Dolphins Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa In Concussion Protocol With Next Game In Doubt

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Bad news has turned worse for the Miami Dolphins with starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa now in the NFL concussion protocol for the second time this season.

Coach Mike McDaniel said the team found out Monday afternoon that Tagovailoa was exhibiting symptoms of a concussion so he was checked and eventually placed in the league-mandated protocol. The coach did not specify whether Tagovailoa indeed has a concussion nor when he might have sustained one.

Tagovailoa did not miss any snaps during Sunday’s 26-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers — Miami’s fourth consecutive loss — and McDaniel added that “nobody recognized anything with regard” to a hit that would have triggered a sideline or locker room examination.

Mike McDaniel and Tua Tagovailoa are the perfect marriage.
Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel talks with Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa during a stoppage in play in the game between the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins in the season opener. (Photo by Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Mike McDaniel Unsure When Tagovailoa Injured

“I’m not totally sure,” the coach said. “This is something that just came across my plate a couple hours ago. As far as the game was concerned, no one recognized anything with regard to any sort of hit. I can’t really tell you exactly what it was.

“I’m not totally positive on that, but it was something that he met with the doctors today and discussed some symptoms and then from that, as you guys know, from there on, that’s between Tua and the doctors and we’ll move forward as information is projected towards us.”

Teddy Bridgewater will get the first-team repetitions in practice this coming week and would start against the New England Patriots if Tagovailoa cannot.

“He had a great week of practice the week before,” McDaniel said of Bridgewater.

Teddy Bridgewater of the Miami Dolphins signals at the line of scrimmage during the second quarter of the preseason game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Hard Rock Stadium. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)

Dolphins May Need Teddy Bridgewater

McDaniel said “it’s too soon to really tell” if Bridgewater will start instead of Tagovailoa. So that leaves the door ajar for Tagovailoa to play if he clears the protocol.

“You just know someone goes into the protocol and you have to be ready to do really whatever with that,” McDaniel said. “I know that Teddy will prepare as though he’s starting and we’ll see as the week goes.”

But here’s where it can get a little murky and problematic.

This is the second time Tagovailoa has been in the concussion protocol this season and the first time was filled with controversy.

If Tagovailoa is indeed diagnosed with a concussion, it would be at least his second of the season. That would likely require Tagovailoa to miss Sunday’s game.

The first concussion he suffered happened Sept. 29 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

But it not as simple as that. Because Tagovailoa took a significant hit the week prior to the Cincinnati injury against the Buffalo Bills.

He came off the field to be tested for a concussion in that game. He was not found to be exhibiting symptoms that time and returned to the game but that episode, along with the following game’s concussion, spawned an NFL and NFL Players Union investigation.

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle and teammates look on as quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is treated following an injury in a game between the Miami Dolphins and the Cincinnati Bengals. (Photo by Jeff Moreland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Tua Tagovailoa Returns To Concussion Protocol

The Dolphins were found blameless in that investigation but took a lot of hindsight criticism from national pundits for allowing Tagovailoa to play against the Bengals in a game that happened only four days after the initial hit.

The league changed its concussion protocol as a result of the investigation. The new protocol mandates any player who shows symptoms such as lack of balance must sit out the remainder of the game.

Tagovailoa missed two games and three weeks (including the bye) while he recovered from the Cincinnati concussion and worked through the protocol.

The Dolphins lost both games in which Tagovailoa missed starts.

And that raises the other issue the Dolphins will eventually weigh with their quarterback. Durability.

Tagovailoa came to the Dolphins with a significant hip injury suffered his final year at Alabama. That and other injuries were considered medical red flags for teams before the 2020 draft.

Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers hugs Tua Tagovailoa of the Miami Dolphins on the field after the game at Hard Rock Stadium. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

Tagovailoa Durability Becoming An Issue

Tagovailoa has missed starts for injury reasons in all three of his NFL seasons. He missed one game in 2020, four games last season, and two games so far this season because of injuries.

The Dolphins are 1-5 in the games Tagovailoa has missed the past two seasons and obviously need would find themselves in a rough spot if he has to miss either of the two remaining games this season as they try to make the playoffs.

And while Tagovailoa has yet to miss Sunday’s scheduled start at New England, it is a near certainty the Dolphins plan to be cautious in this matter.

“I just want guys to be really done right by by the information we have, the science, the medical expertise we rely on,” McDaniel said. “I care very deeply about each and every player. I take that seriously. I just want him to get healthy and have peace of mind in that regard.

“That’s first and foremost and whatever the circumstances are after, you deal with after.”

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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