MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Skylar Thompson's expected one-week run as the Miami Dolphins' starting quarterback lasted for just over one quarter.
And the team's revolving door under center continued.
Thompson left Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings with a bloodied right thumb, marking the fourth consecutive week where the Dolphins saw their starting quarterback leave a game — and the third consecutive game where Miami's starter didn't finish.
The severity of the injury wasn't immediately known. Thompson was back on the sideline for the second half with the thumb wrapped in tape.
But Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said Thompson's injury wouldn't have allowed him to return, and Minnesota prevailed 24-16 to hand Miami its third consecutive loss.
“It's just our luck that the guy who didn't prepare as the starter has to go into the game and play most of the game," Dolphins backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said. “This game, man, is so crazy. And it just applies to life also. You wake up one morning prepared to do one thing and, boom, something happens."
Thompson made his first career start because the Dolphins' top two quarterbacks had been in the NFL's concussion protocols. Tua Tagovailoa had been in the protocols since getting hurt in a game against Cincinnati on Sept. 29, and Bridgewater was also in the protocols after getting hurt on the first play of Miami's Oct. 9 game against the New York Jets.
Tagovailoa and Bridgewater both were cleared from the protocols list on Saturday.
Bridgewater — who the Dolphins say never showed any concussion symptoms last week, but was ruled out when a spotter reported seeing him wobble — checked into the game after Thompson left. Tagovailoa was inactive for the game against the Vikings, but is expected to return to the starting role for Miami's Oct. 23 prime-time game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Bridgewater was 23 of 34 for 329 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also took some hits and tried to immediately get up, fearful that a spotter might think he wouldn't be able to remain in the game.
He said he respects that the league is trying to protect quarterbacks.
“I’ve always been a guy who takes his time getting up, mad that I might have gotten hit, slap the ground, frustrated, and then, ‘OK, next play,'" Bridgewater said. “Can't do it anymore. Today, I was just popping up, just so it wouldn't happen to me again."
Thompson was 7 for 13 for 89 yards during Miami's first three series. He became the 25th different quarterback since Dan Marino's retirement after the 1999 season to start a game for the Dolphins.
He also was Miami's third different starter in as many weeks — the first time that's happened to the Dolphins in nearly 12 years, after Chad Pennington, Tyler Thigpen and Chad Henne started successive weeks midway through the 2010 season. Miami also used three starters in a three-week span during the 1975 and 1980 seasons.
Tagovailoa started against Cincinnati in Week 4, leaving the game on a stretcher in a frightening scene. He was knocked out of that game four days after he was allowed to return to a game against the Buffalo Bills despite having hit the back of his head on the turf, then getting back on his feet, then wobbling. The Dolphins later said the wobble was caused by a back injury.
An unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant tasked with working the Bills game, who has since been terminated from that position following a brief investigation, found no head injury and allowed Tagovailoa to resume playing.
That decision, combined with the scene of Tagovailoa on the ground in Cincinnati days later, sparked quick and significant changes to the concussion protocols by the NFL and the NFL Players Association. The most notable addition was that an abnormality of balance and/or stability would be a symptom prohibiting a player from returning to a game.
The Dolphins also lost cornerback Nik Needham in the second quarter Sunday to a torn Achilles, with a person familiar with the severity telling The Associated Press after the game that he is not expected to return this season. And wide receiver Jaylen Waddle — one of the team's top players — was favoring his left shoulder after a hit in the fourth quarter.
“It's one of my favorite things about football, is that it's not for everybody and this is difficult," McDaniel said. “But, so? We've had three games in a row where we've finished a game with a different quarterback than we've started with. And I don't think anybody has the mindset of that's the reason why we're losing."
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