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Dolphins say quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is not in concussion protocol

Tua Tagovailoa said a back injury was giving him problems Sunday, not a head injury.Megan Briggs/Getty

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is not in concussion protocol, according to coach Mike McDaniel, after appearing to slam his head against the ground in Miami’s win over Buffalo Sunday.

Tagovailoa and McDaniel both said after the game it was a back injury that was giving the third-year quarterback problems. And McDaniel reiterated Monday that Tagovailoa’s back and ankle are “sore” but the team will know more after he undergoes further testing.

McDaniel didn’t commit to whether Tagovailoa would play against the Bengals Thursday night.

“It’s my first time on a Thursday night game with Tua, so I don’t assume anything,” McDaniel said. “But it wasn’t out of the extreme norm of bumps and bruises after a game.”


Tagovailoa took a hit from Bills linebacker Matt Milano and appeared to be disoriented as he got back to his feet. The Dolphins originally said it was a head injury, and Tagovailoa missed Miami’s last three snaps of the first half. He returned to start the third quarter.

Buffalo's Matt Milano has an eye on quarterback Tua Tagovailoa during this third quarter play that ended with the Miami signal-caller shaken up.Rebecca Blackwell/Associated Press

Tagovailoa’s quick return drew skepticism, and the NFL and National Football League Players Association said they are conducting a joint review of what went into the decision to allow Tagovailoa to go back in the game.

By NFL rule, a player has to undergo in-game evaluations if he has a possible concussion. Those evaluations involve team medical personnel, as well as an unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant.

McDaniel said Tagovailoa was cleared by the team and the independent neurologist before re-entering the game.

McDaniel added that the team is happy to comply with the investigation and was happy with the process it followed on Sunday. He said the Dolphins wouldn’t have moved forward “in the direction that we did had there been any sort of red flags.”

“I don’t mess around with that” he said. “Tua was pretty annoyed with me in the game when I was talking to him because he knew what hurt and didn’t understand why people kept talking to him about what we were talking to him about.”