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Latest Jason Smith concussion highlights importance of possible practice changes

As the NFL continues to come up with ways to avoid the consequences of concussions by preventing them from happening, the absence of Rams tackle Jason Smith (the second overall pick in the 2009 draft) from today’s game against the Panthers highlights that the challenge entails more than killing the kill shots.

According to Chris Mortensen of ESPN, Smith suffered a concussion when he banged helmets with defensive end Chris Long (the second overall pick in the 2008 draft) during practice on Thursday.

Plenty of concussions are caused by the hat-banging that happens in the trenches. But because none of the hits induce “oohs” and/or “aahs,” few ever notice them. Though largely unavoidable during games (absent the abandonment of the three-point stance), the NFL needs to come up with ways to reduce helmet impacts during practice.

Smith missed multiple games last year with a concussion, which could mean that at some point the question of whether he simply has had too many -- or gets them too easily -- needs to be explored. And that brings us back to a concern that first arose last year at this time, when the league began to hold players who have had concussions out of games.

Eventually, players who have suffered too many concussions will be viewed as unreliable, which will get them run out of the sport sooner than they ever would have wanted to leave, even if they were fully aware of the risks and willing to assume them.