Hilliard OK After Big Collision
Anwar Richardson, The Tampa Tribune, published 20 October 2008

Tampa Bay has been plagued with injuries to its receivers, but the Bucs avoided a potentially horrific injury against Seattle. Ike Hilliard sustained a concussion during a helmet-to-helmet collision with Seattle LB Leroy Hill during the second quarter, but apparently avoided serious injury. Bucs coach Jon Gruden said Hilliard was taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure and would be held overnight for observation.

"We think he's going to be fine," Gruden said. "Obviously, we're very concerned about him, but we think he's going to be OK. All the preliminary reports are that he'll be overnight in the hospital and he's going to be OK."

The Bucs had possession on Seattle's 9-yard line in the second quarter when QB Jeff Garcia completed a short pass to Hilliard. After the catch, Hilliard was hit from the front by Hill, the force of the collision driving Hillard's back backward into the helmet of LB Lofa Tatupu. Hilliard crumpled to the ground and was motionless as his teammates anxiously called for Tampa Bay's medical staff.

As doctors tended to Hilliard, the majority of his team took the field, with several kneeling and praying for him. Hilliard eventually sat up under his own power and refused to sit in the back of a golf cart. Instead, Hilliard sat in the passenger seat and reassured his teammates that he was OK. During Hilliard's rookie season, he was diagnosed with a serious neck injury and was placed on injured reserve.

Adding insult to injury, Seattle challenged the play. Replay showed Hilliard lost possession of the ball before he was down by contact, and it was ruled a fumble. Seattle took possession. "I knew right when he got hit he was going out on the way down," Garcia said. "You never like to see that. It's just unfortunate the way that it happened. (It) looked like his helmet got sandwiched between two guys. I felt like it was probably a bad concussion. I was thankful that it wasn't a neck injury.

"Ike's a tough guy. He'll respond. He will come back, but more importantly, he needs to take care of himself right now. Regain his sense and get back to where he feels good again. When he's ready to come back, we'll be ready to welcome him back."

Tampa Bay already is without WR Joey Galloway, who has missed the past five games with a foot injury, and WR Maurice Stovall, who did not play because of a sore hamstring.