Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa last played two weeks ago today, on Christmas. He entered the concussion protocol the next day, and he has missed two straight games.
So will Tua be back next weekend? Coach Mike McDaniel declined to address the situation after Sunday’s win over the Jets that delivered the team’s first playoff berth since 2016.
“We’ll take it day by day,” McDaniel told reporters after the game, via Jeff Darlington of ESPN.com. “And I will not think about any game — whether this year or next year — until he’s fully ready. And that will require medical clearance.”
The key is medical clearance. The return-to-play protocol has five steps through which the player must progress.
And coaches aren’t supposed to talk about when a concussed player may or may not return. In a November 2016 memo, the league office directed teams to “refrain from making public comments regarding the condition of a concussed player or speculating as to when he may return to practice and play once in the concussion protocol.”
We’ve wondered this year whether the league has become lackadaisical about that mandate. To his credit, McDaniel specifically said on Sunday that he won’t speculate about when Tua may be available (via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald), because doctors have said that’s not good for Tua.
It’s never good for anyone to apply any pressure to a player in the concussion protocol, especially when the player is surely already applying pressure to himself.
Bottom line? Tua will be back when he’s cleared to play in the wild-card round at Buffalo. We’ll find out whether that happens for Miami’s next game as the week unfolds.