Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa OUT For Sunday's Dolphins Versus Bills Playoff Game

The Miami Dolphins will be without starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for their playoff game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, according to coach Mike McDaniel.

Tagovailoa has not been cleared for football activities "as of today," McDaniel said.

"Because of that and the time he's missed, I can rule him out for Sunday," McDaniel said.

Tagovailoa has missed the past two games after suffering a concussion against the Green Bay Packers on Dec. 25th. He has not practiced in two weeks and obviously isn't ready to practice this week. Tagovailoa has suffered two chronicled concussions this season -- one against Cincinnati and one against Green Bay.

He also left the first Buffalo game to be examined for a concussion but returned and was said to be suffering from back issues, instead.

Tagovailoa's status is such that McDaniel isn't even in a position to know if he will be able to travel with the team to Western New York. That will be decided Friday.

McDaniel said rookie Skylar Thompson is expected to start for the team against the Bills. Backup Teddy Bridgewater is "still working his way back," from a dislocated finger in his throwing hand.

"He knew he had to be fully functional on Sunday," McDaniel said of Bridgewater. "As it stands right now, he's working to prepare himself to be capable on Sunday. But as a result of that, he can't have a setback or anything that's conflicting against the healing process in the week."

So McDaniel stressed the starter "today" is Thompson. He will take the first-team repetitions in practice Wednesday.

It is possible that decision changes later in the week.

Skylar Thompson The Starter 'Today'

Thompson is a seventh-round draft pick and although he had a promising preseason, his regular season was as expected. He played like a rookie seventh-round pick.

The Dolphins failed to score a touchdown in their season-finale against the Jets but won the game 11-6 anyway because the defense and special teams responded against an equally limited New York team playing backup quarterback Joe Flacco.

This season, Thompson has completed 57.1 percent of his passes with one touchdown and three interceptions.

That doesn't make it sound like the Dolphins have much of a chance going to Buffalo. The Bills are playing at home. They have more postseason experience. Josh Allen is at quarterback.

And a constant stream of good news about Damar Hamlin's ongoing recovery from his cardiac arrest has buoyed the Bills.

On Wednesday the Bills opened the practice window for safety Micha Hyde. So more good news for them.

Bleak for the Dolphins.

But McDaniel tried to paint a different picture.

Dolphins McDaniel Paints Hopeful Picture

"We have a dedicated, hungry football team that is hungry to play in a game that they earned," McDaniel said. "I told them today I think they're one of five teams in the history of the National Football League to lose five in a row and make the playoffs.

"That more precisely speaks to determination and lack of splintering because it's hard. It's something to build upon to be able to do something other people can't. They're excited to play ... and they can do that on Sunday."

McDaniel is amazing. He almost makes the five-game losing skid seem like a good thing. Which it isn't.

The Dolphins and Bills have split their two games this year. The point differential in those two games was two points.

But Tagovailoa played in each of those divisional games. The Dolphins chances without him on Sunday seem, well, no bueno.

Miami will have to run the football. And when they get done doing that, they'll have to run some more. As a team, the Dolphins rushed for 188 yards and averaged 7.5 yards per carry in their 32-29 loss to the Buffalo three weeks ago.

Repeating that and playing amazingly on defense, for the moment, seems the Dolphins only chance to pull an upset.

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