Yesterday was the first padded practice for the Miami Dolphins.
All NFL teams are adjusting to a new practice schedule amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and cancelation of preseason games. Despite the cancelation, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is determined to have a 2020-2021 NFL season.
Miami was one of the few surprise teams toward the end of the 2019 season, winning five out of nine games showing it would compete no matter the win/loss record.
The Dolphins were the most active during the start of this offseason, going out and grabbing some key pieces to boost their depth on both sides of the football in hopes of pulling off a shocker in the AFC East. With adding double-digit pieces to their defense, can they be a division contender?
Monday was the first day with pads and contact practice, and everyone was in attendance with the exception of cornerback Xavien Howard who has been placed on the COVID-19/Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list. It’s safe to say most people were excited to see how new quarterback Tua Tagovailoa started these practices, as well as how he faired with the other QB competition.
QB Tua Tagavailoa
The expectations for Tagovailoa should be kept at a cautious minimum for the upcoming season. Unless something drastic happens to QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tagovailoa should enter 2020 as at least the QB No. 2.
Tagovailoa is coming off a bad hip injury that required surgery. The Dolphins are taking every precaution to allow him to complete a full recovery and proved confident in him to draft him with their No. 5 overall pick. Tagovailoa looks to be on the right track, taking reps with the first-team offense. A majority of his plays showed him practicing handoffs, but he did get a couple shots on corner and slant routes.
“We’ll take it one day at a time. He has looked healthy in the OTAs and walkthrough type practices. This will be the first one in pads,” head coach Brian Flores said. “We’re taking this one day at a time with Tua, as we are with every player, and hoping that he improves on a daily basis. Like any rookie, he needs the snaps and he needs the reps to improve and get better and give himself a chance.”
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QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
Fitzpatrick is expected to be the team’s starter for week one when the season kicks off in New England. Despite Flores saying the QB competition is an open one, Fitzpatrick took the most reps with the first team yesterday. If Miami does choose to replace all five starters from 2019 on the offensive line, risking injuring Tagovailoa with a OL that will have growing pains won’t be worth it. Fitzpatrick is showing no signs of handing the job over, proving he still has the connection with No. 1 wide receiver DeVante Parker who were connecting on dimes yesterday to begin practices. Miami also saw him working well with rehabbing No. 2 WR Preston Williams and potential No. 3 WR Jakeem Grant.
QB Josh Rosen
Rosen still seems to be the odd-man-out in the QB room, and while he should make the team, its likely maintenance and coronavirus-prep at this point. He still has three years remaining on his contract in Miami, but after losing the starting job multiple times in 2019 and the drafting of Tagovailoa, he looks to be a backup at best with the Dolphins. He should however stay ahead of No. 4 QB Jake Rudock who looks to again be placed on the practice squad again like last season.