GLENDALE — The Arizona Cardinals knew they were taking a risk. They also knew the potential reward with such a risk.
It’s why they ultimately decided to select Ryan Swope, Texas A&M’s all-time leading receiver, with one of their two sixth round draft picks (174th overall) despite his history of concussions.
Swope, however, suffered a concussion — reportedly his fifth, during OTAs and was placed on the reserve/retired list just prior to the start of training camp.
“I feel bad for him because he’s a great young man, and I knew how much it meant to him. You could tell it was eating him up as he was here and not being able to participate,” head coach Bruce Arians said Friday. “[I] just wish him the best.”
The Swope situation speaks to the NFL’s increasing concern with concussions.
One of the new rules taking effect this season prevents ball carriers leading with the crown of the helmet.
“It’s our job to get the head out of the game,” Arians said. “The head was not in the game when I played. It was the shoulder — of course you close lined guys back then but they took all that out, and then the head became a missile in the late ‘80s. We have to get it out.”
While the league is doing its part, players are as well.
With more information about concussions, they can better educate themselves, yet at the same time many will not alter the way they play.
“You can’t really worry about it too much,” Andre Roberts said. “Of course, it’s a concern throughout the league, but you can’t play scared. We understand what we’re getting into and this is a physical league. You just have to go into it with the mindset of being the best that you can be and preparing yourself for those situations.”
Receivers, like Roberts, are especially vulnerable coming across the middle of the field.
“We understand what we do as receivers and signing that contract, you understand what you’re getting yourself into. You just have to go with it and understand that it’s a possibility,” Roberts explained. “We don’t want it to happen, but you never know.”