Tua Tagovailoa Could ‘Realistically’ Return For Dolphins Game Against Brian Flores, Steelers

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It’s been two weeks since Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa suffered a gruesome concussion against the Cincinnati Bengals, but he appears to be closing in on a return.

Appearing on the Pat McAfee show Thursday, NFL Insider Ian Rapoport said there’s a “realistic chance” Tagovailoa suits up and starts in Miami’s Week 7 Sunday night showdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“Tua, not this week, but next week,” he said. “I think there’s a realistic chance for next week. With the concussion protocol, it’s tough to judge, but he was on the field yesterday. That’s a very good sign. He’s doing well, he’s seen a lot of experts, so no this week, but I think there’s a pretty good chance at next week.”

Tagovailoa 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.

Brian Flores and Tua Tagovailoa left each other on rocky terms.
Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa and former head coach Brian Flores had a rocky relationship. (Susan Stocker/South Florida Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

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 Wednesday for the first time.

Even though he could be cleared from the concussion protocol in time for Sunday’s game against Minnesota, the Dolphins have already named third-string QB Skylar Thompson the starter.

Which brings us to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who the Dolphins host a week from Sunday on Sunday Night Football.

If Tagovailoa does return for that game, as Rapoport said, it would be significant for more reasons than one. Not only would the Dolphins, who were 3-0 when Tagovailoa suffered his injury, get their starter back, he’d also be returning just in time to face … Brian Flores!

Don’t know if you’ve heard, but those two have a … rocky … history.

Flores was Miami’s head coach when the Dolphins drafted Tua back in 2020, but didn’t exactly inspire confidence in the young QB.

He 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.

The Dolphins were 3-0 under Tua Tagovailoa before he got hurt. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

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.

Even though the Steelers are terrible this season, a Tua vs. Flores storyline going into next week’s Sunday Night Game should give it plenty of juice.

Written by Zach Dean

Zach grew up in Florida, lives in Florida, and will never leave Florida ... for obvious reasons. He's a reigning fantasy football league champion, knows everything there is to know about NASCAR, and once passed out (briefly!) during a lap around Daytona. He swears they were going 200 mph even though they clearly were not.

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