Tua Tagovailoa might be at the point where his hip is less of a concern than a shortened offseason is.
The Miami Dolphins’ first-round quarterback has signed his contract and — most importantly — is ready for action, health-wise, he said.
“I’d say I’m ready to go,” Tagovailoa said, via USA Today. “It’s kind of [one of] those things where you start getting the itch to get back out on the field, to be able to compete. It’s going to be a new setting, so that’s what’s even more exciting.”
The new setting isn’t just the jump from Alabama to the NFL. It’s also dealing with a wiped-out offseason program, zero preseason games and an unusual training-camp format amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
But Tagovailoa appears confident that head coach Brian Flores and the rest of the Dolphins’ coaching staff have an actionable plan for getting back to hands-on work.
“I’m confident in what the Dolphins are going to have us doing, as well as the NFL," Tagovailoa said. “I think they have the [players’ best interests]. I’d say as of right now, we just don’t know the full details of what our schedule is going to look like from a day-to-day process yet, as well as a week-to-week process.”
The Dolphins clearly felt comfortable with the progress of Tagovailoa’s recovery from a hip fracture and dislocation last November to select him No. 5 overall in the 2020 NFL draft this spring. Miami is banking on our No. 4 overall prospect’s high-level talent to fill the quarterback void that has been more empty than filled since Dan Marino’s retirement in 1999.
But will that be early on this season?
Competing for starting job without preseason games
Flores has a nice insurance plan in place with veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick on the roster, who played very well down the stretch. The two are expected to battle for the starting job in August, although how that plays out without the benefit of preseason action is going to be fascinating to watch unfold.
Tagovailoa said he’s willing to defer to the coaching staff for when he gets his shot.
“I think the way I stay myself is, I just go out there and do whatever I can to help the team,” Tagovailoa said. “If helping the team looks like me being on the sideline and telling [Fitzpatrick] what I’ve seen, then that’s what it is. Or whoever the quarterback is out there.”
Dolphins rookies are expected to report to the team’s facility Thursday for initial COVID testing, and training camp is expected open on July 27, barring any last-minute alterations. Although Tagovailoa has been one of the rare exceptions to report to the team’s facility while rehabbing, he’s now embarking on his first real tests: the health of his hip and how quickly he can acclimate to the league under unique circumstances.
He says he’s ready, even as he vaults into the unknown.
“This is totally different,” Tagovailoa said. “And everyone’s experiences are different. You can ask for guidance from guys that have played before. But really, your experience is going to be different than everyone else’s. So you got to take it just day by day. Learn from the veterans. Learn from the guys, what they have to say.
“I think depending on how you take that information, and depending on how much you study and how much you do on your alone time, it’s going to dictate how successful or not successful you become, I think, in this league.”
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