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NFL players ask why Tua Tagovailoa was playing after previous injury

Teammates gather around Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa after he suffered a head injury against the Cincinnati Bengals. (Emilee Chinn/AP)

The NFL community was quick to question the Miami Dolphins for letting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa take the field for Thursday night’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Four days earlier, Tagovailoa appeared to have suffered a head injury after taking a big hit against the Buffalo Bills, but he returned to that game a few series later. After the Bills game, Dolphins Coach Mike McDaniel said that Tagovailoa had injured his back, not his head. The NFL and the NFL Players Association are conducting a joint review to determine whether the league’s concussion protocols were followed properly in that case.

Tagovailoa started Thursday’s game against the Bengals but took another big hit late in the second quarter, hitting his head on the turf and showing clear signs of a concussion. He left the field on a cart and was taken to a Cincinnati hospital. After the game, the Dolphins said Tagovailoa would be released to travel back to south Florida with the team.

Former NFL quarterback Robert Griffin III retweeted a video of the hit Tagovailoa took against the Bills and said the Dolphins “will have to answer” for their decision to let him start Thursday.

Former NFL offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger noted the head injuries he suffered during his career and said he was glad that the decision about whether he should have returned to the field quickly was taken out of his hands.

Griffin also said it’s the team’s job to protect the players from further injuries.

Ryan Shazier, a former NFL linebacker who suffered a crippling spinal injury while playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers during a 2017 game in Cincinnati, said Tagovailoa was in good hands at University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

Former NFL safety Ryan Clark said he suspected the injury Tagovailoa suffered Sunday involved more than his back.

New England Patriots linebacker Matthew Judon said Tagovailoa should have been on the sideline Thursday.

A number of NFL players, including Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt, were more critical of Amazon’s decision to keep showing replays of the play, particularly its aftermath when Tagovailoa was writhing on the ground after taking the hit.

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