On Sunday, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa appeared to suffer a head injury after his head slammed against the Bermuda Grass following a push by Buffalo Bills linebacker Matt Milano. The , causing the need for concussion protocol to be put into effect.
Tagovailoa returned to the game in the second half after he was declared questionable to return with a head injury, but there were also reports at the time that he may have suffered a back injury on the play rather than a head injury. He is now dealing with a back and ankle injury, though the NFL confirmed they will review whether the Dolphins followed the league's concussion protocol. The NFL said it has every indication that protocol was followed.
The 3-0 Dolphins are headed to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals on Thursday night, so the practice schedule is altered for the short week. Miami head coach Mike McDaniel said if it were not a short week and the team held practices as usual, . Tagovailoa's status for the game is still up in the air, but McDaniel said his quarterback told him he will do everything he can to play.
When asked about playing Thursday night, Tagovailoa told reporters, "That's the plan."
The 24-year-old said his back is what is causing the most discomfort and that the back impacts all of the crucial movements for a quarterback, including throwing, handing the ball off and twisting. McDaniel also spoke to the importance of the back for a quarterback, saying Tagovailoa needs it to be functioning properly in order to protect himself. If his back is not ready by Thursday, McDaniel said he will protect him by sitting him out.
"I know if he doesn't play, it literally was not possible," McDaniel said (via Pro Football Talk). "We're just taking measures accordingly for Teddy (Bridgewater) beyond that. But happy with the way he's, so far, progressed. And feel very optimistic because of how he's going about it."
Tagovailoa is currently doing rehab in hopes of improving the injury before the game. He has not thrown yet, per NFL Media, but plans to do so before the walkthrough.
McDaniel hopes to announce Tagovailoa's game status either Wednesday or Thursday morning at the latest. "It won't be 5 minutes before the game," McDaniel said.