Washington linebacker M.J. Tafisi is “doing well” after suffering what head coach Chris Petersen called “a significant stinger” in the third quarter of UW’s 51-27 victory over Arizona last weekend.
Initially, the injury looked much worse. The 6-foot, 235-pound redshirt freshman lay on his back on the Arizona Stadium turf for several minutes while trainers attended to him and teammates prayed by his side. Tafisi was eventually moved to a backboard and then taken off the field on a cart, before being transported to a local hospital.
“When the trainers react like that and the doctors, which is the appropriate way to react, they’re very in tune to how guys fall and land and what it’s looking like,” Petersen said. “They were out there before I even knew anything. It’s unsettling to everybody. But you can kind of see how he was reacting once he calmed down. He was unsettled himself, like ‘What’s going on?’
“By the time they got him off the field, you never know about any of those things, but you felt better. He was moving. But all that stuff is scary.”
Tafisi was released from the hospital on Saturday evening and flew home to Seattle with his teammates. Petersen said Monday that UW’s team doctors “got him checked out again here yesterday. He was with us yesterday at the team meetings.”
He added that the West Jordan, Utah, product did not sustain a concussion and that the stinger was due to a shoulder tackle that did not appear to involve the head.
On Sunday, Tafisi tweeted, “Letting everyone know that I’m doing fine! Appreciate the love from everyone! Can’t wait to compete with my brothers again!”
As for a possible return to action for Tafisi, Petersen was understandably hesitant to provide a timeline Monday. The inside linebacker has contributed 13 tackles in seven games this season in a reserve role.
“A lot of times when it’s that type of injury, it’s been more head-related in my experience,” Petersen said. “It’s concussion, a guy’s been knocked out for a little bit or something like that, so that’s (where we involve) the concussion protocol. You sit them down for a couple weeks to make sure everything’s really good.
“But it’s not necessarily that, so I don’t really have much experience on this one. I know we’ll be really cautious. We always are. That’s the awesome thing about where we are with this game. Everybody’s on top of this stuff. There’s no messing around with head and neck injuries. Everybody’s going to err on the side of caution, which is exactly what it should be. There are certain protocols they take these guys through in terms of headaches, strength, coming back, feeling, all those things.
“So we’ll make good and sure he’s darn ready to come back whenever that is.”