MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The Miami Dolphins will go into Buffalo to face the high-flying Bills without their starting quarterback. Tua Tagovailoa will miss his third consecutive game, Mike McDaniel announced today, after not cycling out of the concussion protocol in time to prepare for Sunday’s Wild Card playoff game.
Adding to the anxiety? Backup Teddy Bridgewater is no sure bet to play either. He’s still dealing with a dislocated pinky finger he suffered in Week 17. If he cannot start against the Bills, rookie Skylar Thompson will.
Tua Tagovailoa Concussion Update
Tagovailoa, as of Monday, was in stage 2 or 3 of the NFL’s concussion protocol. Two days later, doctors still had not cleared Tagovailoa to resume on-field football activities — which is stage 4 of 5.
McDaniel said this experience “is very frustrating for [Tua]. … It was a huge goal of his to help get this team to the playoffs and he wants to play in the playoffs.”
McDaniel on Wednesday said Tagovailoa had not suffered any setbacks. He wouldn’t entertain a question about whether Tua will ever be able to play again due to multiple head injuries.
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“Really just the next step is for him to be fully through this protocol and then we can see where the land lays,” McDaniel said.
Tagovailoa was on the field for just 66.7% of the Dolphins’ regular season snaps. Week 18 marked his fourth full game he was unable to play due to concussions.
He has been diagnosed with two concussions since late September — a total that does not include when he displayed gross motor instability following a hit in Miami’s Week 3 win over the Bills.
Togavailoa staggered and fell to the ground after hitting the back of his head after a throw. Dolphins and independent doctors determined that his lack of balance was due to a back injury, not a concussion, and cleared him to return to the game.
That decision spurred a league inquiry into the team’s decision-making process, but investigators ultimately decided the Dolphins followed the concussion protocol as it was written.
That policy was later changed to prohibit players who display the symptoms Tua exhibited in that game.
The Dolphins are 8-3 this year in games in which Tagovailoa was healthy enough to both start and finish, and 1-5 in games he was not. Their only victory was in Week 18 — a game in which the Dolphins won despite the offense managing just nine points.
Dolphins’ Quarterback Plans for Wild Card Weekend
Bridgewater doesn’t sound like a sure bet to play, either.
McDaniel said his QB1 “needs to be able to rip it in time to get some work with his teammates. … That’s not really even his objective. He’s really focusing on being able to come through if needed. He knows on the front end he’s not going to be able to get that many reps.”
This means all signs point towards Thompson making the third start of his young career.