The bruised ribs that knocked Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa out of Sunday’s 35-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills don’t appear as if they will keep him out for a significant amount of time.
Monday tests “didn’t reveal any major issues,” the NFL Network reported.
“We’re still running some tests,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said Monday afternoon. “He was in a lot of pain (Sunday), still in a good deal of pain (Monday), but we’ll call him day to day right now.”
The report added that the factors in play will be about pain tolerance and functionality after Tagovailoa was drilled by Bills defensive end A.J. Epenesa, who beat Dolphins right tackle Jesse Davis on a fourth-down pass rush in the first quarter Sunday.
“He’s a tough kid,” Flores said of Tagovailoa, who has come back from a hip injury that ended his college career at Alabama and played through a thumb ailment in his rookie season, among other injuries he has dealt with throughout his career. “Toughness isn’t something that we question with him. He’s going to do everything he can to get back as soon as he can. I have a lot of confidence in that. He’s a tough kid, for sure.
“If Tua can go, he’s going to go. That’s just the kind of kid he is.”
Tagovailoa was seen holding his left side after taking the hit from the right as his ribs on his left side took the brunt of the blow after being driven to the ground. He got up and tried to walk on his own to the sideline, but, in significant pain, he went back down to the Hard Rock Stadium turf. He was later carted off the sideline and into the locker room.
With the Dolphins’ radio network reporting Sunday X-rays on Tagovailoa came back negative, it’s still unknown how long the bruised ribs could affect Tagovailoa or keep him out with the Dolphins playing at the Las Vegas Raiders this upcoming Sunday.
In the past, NFL quarterbacks have worn flak jackets under their jerseys to protect rib injuries.
“I think that’s something we would look into,” Flores said. “To be honest, I don’t have a lot of familiarity with flak jackets. I think sometimes it’s personal preference for some guys who dealt with some rib type of injuries. Some guys just like to wear them for (an) extra layer of protection. That’s definitely something we’ll look into.”
Tagovailoa made his exit as Miami’s second drive concluded on the incomplete pass where he was hit. He also took two sacks from untouched blitzers in the opening series. Jacoby Brissett replaced him and went 24-for-40 for 169 yards and an interception, while also taking his share of hits as he was sacked four times by Buffalo.
Flores on Monday said the Dolphins offense was not identifying blitzes or communicating well between the quarterbacks and line.
“It was communication, it was fundamentals and techniques that were an issue,” Flores said. “We got to play a lot better on the offensive line, and really across the board offensively as a team. That starts with me. We’ll do a better job of getting them ready to play.”
That also could mean some significant changes on the line. Davis left with a knee injury, and rookie Liam Eichenberg replaced him at right tackle. Eichenberg is also a candidate to step back in for left tackle Austin Jackson after playing for him there in Week 1 while Jackson was on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Jackson struggled on Sunday vs. the Bills.
“We’ll take a look at personnel and see if we need to make any changes to play better than we did (Sunday),” Flores said.
The Dolphins are optimistic regarding Davis’ injury and receiver/returner Jakeem Grant (ankle).
Tagovailoa was one of a number of NFL quarterbacks injured Sunday. Andy Dalton of the Bears left in the second quarter of the win over the Bengals with a knee injury. Tyrod Taylor’s hamstring didn’t allow him to play in the second half of the Texans’ loss to the Browns, and the Colts’ Carson Wentz (ankle) left in the fourth quarter of a loss to the Rams.