MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Miami Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said Friday there is no timetable for the return of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who suffered a concussion when he hit his head against the turf a day earlier against the Cincinnati Bengals.
McDaniel also defended the team's handling of Tagovailoa's injury last Sunday in a win over the Buffalo Bills, when the QB took a hit from linebacker Matt Milano late in the first half and appeared to hit his head on the turf. Tagovailoa stumbled when he got up and was taken to the locker room to be evaluated for a concussion, then returned to the game at the start of the third quarter.
McDaniel reiterated Friday that Tagovailoa was cleared by several layers of medical professionals during last Sunday's game and said the QB did not have a head injury.
“My job as a coach is here for the players. I take that very serious,” the first-year coach said. “And no one else in the building strays from that.”
Many observers questioned why Tagovailoa was allowed to return to the field against the Bills. He was not in the concussion protocol leading up to Thursday's game.
“There was no medical indication from all resources that there was anything regarding the head,” McDaniel said Friday. “If there would have been, of course, I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I prematurely put someone out there.”
Tagovailoa had an MRI on Friday in addition to the X-rays and CT scans that were taken the night before at a hospital in Cincinnati. He had a headache Thursday night and Friday morning, McDaniel said.
“I’m not even really thinking about timetables or anything regarding him as a player right now,” McDaniel said. “It’s all about Tua the person.”
Tagovailoa was sacked by Bengals defensive tackle Josh Topou late in the first half of Thursday night's loss to the Bengals. On the play, he spun awkwardly and was thrown to the turf. While on the ground, Tagovailoa appeared to display the fencing response, with his fingers frozen in front of his face.
He remained down for more than seven minutes before being loaded onto a backboard and stretchered off the field.
The Dolphins later said he was conscious and had movement in all of his extremities. He was discharged from the hospital Thursday night and flew back to Miami with the team.
McDaniel said Tagovailoa was interacting with teammates on the flight home. He sat next to McDaniel and talked to him about the game.
“His personality was normal Tua,” McDaniel said.
Before the injury, Tagovailoa was having a breakout season, highlighted by throwing a career-high six touchdown passes in a Week 2 win over Baltimore.
Now the former Alabama star faces another obstacle in what has been an up-and-down career.
The Dolphins, amid a rebuild in 2020, drafted Tagovailoa No. 1 overall to be a franchise-altering player following a college career that included a 2018 national championship.
But when that didn't happen as quickly as Miami anticipated, questions arose about whether to stick with the young quarterback or go in another direction.
Tagovailoa seemed to be answering those questions through the first three weeks of the season, efficiently utilizing the weapons that Miami surrounded him with during the offseason, including star receiver Tyreek Hill, to lead the Dolphins to a 3-0 record heading into Thursday's game.
Including his 110 passing yards before leaving Thursday's game, Tagovailoa is second in the league in passing yards (1,035) and he has thrown 10 touchdowns with three interceptions.
Tagovailoa has dealt with several injuries, including a dislocated right hip in 2019 at Alabama.
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