Xavien Howard says Miami Dolphins have ‘next-man-up mentality’ regarding Tua Tagovailoa’s injury: ‘We got to keep it going’

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Miami Dolphins star cornerback Xavien Howard said that the team has a “next-man-up mentality” with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa out of the lineup for the team’s playoff game against the Buffalo Bills.

“(Tua) hasn’t played in two weeks,” Howard said. “We’re the next-man-up mentality. We got to keep it going. We just got to play.”

The Dolphins are planning to start rookie seventh-round pick Skylar Thompson on Sunday against Buffalo with Tagovailoa out with a concussion.

Usually, backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater would be the man to turn to with Tagovailoa injured, but he hurt his throwing hand in Week 17 against the New England Patriots. That has put the Dolphins in a tough spot, even though Thompson was able to lead them to a win in Week 18.

The rookie completed 20 of his 31 pass attempts for 152 yards against the New York Jets in Week 18. The Dolphins pulled off an ugly 11-6 victory, and it was enough to get them into the playoffs this season.

Now, Miami has a much tougher matchup in the wild-card round of the playoffs, as Buffalo is the No. 2 seed in the AFC. The Dolphins played the Bills twice in the regular season, but Tagovailoa was able to play in both of those games.

The third-year quarterback led the Dolphins to a win at home against Buffalo, but the team lost by just three points in the second meeting of the season with the Bills.

There’s no doubt Tagovailoa is the Dolphins’ best option at quarterback, but he has not cleared concussion protocol. The University of Alabama product suffered his second confirmed concussion of the season against the Green Bay Packers in Week 16.

Howard and the Dolphins have no choice but to get behind Thompson and hope that he can play at a high enough level to keep the team in the game.

Since Miami’s offense may be limited with Thompson under center, it will be up to Howard and the defense to slow down a high-powered Buffalo attack to keep the Dolphins competitive.

Miami gave up just 19 points the first time these teams faced off, but Buffalo played much better in the second meeting at home. The Bills scored 32 points in that game and quarterback Josh Allen threw for 304 yards and four touchdowns.

The Dolphins have their work cut out for them in the playoffs, but Howard has the right mentality as the team attempts to embrace an underdog role.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.