It’s been eight months since quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had surgery on his hip after injuring it during a game for Alabama. Going into the draft, there were questions about whether that would affect him during the 2020 football season, but that didn’t stop the Miami Dolphins from taking him fifth overall.
With training camps set to kick off in a matter of weeks, questions about Tagovailoa’s hip can’t be dismissed as easily. But head coach Brian Flores still doesn’t have the answer most Dolphins fans want to hear.
Tagovailoa was recently examined by team doctors, and Flores wasn’t willing to say much about whether he’d be ready to start the Dolphins first regular season game on Sept. 13.
“Yes, he was examined, but again, ‘examined’ and then doing a two-hour practice and playing in a game — there’s a process to all those things,” Flores told the Palm Beach Post on Tuesday afternoon. “So, as far as whether or not he can or can’t do something, it would be hard to say.”
Flores needs to see Tagovailoa practice
Flores didn’t say whether Tagovailoa’s hip has improved further, because there’s no way to truly know if he’s ready to start — or even practice at full strength — until he can see Tua with his own eyes.
“My hopes don’t get high or low until I see a guy in a huddle,” Flores said. “Until I see a guy make it through practice — multiple practices — it’s hard to say we’re going to do this, that or the other thing at game speed. That’s for anyone.”
The Dolphins, who have had just one winning season since 2008, are hoping to build around Tagovailoa. Despite the injury and subsequent surgery, he was able to do on-field work in the lead-up to the draft, and he didn’t look like a guy who’d had serious surgery just months before. In a normal year, we’d probably already know whether Tua would be able to start for the Dolphins.
This isn’t a normal year, though. COVID-19 has done away with traditional offseason workouts, and the Dolphins staff (including Flores) hasn’t had a chance to evaluate him in person. Tagovailoa also hasn’t had the opportunity to work out and practice under their direct supervision. It puts him at a disadvantage, especially as a guy who’s coming back from a significant injury.
If the Dolphins decide to bring Tagovailoa along slowly, they’ll be able to start Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback until Tua is ready.
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