Broncos to take cautious approach with Stokley after concussion

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Brandon Stokley acknowledged Monday that he actually suffered his 10th career concussion on his first catch against Jacksonville, not on the third one, when he lost his balance and fell to his knees.

2008 Stats:
Catches: 24

Yards: 262

Yards per catch: 10.9

In between, he scored his second touchdown of the season.

"It happened on my first catch, I got my head slammed," the Denver Broncos' slot receiver said. "And then the touchdown, I got head-butted a few times from some teammates. So, that didn't help."

But Stokley, who suffered a bad concussion in college and figures he's had three severe head injuries and seven minor concussions -- like this one -- in his decade in the NFL, didn't want to come out of the game.

"And then on that last catch, all it was was a guy's hand, he was just trying to make sure I was down and he hit the back of my head as I was coming up," Stokley said. "And I got up and I was just walking to the sideline and just kind of lost equilibrium and just went down to my knees."

Stokley, who didn't return to the game after that, said he realized after his first catch that he was hurt.

"I knew something wasn't right. I was kind of foggy a little bit. And hey, you just keep playing hoping it's not too bad because those things happen all the time in the NFL, and just hoping you can keep playing through it and nothing else would happen," Stokley said.

"And then, after that last catch and I went down, I knew that it was a little bit more serious."

Stokley said he was already feeling better Monday but his head still wasn't clear. He said he hoped to get clearance to practice this week because he doesn't want to miss the Broncos' game at New England next Monday night.

Given his history and the league's crackdown on quick returns from head injuries, however, Stokley expects the Broncos to be extra cautious in allowing him to return to the field.

He'll have to pass a series of mental acuity tests in order to return to action.

"I don't want to be a liability out there," Stokley said. "And I don't want to be a vegetable when I'm 50."

Without Stokley, whose 11-yard touchdown catch capped an impressive opening drive, the Broncos were hamstrung because they were already missing rookie receiver Eddie Royal (ankle), tight end Tony Scheffler (groin) and tailback Selvin Young (groin).

"It definitely makes our job hard as an offense because they're a big part of our offense," said receiver Brandon Marshall, who got gassed in the fourth quarter and kept going to the sideline for breathers while the Broncos were desperately trying to catch up in a game they lost 24-17.

Stokley said he never suffered any headaches from this latest concussion, "just fogginess."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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