The injury to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa continues to dominate the conversation around the Miami Dolphins because it's a story with a whole lot of angles.
Let's break down some of those:
-- The most significant, of course, centers around the timetable for Tua's return.
Head coach Brian Flores said Wednesday the injury was a week-to-week situation before correcting himself and making it day-to-day.
But there's reason to believe this injury — now diagnosed as fractured ribs — will keep Tagovailoa out at least two games, if not three.
This is what former NFL team doctor David Chao, now of ProFootballDoc.com suggested.
"With multiple rib fractures now confirmed by head coach Brian Flores based on additional testing," Chao said on Twitter, "this makes it even harder to do rib blocks because you'd have to do multiple rib blocks, increasing the risk, but also it increases the chance of a punctured lung with a second hit and a flak jacket cannot protect completely against that. With this news, it's not only that he won't play Week 3, I think it's unlikely he plays Week 4. It's even possible that he goes on a short three-week IR stint. Rib fractures start to heal in two weeks, maybe three weeks, and if he can't play now one week out from the fractures (plural), it makes unlikely he'll be able to play the following week either."
-- For comparison purposes, it was four years ago that the Dolphins had a quarterback dealing with a rib injury, and that was Jay Cutler, who was injured in a game against the New York Jets with what was described as cracked ribs. What ultimately is going to determine the length of Tua's absence is the type of fracture he sustained.
-- The Dolphins will be elevating Reid Sinnett from the practice squad to serve as Jacoby Brissett's backup Sunday, and logic would dictate the same thing would happen again in Week 4 against the Indianapolis Colts if Tua indeed isn't ready to return.
But the Dolphins then would have a roster decision to make beyond that because practice squad players can only be standard elevations (not COVID-19 replacements) twice in a season before they have to be signed to the 53-man roster or be exposed to waivers.
With the Dolphins currently at 53 players on the active roster, space would need to be created for Sinnett at some point if the plan is to eventually put him on it.
And that means somebody would have to cut or somebody would have to be put on IR, and maybe that somebody could end up being Tua if the Dolphins ultimately decide his injury would keep him out at least three games.
This is how Flores discussed Sinnett's roster situation Friday morning: “Those are all conversations that you have to have with a situation like this. I think with Tua, it’s day-to-day and we want to see how he’s doing every day. Is he making improvement? And that kind of gives us a lot of the information we need to make those types of decisions. He’s in today. He’s getting a little better every day. We’re kind of in this-day-to-day space and we’ll have a little bit more time to make a decision, to gather some more information. But, yeah, those conversations are definitely being had.”
IR rules requires players to miss three games, but for the Las Vegas game to count as one of the three for Tua (if that's the direction the Dolphins choose), the move to put him on IR would have to be made by 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.
-- Finally, there's of course the other part of the equation and that's Brissett, who will be making his first start Sunday since the 2019 season finale when he was a member of the Indianapolis Colts.
And it wasn't exactly a memorable start for Brissett.
In a 38-20 loss at Jacksonville, Brissett was 12-for-25 for 162 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions and was sacked three times. Brissett appeared in 11 games as Philip Rivers' backup for the Colts in 2020 but threw a total of eight passes.
Earlier in that 2019 season, Brissett had the best stretch of his career. In the first eight games, he threw 14 touchdowns against only three interceptions and had an impressive passer rating of 99.7.
But he never duplicated that success after coming back from an injury that forced him to leave early against Pittsburgh and caused him to miss the next week — against the Dolphins.
Brissett's confidence has never wavered, though, which was evident after the game against Buffalo when he said he's always viewed himself as a starter.
“I think that’s been my mentality since I got in the league," he said Wednesday. "I’ve been in situations where I honestly didn’t know when my chances and my opportunity was going to come. So I just wanted to make sure when I went out there I put my best foot forward and just stick with that mind-set. It’s put me in good situations.”