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Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore did not suffer a concussion in the team's playoff game against Pittsburgh, but the NFL and NFL Players Association determined that the team did not fully follow the league's concussion protocol before sending him back into the game two plays later.
Moore took a shot to the helmet from the Steelers' Bud Dupree and hit the back of his head hard on the ground when he fell. The primary issue with Miami allowing him to return was that its medical staff and the unaffiliated neurologist did not recognize that he was bleeding from the mouth.
The NFL issued a statement today documenting that error and advised the Dolphins that any future mishandling of the concussion protocol could result in a fine or other penalty. The report exonerated the coaching staff, which is consistent with coach Adam Gase saying after the game that he and his assistants never get involved in those situations.
"The team doctor took appropriate steps to promptly and fully involve the Unaffiliated Neuro-trauma Consultant (UNC) in the medical evaluation of the player and review of the video," the league's statement said. "They jointly cleared Mr. Moore to return to the game, but did not recognize that Mr. Moore presented a documented symptom, bleeding from the mouth, that required further evaluation in the locker room under the protocol.
"There is no indication that competitive issues had an impact on the care that Mr. Moore received, nor did Mr. Moore demonstrate any concussion symptoms either during or at any time following the game."
Dupree was assessed a roughing-the-passer penalty for the play and fined $18,321.
Moore, who had a concussion in the preseason last year, said in the Steelers game that he was never concerned that he had suffered another one on the play in question.
"I just got popped," he said. "I just needed a second there. It was more my jaw than anything else."
Dolphins vice president Mike Tannenbaum said Moore hasn't raised any objection to how his situation was handled. He also defended the doctors involved.
"We always put the health and safety of our players foremost," Tannenbaum said. "Our doctors do a really good job and do the best they can to follow the protocol. I know the unaffiliated neurologist was doing the same as well."
Ajayi expectations: Running back Jay Ajayi topped 1,200 yards and ran for more than 200 yards in three games this season, but general manager Chris Grier believes there is much more to come.
"I think he's just scratched the surface of what he can be," Grier said Wednesday at the Senior Bowl. "He'll become more patient at times. Part of it, too, is the offensive line, guys have to stay healthy. He's adjusting to different guys in here or there. With Jay, one thing is he wants to be good. He wants to be great. He's young. And he knows there are things he can improve on. But we're excited for his future. It's up to us to make sure we keep adding good players and keep upgrading the offensive line so that we can make sure he become a factor for years to come."
A factor for years to come.
That is a telling remark. The Dolphins view Ajayi, who will play in Sunday's NFL Pro Bowl in Orlando, as a key cog of the future.
Grier downplayed the idea that Miami didn't believe in Ajayi's upside because they brought in veteran Arian Foster before last season.
"We always thought Jay was a good player," Grier said. "And if you remember, we said Jay was going to be the starter when coach Adam (Gase) got here. I said the one thing we always talked about is it's a really young room. We were looking for a veteran guy that could come in and be a mentor. We told Arian, 'You're going to be a 10-carry guy, a 4-5 catch guy but we're going to play these young guys, too.' "
Suh has surgery: Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh had a knee injury that required "minor" surgery according to Tannenbaum.
Suh is going to miss the Pro Bowl in Orlando.
"It was just a very minor knee cleanout," Tannenbaum said. "But he'll be fine and ready to go for the offseason program."
While the Dolphins still don't know if quarterback Ryan Tannehill will require knee surgery, the Dolphins said they knew of no other players who had undergone surgery since the season ended.
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