Dolphins QB Tagovailoa not in concussion protocol, says McDaniel

Tua Tagovailoa is not in the league's concussion protocol ahead of the Miami Dolphins' game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday.

It's still not a sure thing he will play, however.

Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel reiterated on Monday it was Tagovailoa's injured back that caused him to stumble to the ground in Sunday's 21-19 win over the Buffalo Bills and not a hit that caused his head to slam into the turf.

In addition to the injured back, McDaniel told reporters that Tagovailoa is also dealing with a sore ankle and his availability for Thursday is uncertain with the quick turnaround.

''It's my first time on a Thursday night game with Tua, so I don't assume anything,'' the first-year coach said in his press conference. ''But it wasn't out of the extreme norm of bumps and bruises after a game.''

Tagovailoa took an especially hard hit Sunday, as Bills linebacker Matt Milano pushed him to the ground, drawing a rougher the passer flag.

Tagovailoa's helmet slammed into the turf but he managed to get back to his feet quickly. However, he then shook his head and seemed to look woozy as he appeared to lose his balance as he stumbled back to the ground.

The 24-year-old went to the locker room to be assessed by the team's medical staff, with the team announcing a head injury that made him questionable to return.

He only missed three snaps, however, returning for the start of the third quarter – a decision that prompted the NFL and National Football League Players Association to conduct a joint review of how the decision was made to allow Tagovailoa to return.

McDaniel maintained, however, the proper protocols were followed and that Tagovailoa was cleared by the team and the independent neurologist.

"We wouldn't have moved forward in the direction we did had there been any sort of red flags, because you can't keep quarterbacks out of harm's way," McDaniel said. "So if he had a head issue, he wouldn't have been back out there."

Tagovailoa supported those claims, telling reporters after the game that it felt like he hyper-extended his back earlier in the contest and that his back locked up on him after the hit from Milano and that's why he stumbled.

The Dolphins did not practice on Monday but estimated Tagovailoa wouldn't have participated, listing him out with a back and ankle injury on their injury report.

"These Thursday night games, you get used to just doing the best you can. And we're trying to get information as fast as possible," McDaniel said. "We'll be working fluidly from that.

"But right now, especially in a hard-fought game like that, not just Tua, but there's a lot of players that we'll be adjusting to on the fly, seeing if they can turn it around and give a healthy outing on Thursday."