A controversial concussion will cost the San Diego Chargers arguably their best offensive lineman.
The team announced Wednesday it has placed four-time Pro Bowl left guard Kris Dielman on injured reserve, ending his season less than four weeks after he suffered a concussion on Oct. 23 against the New York Jets and a seizure on the team flight back to San Diego.
Dielman, still struggling with lingering symptoms, is improving each day, and he is expected to be fine long term.
But eyebrows have been raised with how the concussion was handled. Team doctors were reportedly not aware of the injury until after the game despite on-field signs he warranted medical attention.
On a fourth-quarter run up the middle, Dielman pulled to the right, lowered his head, and collided with Jets linebacker Calvin Pace behind the line of scrimmage. The 6-foot-4, 320-pound lineman immediately staggered backward, turning from the action and falling to the ground, head over palms. He rolled over with a pause before carefully rising to his feet, and he signaled away a referee after nearly falling again.
On the next play, following a timeout, Dielman again pulled to his right and collided with Pace. He was slow to get up, lying on his back and gripping his facemask.
Dielman finished the game for the Chargers, who were without a heathy substitute, as Tyronne Green, among their most versatile bench options, was inactive.
Around the team and league, there is thought that Dielman, aware there was no replacement for him, chose to play on — ultimately to his own detriment. To protect player safety, league and NFL Players Association officials have discussed what measures be taken so players aren't the ones making that choice.
On Oct. 28, coach Norv Turner said the Chargers evaluated and diagnosed Dielman after the game.
"Everything was handled extremely well," Turner said. "All the proper precautions were taken, and Kris was evaluated when we landed. All the tests were excellent, so we're fortunate, he's fortunate, and we're moving on."
The Chargers, short-handed on the offensive line, signed guard-tackles Tony Moll and Ikechuku Ndukwe this week.
Green (hand), who has started for Dielman the past three games, left tackle Marcus McNeill (neck) and right guard Louis Vasquez (left ankle) all suffered injuries in Sunday's loss to the Oakland Raiders. They did not practice Wednesday.