Bucs veteran Cameron Brate re-enters game, then enters concussion protocol

Jefferee Woo/Tampa Bay Times/TNS

TAMPA — With one unexplained sequence Sunday night, a Bucs defeat that was equal parts crushing and convincing also became controversial.

Veteran tight end Cameron Brate was ruled out midway through the third quarter due to concussion protocol after a frightening hit sustained late in the second quarter — when he collided with Chris Godwin after catching a 9-yard Brady pass.

Brate remained in the contest, and even was targeted three more times on the same drive (which ended with a touchdown. He jogged off the field on his own following the collision, but not hastily enough; the Bucs were whistled for having 12 men on the field the ensuing play.

Bucs coach Todd Bowles had no immediate explanation for why Brate, 31, was allowed to continue playing.

“I didn’t exactly see what happened when he came back in the game,” Bowles said, “so I’ve got to look at the film and see that.”

Brate’s injury comes just as the NFL’s handling of concussions has re-entered the sports consciousness in a harrowing way.

Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was cleared to return to a game last Sunday against the Bills after he hit his head and stumbled after getting up, saying it was caused by a back injury. Then on Thursday night, Tagovailoa suffered a frightening concussion after being tossed to the turf in Cincinnati, his arms locking and hands twisting.

He was taken from the stadium in an ambulance. The NFL and NFL Players Association since have agreed to parameters of updated concussion protocols that will rule out players who exhibit “gross motor instability,” like Tagovailoa did against the Bills.

Meantime, a clearer answer from Bowles — or the Bucs organization — is expected as early as Monday regarding the sequence involving Brate.

“Again, I’ve got to see what happened,” Bowles said. “I don’t know for sure, so I really can’t answer that question.”

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

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