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Bronco players thoughts are with Tua Tagovailoa

Player rep McManus says Tua shouldn't have gone back in on Sunday because of eye-test "no go" rule.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Tua Tagovailoa is not a Bronco but players inside the Broncos’ locker room feel for him as if he was one of their own.

And they are all members of the NFL players fraternity

"He’s a great dude, humble human being," said Broncos cornerback Pat Surtain II, whose Tagovailoa’s teammate for two years at the University of Alabama. "It’s sad to see something like that occur. My prayers go out to him and hope for a speedy recovery. It was hard to watch of course."

Tagovailoa is the Miami Dolphins’ quarterback who was rolled off the field in Cincinnati on a stretcher Thursday night after his head was slammed to the turf as part of a sack by Bengals nose tackle Josh Tupou. Tagovailoa was taken to a local hospital, evaluated and released to the NFL concussion protocols.

By itself, the play was enough to send horrific shock through the viewers, especially NFL players who play such a dangerous game. But there was further national outrage because four days earlier in a Sunday afternoon game against Buffalo in Miami, Tagovailoa got up staggering, then falling, after he was pushed down on his backside, hitting his head on the turf on the play just before 2-minute warning of the first half.

Despite what looked like a serious concussion, the medical people involved, whoever they are, determined Tagovailoa had a back and ankle injuries, not a head injury, and he was allowed to play in the second half of the game Sunday, never mind the game Thursday night in Cincinnati.

"The test we take as a player includes the eye test that they changed in the CBA where if you visibly see somebody with your own eyes, the eye test, then he shouldn’t go back in the game," said Brandon McManus, the Broncos’ placekicker and union player rep. "The “no go” rule. In my personal opinion they probably didn’t follow that last week. I don’t know the exact days you need to have off after a concussion so I’m not necessarily saying they did wrong with the Thursday game but he should not have played last week, going back in the second half, because of the “no go” rule. Obviously two concussions in four days is a scary situation for him and his future."

Credit: AP Photo/Jack Dempsey
Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus speaks during a news conference after an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Denver.

The league and players union started an investigation Monday into the protocol procedures that were followed, or not followed, from the Tagovailoa blow from the game Sunday against the Bills. As the investigation was ongoing, Tagovailoa played Thursday and took a far more serious blow to the head. The investigation is pending.

"Hopefully we’ll understand why they chose to do what they did last week and this week and hopefully everyone will learn from it for sure," McManus said. "Hopefully he’s doing OK. You see reports but you never know how he’s actually feeling. I feel for his family, I feel for him."

Said Surtain: "I’ll definitely reach out to him. Now is not a good time to but this is bigger than the game, of course. When injuries like that occur you always want give your best wishes to him because injuries like that are scary to see. All you can do is pray and wish for a speedy recovery."

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos guard Quinn Meinerz (77) looks on against the San Francisco 49ers during an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Meinerz ruled out

The plan was for right guard Quinn Meinerz to return from the hamstring injury he suffered two weeks ago and play Sunday against the Raiders but he aggravated the hamstring in practice Thursday and the Broncos’ medical team wisely slowed down his return. An MRI exam Friday revealed no more significant damage, but Meinerz was ruled out for the game as were three other players with hamstring issues – outside linebacker Jonathon Cooper, receiver Tyrie Cleveland and cornerback Darius Phillips. Right tackle Billy Turner will also miss his fourth game. 

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