Report: Dolphins' Tua Tagovailoa Clears Concussion Protocol; Confident in 2023 Return

Adam WellsFebruary 1, 2023

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 25: Tua Tagovailoa #1 of the Miami Dolphins throws a pass during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers at Hard Rock Stadium on December 25, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)
Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

Thirty-seven days after suffering his second confirmed concussion of the 2022 season, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has cleared the NFL's concussion protocol.

Per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Tagovailoa has been cleared by the league, and the Dolphins are confident he will be at 100 percent for next season after he met with several medical professionals throughout the recovery process.

Head coach Mike McDaniel told reporters on Dec. 28 that Tagovailoa suffered a concussion during a Christmas Day loss to the Green Bay Packers.

It's unclear exactly when the injury occurred. Tagovailoa did appear to hit his head on the ground after being tackled in the second quarter, but he wasn't immediately evaluated for a concussion and never left the game.

The NFL and NFL Players Association said in a joint statement that Tagovailoa never displayed symptoms that would have triggered the concussion protocol:

"The protocol is initiated when a player receives an impact to the head and exhibits or reports signs or symptoms suggestive of a concussion. The review established that symptoms of a concussion were neither exhibited nor reported until the following day at which time the team medical personnel appropriately evaluated and placed Mr. Tagovailoa in the concussion protocol.

It was the second time this season that the NFL and NFLPA investigated the application of the concussion protocol for Tagovailoa. The first came after the Dolphins' Week 3 win over the Buffalo Bills when he left the game briefly with what NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported was due to a back injury that locked up following a hit from Matt Milano.

The league and players' union determined proper protocol was followed, but "the outcome in this case was not what was intended when the Protocol was drafted." It led to both sides agreeing to modify concussion protocols.

Tagovailoa suffered his first diagnosed concussion of the season in Week 4 against the Cincinnati Bengals. He missed the next two games before returning in Week 7.

Following his second concussion, Tagovailoa missed the final two games of the regular season and Miami's AFC Wild Card Game loss to the Bills on Jan. 15 because he was unable to clear the protocol.

Tagovailoa finished this season with 3,548 passing yards, 25 touchdowns and a 64.8 completion percentage in 13 starts.