Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel – Too early to call QB vs. Vikings


MIAMI — It’s too early to tell whether Miami Dolphins rookie Skylar Thompson will start Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, coach Mike McDaniel said Monday.

With quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Teddy Bridgewater both in concussion protocol with no firm timeline to return, the Dolphins may turn to 2022 seventh-round pick Thompson to make his first career start and, ideally, snap a two-game losing streak.

It’s not, however, something McDaniel feels like he has enough information on to speculate this early in the week.

“It’s too soon for me to really pinpoint that,” he said. “There’s, again, I kind of have to wait and assess the whole situation, which I do not have in scope. What I do know is that Skylar will be practicing on Wednesday and hopefully Wednesday I’ll have a better feel of the direction that we should go that’s best for the football team.”

During Sunday’s 40-17 loss to the New York Jets, Thompson filled in for Bridgewater, who was placed in concussion protocol after just one offensive snap. Thompson finished the game with 166 yards on 19-of-33 passing. He also threw an interception and lost a fumble in what McDaniel called a “rough rookie outing.”

Tagovailoa has been in concussion protocol since Week 4. He has been in the Dolphins’ building but hasn’t progressed enough yet to start doing football activities, McDaniel said, and is being evaluated every 12 to 24 hours.

Meanwhile, Bridgewater continues to show no symptoms of a concussion after passing his evaluation during Sunday’s game. He was removed from the game after a booth ATC spotter believed he saw Bridgewater stumble after taking a hard hit from Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner, triggering the recently added “ataxia” clause in the NFL’s concussion protocol.

The amendment states that any player who is diagnosed with ataxia — which is an “abnormality of balance/stability, motor coordination or dysfunctional speech caused by a neurological issue” — will be prohibited from returning to the game and will require follow-up care.

Dolphins captains Terron Armstead and Tyreek Hill also sustained injuries in Sunday’s game. Armstead, the Dolphins’ starting left tackle, remained in New York overnight to see a specialist for a toe injury that has bothered him since Week 1. McDaniel said the appointment went well and that Armstead is back in Florida. The hope is for him to play Sunday but McDaniel said he trusts Armstead implicitly in the process.

“The one thing I’ve learned with Terron is I can trust him as much as I’ve ever trusted any player,” he said. “So I know one thing, he will do whatever it takes to play Sunday. The one thing that myself, the coaching staff and his teammates know is if he’s not able to play, it’s because he’s physically unable to play. So [I’m] trusting that process and excited that he’s taken a step to get that thing healthy.”

Hill left MetLife Stadium wearing a walking boot on his left foot but McDaniel said the wide receiver “looked pretty good” Monday. He called Hill a “fast healer” and said the Dolphins will take his status day by day.

Starting cornerbacks Xavien Howard and Byron Jones also missed Sunday’s game and while McDaniel said he doesn’t expect to activate Jones, who is on the physically unable to perform list after Achilles surgery in March, Howard has a better chance at playing Sunday.

If Thompson does have to start Sunday, McDaniel said he is confident in what the rookie can accomplish after a week of getting starter’s reps — especially after what he was able to do in his first NFL action.

“Being a backup quarterback in this league is not easy,” McDaniel said. “And what people don’t understand is you have a finite amount of reps during the week because you can’t deplete your athletes and you can’t have endless amount of reps. So typically, starters get anywhere from 80 to 100% of the practice reps. So a backup quarterback, especially a rookie, it’s a tremendous challenge because you have to own the whole game plan, visualize it, be able to call it, be able to line people up and then execute appropriately.”

The Dolphins have lost consecutive games after starting the season 3-0. They have a favorable schedule coming up with only one of their next six games coming against an opponent with a winning record — this week’s game against the 4-1 Vikings.

Regardless of their opponent, they’re not looking too deeply into these losses and are confident in their ability to bounce back.

“You can have any excuse, any reason for any loss that you want and I think being a professional football player and being a guy in the locker room, you know the talent’s there,” fullback Alec Ingold said. “You know the coaches are there. You know the pieces of the puzzle are there. We’ve proven that, like you said. It’s just about us coming together as a team, finding our formula to win, having a standard and sticking to it.

“I feel like those are all simple answers that you can give but it’s really hard to do on a week-to-week basis. That’s what separates good teams from great.”

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