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Tua Tagovailoa Out for Dolphins vs. Bills with Concussion; Skylar Thompson to Start

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 11, 2023

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 25: Tua Tagovailoa #1 of the Miami Dolphins warms up before the game against the Green Bay Packers at Hard Rock Stadium on December 25, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
Eric Espada/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins have clarity on Tua Tagovailoa's situation heading into the postseason.

The star quarterback won't play in Sunday's wild-card matchup against the Buffalo Bills, according to head coach Mike McDaniel. McDaniel said rookie Skylar Thompson is in line to start, with Teddy Bridgewater still dealing with an injury to his pinky finger.

Tagovailoa, 24, has had an excellent third season, throwing for 3,548 yards, 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions across 13 games, completing 64.8 percent of his passes. The Dolphins went 8-5 in his starts.

Joe Schad @schadjoe

Led by head coach and offensive play-caller Mike McDaniel, Tua Tagovailoa, Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, the Miami Dolphins ranked 6th in the NFL in total offense. <br><br>The 2022 season was the first time the Dolphins finished in the top 10 in total offense since 1995. <a href="https://t.co/IsqnH739EI">pic.twitter.com/IsqnH739EI</a>

But he was put into the concussion protocol on two separate occasions this season, including on Dec. 26, costing him the final two games of the regular season. That put his status for the matchup with the Bills in serious question.

"When he's cleared to practice, he will practice," McDaniel told reporters on Monday. "Until then, I'm not doing anything."

At the time, Tagovailoa still hadn't been cleared for football activities, though he also hadn't suffered any setbacks.

Barry Jackson @flasportsbuzz

Remember, Tua had memory issues and inability to recall things after GB concussion. Doctors are taking this very seriously, to the point they told the coaching staff that they should not discuss ANY topics that could cause him stress, such as when he might play again. <a href="https://t.co/95fVFK8xJS">https://t.co/95fVFK8xJS</a>

Without question, Tagovailoa's concussion issues have become the prevalent storyline of the season for the Dolphins. But they also became a hot topic around the NFL after the young quarterback was cleared to return to a Sept. 25 game by an independent neurotrauma consultant despite being seen stumbling after taking a hit.

Tagovailoa also wasn't placed in the concussion protocol after the game, but four days later against the Cincinnati Bengals, he was carted off the field after another big hit. The consultant in question was ultimately fired.

That, alongside Tagovailoa's second stint in the concussion protocol—which didn't happen until the Monday after Dec. 26's matchup against the Green Bay Packers—has called into question the NFL's process for identifying head injuries.

Henry McKenna @McKennAnalysis

Mike McDaniel said Sunday's game film led him to probe Tua Tagovailoa about a potential head injury: "It specifically had to do with consistencies of things that I study daily on tape, which provoked some direct questioning with a high degree of concern." <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Dolphins?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Dolphins</a> <a href="https://t.co/JR5eF26upo">pic.twitter.com/JR5eF26upo</a>

Regardless, the Dolphins now have clarity surrounding the quarterback position for Sunday's game.