Buccaneers TE Cameron Brate taken off field on stretcher

PITTSBURGH -- Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate was carted off the field on a stretcher after a helmet-to-helmet hit in the third quarter of Tampa Bay's 20-18 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in a scary scene at Acrisure Stadium on Sunday.

Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles said after the game that Brate has a neck injury but has movement in all his extremities. After being evaluated at UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh, he was released to fly home with the team. X-rays on Brate's neck were negative for fractures, a source told ESPN.

"Tough sport. We all love him to death. We all hope he's OK," quarterback Tom Brady said.

Brate, who was in his first game back after suffering a concussion two weeks ago against the Kansas City Chiefs, collided with Steelers linebacker Myles Jack, with Jack hitting the top of Brate's helmet.

The tight end was attended to first by the Buccaneers' training staff, and then additional medical personnel hurried onto the field. Play was stopped for eight minutes as benches cleared for both teams to gather around Brate.

Brate was able to give a thumbs-up as he was leaving the field.

"It's a really tough thing to see," wide receiver Chris Godwin said. "Cam's a great guy. Everyone in the locker room loves him. He's a really good friend of mine. To see him down on the ground like that is brutal. You've seen situations like that across the league this year. It's a tough sight. I think it just shows everyone the reality of the physicality of the sport that we play, and while it's a game, for a lot of people, it can be life-changing. I just hope he's all right. I'll go check on him. Obviously, I wish him the best and I hope he's OK."

The team's handling of concussions came under scrutiny two weeks ago in Week 4 when Brate appeared to take a hit to the head just before halftime against the Chiefs but remained in the game. Bowles said that was because Brate was complaining of shoulder pain at the time and wasn't showing signs of a concussion until halftime.

That was on the heels of an NFL investigation and the NFL Players Association's firing of an independent neurologist after Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffered an apparent head injury against the Buffalo Bills in Week 3. He was allowed to play on "Thursday Night Football" against the Cincinnati Bengals before leaving that game with a concussion.