Report: Dolphins' Tua Tagovailoa Has Bruised Ribs Injury; X-Rays Negative

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured Columnist

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) throws the ball as he warms up on the field before the Dolphins take on the Kansas City Chiefs during an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Doug Murray)
Doug Murray/Associated Press

Miami Dolphins second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was carted to the locker room early in Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills after suffering a rib injury and was unable to return to the game.

Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported Tagovailoa has bruised ribs and that X-rays were negative. Pelissero said the quarterback was in "a lot of pain" and test results on Monday morning "didn’t reveal any major issues." Pelissero added, "it’ll be about pain tolerance and functionality moving forward."

During the second drive of the game, Tagovailoa was hit hard on a fourth-down attempt and took an extended time to get off the field. He was just 1-of-4 for 13 yards before suffering the injury. Jacoby Brissett replaced Tagovailoa under center.

The 23-year-old is in his first full season as the Dolphins' starting quarterback, leading the team to a win over the New England Patriots in Week 1.

After selecting him with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 draft, the Dolphins placed Tagovailoa in a backup role behind veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick to start the 2020 season. Despite Fitzpatrick enjoying a successful start to the campaign, head coach Brian Flores pivoted to Tua as the starter in Week 7.

The former Alabama standout went on to start nine games, although he was replaced by Fitzpatrick on a few occasions when he struggled. He also missed Miami's Week 12 game against the New York Jets with a thumb injury.

All told, Tagovailoa completed 64.1 percent of his passes for 1,814 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions while rushing for 109 yards and three scores. Most importantly, Tagovailoa went 6-3 as a starter during his rookie campaign.

The safety net of Fitzpatrick was taken away during the offseason when the veteran signed with the Washington Football Team, leaving Tua as Miami's clear and unquestioned starter.

Rather than putting significant resources toward bringing in a quarterback to compete with Tagovailoa, the Dolphins did everything they could to surround him with talent.

That included signing wide receiver William Fuller V in free agency and selecting Tua's former Crimson Tide teammate and receiver Jaylen Waddle in the first round of the 2021 draft.

They joined a Miami offense that already boasted some impressive skill-position players, such as wideout DeVante Parker, running back Myles Gaskin and tight end Mike Gesicki.

If Tagovailoa has to miss some game action because of the rib injury, the Dolphins will turn to Brissett, who signed with Miami in free agency.

Brissett is a solid quarterback capable of filling in for a short period of time, but Tagovailoa remains the key to Miami experiencing long-term success.