MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has not been cleared to return to football activities and was ruled out for Sunday’s playoff game against the Buffalo Bills as he remains in the NFL’s concussion protocol, coach Mike McDaniel said Wednesday.
The Dolphins are preparing for rookie Skylar Thompson to be their starter when they face the Bills for the third time this season. Backup Teddy Bridgewater is working his way back to full strength after dislocating his pinky finger.
McDaniel said he did not know if Tagovailoa would be able to travel with the team this weekend, and although he has not had any setbacks in the healing process, there are “compounding variables” at play that will keep him off the field indefinitely.
“He, himself, is learning that he needs to listen to the advice of doctors and medical professionals,” McDaniel said. “He understands the severity of doing that, so there’s a little bit of things that he can’t control.”
Tagovailoa was diagnosed with his second concussion of the season after a Week 16 loss to Green Bay and missed the Dolphin’s final two games of the regular season.
He missed two games earlier in the season after he was concussed in a Week 4 game against Cincinnati on a scary hit that briefly knocked him unconscious. That was four days after he was allowed to return to a game after appearing disoriented following a hit.
The NFL later changed its concussion protocol to mandate that if a player shows possible concussion symptoms — including a lack of balance or stability — he must sit out the rest of the game.
McDaniel declined to say whether there is any concern about Tagovailoa’s long-term health and if there have been any thoughts about how the head injuries will affect the third-year quarterback’s career.
“I’m just thinking about his day and him getting to full health as a human being," McDaniel said. "And then when it’s time to turn the page, I’ll turn the page.”
Thompson, in his second start of the season, completed 20 of 31 passes for 152 yards and no turnovers Sunday in a 11-6 victory over the New York Jets.
“The good thing for me, I feel like I got a pretty good feel for what a playoff game kind of would look like just last week," Thompson said. “It was a win-or-go-home type of situation for us, so getting to experience kind of what that felt like last week I think was helpful.”
Many players on the Dolphins' roster have never played in the postseason, and they'll be in a tough spot Sunday against the Bills, who have playoff experience and a top-six offense and defense.
They do, however, have the benefit of familiarity, as they'll meet Josh Allen and the Bills for the third time this season. Miami and Buffalo split the regular-season series, with the home team winning each game.
“I feel like I play him all the time and I really do," linebacker Jerome Baker said. "We know them, they know us and it’s no secret what they’re going to do. It’s no secret what we’re going to do. We’ve just got to go out there and execute and get it done.”
NOTES: McDaniel said LT Terron Armstead (toe/pec/knee/hip) is progressing but doesn't know what that means for his availability this season. Armstead has dealt with injuries all season and missed Miami's last two games. “I expect him to be out there if he’s capable,” McDaniel said. "And if he’s not, he’ll make the best decision for the team. That’s just kind of how he’s built.” ... LB Bradley Chubb (ankle/hand), OL Liam Eichenberg (hand) and T Brandon Shell (knee/ankle) did not practice Wednesday.
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