Miami Dolphins @ Cincinnati Bengals: Tua Tagovailoa expected to start at quarterback for Dolphins on Thursday Night Football
Tua Tagovailoa expected to play despite concerns over back and ankle injuries sustained in Sunday's win over Buffalo Bills; watch Miami Dolphins @ Cincinnati Bengals, live on Sky Sports NFL, 1.15am, Friday morning
Last Updated: 30/09/22 6:16am
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is expected to play in their Thursday Night Football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, despite injury concerns over his back and ankle ahead of the team's road trip.
Tagovailoa suffered the injuries in Miami's thrilling win over the Buffalo Bills last Sunday, while he also left the field briefly following a hit by Bills linebacker Matt Milano in the first quarter with what was initially described by the Dolphins as a head injury.
Head coach Mike McDaniel told reporters after the game that Tagovailoa suffered a lower back injury in the first half, which was exacerbated by the hit from Milano. The NFL confirmed on Wednesday that they are conducting a review into whether the Dolphins followed the league's concussion protocol when examining for a possible head injury to Tagovailoa, but added that there's every indication that the protocol was followed.
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Entering a short week for their game against the Bengals, Tagovailoa was initially listed as 'questionable' to play, but NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported on Thursday that the quarterback will take to the field in Cincinnati barring a setback.
Second-year star receiver Jaylen Waddle (groin) and offseason acquisition from the New Orleans Saints, offensive tackle Terron Armstead (toe), are also expected to play.
'Tua playing as good as ever' | Dolphins confidence 'sky high'
It's good news for the Dolphins, who have got off to a brilliant start to the 2022 season, winning their opening three games against the New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens and the Bills to sit as one of only two unbeaten sides - along with the Philadelphia Eagles - through the first three weeks.
A big part of that has been the success of the offense, with Tagovailoa currently ranking first in the league for completion percentage and passing yards per attempt on downfield passes.
He has 925 yards passing so far this year, to go with eight touchdowns and only two interceptions - 469 of those yards and six of his touchdowns came in a stunning Week Two turnaround win over the Ravens after the team had been trailing by 21 points as late as the fourth quarter.
Former NFL quarterback Chris Simms said of Tagovailoa's start to the season on Pro Football Talk: "He has got a lot of momentum going.
"He is playing football as good as he has ever played. In key moments and on key plays, he has been special."
Dante Hall, a former receiver and returner specialist for the Kansas City Chiefs, has also been impressed by what he has seen from Miami so far this season.
Hall told Sky Sports: "Their mentality is, obviously, 'we can win no matter what' - from behind, in difficult playing conditions, against the best and most elite quarterbacks.
"Their confidence is riding sky high. They are finding a way to win - and that's what you have to do in the NFL."
Miami's trip to Cincinnati an 'in your face' great game
The latest elite quarterback to come up against the Dolphins is Bengals signal-caller Joe Burrow, fresh from taking the team to the Super Bowl last season.
But Burrow, who was taken with the No 1 overall pick in the same 2020 Draft in which Tagovailoa was taken fifth, has endured a difficult start to the season, being sacked 15 times through the first three weeks - joint-most in the NFL with the Washington Commanders - as the Bengals have stuttered out of the gates.
Cincinnati finally got their first win of the season on the board on Sunday, a 27-12 road victory over the New York Jets, and so represent a stern test of Miami's as-yet unblemished record.
"This is not going to be an easy night [for the Dolphins]," Simms said.
"The one thing that has been lost in the shuffle with Cincinnati, while the offense has struggled and not been able to protect Burrow, their defense has been damn good. They can rush the passer, cover guys and they have speed in the secondary.
"This is an 'in your face' great game. I'm excited for it.
"We know the Dolphins are hot, and the Bengals are fighting to get back to .500 and show they're Super Bowl-calibre once again."
Sky Sports NFL presenter Neil Reynolds can also foresee problems for a banged-up Dolphins outfit on Thursday night in Cincinnati.
"The last thing the Dolphins needed after their epic against Buffalo on Sunday, playing in such scorching conditions, was to travel to Cincinnati to face the Bengals on a short week," Reynolds wrote in his weekly column.
"I think it will be very tough for Miami to win that game and I don't expect them to because of what they went through on Sunday.
"But, if they do, you can certainly count me a believer."
Watch the Miami Dolphins at the Cincinnati Bengals, live on Sky Sports NFL from 1.15am in the early hours of Friday morning.