Washington players experiment with brain-injury monitors


SEATTLE — The tough-as-nails linebacker grumbled briefly when asked about the quarter-sized computer chip taped behind his right ear.

“It kind of bothers you a little bit,” Washington’s Princeton Fuimaono said earlier this week. “But then you just focus like there’s nothing there.”

The idea is that the players will take a little discomfort in the short term to perhaps help them avoid some discomfort long term. The chip is a sensor module from Seattle-based X2 Biosystems, which bills itself as the developer of “the world’s first systems for end-to-end management of Sport Brain Injury.”

The sensor patch, stuck behind the right ear of each Washington player at a recent practice, tests the severity of hits to the head, sending a wireless sign to trainers and coaches on the sideline.

Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said the patch can’t immediately detect a concussion, but it does help give teams an improved idea of a player’s history of head injuries.

“Safety’s first,” Sarkisian said. “And in this day and age, with head injuries and concussions in football — and in all sports, for that matter — we’re just trying to remain on the cutting edge.”

The Huskies are apparently one of a handful of college programs using the technology; Stanford and Michigan are others. NFL teams use X2’s concussion-management software — but not the patch — and UCLA coach Jim Mora, a former Husky, is reportedly an investor in the company.

Coons to kick again

Senior Travis Coons, who did triple duty last year as UW’s kicker, punter and kickoff specialist, retained his job as the field-goal kicker, Sarkisian announced Thursday.

Freshman Cameron Van Winkle from Mount Si High School will be the kickoff specialist.

Coons and sophomore Korey Durkee remain in a battle to be UW’s No. 1 punter.

NOTES

• Thursday’s practice was the first completely closed to the media this season.

• Sarkisian singled out senior WR Kevin Smith as perhaps the biggest surprise of fall camp. “I don’t know if we really thought (Smith) would be such an integral piece to the puzzle, but right now he is,” Sarkisian said.

• Sarkisian said junior OL Erik Kohler (foot) and freshman DB Patrick Enewally (hand) will likely not be available against Boise State because of injuries. Enewally is scheduled to see a hand specialist on Friday.

• Sarkisian said a depth chart would be available by Saturday.