Tua Tagovailoa glad to be back after clearing protocols

Oct 18, 2022, 11:09 PM | Updated: Oct 19, 2022, 11:10 am
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa looks to the sidelines during the first half of an NFL fo...

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa looks to the sidelines during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Cincinnati. Tagovailoa suffered a second frightening injury in five days when he was carted off the field Thursday. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

(AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa said he’s glad to be back after a long process to clear concussion protocols.

“It’s been a process,” he said on Wednesday during his first comments to reporters since his injury. “That’s for sure. Having to deal with interviews with the NFL, NFLPA, and then having to go and see doctors outside with second opinions. A lot of it has been stressful. But all of it’s done for player safety.”

Tagovailoa last played in a Sept. 29 loss at Cincinnati, when his head slammed to the turf and he suffered a concussion. He missed the next two games and the Dolphins fell to 3-3 after winning their first three.

Now that he’s cleared concussion protocols, Tagovailoa is expected to start against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night.

Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said he wants Tagovailoa to be in his “normal mood” and as “locked in” as he always is.

“That’s what I’ve grown to love about the guy,” McDaniel said. “That’s why he’s been able to have some success in a completely new language and system. And that would be my expectation for this week because it is not the Tua Dolphins.”

Tagovailoa echoed a similar sentiment.

“I’ve just got to be myself,” he said. “I’m not the savior of this team. I don’t just come in and we start winning games. It’s a team deal.”

In that Thursday night game against Cincinnati, Tagovailoa took a hard hit from Bengals defensive tackle Josh Tupou and was slammed into the turf.

Tagovailoa’s hands immediately froze with his fingers flexed awkwardly in front of his facemask for several seconds. He was stretchered off the field and taken to the hospital.

Tagovailoa said he remembers everything from that night up to the point he got tackled. He doesn’t remember being stretchered off the field, but has flashes of being in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

“I wouldn’t say it was scary for me at the time,” Tagovailoa said. “There was a point where I was unconscious, so I couldn’t really tell what was going on.”

That was four days after Tagovailoa hit the back of his head on the turf from a hit by Bills linebacker Matt Milano. He wobbled as he tried to get back to his feet and was allowed to return to the game at the start of the third quarter. The team later said he had a back injury.

The two incidents prompted significant changes to the concussion protocols by the NFL and the NFL Players Association. They added that an abnormality of balance and/or stability would be a symptom prohibiting a player from returning to a game.

Tagovailoa made his return to the field as a limited practice participant last Wednesday, and after completing the return-to-play steps required by the NFL, he was medically cleared on Saturday.

Tagovailoa was off to the best start of his career before the injury. He’d thrown for 1,035 yards and eight touchdowns, including 469 yards and six touchdowns in Miami’s Week 2 rally over Baltimore.

Serious injuries are also not new to the third-year quarterback.

At Alabama, he had a procedure for a high ankle sprain in October 2019, which caused him to miss one game.

A month later, Tagovailoa dislocated his right hip against Mississippi State, which prematurely ended his college career.

In his pro career, Tagovailoa has dealt with rib fractures, a thumb injury and a fractured middle finger on his throwing hand.

He said he’s not typically the type of player to throw the ball away or give up on plays.

“Learning from that,” Tagovailoa said. “Learning if it’s not there, it’s OK to throw it away. The longevity of me being able to be the quarterback of this team and not try to make something out of nothing.”

NOTES: McDaniel said WR Jaylen Waddle (shoulder) likely won’t participate much in practice Wednesday, but he’s “optimistic” about Waddle’s availability for Sunday. … QB Skylar Thompson’s tests on his throwing hand were “more positive than negative,” McDaniel said. He added that Thompson, who left Sunday’s game against the Vikings with a bloody right thumb, will “get back into action sooner than later.” … CBs Keion Crossen (knee) and Kader Kohou (oblique) “have a chance” to play Sunday, McDaniel said.

___

More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

New York Islanders celebrate after scoring a goal against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second ...
Associated Press

Varlamov makes 21 saves as Islanders blank Blackhawks 3-0

NEW YORK (AP) — Matt Martin, Zach Parise and Brock Nelson scored second-period goals and Semyon Varlamov made 21 saves as the New York Islanders downed the Chicago Blackhawks 3-0 on Sunday night. The Islanders fired 40 shots at Blackhawks netminder Arvid Soderblom in snapping a two-game losing streak and improving to 9-4-0 at home. […]
20 hours ago
Southern California guard Boogie Ellis, right, drives to the basket against Oregon State forward Ty...
Associated Press

Johnson punctuates USC comeback as Trojans down Oregon State

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kobe Johnson scored 17 points shooting 7 for 10 and USC’s methodical second-half comeback led to a 63-62 win on Sunday night over Oregon State. Dzmitry Ryuny’s 3-pointer early in the second half gave the Beavers their last double-digit lead of the night at 37-27. The Trojans (6-3, 2-0 Pac-12) then […]
20 hours ago
Santos soccer team supporters secure a banner with the image of former soccer star Pele, in front o...
Associated Press

Pelé’s family: COVID caused infection, death not imminent

SAO PAULO (AP) — Two daughters and one grandson of Brazilian soccer great Pelé said the three-time World Cup winner has been hospitalized since Tuesday to treat a respiratory infection aggravated by COVID-19. They added that the 82-year-old is under no imminent risk of death. Kely and Flavia Nascimento and Arthur Arantes do Nascimento said […]
20 hours ago
Buffalo Sabres right wing Jack Quinn (22) celebrates his goal during the second period of an NHL ho...
Associated Press

Jack Quinn scores twice, Sabres beat Sharks 6-3

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Jack Quinn scored twice to help the Buffalo Sabres beat the San Jose Sharks 6-3 on Sunday night. Tage Thompson, JJ Peterka, Jeff Skinner and Alex Tuch also scored for Buffalo, and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 26 saves. The Sabres scored three times in the second period to take control. “We just […]
20 hours ago
Arizona State guard Desmond Cambridge Jr. celebrates a turnover by Stanford during the second half ...
Associated Press

Cambridge Jr. scores 19, Arizona State beats Stanford 68-64

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Desmond Cambridge Jr. scored 19 points and Arizona State used a late run to beat Stanford 68-64 Sunday night for the Sun Devils’ sixth consecutive win. Stanford used a 13-2 run early in the second half and later a 10-2 spurt that gave the Cardinal their first lead since 2-0 when […]
20 hours ago
Northwestern's Matthew Nicholson, left, dunks against Michigan State's Joey Hauser (10) during the ...
Associated Press

Northwestern beats No. 20 Michigan State in Big Ten opener

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Boo Buie scored 20 points and Northwestern beat No. 20 Michigan State 70-63 on Sunday night in the Big Ten opener for both teams. Chase Audige added 15 points and Ty Berry had 13 for Northwestern (6-2), which ended a two-game losing streak. “Needless to say, this was a huge […]
20 hours ago
Tua Tagovailoa glad to be back after clearing protocols