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Only in the NFL: Concussion concern over Tua, inconsistent Packers set for London and JJ Watt’s heart scare


Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffered a concussion against the Cincinnati Bengals. Sam Greene/Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY NETWORK/File Photo

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffered a concussion against the Cincinnati Bengals. Sam Greene/Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY NETWORK/File Photo

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffered a concussion against the Cincinnati Bengals. Sam Greene/Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY NETWORK/File Photo

For the first two-and-a-half weeks of the NFL season, the Miami Dolphins felt like the feel-good story of the year.

They were on the verge of going 3-0, knocking off Super Bowl favourites the Buffalo Bills to get there, and in first-year head coach Mike McDaniel they had a figurehead the media couldn't get enough of.

Then came the latest concussion storm to hit the League.

Having briefly left that game against the Bills after looking unsteady on his feet following a hit from Matt Milano, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa returned to the game with the team maintaining the shaken signal-caller had suffered a back, rather than head, injury.

Despite scepticism from around the League, and the launching of a joint investigation from the NFL and the Players' Association, Tagovailoa started the game against the Bengals on Thursday Night Football just four days later.

That led to the truly frightening scene of the young quarterback getting spun to the ground by Cincinnati defensive tackle Josh Tupou and remaining prone on the ground for several minutes with his arms and hands locked before he left the field on a stretcher and was taken to a nearby hospital.

Regardless of what the team has said, many naturally will believe the two incidents are linked.

Dr Bennet Omalu, the first doctor to discover and publish findings on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in NFL players, has since pleaded with the 24-year-old to walk away from the game.

"Tua, my brother. I love you,' Omalu told TMZ. "I love you as much as I love my son. Stop playing. Stop. Hang your helmet and gallantly walk away.

"If you love your life, if you love your family, you love your kids - if you have kids - it's time to gallantly walk away. Go find something else to do.

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"He should stop. Sometimes money is not more valuable than human life. $20 billion is not worth more than your brain."

Tagovailoa will not start this weekend against the Jets and it remains to be seen when he'll take the field again or, indeed, what the investigation will find, although it has already been reported by the NFL Network that an updated concussion protocol that will rule out players who exhibit gross motor instability regardless of any possible contributing factors.

Which, of course, begs the question of why such a protocol wasn't already in place?

Game of the Week: New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers (Tottenham Hotspur Stadium)

Finally a full set for London as the Green Bay Packers become the 32nd of the NFL's 32 teams to make the trip across the pond. They do so off the back of a real scare last week when they hosted the New England Patriots as 10-point favourites but, despite ultimately facing third-string quarterback Bailey Zappe, required a Mason Crosby field-goal in overtime to ensure they come into their first UK game off the back of a victory.

After a similarly close run thing against Tampa a week prior, back-to-back MVP Aaron Rodgers has already stated that one of the NFC's supposed leading contenders can't expect such a high-wire act to keep producing wins.

There's no such gnashing of teeth over a 3-1 start to the season for the surprising New York Giants, with first-year head coach Brian Daboll finally bringing back something of a feel-good factor to Big Blue after years in the doldrums.

The first ever victory in the London series, though, could be without quarterback Daniel Jones and his back-up Tyrod Taylor for what is the week's only contest between two teams with winning records.

Quote of the Week

“I was assured multiple times from multiple people that there’s nothing else you can do. You go back and play like normal, it could happen again the next day, it could happen never again, (or) in 20 years. For months, we’ve been looking at ultrasounds of our baby boy and they’re all extremely happy. And Thursday we were looking at an ultrasound of my heart. It was very tough. But happy to be here.” - Arizona Cardinals star JJ Watt on the heart scare he suffered last week before incredibly playing in his side's win over the Carolina Panthers.

Stat of the Week

The Philadelphia Eagles, at 4-0, are the final undefeated side left in the NFL. The last such squad to go on to win the Super Bowl… the 2006 Indianapolis Colts.

Player I Wish I'd Drafted in Fantasy This Week: Ja'Marr Chase

No team in the NFL is giving up more fantasy points to wide receivers this season than the Baltimore Ravens defence and they draw one of the tougher assignments in the league on Monday Night Football, going against the Cincinnati Bengals offense.

While Chase has had a relatively quiet season so far after his role in last year's run to the Super Bowl, the Bengals secured a big win over the Dolphins last Thursday night and looked more like the side high-powered unit of a year ago.

Chase caught four of his six targets for a respectable 81 yards but figures to go higher here.

Thursday Night Football: Indianapolis Colts @ Denver Broncos

When Frank Reich and Chris Ballard signed long contract extensions last summer, Colts owner Jim Irsay said the club had as "great a coach-general manager combination as there is in the NFL."

That hasn't stopped both coming under fire in recent weeks. While Ballard has drawn criticism for once again investing draft capital in aging quarterback – this time Matt Ryan – it has been Ryan taking the lions' share of the blame for Indy's poor 1-2-1 start.

Despite having the best running back in football in Jonathan Taylor, the side's rushing output has them ranked 27th in the League. If that's one glaring issue, the other is an inability to protect the largely immobile Ryan, who has been sacked 15 times and accounted for nine fumbles. That unwanted combo has the Colts dead last in points.

Reich has turned things around in the past – in his first year the side made the play-offs despite a 1-5 start – but he is in desperate need of a win in a game where key line-backer Shaquille Leonard is ruled out.

The same can be said for Broncos first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett, who has had a chastening first month in Denver. The former Packers assistant has already had to bring in Jerry Rosburg after some embarrassing game management issues in the early weeks, while after last week's loss to the Raiders there have been murmurs that he should give up play-calling duties.

Whoever loses this one will find the pressure ramping up all the more in the season's second quarter.

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