Bucs beat writer Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reported that Brate “is flying back with the team tonight to Tampa” after the 20-18 loss to the Steelers on Sunday, October 18. Brate “was evaluated for a neck injury at a Pittsburgh hospital and released”, Stroud reported.
After getting tackled during the third quarter, Brate laid on the ground and grabbed his head after the hit in the third quarter and left the game on a stretcher amid an 8-minute stop in play. Bucs head coach Todd Bowles confirmed Brate endured a neck injury afterward.
“He has all of his moving parts right now. He’s still at the hospital being evaluated,” Bowles told the media prior to Brate’s discharge.
Brate previously sustained a concussion in Week 4 against the Kansas City Chiefs and sat out the Week 5 game against the Atlanta Falcons. He worked his way back through concussion protocol last week and caught two passes for 14 yards before his exit from the game.
Rookie Cade Otton finished the game as the No. 1 tight end for the Bucs. He caught two passes for 23 yards.
Bucs, NFL Community Pulls for Brate
Bucs players and coaches surrounded Brate while medical and training personnel attended to him, which included personnel using a spine board to stabilize his head and neck. Dr. David Chao of Pro Football Doc noted that the spine board was a precaution and doesn’t anticipate any “nerve or spinal cord issue”.
Brate gave a thumbs up to the crowd as he got carted away on a stretcher. Assurance of prayers for Brate poured out meanwhile over social media from fans and media members alike.
“I hated it. You always get scared when a player, either side, is going down like that,” Bucs linebacker Joe Tyron-Shoyinka said afterward about Brate’s injury.
Steelers Depot writer Josh Carney noted that Steelers linebacker Robert Spillane did nothing excessive in making the open-field tackle though the players’ helmets made contact.
“Feel awful for Robert Spillane there,” Carney tweeted. “Can’t even imagine what’s going through his mind. He just made a normal football play and it results in this for Cameron Brate.”
Brate’s Injury The Latest of Rising Head Trauma Concerns
Brate’s injury came amid the rising concerns over concussions in the NFL after Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa sustained head and neck injuries in Week 4, a week after having a concussion in a Week 3 game. Tagovailoa hasn’t played since, and the NFLPA fired the neurotrauma consultant who made the call on Tagovailoa’s availability for Week 4. The NFL and NFLPA subsequently updated concussion protocols after the incident.
Tampa Bay also faced questions about handling Brate’s Week 4 concussion because he returned to the game after laying on the ground. Bowles told the media afterward that Brate said his shoulder hurt but not his head during an October 3 press conference.
NFL Chief Medical Officer Allen Sills confirmed that Brate had a blow to the head in Week 4 when the tight end collided with wide receiver Chris Godwin, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported. Sills noted that the spotters responsible for identifying concussions “have up to 30 different camera angles available” but concluded “he was struck in the shoulder” instead, Florio wrote.
Dr. Chris Nowinski of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, who also called out the Bucs staff’s handling of the Week 4 concussion, noted the danger of sustaining a second-consecutive concussion. He wrote that it’s “hopefully not a TBI” for Brate.
Nowinski previously tweeted that “concussions can occur without direct contact to the head” regarding the Week 4 hit to Brate. The doctor added that “rapid acceleration/deceleration of the head causes brain injury”.