Carolina Panthers

Goings working his way back

CHARLOTTE -- Nick Goings can clearly remember the moment of his third concussion.

The 10 days that followed are the ones he'd like to forget.

The Carolina Panthers' running back and special teams captain is close to coming back from his latest head injury, one that had him laid up for more than a week. He said he's "hopeful" he can come back for their post-bye game against Indianapolis, but he's taking the appropriate steps for the long term.

It hasn't been so long ago that just getting through the day was a good thing.

"Yeah, it honestly is kind of scary," the soft-spoken Goings said. "I felt really bad for a good week-and-a-half or so. And that alone is scary, not being able to control your own body."

Goings said his biggest problems in the aftermath were with "light and sound." He couldn't drive, go outside or watch much TV.

Working out wasn't a consideration. He said his first attempts this week were cut short by trainer Ryan Vermillion, who wanted him out from under the clear skies and bright sunshine.

"I feel a lot better now," he said. "I've been able to run and work out a little bit without having any symptoms. So it feels good."

Goings sustained the latest concussion late in the Panthers' loss to Tampa Bay, while returning a kickoff to start the second half. He started in the end zone and was dropped hard by Bucs linebacker Quincy Black.

"I remember everything," Goings said. "I got to the sideline and everything. But when I got there, I was so dizzy and sick to my stomach. I knew what happened.

"As far as the other ones, I don't really remember too well. This one, I remember everything, I just felt worse. The headaches, the stomach and everything."

The other two he's suffered were memorable, because both came on big hits.

In 2003, he was nailed while diving for a touchdown against Tennessee, and in the 2005 NFC Championship, he was floored when he collided head-to-head with Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu.

That one sent him to the hospital to be monitored overnight, while the latest was the one to give him pause.

He's married now, which he said has given him a different perspective. As such, he's consulted with linebacker Dan Morgan, the team's own specialist in the area, for advice on what to do and how to protect himself.

Morgan missed all but the first half of last year's opener after his latest concussion (his fifth), consulting with specialists who advised him the longer he stayed out, the better chance he had of staying on the field long-term.

Their conversations led Goings to try a new helmet, part of the Panthers' dwindling stash.

When the team was looking for options this offseason to protect Morgan, manufacturer Schutt sent equipment manager Jackie Miles six prototypes of a model called the Fusion, which they planned to make. They're bigger in the crown with more padding, but lighter than standard helmets.

But the company decided to not produce them, and Miles asked to keep the samples they had already given him. Now they're down to four, as they've fitted Goings for one.

Teammate Brad Hoover was trying Goings' new one on this week, remarking how much lighter it felt. But Goings isn't going for comfort, but out of concern, switching mouthpieces as well.

He said between his conversations with his wife and Morgan, he knows the importance of playing his recovery by the book.

"It's definitely in my mind," Goings said of Morgan's problems and the long-term effects. "It's something I want to make sure is all the way healed before I play again. I'm looking at my whole life, and not just football. (My family), they're on me about making sure I'm wearing the right helmet, mouthpiece, all that stuff.

"I just know it's part of the game. That's why I'm taking care of myself now, trying to take the steps to make sure I get better."

• EXTRA POINTS: Quarterback Jake Delhomme underwent elbow surgery at Carolinas Medical Center on Thursday.

Panthers team orthopedist Dr. Pat Connor performed the 90-minute procedure to rebuild the ulnar collateral ligament in Delhomme's right (throwing) arm. He'll be out the rest of the year, but is expected back for training camp next year.

"The surgery went well," Connor said in a release issued by the team. "His post-operative rehabilitation will start soon and he has an excellent prognosis." ...

The Panthers wrapped up the week with an abbreviated (in terms of time and personnel) practice Thursday. They'll have the weekend off, returning to work Monday.

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