MIAMI -- Miami Dolphins rookie quarterback Skylar Thompson was physically unable to return to Sunday's 24-16 loss to the Minnesota Vikings after he left in the first half with a thumb injury to his throwing hand, coach Mike McDaniel said.
Thompson, who made his first career start, appeared to hit his right hand on a Vikings defender's helmet while attempting a pass in the second quarter. He left for the locker room and did not return until the third quarter -- but only to the sideline, not to the game.
The seventh-round pick completed 7 of 13 passes for 89 yards before leaving. McDaniel confirmed he would have "definitely stayed with" Thompson had he been able to proceed but noted he "didn't have any strength holding the ball."
Teddy Bridgewater finished the game in place of Thompson, completing 23 of 34 passes for 329 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
It marked the third straight week that the Dolphins' starting quarterback was unable to finish the game. Tua Tagovailoa sustained a concussion in Week 4, and Bridgewater was placed in concussion protocol after just one snap in Week 5.
Miami also is now on a three-game losing streak after starting the season with three straight wins. McDaniel, however, said he refuses to isolate the team's quarterback luck as the driving force behind the losses.
"You can look at it as a reason for X, Y or Z -- I challenge the guys not to," he said. "We have a lot of faith in all the players that we have on this team, and the quarterbacks that we've been working with since last April, any one of them we have high expectations to go execute and succeed. Now, of course it's not ideal. You want the guys that get all the reps during the week to play, but you always know that that's a possibility.
"I'm going to demand that the team does not point at that to be a reason for what's happened or a reason for the loss. I think that's the easy thing to do. I think that's the path of least resistance, and generally the path of least resistance doesn't lend the results that an ambitious, convicted, all-in players' team, organization wants. Yeah, there's always difficulties and adversity within NFL football games. I thought we had the capability to overcome that, and we didn't."
Thompson wasn't the only Dolphins player to leave Sunday's game with an injury. Cornerback Nik Needham was carted off the field with a lower leg injury that a source confirmed is a torn Achilles tendon that will sideline him for the rest of the season. Linebacker Trey Flowers and cornerback Keion Crossen also left with foot and knee injuries, respectively, and did not return.
Tagovailoa cleared concussion protocol Saturday and is expected to start next week against the Steelers, a source previously told ESPN's Adam Schefter.
His return will be welcome for a Dolphins offense that has struggled to score without him.
McDaniel reiterated that he won't take the "easy out" of blaming Miami's quarterback injuries for its three-game losing streak. He admitted it's "not ideal" but added that he's confident in the Dolphins' ability to right the ship with their next five games coming against teams with losing records.
"Every indication that I've had since I've been in the building, I don't have anything to worry about how players are -- how the organization, how staff, how the coaching staff, how people are going to respond," he said. "We will find out if -- that's the great thing about the game of football. It checks you. There's nowhere to hide and you work really hard, and as a team we fell short. It's one of my favorite things about football, is that it's not for everybody, and this is difficult, but so? We've had three games in a row where we've finished a game with a different quarterback than we've started with. And? I don't think anybody has the mindset that, well, that's the reason why we're losing.
"We're fully capable of winning this game. I think that's obvious to everybody. It's a simple, simple formula. You look at the tape. You don't hide from it. And then you move forward and try to use the learning experience to get better in the middle stretch of the season, pushing forward to the end."