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Tua Tagovailoa injury: Should the Dolphins QB have been on the field Thursday?

After Tua Tagovailoa's scary head injury on Thursday Night Football, many are pointing back to an injury he appeared to have suffered on Sunday against the Bills.

CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football, but what everyone will be talking about from the game is the scary injury suffered by Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

Tagovailoa's head was slammed to the ground on a sack in the second quarter and he appeared to go into a fencing reaction, a telltale sign of head trauma and he was taken to a local hospital, thankfully, with use of all of his extremities according to the Miami Dolphins.

There was a lot of discussion on Sunday and going into Thursday when in Sunday’s game against Buffalo, Tagovailoa had to leave the game after his head appeared to slam the ground. Tagovailoa got up and immediately had to be held up by teammates as he stumbled and fell to the ground. Many thought Tagovailoa suffered a concussion then. But, the Dolphins said he cleared protocol at halftime, went back out and the Dolphins won the game.

Now, the conversation after Thursday’s head injury is going back to Sunday when many thought he had suffered a concussion.

On the Locked On Sports Today podcast, host Peter Bukowski discussed the situation with Locked On Dolphins podcast host Kyle Crabbs.

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Bukowski asked Crabbs how what happened on Thursday night affects the way he sees how Sunday’s apparent injury was handled.

“I know there’s a lot of skepticism about the injury that was suffered on Sunday and the NFLPA has requested an investigation and quite frankly I think it’s really difficult to say anything definitively until there is more information gathered from Sunday because it was claimed that the independent physician that conducted the concussion check on Sunday gave him the all clear,” Crabbs said.

“I know everyone wants to immediately jump to that, but I think this is something that surface level it doesn’t look good, but it does deserve the due process of getting all the information collected because it could be a very unfortunate coincidence too. And that NFLPA investigation into the protocols that were put in place that were following Tua Tagovailoa on Sunday, we’ll get clarity on. It is standard a couple week process and unfortunately if there was anything nefarious in play, it happened to be paired with a game that was played four days later after that original incident.”

The investigation is supposed to take about two weeks, so it may be a while before we have more information on whether the Dolphins correctly followed protocol. The other part of this is Tagovailoa getting cleared for Thursday’s game and does what happened tell us that he shouldn’t have been cleared? 

Crabbs said he doesn’t see how the Dolphins could have handled this different if he was in fact cleared by doctors and independent physicians on Sunday and moving forward.

“I don’t know if you could’ve handled that differently, and again, that’s based on the information that we have,” Crabbs said. “If more transparency is needed with concussion protocol and the handling of it maybe that’s something that can be explored. But based on the information that we have now and on Sunday, I don’t know what other reasonable conclusion you could’ve come to other than, that looked pretty scary, I don’t know if that injury was a back injury and not a head injury from afar.”

“That opinion exists plenty on social media right now and I get it because optically it does not look good,” Crabbs continued. But with the information that’s at our disposal, i didn’t come into this game saying I can’t believe Tua Tagovailoa is playing quarterback tonight against the Bengals, because of what information we had on Sunday.”

Over on Friday’s Locked On NFL podcast, hosts Christopher Carter and Your Boy Q welcome on Dr. Kerina Maharaja, PT, who said based on what she saw with Tagovailoa on Sunday, she doesn’t understand how he was cleared in such a short amount of time to return to Sunday’s game.

“If you look at the NFL’s concussion protocol, it’s a 5-part, 5 steps that are very thorough that if I’m working in the NFL and I’m supposed to be testing these players, I’m not getting that done in 10 minutes and sending them back on the field,” Dr. Maharaja said. “Those five steps are not going to take 10 minutes, it’s going to take a week. I think they went in and did a verbal, visual, balance assessments and said he’s not showing any immediate or acute signs, he looks good. He probably passed their verbal test at that point.” 

“They have medical professionals and I’m going to trust that medical professional whatever their opinion was, but if you look at the 5 step protocol, the last step is going from your in-house doctor to an out of house doctor and you’re not doing that in 10 minutes in the tunnel,” she continued. “So that’s the concern that I have.”

Check out that full conversation on the Locked On NFL podcast on YouTube or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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