Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa entered the NFL’s concussion protocol after he “displayed symptoms” on Monday, said head coach Mike McDaniel.

The coach said Tagovailoa was admitted into the protocol following a discussion with team doctors and the team is unsure which play the quarterback sustained the injury during Sunday’s 26-20 loss against the Green Bay Packers. Tagovailoa’s status for the Week 17 matchup against the New England Patriots is uncertain. Backup Teddy Bridgewater would start if Tagovailoa is ruled out for Sunday’s game.

“I care very deeply about each and every player. I take that very serious. I just want him to get healthy and have peace of mind in that regard,” McDaniel told reporters on Monday.

Tagovailoa entered concussion protocol for the first time after a Thursday Night Football matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 29. The third-year quarterback’s head slammed into the turf after getting sacked near midfield by Bengals nose tackle Josh Tupou, leaving Tagovailoa dazed for several minutes. Four days prior, Tagovailoa sustained a hard hit to the head against the Buffalo Bills. He appeared to show concussion symptoms — stumbling after getting up from the turf — but stayed in the game after evaluation.

The sequence of repeated hits to the head led to outrage from viewers and sparked the NFL to change its concussion protocol. The league and the player’s union agreed to include “ataxia” — a term defined as a lack of balance or stability — as a reason to admit a player into protocol.

If Tagovailoa is unable to play on Sunday, the Dolphins will be without their starter in an important conference game with playoff implications. The Dolphins (8-7) will enter Sunday’s game in New England holding the third and final Wild Card spot as the seventh seed. The Patriots (7-8) are one game back in the eighth seed, needing a win against their division rivals to keep playoff hopes alive.

Tagovailoa’s status also is important for the Jets (7-8). They Jets hold the ninth seed in the AFC as they trail the Dolphins by one game. To make the playoffs, Gang Green will need to win their final games against the Seahawks and the Dolphins. The Patriots would also need to lose one of their two final games of the season.

If Tagovailoa is unable to clear protocol before his team’s season finale against the Jets, it makes Gang Green’s task to make the postseason a bit easier. A Tagovailoa-less Dolphins squad would favor the Patriots as well, but Bill Belichick’s squad still have to beat the Buffalo Bills on the road — giving Gang Green a chance to watch the Patriots get knocked out the postseason.



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