UNIVERSITY PARK -- Barely a day goes by in football without hearing the word concussion, but it doesn't always refer just to head injuries.
Penn State cornerback D'Anton Lynn suffered what's known as a spinal concussion Saturday against Eastern Michigan, teammate Jack Crawford confirmed on a teleconference Tuesday. That sounds scary, and Lynn's injury certainly looked scary, but the senior was able to avoid serious problems and could return to football workouts as soon as Thursday.
"Thank goodness, his prognosis is not as severe as we were scared to death of," PSU coach Joe Paterno said Tuesday.
Lynn suffered the injury making a helmet-to-helmet tackle in the third quarter, was immobilized on a stretcher and carted off the field. He had his head, neck and spinal cord examined Saturday night and was released from the hospital.
Lynn has been at practice this week but has not participated or even been in football gear. Crawford, a defensive end, said he has talked to Lynn each day and noted "his attitude has been good."
"I know at first on the field he was scared because he couldn't move any of his arms, he was partially paralyzed," Crawford said. "I know for him it was -- once something like that happens you probably don't think about football anymore, you just think about your future."
Since Lynn turned out to be OK, Crawford said, "Now I think he's just thinking, 'I want to get back on the field.'"
That's not likely to happen this week against Indiana as Lynn is listed as doubtful. Paterno said the cornerback underwent concussion tests Monday, and he possibly could return next week against Iowa if he heals quickly.
"Classically, the concussion is the head stops and the brain continues to accelerate and hits the bone," Dr. Joshua Port of Blair Orthopedics in Altoona said. "In a spinal concussion, it's the spinal cord smacking into what surrounds it, which is bone.
"A concussion is a bruised cord, and that's something you should recover from -- depending on your general health status -- 100 percent. But it can take time."
Great advancements have been made to determine when a player can return from a head concussion. One must pass a series of tests, including the ImPACT neurological response test, to determine if the brain has recovered from the injury.
With a spinal concussion, the athlete must demonstrate he has enough strength in his extremities to handle the physical exertion required to play the sport.
"What I'm calling protective strength is, you can get your arm up, push somebody off if they're coming to your head or neck so they don't kill you," Port said.
SUBHD: Go to your corner
With Lynn out, Chaz Powell and Stephon Morris are expected to start at the cornerback spots. Sophomore Derrick Thomas and true freshman Adrian Amos also could see extended playing time.
"We're fortunate that we have a couple of these younger kids that can step in," Paterno said.
Powell is battling a shoulder injury that could limit his effectiveness. Thomas has a lot of potential but hasn't been able to stay out of Paterno's doghouse long enough to make an impact on the field.
Amos has impressed the coaches enough in a short period to have already earned playing time. The 6-foot, 205-pounder brings a size element to the table that could give him an advantage over the smaller Morris (5-8, 184).
"Amos has done well when he's been in there," Paterno said.
"He's an incredible athlete," backup free safety Malcolm Willis said of Amos.
Willis said he paid attention to Amos during the recruiting process since both are from Maryland.
"When he first came in, we could tell that he can cover people," Willis said. "He came into practice in training camp and he started making plays. So if you make plays, whether you're young or your old, you're going to get some time on the field."
SUBHD: Mauti upbeat
Linebacker Michael Mauti has continued to show great leadership the past few days despite suffering a season-ending knee injury Saturday.
Defensive tackle Jordan Hill said Mauti was going from locker to locker talking to players and introducing himself as "Coach Mauti."
"He's responding really well," Crawford said. "I think it's still hitting him right now, having to come to practice, having to watch his teammates out there."
Mauti tore the ACL in his left knee and will undergo surgery in the next two weeks. It's a tough blow for the junior since he also missed the 2009 with a right ACL injury.
"With Mike going down, we really have to play for him now," Crawford said. "We have to play with him in our hearts because we know how badly he wants to be out there."
SUBHD: JoePa praises Still
Tackle Devon Still has been PSU's most impressive defensive player so far, getting off to a great start after struggling through a disappointing season for him and the overall defense last year.
Still is tied for the team lead with 21 tackles, leads the club with 5 1/2 tackles for loss, has one sack and has been a constant presence in the opponents' backfield.
"I think Still is obviously a very much underrated football player," Paterno said. "I think Still is one of the better linemen in the country -- makes a lot of plays, demands in some cases some double-teaming by the offense."
SUBHD: Injury update
Paterno said backup tailback Brandon Beachum (ankle) will be out again this week. Backup offensive right tackle Mike Farrell (knee) will be able to play.
Cory Giger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and @CoryGiger on Twitter.