Four months after entering the NFL’s concussion protocol, Carolina Panthers offensive tackle Michael Oher still has not been cleared from it, according to a source with knowledge of Oher’s situation.
Oher has progressed to the point where he is working out and Panthers coach Ron Rivera indicated this month he expects to have the veteran left tackle back for the 2017 season.
But the fact that Oher still has not been completely cleared could be the reason Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman has been non-committal in his recent comments about Oher’s future status.
“I haven’t spoken to Michael in a little bit. I haven’t texted with him in a little bit. I want to back off and leave him alone. Because we want what’s best for Michael, really and truly,” Gettleman told the Observer this week at Senior Bowl practices in Mobile, Ala.
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Oher is among 130 players who were listed with concussions on the NFL’s end-of-week injury reports during the 2016 regular season, an Observer analysis showed.
The Panthers had seven players miss a total of 22 games while in the protocol in 2016, according to the Observer database. Both totals tied for the most in the league.
An eighth Panthers player – rookie cornerback Daryl Worley – had two separate concussions, but did not miss a game.
Oher, the eight-year veteran of “The Blind Side” fame, started the first three games this season. He was a surprise addition to the injury report two days before the Panthers’ Oct. 2 game at Atlanta.
Oher, 30, practiced two days that week before arriving at Bank of America Stadium on Friday morning complaining of post-concussion symptoms.
Rivera has said he’s not sure when Oher was injured, although a source told the Observer that Oher likely sustained the concussion before the Week 3 game against Minnesota. Oher gave up three sacks and committed a holding penalty in the loss to the Vikings.
The Observer reported in November that Oher was experiencing sensitivity to light, as well as issues involving his vestibular ocular system, which is responsible for integrating vision, movement and balance.