MIAMI – Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is not in the concussion protocol as the team prepares for Thursday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, coach Mike McDaniel said Monday.
Tagovailoa briefly left Sunday’s win over the Buffalo Bills and was evaluated for a concussion after taking a hit to the back of the head in the second quarter. He tripped while trying to run to the huddle after the game, prompting the Dolphins to evaluate him on the sideline and eventually in the locker room for concern.
After the game, both McDaniels and Tagovailoa said it was the quarterback’s back, not a head injury, that was holding him back. Tagovailoa said he felt he “added” his back with a quarterback sneak early in the game and broke out late in the second quarter.
Tagovailoa said he passed league-mandated concussion protocol at halftime and was cleared to return to the game.
Despite Tagovailoa’s and McDaniel’s comments, the NFL Players Association told the NFL that it wants to review the league’s concussion protocol because of Tagovailoa’s quick return to the game. Speaking to reporters Monday afternoon, McDaniel said the Dolphins would respect any league investigation and would not allow his quarterback to be injured “if there were any red flags.”
“There’s one thing that our players know more than anyone else that I feel very strongly about — I’ve been called emotional from time to time — and one of those things is player health,” he said. “I’m not complicated about it at all. Tua was really upset at the game because he knows what he’s hurting and he doesn’t understand why people keep talking to him like we’re talking about. I think watching the replays, maybe he can.”
“The most important pillar for all of them is player safety – that’s why the protocols are in place. We’re happy to comply and I feel good about that whole process.”
McDaniel said Monday that Tagovailoa was expected to be out and about with a sore ankle as well as back pain from the game.
He hasn’t committed one way or the other to Tagovailoa’s availability for Thursday’s game, but said they are still getting information and are ready for any eventuality.
“Thursday night is my first game against Tua, so I don’t expect anything.” “As far as I can reach my crystal ball – it’s broken right now. That’s one of the reasons you have a list of qualified people, that’s why we brought in Teddy. [Bridgewater] Here and draft Skylar [Thompson]. You should be ready for such adjustments. Just like Teddy is ready for the game, we will be ready for whatever we need to move forward.
“These Thursday night games, you just try to do the best you can. We’re trying to get information as quickly as possible and then we’ll work fluidly. Now it’s not just Tua, there’s a lot of players. We’ll adjust on the fly, see if they can turn around and give us a healthy outing on Thursday.
The Dolphins did not practice on Monday, but Tagovailoa is expected to be out on their injury report.
Tagovailoa is currently the NFL’s second leading passer and ranks second in yards per attempt and first in QBR. He finished Sunday’s game with 186 yards and a touchdown on 13-of-17 passes.