MIAMI GARDENS, Florida. On Monday, the NFL and the NFL Players Association launched an investigation into Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s concussion during their victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
Tagovailoa suffered a concussion and recovered at halftime, returning to action in the second half of Miami’s 21–19 win.
“If he had a head problem, he wouldn’t be there,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said Monday of Tagovailoa.
There is no expected timeline for how long the investigation could continue, an NFLPA spokesman told USA TODAY Sports on Monday. The Dolphins, who initially said it was a head injury when he left the game, could face a fine if they find they are sloppy in their assessment of Tagovailoa.
“We’re happy to agree and feel good about this whole process, actually,” McDaniel said.
NFLPA BEGINS INVESTIGATION: Why was Tua Tagovailoa allowed to return?
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Tagovailoa is not on concussion protocol as the Dolphins prepare for a short week for Thursday night’s road game against the Cincinnati Bengals, according to McDaniel. But he’s dealing with a bad back and ankle.
Bills linebacker Matt Milano pushed Tagovailoa to the ground shortly before halftime, landing on his side with the back of his head hitting the pitch.
Tagoviloa stood up, shook his head and tried to run across the field for the next game, but lost his balance and stumbled. Tagovailoa got up again to try to continue his run, but was stopped by two teammates before leaving the game.
Tagovailoa and McDaniel said that Tagovailoa’s back stiffened after the game and was the reason he tripped, not because his head hit the ground. They said that Tagovailoa was initially injured while sneaking the quarterback in the first quarter.
“My back is kind of locked up on me,” Tagovailoa said after the game. “For the most part, I’m fine. I went through all the concussion protocols they had, so I’m fine.”
After the coaches met him on the field, Tagovailoa walked with them to the dressing room with less than two minutes left before the break. Tagovailoa was not appreciated from the outside; “Dolphins” were on the side of the field closest to the locker rooms. According to league protocol, a player must be ejected from the game and examined if he shows symptoms of a concussion. The six-step process involves the team physician and an independent consultant neurologist.
When the second half began, Tagovailoa was on the field. He passed to star wide receiver Tyreke Hill in his first game. He finished the game by completing 13 of 18 pass attempts for 186 yards and a touchdown.
“This is the exact reason the protocols exist. I was very much like a lot of people, when you saw it, you assumed one thing,” McDaniel said.
“But that’s why there’s an independent neurologist who approves of it. We must clean it up. And you’re talking to the player.”
McDaniel said Tagovailoa became angry when asked about his head on the sidelines.
“It was one of those things that you don’t look at from our sphere. Everyone was so worried about trying to talk to him through the lens, “Hey, is there something wrong with your head?” And he’s like, ‘No, I’m fine,’ and he was dealing with his back,” McDaniel said.
“He knew he was a little off balance when he stood up. But it was a completely different source of the problem than what everyone else looked at through that lens.
“They went through the protocols and that process during the game. And it was that we wouldn’t be moving in the same direction if there were some red flags,” McDaniel added.
McDaniel was noncommittal about Tagovailoa’s availability for Thursday’s game.
“He was very sick and we knew he would be,” McDaniel said of Tagovailoa.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Dolphins: There are no red flags in Tua Tagovailoa’s assessment; probe starts