Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa is cleared for takeoff.
Just over two weeks after being stretchered off the field with a scary head injury, Tagovailoa has cleared the NFL’s concussion protocol and is available to return to the field.
Teddy Bridgewater, who has also been in the concussion protocol since the first offensive play of Miami’s game last week against the Jets, was also cleared Saturday morning.
Both quarterbacks will be on the sideline for the Dolphins’ game Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, although only Bridgewater will be active. Tagovailoa is not expected to be active, but is on track to start Miami next game, which is Sunday Night Football Oct. 23 against Pittsburgh.
Rookie Skylar Thompson, who relieved Bridgewater in last week’s loss, will start Sunday against the Vikings with Bridgewater serving as the backup.
Tua Tagovailoa, Teddy Bridgewater clear NFL concussion protocol
Tagovailoa being fully cleared to return comes after weeks of drama circulating the third-year QB and the organization.
He was briefly knocked out of the Sept. 25 game against Buffalo, stumbling off the field after taking a big hit only to return in the second half to lead the Dolphins to a huge win.
Tagovailoa started Miami’s following game three days later against the Bengals and was carted off the field in the second quarter after a brutal sack that left him exhibiting the ‘fencing’ motion with his fingers.
The NFL has since adjusted its concussion protocols, saying any player diagnosed with ‘ataxia’ – an abnormality of balance/stability, motor coordination or dysfunctional speech caused by a neurological issue – will be immediately ruled out for the rest game.
Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa could face Pittsburgh Steelers, Brian Flores
In the two weeks since his concussion, Tagovailoa has passed all tests, been seen by several experts, and even returned to the practice field earlier this week for the first time.
While Thompson will start Sunday, Tagovailoa – who is in the midst of a career season – should return for the primetime showdown against the Steelers and … Brian Flores!
Flores was Miami’s head coach for Tagovailoa’s first two seasons before the Dolphins fired him in January.
Needless to say, those two have a … rocky … history.
Flores started, and then benched, Tagovailoa multiple times during his rookie season, and then chose to stick with Jacoby Brissett longer than expected midway through last season while Tagovailoa was injured.
There were also reports of plenty of tension between the two during Miami’s playoff run late last season, with one even indicating the two went at it during a January loss in Tennessee that effectively ended Miami’s playoff hopes.
Flores was eventually fired a few weeks later – which opened up its own can of worms – and the Dolphins brought in Mike McDaniel, who so far brought out the best in Tagovailoa during the first three weeks of the season.
Flores, meanwhile, is now the Linebackers coach in Pittsburgh.
Assuming everything continues to progress with Tagovailoa, those two will meet again for the first time next Sunday night.