MIAMI GARDENS — Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who suffered a concussion Thursday against the Cincinnati Bengals, has been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the New York Jets.
And in the clearest sign yet Miami is bracing for Tagovailoa to possibly miss extended time, the team signed former Dolphins quarterback Reid Sinnett to the practice squad, although McDaniel said it’s too early to tell if Tagovailoa would go on injured reserve, forcing him to miss at least four games.
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“We’re just focused on making sure he’s in optimal health and then crossing that bridge,” McDaniel said. “So it’s a little early for definitive timelines beyond that.”
Teddy Bridgewater will start in Tagovailoa’s absence, backed up by rookie Skylar Thompson.
McDaniel said Tagovailoa underwent an MRI, which came back clean.
“Right now he’s in the building,” McDaniel said Monday afternoon. “He’s had a couple of good days. But he’s just trying to go through with the proper procedure and protocol.”
Tyreek Hill: Tua Tagovailoa is ‘smiling from ear to ear’
Teammates said they were encouraged to see Tagovailoa not only fly home with them from Thursday’s game in Cincinnati, but also at the facility Monday.
“I just seen him in the locker room a moment ago,” receiver Tyreek Hill said. “And he’s smiling from, like, ear to ear.”
After taking the weekend off following the Thursday game, the Dolphins had a short practice Monday.
“I will say everybody was upbeat, up tempo,” defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah said. “Yeah, we root for our brother, but everybody’s still has that in the back of their mind — real sad. But you know, next man up and we’ve got a game to play this Sunday.”
Tagovailoa was first injured in the second quarter of the Sept. 25 game against the Buffalo Bills. Tagovailoa struck his head on the turf and got up wobbly, needing assistance from teammates to keep his balance. Still, he played the entire second half — a decision triggering a national controversy over how the NFL handles head injuries.
Tagovailoa was injured again four days later when allowed to suit up against the Cincinnati Bengals. Defensive tackle Josh Tupou slammed him to the ground on a sack and he hit his head once again. This time, Tagovailoa was taken to a hospital but discharged in time to fly home.
Over the weekend, the NFL Players Association fired the independent neurological consultant involved in the decision to allow Tagovailoa to finish the Bills game. The final call on whether a player can return to a game is up to the team doctor.
Should that power instead be held by the neurological consultant?
“I don’t think that’s an easy, necessarily, answer that’s just completely flat line,” McDaniel said.
He added, “I know that in this particular case, there were lines of agreement.”
Hill said nothing can take a higher priority than player safety.
“We want Tua on the field, but we also understand the magnitude of the situation,” Hill said. “His health moving forward is very important to all of us because life is so precious. You never want to take something like this for granted.”
Player rep Christian Wilkins in touch with union over investigation
Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins is the Dolphins’ player rep to the Players Association. He has been in contact with the union over the league and NFLPA investigation into how Tagovailoa was handled. He also was in touch regarding the firing of the consultant but would not go into details on either subject.
“We’ve got a great training staff, great coaches, people who care about the players on this team and our health and safety, our personal lives, all that stuff,” Wilkins said. “This is our home away from home. It’s bigger than just football around here and winning games.”
Tupou was not flagged for the play.
“It’s tough because obviously, my quarterback, my teammate, got hurt from that but also as a D-lineman, I understand,” Wilkins said. “Things happen fast. You’re trying to make a play. So it’s tough.”
Sinnett, 25, spent parts of the past two seasons with the Dolphins but was awarded off waivers to Philadelphia in October.
In the 2021 preseason in Miami, he completed 30-of-45 passes for 401 yards, three touchdowns and a passer rating of 107.7.