Miami Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel didn’t so much conduct a news conference Monday as he did a medical briefing. His team is as banged up as any five weeks into the season, most notably at quarterback. Both Tua Tagovailoa and Teddy Bridgewater are in the NFL‘s concussion protocol — but for totally different reasons.
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Tagovailoa, who suffered a frightening concussion on Sept. 29 and hasn’t practiced since, “is not ready to take the step to do some football stuff yet,” McDaniel said Monday.
“I’m not really thinking about his timeline, as I’ve said before,” McDaniel said. “We’re just trying to get him as healthy as possible. We’re pretty much in a 12 to 24-hour reoccurring evaluation process. He’s doing well.”
So Tua’s not out for Sunday’s game against the Vikings, but he’s certainly not definitely in.
The Dolphins’ other problem?
Tua’s primary backup, Bridgewater, is in the concussion protocol and can’t practice until Thursday at the latest — despite not exhibiting any concussion symptoms Sunday or Monday.
Bridgewater was pulled from Sunday’s loss to the Jets after a spotter said he or she witnessed Teddy demonstrating “ataxia,” which the league and the player’s union define as “abnormality of balance/stability, motor coordination or dysfunctional speech caused by a neurological issue.”
Whether Bridgewater actually demonstrated ataxia after taking a hit from Jets corner Sauce Gardner on the first offensive play of the game Sunday was a matter of huge debate locally Monday.
Multiple television stations shared video of the entire episode — from Bridgewater getting hit to him leaving the field — and none captured him stumbling.
But McDaniel didn’t seem at all inclined to wade into the debate of whether his starting quarterback in Week 5 was improperly pulled from the game.
“Honestly, I don’t really concern myself with all of that,” McDaniel said. “… I was there at the game. I was watching it intently. I didn’t see him stumble, but I’m also not in the business of grading and coaching spotters.”
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Instead, McDaniel wanted to keep the focus on what’s next. So what is next? A practice Wednesday in which there’s a good chance Skylar Thompson and Reid Sinnett are the only quarterbacks available.
Bridgewater has to go through the protocol as if he is concussed, so even if he’s completely fine, there’s very little on-field work he can do this week.
Still, McDaniel said it’s far too soon to make a determination about who starts Sunday against Minnesota.
“There are too many variables for my head to absorb” all of those hypotheticals, he added.
But that’s not all that’s on McDaniel’s plate to try to figure out before Week 6. Star wide receiver Tyreek Hill left MetLife Stadium in a walking boot Sunday.
“He looked pretty good today,” McDaniel said. “He felt all right. He’s a fast healer, but you don’t know for certain” that he’ll play Sunday.
Same goes for left tackle Terron Armstead, who remained in New York overnight Sunday so a specialist could look at his injured toe.
“I can trust him as much as I have ever trusted any player,” McDaniel said, who added he knows Armstead will do whatever he can to play Sunday.
Meanwhile, cornerback Byron Jones (Achilles) is likely still at least another week away from practicing for the first time since undergoing surgery in March. However, the Dolphins do expect Austin Jackson (ankle) to practice this week. And the Dolphins have not yet ruled out Xavien Howard (groin) for Week 6.
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