MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has not been cleared to return to football activities and has been ruled out for Sunday's playoff game against the Buffalo Bills as he remains in the NFL's concussion protocol, coach Mike McDaniel said Wednesday.
The Dolphins are preparing for rookie Skylar Thompson to be their starter when they face the Bills for the third time this season. Backup Teddy Bridgewater is working his way back to full strength after dislocating his pinky finger.
McDaniel said he doesn't know if Tagovailoa will be able to travel with the team this weekend, and although he hasn't had any setbacks in the healing process, there are "compounding variables" at play that will keep him off the field indefinitely.
Tagovailoa was diagnosed with his second concussion of the season after a Week 16 loss to Green Bay and missed the Dolphin's final two games of the regular season.
He missed two games earlier in the season after he was concussed in a Week 4 game against Cincinnati on a scary hit that briefly knocked him unconscious. That was four days after he was allowed to return to a game after appearing disoriented following a hit.
The NFL later changed its concussion protocol to mandate that if a player shows possible concussion symptoms — including a lack of balance or stability — he must sit out the rest of the game.
McDaniel declined to say whether there is any concern about Tagovailoa’s long-term health and if there have been any thoughts about how the head injuries will affect the third-year quarterback’s career.
Thompson, in his second start of the season, completed 20 of 31 passes for 152 yards and no turnovers Sunday in an 11-6 victory over the New York Jets.
"The way Skylar thinks, he hopes that's the worst game that he's played," McDaniel said.