With all the uncertainty throughout this offseason, rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is still an unknown for Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores.
The Dolphins selected the University of Alabama product No. 5 overall in April’s draft, but Flores still hasn’t seen him on the practice field due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tagovailoa underwent hip surgery in November, but he was able to do on-field workouts before the draft.
The Dolphins had him in for a medical exam in March before the shutdown, but a lack of practice time makes his availability for early this season unknown.
Ryan Fitzpatrick started 13 games for the Dolphins last season, and he enters training camp as the presumed starter. Josh Rosen started the other three games last season, and he’s still on the roster.
Before Tagovailoa can overtake Fitzpatrick, Flores wants to see how he responds on the field with NFL players.
“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. “So, as far as whether or not he can or can’t do something, it would be hard to say.
“My hopes don’t get high or low until I see a guy in a huddle. 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.”
That’s not exactly positive news for those expecting the rookie to start immediately, but it is rational thinking from Flores.
Fitzpatrick is a proven starter and great stopgap before Tagovailoa takes over.
The Hawaiian will take over at some point, but there’s no sense in rushing him amid the circumstances. The lack of practice time, combined with Tagovailoa’s injury history, makes starting Fitzpatrick a no-brainer.