TAMPA — Damian Swann, who returned to action Sunday for the first time in four games, was carted from the field in the fourth quarter of the Saints’ 24-17 win over the Buccaneers on Sunday.
Swann, a rookie cornerback who has shown promise, was making a return to the field after missing six of the last seven games due to concussions suffered against the Eagles and Giants.
With the Buccaneers driving in the fourth quarter, Swann made a tackle on a charging Charles Sims over the middle and stayed down on the field for a couple of minutes before trainers and Saints coach Sean Payton helped him to the sidelines. After the trainers evaluated the rookie, Swann was carted off the field.
Payton could not say after the game whether or not Swann had suffered his third concussion.
“We’ll evaluate it, and then we’ll know,” Payton said. “It’d be too early to tell.”
Swann had never suffered a concussion on the football field before this season.
But an impact with the ground in Philadelphia caused his first concussion, and after missing two weeks, he suffered another when his head hit the ground in his first game back against New York, forcing the rookie to miss the next four games. Given his history, Swann going to the field was a jarring sight for the Saints.
“It always is (scary),” Payton said. “We’ll be smart and evaluate him, and make sure he goes through the proper protocol.”
Swann has said in the past that he’s aware of the potential long-term ramifications, and the team understands the concern.
“There’s a lot of concern,” Vaccaro said. “I know my rookie year, when I got two — I mean, I’m a little crazy, so I was like whatever, I’ll keep playing — but it was in the back of my mind, if I got my third one, they’d shut me down.”
If Swann suffered another concussion, New Orleans could place the rookie on injured reserve.
“For your safety as a player, you want to go on IR,” Vaccaro said. “Awareness for concussions has risen so much the past couple years that they’re not playing with it. That’s why you see guys get concussions and miss three weeks.”
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