Mike McDaniel: Tua Tagovailoa passed concussion tests, status for Thursday vs. Bengals unclear due to back, ankle

Amid an NFLPA probe into Tua Tagovailoa's injury, Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel reiterated to reporters on Monday that his quarterback passed concussion tests before returning to Sunday's win over the Buffalo Bills and is not in concussion protocol.

But he's not 100% on a short week ahead of a Thursday matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Per the Dolphins, Tagovailoa wouldn't have been able to participate if the Dolphins practiced on Monday because of back and ankle injuries. McDaniels didn't put an official designation on Tagovailoa's status, but acknowledged that there's a chance he might not be able to play on Thursday.

“These Thursday night games, you get used to just doing the best you can," McDaniel told reporters in his Monday news conference when asked about Tagovailoa's health. "And we’re trying to get information as fast as possible. We’ll be working fluidly from that."

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 25: Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) walks off the field with trainers following a play during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins on September 25, 2022 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fl. (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
The Dolphins maintain that Tua Tagovailoa's head is fine, but he's not guaranteed to play in Week 4. (David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

He expressed confidence in backups Teddy Bridgewater and Skylar Thompson in the event that Tagovailoa can't play.

“It’s my first time on a Thursday night game with Tua, so I don’t assume anything," McDaniel continued. That’s why you have a roster of capable people. That’s why we brought Teddy here and drafted Skylar. You have to be ready for these type of adjustments."

As for the concussion concern, McDaniel echoed the team's stance from Sunday after Tagovailoa appeared to sustain a head injury against the Bills. Tagovailoa's head bounced off the turf after a hit by Bills linebacker Matt Milano during the second quarter. When he stood up from the hit, he lost his balance and fell back to the ground before being helped off the field with the assistance of two trainers.

The Dolphins initially announced that Tagovailoa sustained a head injury, but he returned to start the second half and played the rest of the game. The Dolphins announced postgame that Tagovailoa was instead dealing with a back injury, and that was the reason he lost his balance after the hit.

McDaniel told reporters on Monday that Tagovailoa insisted prior to his concussion evaluation that his head was fine.

"Everyone was so worried about — hey is there something wrong with your head?" McDaniel said. "'No I'm fine,'" he quoted Tagovailoa as responding.

"He’s dealing with his back. He knew that he was losing his balance a little bit when he was getting up.”

He also said that the Dolphins are happy to cooperate with the NFLPA's investigation.

“The pillar of importance for all of it is player safety," McDaniel said. "That’s why the protocols are in place. We’re happy to comply and feel fine about that whole process really.

"They went through the protocols. ... It was something that we wouldn’t have moved forward in the direction did had there been any sort of red flags."