Tua Tagovailoa returned to Miami on Friday for a checkup after suffering head and neck injuries in a game against Cincinnati on Thursday night.
The Dolphins quarterback was wheeled off the field on a stretcher after being thrown onto the turf in the first half and went to the hospital for X-rays and a CT scan. Tagovailoa was released Thursday night just in time to face his team at Cincinnati’s Peycore Stadium with a neck brace and head back to Miami after a 27-15 loss to the Bengals.
On Friday, Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel told reporters that Tagovailoa was completing an MRI, which he described as an extra precaution, and that he had no schedule for his starting QB to return to the field.
“Honestly, to be completely honest, I’m not even thinking about the schedule or anything about him as a player right now. It’s really all about Tua as a person,” McDaniel said. “What gets lost in all of this is that there is a human connection, you know, it’s not just about creating players, it’s people that we mutually invest in and someone that I’ve become very, very close to. When it comes to head injury and concussion, with things that serious, the only thing I’m worried about is the person in the first place. Just worried about him getting well, doing all the tests he needs to do, and we’re working with him so we can feel good about where this injury is, and then we’ll cross the bridge in terms of schedule, no matter how long it may be. Actually didn’t even think about it at the moment.”
Tagovailoa made a statement Friday afternoon after the McDaniel press conference.
“I want to thank everyone for all their prayers and support after yesterday’s game,” he said. “It was hard not to be able to finish the game and be there with my teammates, but I am grateful for the support and care I received from the Dolphins, my friends and family, and all the people who lend a helping hand. I feel much better and focused on my recovery so I can get back on the pitch with my teammates.”
Tagovailoa’s injury on Thursday night came four days after he pulled out of Miami’s Week 3 game to be examined for a head injury. The team’s coach and independent neuro-consultant determined that Dolphins QB instead suffered back and ankle injuries and was cleared to return to the game.
The NFL Players Association said Sunday it plans to investigate whether proper concussion protocol was followed during the game against the Bills. The NFL confirmed on Wednesday that the review is ongoing, but all indications are that proper protocol was being followed. On Thursday evening, the NFLPA released a statement saying that the investigation is ongoing and that “Tua is concerned about him tonight and we hope for a full and speedy recovery.”
On Friday, McDaniel reiterated that he has “100 percent confidence” in how Miami handled Tagovailoa’s injury last Sunday and Thursday night.
“I really appreciate all the care because I take care of the guy and I appreciate all the care of the man,” McDaniel said. “What I meant was that I didn’t change anything in my actions because the whole process of what happened in the Bills game was that he was immediately assessed for a head injury. He was examined and then cleaned by several layers of medical professionals – I don’t claim to be one of them – but these people, their totality, cleared him of any head injuries, and he had a back and an ankle. So in terms of deciding whether or not to play the guy on Thursday night, I’m worried about his lower back and ankle and putting him in danger.
“It’s a player-friendly organization, and you know, I’ve been very clear from the start: my job as a coach is for the players. I take this very seriously and no one in the building deviates from this. I’m talking about deciding whether to play or not, the only thing keeping me from playing with him is something against medical advice, which would be completely abstract. .
“I talk to this guy all the time day in and day out and we talk high level football conversations about progression and defense and reminisce about two weeks ago and then he has to repeat the 15 word call. .All things, absolutely no signs. No medical evidence from any sources that there is something about the head. If there were, of course.
“If there was anything left with his head, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I prematurely kicked someone out and put them in danger. This is my relationship with this person. I take it seriously. I wouldn’t put him up there if I had any opinion that he was putting himself in danger because of that previous game.”
NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills told NFL Network’s Judy Battista Friday that Tagovailoa was being tested for concussion symptoms during the week leading up to Thursday night’s competition.
“Absolutely. I know that he was tested after [Sunday’s] game, I know he was checked the next day. In fact, every player tested on game day is retested the next day, even if it was negative, as part of our concussion protocol. And then I know this player was checked every day before the game,” Sills said. “So, again, a very comprehensive and thorough evaluation, consisting of a prescribed set of tests outlined in our concussion protocol.”
Tagovailoa was admitted on Thursday evening with a dubious diagnosis due to back and ankle injuries. He did not train on Monday and was a restricted participant on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Sills said it was “impossible to know” whether the severity of Tagovailoa’s injury on Thursday night was exacerbated by the injury he sustained on Sunday, but it was a factor the NFL and NFLPA wanted to understand in their concussion application review. protocol during the Sunday game.
“Again, every injury is a major injury for us,” Sills said. “Every injury is one that we want to prevent. We’re looking to reduce concussions across the board, and not only that, as you know, I personally and our league have come forward and said that we also want to reduce head contact in general. We believe that this is a very important security goal, and all of this we will consider in the course of reviewing this situation.
“When we come to conclusions together with the Players Association, we will be very transparent in this regard. We will share it with you, with everyone who is interested, and we will also try to learn from it what we can improve in order to prevent this and similar problems.”
As for Tagovailoa, McDaniel said QB was in good spirits after reuniting with his teammates on the flight home. The coach said he and Tagovailoa sat together on the plane, talking about how he was feeling for 15 to 20 minutes, and then the 24-year-old communicator took out his phone to watch a comedy film. McGruber.
McDaniel added that Tagovailoa asked when he could play again, to which the Dolphins’ freshman coach replied, “Stop it right now. Don’t even think about the game… Let’s take care of you, your head and a healthy person. We will worry about playing football later.”
Teddy Bridgewater will be Miami’s starting quarterback, McDaniel said if Tagovailoa is not cleared for a Week 5 game against the New York Jets.