UNC in the NFL: T.J. Yates happy that officials pulled him from the game


T.J. Yates appreciated a referee pulling him from the game after his head hit the ground hard during the Texans’ loss to Pittsburgh on Monday

While Mitchell Trubisky is setting franchise rookie records for the Chicago Bears, former UNC quarterback T.J. Yates is getting some playing time in Houston thanks to the injury to DeShaun Watson.

Yates started Houston’s Christmas afternoon game at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers, which ended in a 34-6 loss.

The Texans aren’t going to the playoffs and now is Yates’ chance to audition for a backup quarterback job next season.

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But during the game, Yates took a big hit on a sack by Steelers’ Mike Hilton.

Yates’ head hit the ground and referee referee Bill Vinovich noticed it. Vinovich went over to Yates and took him out of the game, putting the quarterback into concussion protocol.

“I appreciate his cautiousness,” Yates said via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. “It’s a very sensitive subject right now. That fact that it took so long, the whole process took about 30 minutes for me to get back out there, that was a little frustrating for me. I’d rather them be more cautious than not.

Yates eventually returned to the game but did have a lengthy stay in the blue tent to undergo tests for a concussion.

The move by Vinovich came at an important time as the NFL just adjusted the concussion protocol rules after teams weren’t properly following it.

Fellow Texans quarterback Tom Savage took a big hit just a few weeks ago in which his hands were notably twitching. No one noticed right away as head coach Bill O’Brien received some criticism for the situation.

Now, with Yates taking that big hit, it’s important that a referee noticed a player could be in serious harm and decided to take action.

Yates went on to say that it’s frustrating at times to be taken off the field when nothing is wrong with a player. But it’s a safety issue and one the NFL has to start getting right.

Yates and the Texans will play the Indianapolis Colts in their season finale on Sunday.