Two days out from the AFC Championship between Buffalo and Kansas City, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes brought good news to Friday’s post-practice media session. After spending the week in concussion protocol following an awkward hit that forced him to exit the Divisional Round early, he has been cleared to play on Sunday.
#Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes tells reporters that he’s been cleared from the NFL’s concussion protocol. Good to go for Sunday.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 22, 2021
The NFL’s protocol is set up to ensure that a player does not get back on the field before he is ready and includes these five steps:
Step One: Rest and Recovery
After a player suffers a concussion, he must be provided ample rest and limited in physical and cognitive activity. Stretching is permitted if the medical staff approves.
Step Two: Light Aerobic Activities
A player may participate in activities like running or riding a stationary bike. He is also permitted to return to team meetings and activities.
Step Three: Increased Aerobic Activities
An increase in intensity amongst workouts is at the forefront, but if the player can continue, he may mimic specific sport activities. Mahomes reached this step on Wednesday, after participating in a glorified walkthrough.
Step Four: Football-Specific Activities
If a player has not seen symptoms increase at this point, he may practice at a non-contact level. This includes throwing, running, catching and position drills that do not include any sort of contact. Mahomes was a limited participant in practice on Thursday, reaching this stage in recovery.
— Harold R. Kuntz (@HaroldRKuntz3) January 21, 2021
Step Five: Full football activity
This is the final step in returning to a game. A player may participate in a full padded practice with full contact. However, the Chiefs did not have a full practice scheduled in time for Mahomes to return to contact this week. The league’s protocol accounts for this situation and allows players to simulate contact activity to satisfy this step. Listed as a limited participant for practice on Friday, Mahomes was fully involved in the team drills but was still listed under concussion protocol. To reach the point of full clearance, he must have seen simulated contact before being cleared by the team’s physician. Once a player is cleared by the team, he must be examined by the Independent Neurological Consultant. Mahomes received clearance from the consultant after practice on Friday and is free to play on Sunday.