The Kansas City Chiefs defended their treatment of Alex Smith after he twice had his head slam into the turf in Indianapolis, saying Monday that their quarterback passed concussion tests on the sideline and in the locker room after both of the hits.
Chiefs trainer Rick Burkholder also said team physicians and an independent neurologist do not believe that Smith sustained a concussion.
Still, he will be evaluated by another neurologist in Kansas City this week before determining whether he can play against Jacksonville on Sunday.
"It's certainly possible," Burkholder said Monday. "We'll go through the return-to-play protocol and see where he's at it. But yes, it's possible."
Smith was hurt initially when he was hit while sliding in the first quarter Sunday, and Nick Foles took over for about a quarter while Smith went through the protocol. He returned to the game and was hit again on a slide in the second half, and that's when the Chiefs decided he would not return.
Foles proved to be everything the Chiefs hoped for as a backup. He finished 16 of 22 for 223 yards and two touchdowns without an interception in leading Kansas City to a 30-14 victory.
There was some confusion when Smith was ruled out of the game with a concussion.
Burkholder said he incorrectly reported the injury designation, and in fact Smith was still going through the protocol the second time when that announcement was made. He also said statements made after the game that Smith sustained a concussion were inaccurate.
"I was with him on the plane, talked to him last night, he's been in this morning — he's absolutely asymptomatic," Burkholder said. "He's had a concussion before, missed time. He's aware of the situation."
Smith isn't the only Chiefs player dealing with injury issues.
Running back Spencer Ware did not return to the Colts game after sustaining a concussion — Burkholder said he did not sufficiently pass the same tests that Smith went through. And at this point, it appears unlikely Ware will be available against the Jaguars.
That leaves the Chiefs thin at running back because Jamaal Charles, who is trying to come back from ACL surgery, was due to see Dr. James Andrews after experiencing swelling in the knee.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid characterized the visit as routine, but there is concern that Charles has not progressed as quickly as anticipated in his recovery. He has only carried the ball 12 times in three games, and was not active against Indianapolis because of the knee.
"We don't have any information yet," Reid said Monday. "He's been checking with Dr. Andrews, that's the person who did the surgery. This isn't uncommon. Let's just figure it out and go from there."
If Ware and Charles are unable to play, Charcandrick West would be their only healthy running back on the active roster. Darrin Reaves and Zac Brooks are available on the practice squad.
Meanwhile, offensive lineman Parker Ehinger sprained his knee and did not return against the Colts. If he's unable to play this week, Zach Fulton would pick up where he left off Sunday.
One bit of positive news was the progress of outside linebacker Justin Houston, who is coming back from ACL surgery. The star pass rusher returned to practice two weeks ago and has made noteworthy improvement, though it remains uncertain when Houston will be able to play in a game.
Reid said it would be "a stretch" for him to play against Jacksonville.
"What we're going to do is take it like we have been, see how he does this week," Reid said. "If he is ready to go, he can go. I'll listen to the docs and talk to Justin and see how he's doing.
"I can tell you he's made tremendous strides from that first week to last week."
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