Tua Tagovailoa has taken an important step on his road back to the playing field.
The Dolphins quarterback has cleared concussion protocol, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday. Miami is confident Tagovailoa will be fully ready to return to football activities when the time comes later in 2023, per Rapoport.
Tagovailoa met with several medical professionals in his lengthy process, which began in the days after Miami's Week 16 loss to Green Bay when the quarterback reported concussion-like symptoms. He remained in protocol for the final three games of the 2022 season, including the Dolphins' Super Wild Card Weekend loss to Buffalo. Coach Mike McDaniel repeatedly stressed Tagovailoa's participation status was the furthest thing from his mind during that time, telling reporters "it's critical that Tua worries only about the day that he's currently in and nothing else."
The Miami signal-caller was ruled out of the 2023 Pro Bowl Games late last week because he remained in concussion protocol.
Tagovailoa's 2022 season was fraught with health issues, including two concussions suffered over the course of the campaign. Rapoport reported on Jan. 15 that Tagovailoa is expected to return in 2023 and that retirement is "not on the table."
Tagovailoa made significant strides in 2022, his first season played under McDaniel and alongside offseason acquisition Tyreek Hill. The quarterback led an offense that proved to be highly explosive through the air in the first half of the season, propelling Tagovailoa to the top of the leaderboard in passer rating before late-season struggles and his second concussion brought an abrupt end to his season.
Without Tagovailoa, the Dolphins struggled, posting a 1-4 record in games he didn't start while averaging more than 10 fewer points per game than they scored with the quarterback in the lineup. Though they mounted quite a fight in their playoff matchup with the division-rival Bills, the Dolphins ended up falling short of their goal, losing to Buffalo, 34-31.
With Tagovailoa now out of concussion protocol, his focus will shift back to football at some point this offseason as Miami hopes to build on what it achieved in 2022.