Tua Tagovailoa’s Week 4 ended early after he was stretchered off the field with head and neck injuries following a frightening hit in the second quarter of the Dolphins’ eventual 27–15 loss to the Bengals on Thursday Night Football.
After the game, Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel explained the decision to play Tagovailoa, who was officially cleared to play two hours before kickoff after being listed as questionable due to a back injury. McDaniel first followed up on an encouraging update from the team regarding the quarterback’s status and told reporters Tagovailoa is in concussion protocol but had been cleared to travel back with the team.
McDaniel then explained why Tagovailoa was cleared to play despite lingering questions surrounding his health, and stated that his injury on TNF was not related to a prior issue. The first-year coach responded to a question asking if he could “express with 100% certainty” that the 24-year-old didn’t suffer a concussion in Week 3 after his head hit the ground on a tackle against Bills; Tagovailoa stumbled as he jogged right after the play prior to exiting but was eventually cleared to return, though he later said his exit was caused by a back injury.
“Yeah, otherwise, we would’ve reported him having a head injury. That’s why the NFL has these protocols,” McDaniel said, via Will Manso of WPLG Local 10 News. “There’s an independent specialist that specializes in the specialty of brain matter so, for me, as long as I’m coaching here, I’m not gonna fudge that whole situation. If there’s any sort of inclination that someone has a concussion, they go into concussion protocol that’s very strict.
“People don’t vary or stray, we don’t mess with that. Never have. And, as long as I’m the head coach, that’ll never be an issue you guys will have to worry about.”
McDaniel’s comments add to mounting discourse surrounding Tagovailoa’s health in the four days since Miami’s matchup against Buffalo. The NFL Player’s Association launched an investigation into the Dolphins’ handling of the QB’s concussion check on Sunday which remains ongoing.
The NFLPA also issued a statement Thursday night voicing concern over what transpired.
“Player health and safety is at the core of the union’s mission,” the NFLPA tweeted. “Our concern tonight is for Tua and we hope for a full and speedy recovery. Our investigation into the potential protocol violation is ongoing.”
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