“We’ll see how ready he is,” Nagy said at a news conference. “And I think that’s part of the evaluation process. … He’s gone above and beyond to show us what he’s about and about his preparation, about his work ethic, about his care, about his ability on the football field. He’s done all that. He’s past where I thought he was going to be. … He knows it’s not going to be perfect. But he wants to try to make it as close to perfect as he can.”
Nagy said he does not think that Dalton’s knee injury will require him to be placed on the injured reserve list, which would sideline Dalton for at least three weeks. There had been many calls for Nagy to turn to Fields even before Dalton’s injury. Fields struggled in relief of Dalton during last Sunday’s 20-17 triumph over the Cincinnati Bengals at Soldier Field, throwing an interception and completing only six of 13 passes for 60 yards. He ran for 31 yards.
“I think I’m ready,” Fields said at a news conference Wednesday. “Of course, I’ve been preparing for this moment a long time. So my mind-set hasn’t changed. I’m still going to … just prepare the best I can, like I said before, and just get a lot of practice reps in and just study, study, study and just get more comfortable and more confident with the plays.”
Tagovailoa will be sidelined for the Dolphins’ game Sunday at Las Vegas, Coach Brian Flores announced Wednesday.
“Obviously he’s in a lot of pain,” Flores said at a news conference, “so he’ll be out this week. … This is a tough kid. He wants to play. He’s actually trying to play. And we’re just going to save him from himself a little bit on this and hold him out this week and then take it week to week from there.”
Backup Jacoby Brissett is scheduled to fill in as the Dolphins’ starter against the unbeaten Raiders. The team initially had hoped that Tagovailoa might be able to play this weekend but further tests revealed that Tagovailoa’s ribs were fractured, Flores said. Flores declined to specify a timetable for Tagovailoa’s return.
The second-year pro was injured in the Dolphins’ 35-0 home defeat last Sunday to the Buffalo Bills. Brissett, a former starter for the Indianapolis Colts, took over and threw an interception while completing 24 of 40 passes for 169 yards.
The Dolphins have Reid Sinnett to back up Brissett while Tagovailoa is out. They have been linked to a possible trade for Deshaun Watson, the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback for the Houston Texans who has been on the game-day inactive list each week this season while facing 22 active civil lawsuits by women accusing him of sexual misconduct.
No team has been willing thus far to meet the Texans’ considerable asking price for Watson in a trade, given Watson’s legal situation and uncertain playing status. A grand jury is considering possible criminal charges. The NFL has not, to this point, put Watson on paid administrative leave via placement on the commissioner’s exempt list. But the league could reconsider that stance if Watson were to be traded to a team with plans to put him on the field immediately.
It is the latest injury-related setback for Tagovailoa, who suffered a significant hip injury during his final college season at Alabama. He also was plagued by ankle injuries in college. He still was taken by the Dolphins with the fifth overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft, four selections after Joe Burrow was taken by the Bengals and one choice ahead of Justin Herbert going to the Los Angeles Chargers. Tagovailoa has yet to demonstrate that he will be a franchise quarterback in the NFL, being replaced by veteran backup Ryan Fitzpatrick in several games last season and now being hurt and giving way to Brissett.
The Dolphins, after just missing the AFC playoffs last season with a record of 10-6, are off to an uneven start this season, beating the New England Patriots in their opener but unraveling in the lopsided loss to the Bills. They’ll face a Raiders team Sunday that’s off to a surprising 2-0 start.
Last Sunday was a day of attrition for NFL quarterbacks. The Colts’ Carson Wentz sprained both his ankles. The Texans’ Tyrod Taylor suffered a hamstring injury that landed him on IR, leading to Houston naming rookie Davis Mills its starter for Thursday night’s game against the Carolina Panthers, with Watson still inactive.
Wentz did not practice Wednesday, and if he were to miss Sunday’s game, Jacob Eason or Brett Hundley would be in line to start.
Two other veteran quarterbacks, the Raiders’ Derek Carr and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger, also are dealing with injuries this week. Carr suffered an ankle injury Sunday but finished the Raiders’ victory at Pittsburgh. Roethlisberger has an injury to a pectoral muscle, Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday.