The Miami Dolphins are going to have to answer many questions about Tua Tagovailoa and his injuries over the past five days in the aftermath of the quarterback being taken off on a stretcher and being diagnosed with a concussion. Head coach Mike McDaniel was swarmed with questions as he was the first of the Dolphins' brass to discuss the matter.
"It was a scary moment," McDaniel said at his postgame press conference Thursday night after Miami's loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. "He was evaluated for a concussion and he's in the concussion protocol ... That was an emotional moment that is not part of the deal that anyone signs up for even though you know it's a possibility in football to have something that you have to be taken off on a stretcher.
"All of his teammates, myself, we're all very concerned. The best news we can give is that everything is checked out that he didn't have anything more serious than a concussion. He'll be flying back with us here on a plane."
On Friday, Tagovailoa issued a statement saying he feels much better and is intent on recovering and returning to the field.
The Dolphins announced Tagovailoa was conscious and had movement in all his extremities. Tagovailoa was sacked by Bengals defensive lineman Josh Tupou, and in the process of being brought to the ground, his back and head banged against the field surface.
McDaniel knew something was seriously wrong with his quarterback the moment he was called out onto the field.
"I saw him lay down. I saw that it looked like he (had) some stress going on with the impact of the hit. And then once I got out to the field, I knew right away that this was at least a concussion," McDaniel said. "I was worried about those other things on top of that. I was obviously very worried about his head, but you know you wanted to make sure that all things with relation to the spine and back -- you want to make sure that's okay.
"But it was very clear to me from the onset he, had, I didn't really know the degree of -- but I knew he had the concussion. He was asking for me and when he saw me I could just tell that it wasn't the same guy that I'm used to seeing."
Tagovailoa was controversially allowed to re-enter last week's game against the Buffalo Bills after sustaining what was initially described as a head injury but later referred to as a back injury. He was stumbling on the field after the hit, causing many to believe he had suffered a head injury. Tagovailoa exited and returned to that game, but he NFLPA said afterward it would review whether the Dolphins followed the concussion protocol. Miami held firm Tagovailoa had a back issue throughout the week.
"We would have reported him for having a head injury. That's why the NFL has those protocols," McDaniel said. "Every single game is played with an independent specialist that specializes in the speciality of brain matter."
McDaniel vowed if Tagovailoa had a head injury during the week, he wouldn't let it slide. Tagovailoa would not have played on a short week with the protocols in place.
"For me as long as long as I'm coaching here, I'm got going to fudge that whole situation," McDaniel said. "If there's any sort of inclination of someone that has a concussion and they go into concussion protocol and it's very strict. If people don't vary or astray, we don't mess with that. As long as I'm the head coach that won't be an issue that you guys have to worry about."