What we know about Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa's head, neck injuries

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is dealing with concussion symptoms like headaches, and underwent further evaluations at the team’s facility Friday after he was knocked from a game with head and neck injuries against the Cincinnati Bengals one night earlier.

Tagovailoa was released from a Cincinnati hospital late Thursday and flew back home on the team plane, where coach Mike McDaniel and his Dolphins teammates were elated by his presence.

Tagovailoa sat next to McDaniel and watched the cult-comedy movie "MacGruber" on Tagovailoa’s phone during the flight home.

“I think he was just happy to be with his teammates. And all of his teammates were so elated,” McDaniel said Friday. “This was a scary, scary situation for all of us.”

Teammates gather around Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa after an injury Thursday night.
Teammates gather around Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa after an injury Thursday night.

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Here’s what we know about Tua Tagovailoa's health:

What happened to Tua Tagovailoa on Thursday night?

Tagovailoa was sacked and slammed to the turf by Bengals defensive tackle Josh Tupou with 5:43 remaining in the second quarter. Tagovailoa stayed on the turf motionless, and his fingers were disjointed in what was a scary scene. Tagovailoa was carted off the field on a stretcher and didn’t return. He was taken to University of Cincinnati Medical Center with head and neck injuries, and he did have movement in all of his extremities.

McDaniel said postgame that Tagovailoa was evaluated for a concussion and is in concussion protocol. He was treated for head and neck injuries, and seen wearing a neck brace at the stadium after he was released from the hospital.

What’s the Tua Tagovailoa backstory?

Last week, Tagovailoa appeared to injure his head in the second quarter when he was shoved to the ground by Buffalo Bills linebacker Matt Milano. The impact of the push caused Tagovailoa’s head to slam on the turf. He struggled to his feet before stumbling to the ground again.

Surprisingly, Tagovailoa reentered the game after the team said he passed the NFL’s concussion protocol. The Dolphins later said Tagovailoa suffered back and ankle injuries against the Bills.

Following the Week 3 game, the NFLPA announced that they would launch an investigation into the handling of Tagovailoa's concussion evaluation. Tagovailoa was listed as questionable with back and ankle injuries going into Thursday night.

What did McDaniel say about the Dolphins’ protocols?

McDaniel, a first-time head coach after rising through the NFL ranks for 15 years, understands the optics of Tagovailoa’s injury playing out on a national stage and the corresponding questions that he received after the Bengals game Thursday and during his news conference Friday.

“The timing of all of it. How things played out. I get the optics. I get exactly what it looks like. I understand all of this and understand people’s concern,” McDaniel said. “But the one thing that I can exude with 100 percent conviction is that every person in this building had 100 percent the correct process, diligence, and that’s why there’s not a player or person that you’d be able to talk to in the building that would think otherwise because it is clear, contrite and not something that is negotiable shape or form.”

What have the Dolphins said about Tagovailoa's injury against the Bills? Why was he cleared to play?

The Dolphins maintain while Tagovailoa did hit the back of his head during the Bills game, and he was announced as questionable to return with a head injury, he did not have a head injury after medical testing – both during the Bills game and before the Bengals game.

“The whole process for what happened in the Bills game, he was evaluated for a head injury immediately. That’s what we brought him to the tent for, brought him to the side for. He was evaluated and then cleared by several layers of medical professionals. I don’t pretend to be one,” McDaniel said. “Those people, the collection of them, cleared him of any head injury whatsoever. He had a back and ankle issue.”

McDaniel said he saw no indications of Tagovailoa dealing with any lingering effects from hitting his head in the leadup to the Bengals game.

“I’m in steady communication with this guy day in and day out. We’re talking about high-level, football conversations about progressions, and defenses, and recalling stuff from two weeks previous. And him, having to reiterate a 15-word play call – all things, absolutely no signs. There was no medical indication from all resources that there was anything regarding the head,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel also reiterated if Tagovailoa showed any signs of a lingering injury before the Bengals game, he would not have played.

“If there would have been anything lingering with his head, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I prematurely put someone out there and put them in harm’s way,” McDaniel said. “This is a relationship I’ve had with this human being. I take it seriously. I wouldn’t have put him out there if there was any inclination whatsoever if he was endangering himself from the previous game.”

What did Tagovailoa say?

The quarterback tweeted Friday afternoon that he was "feeling much better and focused on recovering so I can get back on the field with my teammates." He thanked people for their support and for the care he has received.

What’s the latest on the NFLPA’s investigation?

The NFLPA announced Thursday night that their investigation into whether the Dolphins committed a concussion protocol violation is ongoing.

What is the timetable for Tagovailoa's return?

McDaniel said Tagovailoa posed the question, wondering about the upcoming games he could miss. But McDaniel says he was quick to shut down any talk about football with Tagovailoa.

“I was like ‘Tua, let’s stop this right now. Don’t even think about a game. Let’s just think about doing everything the right way to listen, to get the opinions you need and let’s worry about you and your head and being a healthy human being. And we’ll worry about playing football later.’”

McDaniel had not yet given any thought to Tagovailoa’s potential return or if he would be placed on short-term injured reserve to recover from his concussion.

The Dolphins’ next game is Oct. 9 on the road against the New York Jets.

“The most honest and forthright I can be is I literally have no timetable or even thought to it,” McDaniel said. "That’s where I would feel irresponsible even thinking about it.”

Follow USA TODAY Sports' Tyler Dragon on Twitter @TheTylerDragon and Safiid Deen on Twitter @Safid_Deen.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Tua Tagovailoa head, neck injuries: Latest news on Miami Dolphins QB