Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is in the NFL's concussion protocol, head coach Mike McDaniel announced during his Monday news conference, which puts Tagovailoa's status for a pivotal Week 17 matchup against the New England Patriots in doubt.
Tagovailoa, who missed Weeks 5-6 due to a concussion, told doctors on Monday he was feeling concussion-like symptoms, McDaniel added.
McDaniel said he was uncertain when Tagovailoa suffered a potential concussion during the team's 26-20 loss on Sunday to the Green Bay Packers. McDaniel also said it was uncertain at this point if Tagovailoa had indeed suffered a concussion, but he has symptoms.
Video has circulated on social media of a first-half play in which Tagovailoa was hit from behind below the waist while completing a throw. During the tackle, Tagovailoa was spun to the turf and the back of his head hit the ground. Tagovailoa went 9 of 12 for 229 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions in the first half of Sunday's game. In the second half, he went 7 of 13 for 81 yards with zero touchdowns and three interceptions.
This is not the first time this season Tagovailoa has entered the league's concussion protocol.
The Dolphins QB exited a Week 3 win over the Bills in the first half with what was initially announced by Miami as a head injury. Tagovailoa returned to start the second half of the game and finished out the win. McDaniel said in the aftermath of the game on Sept. 25 that Tagovailoa had injured his back in the first half and the injury was exacerbated by a later hit. In the Dolphins' ensuing game -- a Week 4 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 29 -- Tagovailoa was taken by ambulance to a local hospital after suffering a concussion on a sack in the first half.
Tagovailoa would then miss his team's next two games.
The NFL Players Association launched an investigation following the Dolphins' Week 3 game against the Bills to determine if proper concussion protocol was followed. The NFL and NFLPA announced in a joint-statement on Oct. 8 that while "the step-by-step process outlined in the concussion protocol was followed, the outcome in this case was not what was intended" with Tagovailoa's concussion evaluation on Sept. 25.
An amendment to the league's concussion protocol was made to enhance player safety going forward:
"Specifically, the term 'ataxia' has been added to the mandatory 'no-go' symptoms," the NFL and NFLPA said in a statement at the time. " 'Ataxia' is defined as abnormality of balance/stability, motor coordination or dysfunctional speech caused by a neurological issue. In other words, if a player is diagnosed with 'ataxia' by any club or neutral physician involved in the application of the Concussion Protocol, he will be prohibited from returning to the game, and will receive the follow-up care required by the Protocol."
The 24-year-old Tagovailoa, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 draft, is in his third season in Miami.
Tagovailoa has completed 259 of 400 passes (64.8%) for a career-high 3,548 yards and 25 touchdowns this season.
If Tagovailoa is unavailable on Sunday, Teddy Bridgewater is in line to start for the second time this season. He previously filled in for Tagovailoa in Week 5 as the starter.