After three stints in concussion protocol, Akayleb Evans changing what he can to avoid any more
Vikings cornerback Akayleb Evans had three stints in concussion protocol during an eight-week period last season. The team ended his rookie season after the third, placing him on injured reserve Dec. 7.
Evans, though, is not concerned about a premature end to his career.
“I haven’t really thought about it like that,” Evans said, via Kevin Seifert of ESPN. “I do know that if I ever got to a point where I felt like it was getting out of control, I would take a step back, because life is more important. But I don’t really worry about that too much, honestly.”
Evans isn’t sure what happened to land him in protocol in an Oct. 9 game, but he could have had a helmet-to-helmet hit while diving on an onside kick. The other two were obvious as he lowered his head on tackles against the Bills and the Jets.
Evans is working on tackle technique this offseason, aware that he has to stop leading with his head.
“It’s just about how I tackle,” Evans said. “My mindset when I tackle is always to be aggressive. But not every tackle has to be a kill shot. . . . Not every tackle has to be as hard as I can. Just being smart about that. But whenever I do go into making a tackle, just keeping my head out of it, being smart about it and intentional about it. So I’ve been working really hard on that.”
The 2022 fourth-round pick also is changing his equipment. He will wear a customized VICIS helmet, the best-performing brand on the NFL/NFLPA’s annual lab testing chart.
Evans also said he plans to wear a Q-Collar, a band that applies light pressure to the neck. The FDA has said it “may reduce the occurrence of specific changes in the brain that are associated with brain injury.”
The Vikings are counting on Evans this season after losing five of their cornerbacks from last season.
“I feel like I was able to show some flashes of what I could do last year,” Evans said. “I feel like this year is about taking over, for sure.”