Dolphins say Tagovailoa broke ribs, won’t play vs. Raiders

Sports
Bills at Dolphins 9/19/2021

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) carted out the field after getting injured in a play during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills at Hard Rock Stadium, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Fla. A battery of tests run on Tagovailoa failed to show any serious problems other than bruised ribs, raising at least the possibility that he could play next weekend when the Dolphins (1-1) visit the Las Vegas Raiders (2-0). (David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP)

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Tua Tagovailoa’s bruised ribs are actually fractured ribs, and that means the Miami Dolphins will have a new starting quarterback this week when they visit the Las Vegas Raiders.

The Dolphins announced the updated diagnosis Wednesday after initial tests suggested Tagovailoa was dealing with bruised ribs. Further exams showed the fractures, and the Dolphins already have decided that Jacoby Brissett will start this weekend.

It’s unclear how long Tagovailoa will be sidelined. Dolphins coach Brian Flores did not want to offer a timetable for a potential return but said Tagovailoa is already improving.

“This is a tough kid,” Flores said. “He wants to play. He’s actually trying to play. We’re 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.”

Brissett last started a game at the end of 2019, though he played almost the entire game against Buffalo last weekend. He’s 12-20 as a starter, the role he said he prepares himself for each week.

“I think that’s been my mentality since I got in the league,” Brissett said. “I’ve been in situations where I honestly didn’t know what my chances were and when my opportunities were going to come. So I just wanted to make sure when I went out there I put my best foot forward and just stick with that mindset that has put me in good situations.”

For now, the Dolphins aren’t planning to make a roster move. Tagovailoa hasn’t yet been placed on injured reserve, a move that — if it happened — would keep him sidelined for at least three games. The Dolphins have Reid Sinnett on the practice squad, and Flores said he would serve as the backup quarterback this week.

Sinnett had a strong preseason finale for Miami last month, completing 22 of 33 passes for 343 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in a 29-26 comeback win over Cincinnati. He has not thrown a regular-season NFL pass.

“We’re just going to move forward with the guys we have available,” Flores said.

Tagovailoa was injured on the second series of Miami’s 35-0 loss to Buffalo last weekend. He took a hit on a fourth-down play from the Bills’ A.J. Epenesa, then slowly made his way to the sideline where a cart was waiting to take him off the field.

Tagovailoa completed 17 of 22 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown when the Dolphins went to Las Vegas and beat the Raiders 26-25 last season.

Brissett completed 24 of 40 passes for 169 yards and an interception after entering the game as Tagovailoa’s replacement last week. He was sacked four times — Miami allowed six on the day, a figure that doesn’t even count the play when Tagovailoa got hurt.

Offensive line play has been a major concern for Miami this season, and Flores said the evaluation process to find the best five players there continues.

“There’s going to be a lot of competition in practice this week,” Flores said. “And when we come out of practice this week, we’ll make the decision on who will be out there.”

But Brissett pushed back on the notion that the biggest issue in the Buffalo loss was the offensive line. He said the blame should be felt by numerous positions, and that everyone should have felt like part of the problem.

“Look, it’s not my offense or Tua’s offense,” Brissett said. “It’s the team. We’re going to go as the team goes, not as the quarterback position goes or whatever position goes. We’re going to go as we go. And that’s what I relayed to the guys. That’s what it’s all about. It’s not about who’s starting at quarterback. It’s about us understanding that objective that week and it’s about us every week and we’ve got to go take care of our business.”

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