Tua Tagovailoa to Start, But Dolphins Still Banged up for Steelers
The Miami Dolphins have lost three straight games and are hampered by injuries right now. Miami was without starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, left tackle Terron Armstead, right tackle Austin Jackson, tight end Durham Smythe, cornerback Byron Jones and cornerback Kader Kohou in Sunday’s 24-16 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
To make matters worse, cornerback Nik Needham suffered a torn Achilles in Sunday’s game and is likely out for the year. Wide receiver Jaylen Waddle also got banged up with a shoulder injury and could miss a week or two. If so, he’ll be out against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night. Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel says he would guess it was an AC joint injury for Waddle.
The good news for the Dolphins, however, is that Tagovailoa cleared concussion protocol and is slated to start on Sunday after missing the last two games. The Dolphins started off hot at 3-0, but they’re on a three-game slide after Tagovailoa’s concussion against the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night in Week 4, which caught national attention for how the Dolphins handled the situation.
Backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered a concussion in the Dolphins’ Week 5 loss to the New York Jets. Bridgewater suited up against the Vikings, but third-string quarterback Skylar Thompson got the start. The Dolphins’ bad luck with quarterback injuries continued, as Thompson suffered a thumb injury on his right hand early in the second quarter and didn’t return. Bridgewater replaced Thompson and completed 23 of 34 passes (67.6%) for 329 yards with two touchdowns, two interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 93.9.
The Steelers have injury issues of their own, but they managed to upset the Tampa Buccaneers, 20-18, on Sunday afternoon at Acrisure Stadium. The Steelers were without their top three cornerbacks in Ahkello Witherspoon, Cam Sutton and Levi Wallace, free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and tight end Pat Freiermuth. Kenny Pickett was also knocked out of Sunday’s game with a concussion, so his status is up in the air against the Dolphins.
The Steelers will need to get healthy in the secondary, as Tagovailoa had an over 100 quarterback rating in all three of the Dolphins’ wins and an 8-2 touchdown-interception ratio. They’ll also have to deal with All-Pro wide receiver Tyreek Hill. As mentioned, Waddle’s status is unclear as of right now, but the duo of Hill and Waddle at receiver is one of the best in the league.
Tagovailoa coming back from his concussion will not be the only headline for Sunday night’s game, as Brian Flores will return to Miami for the first time since filing a class-action lawsuit against the Dolphins, which included the NFL and three other teams. Flores allegied discrimination regarding his interview processes with Denver, New York, Houston and his firing by Miami. The Dolphins will also honor the 50-year anniversary of their unbeaten team on Sunday night.