Carolina Panthers: Hayden Hurst new brain injury diagnosis

Hayden Hurst’s recovery and return to the football field were flung into uncertainty on Wednesday.

Hurst’s father, Jerry, posted on X (formerly Twitter) just after 4:30 p.m. Wednesday that Hayden had been diagnosed with post-traumatic amnesia by an independent neurologist. The news came a few hours after Hurst was seen practicing with a no-contact jersey on, typically a promising sign for a player who’s in concussion protocol.

According to Hull University Teaching Hospitals, PTA is a “transient state of confusion, disorientation and memory loss that occurs immediately following a traumatic brain injury.” The condition can vary in length, per the organization: “For some it can last for minutes, whilst for others it can last for weeks or months.”

“Slow recovery, don’t know when he’ll be back,” Jerry Hurst posted on Twitter. “Prayers appreciated!”

An attempt to reach Hayden’s father was unsuccessful Wednesday evening. However, when asked the status of Hurst during media availability Wednesday afternoon, interim head coach Chris Tabor said the tight end’s health was something the team was evaluating in real time.

“He’s working his way through the protocol,” Tabor said in response to a question about Hurst’s presence at Wednesday’s practice. “That was just another step of where he’s at. We’ll get an evaluation at the end of today and see how he did.”

Hurst hasn’t played since Nov. 9, when the Chicago Bears defeated the Panthers. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound former USC Gamecock has since been in concussion protocol.

In nine games played, he’s turned 32 targets into 18 receptions for 184 yards and a touchdown. (That score was rookie quarterback Bryce Young’s first NFL touchdown of his career.) Hurst signed a three-year deal with Carolina this past offseason.

Alex Zietlow writes about the Carolina Panthers and the ways in which sports intersect with life for The Charlotte Observer, where he has been a reporter since August 2022. Zietlow’s work has been honored by the N.C. and S.C. Press Associations, as well as the APSE, which awarded him with a Top 10 finish in the APSE Long Feature category in its 2022 writing contest. He also earned two Top 10 distinctions in the APSE Beat Writing and Short Feature categories in 2021. Zietlow previously wrote for The Herald in Rock Hill (S.C.) from 2019-22.
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