MIAMI — Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets as he continues to progress through concussion protocol, coach Mike McDaniel said Monday.
There’s no “definite timeline” for Tagovailoa’s return after he left the Dolphins’ 27-15 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 4. Teddy Bridgewater will start Sunday in his place.
Tagovailoa was taken to a local hospital after his head hit the turf late in the second half of Thursday’s game in Cincinnati. He was diagnosed with a concussion but was discharged from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and allowed to fly home with the team early Friday morning. McDaniel said Tagovailoa’s scans came back “clean” — including the MRI he underwent in Miami — but it’s still too early to start thinking about his return to the field.
“Right now he is in the building. He’s had a couple good days, but he’s just trying to go through with the proper procedure and protocol so that he’s feeling 100 percent,” McDaniel said. “I know he’s gonna be diligent with it. And if there’s obviously any things that are giving him issues in terms of light and those things, then we will shut that down.”
Tagovailoa was evaluated for a concussion after a similar situation during the Dolphins’ game against the Buffalo Bills in Week 3. He hit the back of his head on the ground and stumbled while trying to return to the huddle after the play. He was immediately taken to the locker room with a head injury, the team announced at the time.
He passed the locker room evaluation, however, and returned to finish the game after halftime with both Tagovailoa and the Dolphins clarifying that his stumble was caused by a back injury he suffered earlier in the game. The NFL’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, said Tagovailoa was tested daily leading up to Thursday’s game, and McDaniel said his quarterback was cleared of any head injury by an independent neurologist.
The NFL Players Association initiated its right to request a review of the NFL’s concussion protocol following his quick return to the game and terminated the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant who initially evaluated Tagovailoa during the Bills game. The NFL and NFLPA also committed to altering the concussion protocol based on what both parties learned during the review. McDaniel said he supports the changes to the protocol and reiterated his confidence in how Tagovailoa’s injury was handled throughout the week.
McDaniel said he was not directly involved in Tagovailoa’s evaluation process and that beyond making sure his players’ best interests are kept in mind, he does not generally interject into matters that are outside his area of expertise.
“I’m very much involved in terms of that, that they’re answering and giving me information. I don’t think I should be involved in determining concussion symptoms outside of the obvious,” he said. “One thing that we operate within this organization is they know first and foremost that the players’ health and safety is above all else. The coaches know that’s how we address things and the players know that as well. So mandating, and making sure, and being that extra voice of reason that says, ‘Hey, we’re not trying to ever push through something with unintended consequences being pushed to the player’ — I’ll always stay involved in that way from an enforcer standpoint.
“But in terms of me interjecting into an opinion that we have people schooled in and years and years of expertise in, I think that would be a little irresponsible if I tried to kick the door in and say my piece as a layman who’s not an expert.”
Behind Bridgewater, the Dolphins have 2022 seventh-round draft pick Skylar Thompson and they signed Reid Sinnett, who spent the 2021 season with the Dolphins, to their practice squad Monday afternoon.
A former first-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 2014, Bridgewater had also spent time with the Jets, New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos before signing with Miami this offseason. He’s won both games he played against the Jets in his career, completing 38 of 52 passes for 544 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
McDaniel expressed confidence in Bridgewater as the team’s starter for however long this stint might last.
“We’re very, very confident in Teddy Bridgewater. It’s one of the reasons you decide to go that direction in an offseason and prioritize your backup quarterback is for these moments,” McDaniel said. “We went out and signed him, and it’s been one of the better things that could have happened to us for the team’s dynamic — for his contribution in how Tua is playing and his ability to play, as well as his part in the development of Skylar.
“So he’s had a big role. Everyone’s super confident in him. He’s done it before; it’s a different deal coming off the bench than starting. Teddy knows that and he’ll be fully prepared and ready to go. I don’t think the team will bat an eye when we lace ’em up on Sunday.”
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