Tagovailoa, McDaniel address QB’s status for Bengals game. And news from Dolphins coaches

David Santiago/dsantiago@miamiherald.com

Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is still dealing with a back injury but said his plan is to play in Thursday’s game at Cincinnati (8:15 p.m., Amazon Prime/Channel 39).

“I’m doing everything I can to get out there and play,” he said Tuesday. “I’m getting treatment, doing everything I can to get as close to 100 percent as possible.”

He said throwing with the back injury in the second half on Sunday against Buffalo “was pretty difficult,” more so with the long gaps between Dolphins possessions. “The back started to lock up.”

Coach Mike McDaniel said Tagovailoa is questionable for the game but added that he’s very optimistic about Tagovailoa’s chances of playing.

Tagovailoa called McDaniel at 10:50 p.m. on Monday night to discuss the situation.

“I can tell in his voice he will literally do everything he can and in his power [to play],” McDaniel said. “I’ll know if he doesn’t play, it literally was not possible. Happy with how he has progressed and feel very optimistic because of the way [he has worked this week].”

McDaniel said the Dolphins want to make sure Tagovailoa can be productive with the injuries and he can escape “impending danger” from defensive players.

Asked which injury is more problematic, Tagovailoa said: “It’s more the back than the ankle. The ankle was more [an issue] after the game, soreness.”

Tagovailoa said the back injury affects everything — “having to twist, hand the ball off, having to toss the ball, having to throw the ball.”

Tagovailoa would have been limited if the team had a regular practice Tuesday; instead the Dolphins had a walkthrough.

McDaniel said he would like to make a decision on Tagovailoa’s availability Wednesday if possible and by Thursday morning at the latest.

Tagovailoa reiterated that he has no head injury.

Couple other notes from Tagovailoa on Tuesday:

He said wide receiver Tyreek Hill will get the ball if there’s single coverage.

Tagovailoa said “it was cool to see us win three different games in three different ways.”

One thing that isn’t on Tagovailoa’s plate this year, unlike last year: He no longer is responsible for the offensive line calls at the line of scrimmage.

“I have the final say in our protections, but it has made it a lot easier that I don’t have to come out and make a mike point or tell the guys what to do up front,” he said. “I can worry about motion landmarks and seeing our coverage and execute our plays. It makes it easier to go out there and play quarterback.”

MORE INJURIES

The Dolphins held a walkthrough Tuesday, which wasn’t open to reporters.

Three players didn’t participate: tackle Terron Armstead (toe), tight end Cethan Carter (concussion protocol) and tight end Hunter Long (ankle).

Nine were limited: Tagovailoa, receiver Jaylen Waddle (groin), defensive tackle Raekwon Davis (knee), cornerback Xavien Howard (groin/glute), offensive lineman Robert Hunt (shin), safety Brandon Jones (chest), cornerback Kader Kohou (ankle), defensive lineman Zach Sieler (hand) and receiver Cedrick Wilson Jr. (ribs/toe).

“They all know how important it is to have them operate,” McDaniel said. “We had guys in the training room in the facility after the game Sunday. I expect to see most if not all of them” on Thursday.

Brandon Jones said he plans to play.

Davis didn’t play Sunday, noting that the knee had been bothering him and it “needed rest” and he “didn’t want to play banged up and put bad stuff on film.” He was noncommittal about Thursday, saying he’s optimistic but also “day-to-day.”

Also, the Dolphins will leave for Cincinnati earlier in the day that planned on Wednesday to try to avoid the impact of Hurricane Irma.

THIS AND THAT

Even after a win — and with two days to reflect — special teams coordinator Danny Crossman wasn’t remotely amused by what his players have called the “butt punt” — the Thomas Morstead punt that bounced off Trent Sherfield’s backside, giving the Bills a safety late in Miami’s 21-19 win.

“Absolutely zero amusement and a 100 percent critical mistake that has an opportunity to possibly lose a football game,” Crossman said Tuesday. “So yeah, it will never get any smile from me.”

Crossman said the Dolphins never considered intentionally taking a safety in that situation.

During his weekly briefing with reporters, Crossman said Emmanuel Ogbah got a piece of Tyler Bass’ missed 28-yard field goal, and the Dolphins have informed the league so that Ogbah gets statistical credit for that.

The Dolphins are averaging just 3.3 yards per carry — ahead of only the Chargers at 2.6.

Keep in mind that Raheem Mostert entered this season with the highest rushing average among active players at 5.5 yards per carry; he’s averaging 3.3 (24 for 78).

And Chase Edmonds — who averaged 5.1, 4.6 and 5.1 per carry the past three seasons for Arizona — is 3.4 per carry (24 for 79).

So does that suggest that blocking is primarily to blame?

“It’s not one specific thing,” offensive coordinator Frank Smith said. “We feel like we’re close.”

Defensive coordinator Josh Boyer said the decision to sign Melvin Ingram — who had two sacks Sunday — was ”a group process. Mike was involved, Chris was involved, assistant coaches were involved.”

Watching his Kansas City tape last season, “you still saw explosion, get off. We thought it was a good fit. He sure hasn’t disappointed. A lot of things we asked him to do he’s done in his career. He’s a true pro, cares about the team, works on his craft. I’m glad we have him.”

McDaniel said “there’s no perfect formula [for a Thursday game]. You have to eat right, rest. You only do it once a year. There’s an element of will.”

McDaniel said he has no update on whether Byron Jones — who’s on the physically unable to perform list — will be available in Week 5 at Jets, the first game he’s eligible to play. He said he knows Jones “is excited to get back.” McDaniel likes how the young cornerbacks have played.

“I was just so happy” that cornerbacks got extra reps in the offseason to “feel what it was like to be depended up on the first team defense,” McDaniel said, noting that opposing teams “will always attack them” but that none of them (Nik Needham, Kader Kohou, Keion Crossen) have made themselves a target.