After getting the green light, Andrew Whitworth applauded the NFL's concussion policy.
After going limited in Thursday morning's practice as he comes back from concussion protocol, Bengals Pro Bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth sounded like he was ready to play Sunday's game (9:30 a.m.-Cincinnati's Fox Channel 19) against Washington at Wembley Stadium.
As the Bengals prepared to depart for the eight-hour flight to London later Thursday evening, starting WILL backer Vontaze Burfict got a veteran's day off and special teams ace James Wright rested his knee while starting cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (groin), starting left tackle Clint Boling (shoulder), and backup linebacker Marquis Flowers (groin) all went full go.
It also appears that after having his helmet break apart against the Browns, Whitworth is going to do what he has for all but two games since 2009 and start at left tackle. It's not his first NFL concussion, but it is his first one since the league adopted an independent neurologist overseeing a stringent protocol designed to protect players from coming back too soon.
As the Bengals' former NFL Player Association rep, Whitworth is pleased with the way the protocol worked, starting from when a trainer pulled him from Sunday's win over Cleveland in the fourth quarter.
"I came out when my helmet broke on a play the first time. I came out and reported that the helmet had broken into pieces," Whitworth said. "That was the first time I got dinged a little bit. Then it happened again later. Yeah, it was just a deal where one of the trainers asked me 'Are you feeling OK?' I told him I felt a little nauseous but other than that I was good. He came back in the huddle and said 'You know what, on second thought, if you're saying something feels weird, you need to come out. Let us ask some questions first.' Great job by him."
Whitworth felt at ease with the presence of an independent neurologist and appreciated the give and take that has gone on throughout this week.
"The doctor has to be honest with you. You've got to be honest with the doctor. The reality is, any guy can lie about how they feel one way or the other, to play or to not play. Something's really wrong or it's not," Whitworth said. "So there's a lot of trust in that process. These guys have done a great job all week just kind of explaining to me all the scenarios. Our doctors have done a great job of that. Because you as a player, you're also concerned about how much are they telling me and not telling me. That's why it's important that the guy's an independent neurologist. I don't want him to have stake in what's most important for the Bengals. I want him to have what's most important for me. I think that's why this has been a great addition to this … I feel good about that and excited about the way it was handled and ready to move forward."
Whitworth is the Bengals' senior offensive player and the de facto offensive captain ever since he fought the Jaguars' John Henderson in a 2008 Paul Brown Stadium game after Henderson poked Whitworth in the eye. But he'll continue to keep a low profile on the road even though this is his first time in London. Except for a mandatory team dinner at the Tower of London.
"At some point with the kids and the wife and all of us, we'd love to go and check it out, but this one it's a road game/home game," he said. "As I say all the time I've played in every NFL season and during football season I don't think I've seen any of them. Other than the hotel and the stadium, that's about all I know."
What he also knows is that former Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is the Washington head coach and that's another reason he'd really like to play. It was Whitworth and defensive tackle Domata Peko who talked some veterans out of going to talk to Carson Palmer and try to lure him back to Cincinnati during the 2011 lockout. He felt it was time for Gruden, rookie quarterback Andy Dalton and rookie wide receiver A.J. Green to take over the offense.
"It'll be fun. He's a guy I have a ton of respect for and him and I were together raising a bunch of puppies for a while," Whitworth said. "It was fun to be kind of this veteran guy and have a bunch of young, young players that have all blossomed into kind of what he imagined them to be … I'm close with Jay."