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Doctor explains why Tua Tagovailoa doesn’t deserve “injury prone” label

No, Tua isn’t made of glass.

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NCAA Football: Citrus Bowl-Michigan vs Alabama Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday, Tua Tagovailoa held a virtual pro day and appeared to be no worse for wear as he recovers from the gruesome hip injury suffered in November. Afterward, he spoke with old friend Mike Locksley about the workout on Instagram Live. From ESPN:

“I’m not playing badminton. I’m not on the swim team,” Tagovailoa said during an Instagram Live show with Mike Locksley, his former offensive coordinator with the Crimson Tide and the current head coach at Maryland. “[Football] is a physical sport. You’re gonna get hurt. That just comes with it. And it was just very unfortunate that I got hurt every season.

”It’s a part of the game. It’s a contact sport. I can only control what I can control. I can’t control that.”

Tua is obviously correct in his assessment of the game, but it is still notable that he had three surgeries in only two seasons as a starter. Is Tua at a higher risk of future injury than other QBs in this class?

Dr. David J. Chao, self styled @ProFootballDoc, weighed in on the matter. First, he defines “injury prone.”

That seems logical enough. The tweet above is a link, so you can click it to read the entire thread if you like. In the interest of aesthetics, I am going to screencap the rest of the tweets I place here. They always appear threaded like that otherwise, and it gets ugly.

First, on Tua’s hip injury:

This has been a general consensus from the medical community. That hip injury was nothing more than a freak occurrence that required his knee to be in just that position as all of that weight came crashing down on it. It is an injury that anyone would suffer in those circumstances, and nothing more than a continuation of the brutal luck that befell the Alabama team in 2019.

Still, Tua also had issues with both of his ankles and also broke a finger in spring camp prior to his sophomore season. Is that a concerning pattern? First, on the ankles:

I’d say this season turned out pretty well for Mahomes, and he also missed time with a knee issue. I doubt the Kansas City Chiefs plan on kicking him to the curb any time soon. Finally, Dr. Chao mentions the litany of finger problems that come up in the NFL, mostly from hitting helmets on follow through as Tua did, and then offers him some advice.

This is indeed a reasonable criticism, and something that Tua will have to learn. Ten years ago, Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford was coming off of two shoulder injuries, and then-ESPN analyst Jon Gruden made him acknowledge in the draft leadup that he is too critical to the team’s success to get hurt trying to do too much. Bradford ended up going #1 overall.

The ability to extend plays is one of the traits that makes Tua an elite QB, but there are times that you simply understand that the defense won the rep and throw the thing away so that you can make the next play.

This is especially true when a player makes “next plays” like this one.

Yeah, I will never not link that.

Hopefully Tua learns a bit about protecting himself and NFL teams use some common sense when evaluating his injuries. Nothing that has happened to him thus far in any way suggests that he will be more likely to suffer injury than any other mobile NFL QB.