Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is NOT in the concussion protocol despite apparent head injury

Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is not in concussion protocol, according to coach Mike McDaniel, despite concerns he may have suffered a head injury when he was slammed to the turf in the second quarter of Miami’s win over Buffalo on Sunday. 

Tagovailoa and McDaniel both said after the game that 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 Cincinnati Bengals on 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.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) is assisted off the field after he was injured during the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday

Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa of the Miami Dolphins lays on the turf during the second quarter

Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa of the Miami Dolphins lays on the turf during the second quarter

Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa (right) is not in concussion protocol, according to coach Mike McDaniel (left), after appearing to slam his head against the ground in Miami's win over Buffalo

Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa (right) is not in concussion protocol, according to coach Mike McDaniel (left), after appearing to slam his head against the ground in Miami’s win over Buffalo

Tagovailoa described the incident on Sunday, saying he aggravated his back injury. 

‘On the quarterback sneak, I kind of got my legs got caught under someone and they were trying to push back and it felt like I kind of hyperextended my back or something,’ Tagovailoa told reporters after helping improve to 3-0 on the year. ‘Then on the next play, I kinda hit my back… that’s where I stumbled.’

Tagovailoa said he ‘passed whatever concussion protocol they had,’ adding, ‘I’m good.’

However, Chris Nowinski, a Harvard-educated neuroscientist and critic of the handling of concussions in the NFL, took issue with that explanation on Twitter. 

‘I’m calling bulls*** on the ”back tweak theory,”’ Nowinski tweeted. ‘Watch the vid. Tua shakes his head multiple times to ‘clear the cobwebs’, which is a specific sign of vision impairment after #concussion. He also wobbles getting up before falling. His return is a fail @NFL.

Chris Nowinski, a neuroscientist and critic of the handling of concussions in the NFL, took issue with Tagovailoa's 'back injury' explanation on Twitter

Chris Nowinski, a neuroscientist and critic of the handling of concussions in the NFL, took issue with Tagovailoa’s ‘back injury’ explanation on Twitter 

Tagovailoa’s quick return has drawn 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.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio gave a preview of the review process on Sunday.   

‘Now, the NFL Players Association has already launched an investigation,’ Florio said on NBC. ‘The league and the union will work together and talk with the doctors, and they’ll come to a conclusion on whether the policy was followed. 

‘It will take a week or two and if they disagree, there could be a grievance or arbitration, but under the concussion protocol, they have always come to an agreement whether or not the policy was or was not followed. We’ll find out if that was the case here.’

Tagovailoa completed 13 of 18 passes for 186 yards, one touchdown and no turnovers

Tagovailoa completed 13 of 18 passes for 186 yards, one touchdown and no turnovers

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.’

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) is assisted off the field during the first half

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) is assisted off the field during the first half

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