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NFL, NFLPA to review if concussion protocols followed with Tua Tagovailoa

Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa said his scary tumble during Sunday's game against the Bills was because of a back injury, not a neck injury. (Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

The NFL and the NFL Players Association will conduct a joint review to determine whether the league’s concussion protocols were followed properly Sunday when quarterback Tua Tagovailoa returned to the Miami Dolphins’ game against the Buffalo Bills in Miami Gardens, Fla.

Both the league and the NFLPA confirmed the review will occur.

Tagovailoa returned to the game to begin the second half. He left the field in the first half after being shoved to the turf by Bills linebacker Matt Milano on a passing attempt. Tagovailoa got to his feet but stumbled. He was taken from the field by members of the Dolphins’ medical staff. Backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater entered and finished the first half.

Milano was penalized for roughing the passer on the play.

Tagovailoa was back in the lineup for the Dolphins’ opening possession of the third quarter. He played the rest of the game as the Dolphins won, 21-19, to improve to 3-0.

Coach Mike McDaniel said after the game that Tagovailoa’s stumble was because of an issue with his back.

“Now, Tua, he went out with a lower back. … He kind of got bent back pretty significantly on a quarterback sneak earlier,” McDaniel said during his postgame news conference. “I was kind of with everyone else. When he hit his head on the ground, I assumed it was a head injury. But his legs got wobbly because his lower back was completely loose. And as he described it, he said his lower back was like Gumby or something.”

Tagovailoa also told reporters his injury was to his back.

The Dolphins announced during the game — before Tagovailoa’s return — that Tagovailoa was being evaluated for a head injury and was questionable to return to the game.

The NFL’s concussion protocols outline a step-by-step process for evaluating a player suspected to have suffered a head injury. A player can return to a game if cleared by the team physician and an unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant following several tests.

The protocols say a player may not to return to a game if he demonstrates “gross motor instability” that is “determined by [the] team physician, in consultation with the [unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant], to be neurologically caused.”

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