Jasen Vinlove / USA TODAY Sports

There’s no doubt Tua Tagovailoa wants to make his NFL debut in 2020 as soon as it is possible. And while the rookie fifth-overall pick has long been cleared to return to football following a devastating hip injury suffered in his final season with the Roll Tide, followed by passing the Dolphins team physical ahead of training camp, head coach Brian Flores simply isn’t ready to throw him to the wolves just yet. To that end, the organization will move cautiously and keep an eye on a progressing Tagovailoa, which is likely why they listed him on the first injury report of the year with a hip ailment.

Although he was a full participant on Wednesday and there are no signs of regression, it’s safe to assume the hip in question is the surgically repaired one. As it stands, there are no major concerns surrounding Tagovailoa going forward, but Flores and the Dolphins have not yet washed their hands with the injury that nearly ended his football career less than a year ago.

“That is definitely part of the conversation — for sure,” Flores said, via the Sun Sentinel. “We’re at 10 months. It was a pretty serious injury. He looks good, though. 

“… He’s healthy. He’s moving around to his right and to his left. But yes, that’s part of the conversation.”

And because it is still a part of the conversation, they’ve named Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starter against the New England Patriots, giving the veteran the nod in the final year of a two-year deal to allow Tagovailoa time to get where they need him to be — mostly in the realm of acclimation to the NFL. The move makes sense when also considering the lack of a preseason for Tagovailoa, something that’s hampering rookies around the league heading into the regular season. 

It’s unclear when the 22-year-old will get the green light as starter in Miami, and that will in large part also be determined by how well or how poorly Fitzpatrick plays. But with Tagovailoa being the future at the position, they’ll take their chances and err on the side of caution for now.


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