Tua Tagovailoa needed to be carted into the locker room after taking a crushing hit in the first quarter of the Miami Dolphins’ home opener against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday and did not return.
Tagovailoa sustained a rib injury, the Dolphins announced later in the quarter, and the team officially ruled him out at the end of the third quarter. Initial X-rays came back negative and revealed bruised ribs, NFL Network reported, and Tagovailoa will have an MRI on Monday.
Bills defensive end A.J. Epenesa came through untouched on a fourth-and-2 play at the end of Miami’s second drive and drilled Tagovailoa as he threw an incomplete pass. The quarterback was visibly in pain as he laid on the turf in Miami Gardens, and tried to walk off under his own power before he buckled over again and trainers came out to check on him.
Tagovailoa eventually got the bench with help from trainers and a cart carried him back into the tunnel at Hard Rock Stadium. Trainers were checking Tagovailoa’s torso area and discussing giving Tagovailoa an extra flak jacket, WQAM reported.
Quarterback Jacoby Brissett replaced Tagovailoa for the Dolphins’ third possession. Brissett was also sacked on his third play.
The hit was the third Tagovailoa took on the Miami’s first eight plays. Buffalo cornerback Taron Johnson sacked Tagovailoa on the Dolphins’ first play from scrimmage and Bills safety Micah Hyde sacked him on the third to force a quick three-and-out. On Miami’s second drive, Tagovailoa led the Dolphins across midfield before throwing an incomplete pass on fourth down as he took the big hit from Epenesa.
Tagovailoa was 1 of 4 for 13 yards when he headed to the locker room and Miami trailed by seven.
Tagovailoa, of course, came to the NFL with serious injury history. In his final season with the Alabama Crimson Tide, Tagovailoa dislocated his right hip and needed surgery. While he was able to play as a rookie last year, he spent much of the offseason leading into the season rehabbing.
The injury Sunday, however, did not initially appear to be related to Tagovailoa’s surgically repaired hip.
Miami also lost wide receiver Jakeem Grant to an ankle injury and offensive lineman Jesse Davis to a knee injury in the second quarter. Both are also questionable to return.