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Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa looked to be in significant pain when he was tackled by Buffalo Bills defensive end A.J. Epenesa during Sunday’s loss to the Bills.
And although the NFL Network reported Tagovailoa merely suffered bruised ribs, which is a manageable injury, coach Brian Flores never confirmed that report on Monday and said Wednesday morning further tests and evaluations revealed Tagovailoa has “fractured ribs” and he will not play against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday.
Here’s the thing: Although the Dolphins are optimistic Tagovailoa may not miss an extended period of time beyond this weekend, fractured ribs typically take between 3-6 weeks to fully heal.
So Tagovailoa may miss more than one game.
“Obviously he’s in a lot of pain,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said. “So he’ll be out this week. Jacoby will start. So we’ll just call it week to week, really, let’s call day to day. Look, this is a tough kid. He wants to play, he’s actually trying to play. And we’re just going to save him from himself a little bit on this.”
Flores said the logical thing, that backup Jacoby Brissett will start for the Dolphins against the Raiders in Las Vegas. Brissett has a 12-20 record as a starting quarterback with 11 of the losses coming in 2017 with Indianapolis. Brissett had a 7-8 record as a starter for the Colts in 2019, which was the last year he started an NFL game.
The Dolphins would not reveal whether Tagovailoa will be placed on injured reserve.
“This is not something we’re thinking about right now, but we’ll see how this trends over the course of the week,” Flores said.
Third-string quarterback Reid Sinnett will be promoted from the practice squad and serve as the backup.
The Dolphins will not make significant changes to their offense, Flores said.
“Other than right-handed and left-handed,” he said. “That’s one obvious situation … the ball comes out differently from one guy to the other. But all the backs and receivers have caught the ball from both quarterbacks, really, all three quarterbacks with Reid as well.
“It’s not ideal, but we’re going to move forward with the guys we have available,” Flores added.
Tagovailoa came to the Dolphins in the first round of the 2020 draft with a considerable injury history at Alabama. Draft analysts at the time often mentioned Tagovailoa’s size and possible lack of durability as a warning sign before the draft.
Tagovailoa is about to miss his second start of what would have been his 13th NFL starts — and possibly more.