Moore came back in a few weeks but Roach was placed on injured reserve just after the Raiders’ Week 6 bye, due to concussion symptoms that did not go away.
A short conversation with Dr. Robert Cantu, one of the world’s leading concussion researchers and a leader in the NFL’s push for player safety apparatuses, shed some light on the situation. Cantu said:
“The majority of concussions clear up before that period of time, but about five to ten percent don’t, and obviously that’s the more serious injury than a matter of hours or a day or two. … It’s not fair to say that it can’t totally clear up in the future, but if he’s had symptoms for a month, even when it’s cleared up, he wouldn’t be able to go back. He’d need to condition himself. And I suspect that’s probably why they placed him on injured reserve.”
Cantu was unable to hit on more than generalities, being unfamiliar with Roach’s medical history or treatment. What he was able to clarify, though, is that only 10 percent of concussions are followed with symptoms lasting more than a month, and one to two percent of concussions has symptoms which persist for many months.
Less than one percent of concussions have symptoms that linger for more than a year, according to Cantu.
The team felt that after 43 days, Roach’s symptoms weren’t getting any better, placing him into the 10 percent category. What could become troubling, Roach has said in the past that he’s suffered at least a few concussion, something that Cantu says can slow down the recovery process.
There is no indication that Roach has suffered a career-ending concussion, and the conversation with Cantu supports a notion that Roach will be able to return for the 2015 season.
Another thing the conversation made clear was that Roach may not be quite as reliable in terms of health moving forward. With two young linebackers in Moore and rookie Khalil Mack, Oakland has solid building blocks to add upon.
The Raiders began the offseason by announcing that they cut Kevin Burnett, a linebacker with almost 500 career tackles and 20 sacks, and the team’s most vocal leader. Burnett had failed his physical and has not signed with another NFL team.
But they’re going to need a rock in the middle to stop the run. And they might not have it anymore.