Dolphins deny Tua Tagovailoa played with concussion as NFL investigates

Tua Tagovailoa is not in concussion protocol, according to his head coach Mike McDaniel, after the Miami Dolphins quarterback appeared to slam his head against the ground in the team’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 on 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.

Tagovailoa’s quick return drew skepticism, and the NFL and NFL Players Association said they are conducting a joint review of what went into the decision to allow Tagovailoa to go back in the game.

According to NFL rules, 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 Dolphins are happy to comply with the investigation and were happy with the process they 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.”