24-23 win over New Orleans, but he played on the kneel-down to end the game.

"We knew exactly when it occurred," Caldwell said. "And what happened within the context of it."

Caldwell later said Waddle "banged his head on the ground" during the extra point but that doctors did not think he had a concussion at the time. Caldwell went on to defend his team's medical staff.

"Obviously he went back on the field the final snap," Caldwell said. "We knew it was only one snap. The doctors reviewed him, took a look at him. It wasn't one of those situations where we felt he had to go into the locker room right away.

"But they did know he banged it when he came off."

A statement released later Thursday by the team slightly contradicted Caldwell's remarks.

"Coach Caldwell's response to the media today regarding when the injury occurred and Waddle being on the field for the final kneel-down play was based on information given to him by the medical staff after the game," the statement read. "The Lions medical staff informed Coach Caldwell after the game that Waddle had not reported any injury to them until after the game which led to further examination. The team's medical staff also informed Coach Caldwell that the NFL medical observer, who observes the game from the press box, did contact the team's medical staff during the final play to suggest an examination of Waddle. The exam was done in the locker room after the game, and the concussion protocol was immediately initiated.

"Coach Caldwell's comments earlier today reflect that no one on the medical or coaching staff believed he had sustained an injury that would have necessitated Waddle being removed from the game or taken to the locker room prior to the end of the game."

Caldwell said Waddle going back into the game and not being taken to the locker room for evaluation was not a failure of the Lions' medical staff. Lions running back Joique Bell suffered a concussion blocking for Matthew Stafford in the third quarter against the New York Jets but continued to play briefly before being pulled from the game and taken to the locker room to be evaluated for a concussion. It was Bell's first concussion.

When asked why the team did not look at Waddle's injury immediately, Caldwell again said the team didn't know he had a concussion, despite earlier saying the team knew when it occurred and what happened in the context of it.

"Oftentimes, in this game, we've got a game of helmets, and there's collisions," Caldwell said. "The extent of it sometimes you don't know until the game is over with, OK. Sometimes you don't know until the next day in some of these situations.

"That one in particular, because of the fact that it was known but the fact of the matter is they didn't know he had a concussion, obviously, at that time. After the game is when that was determined."

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew also defended the way his team handled the concussions to Waddle and Bell.

"I think that's not uncommon. What happens with concussions, a lot of times as you guys probably know, is you don't know you've been concussed," Mayhew said. "There are a lot of situations across the league where guys play a play or a play or two, and they don't feel right and they get evaluated.

"Or they get evaluated, they feel fine and their symptoms get worse and then they come out. We follow the protocol to the letter, and our guys were on top of it. Our medical staff is outstanding. Our trainers do a fine job."