By Amir Vera and Matt Foster, CNN
Miami Dolphins quarterback Teddy Bridgewater took a big hit Sunday and was unable to return to the game because of the new concussion protocol that went into effect the same day, making Bridgewater one of the first players to be sidelined under the new rules.
Bridgewater suffered a blow to the head during his first snap of the game when he was tackled to the ground after throwing the ball. The Dolphins tweeted that he was evaluated for injuries to both his head and elbow and later announced he was ruled out of the game.
“Basically what happened was a spotter saw him [Bridgewater] stumble, and under the new rules and changes he is ruled out and placed in the protocol,” said Mike McDaniel, Dolphins head coach. “He doesn’t have any symptoms and he’s passed his evaluation but he’ll be now, under the new regulations, in the concussion protocol.”
Bridgewater was starting in place of Tua Tagovailoa, who was also placed on concussion protocol.
CNN has reached out to the Miami Dolphins for more information. The National Football League uses ATC spotters, who are independent certified athletic trainers, to monitor all games. The spotters “serve as another set of eyes, watching for possible injuries at every NFL game,” according to NFL Football Operations.
Stumbling is a considered a sign of ataxia as it demonstrates impaired motor function. The league defines ataxia as “abnormality of balance/stability, motor coordination or dysfunctional speech caused by a neurological issue.”
The protocol modification announced by the NFL and NFL Player’s Association Saturday said a player showing signs of ataxia while being evaluated for a concussion would be prohibited from returning to the game.
The protocols were updated Saturday in an agreement between the league and the NFLPA, coming in response to the injury of Tagovailoa. The 24-year-old was injured during the September 25 game against the Buffalo Bills, but was able to return to play despite appearing awkward on his feet and stumbling over himself.
Four days later, on September 29, Tagovailoa was slammed to the ground by Cincinnati Bengals defensive lineman Josh Tupou. The quarterback’s arms and fingers immediately contorted into a gruesome position known as the “fencing response,” a sign of brain injury, and he lay motionless on the field for several minutes.
He was ultimately placed on a backboard and stretcher and taken to a hospital, where he was diagnosed with a concussion.
The NFLPA launched a review into the handling of Tagovailoa’s injury and terminated the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant who was involved in Tagovailoa’s concussion evaluation.
In the aftermath of the Tagovailoa saga, more players have been ruled out of games.
Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts running back, was ruled out for the rest of Thursday’s game against the Denver Broncos with a concussion. Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers tight end, was ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills. Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints wide receiver, was also ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks.
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CNN’s Jill Martin and Ben Morse contributed to this report.