Don't look now, but Tua Tagovailoa is one step closer to being the Week 1 starter in 2020 for the Miami Dolphins. Of course, head coach Brian Flores isn't going to say that out loud just yet, but all signs are pointing to it being a rapidly manifesting reality. After all, it's difficult to fathom the team would use the fifth-overall pick in 2020 to grab such a talented quarterback -- who also instantly solves its biggest need at the most important position in football -- simply to have Tagovailoa sit behind re-signed veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. And any lingering questions surrounding the former Alabama star's health have not been completely put to bed ahead of training camp.
Tagovailoa has passed his team physical and, with that, he's cleared to take the field with his teammates.
"He's through his physical," Flores told media on Wednesday, via Adam Beasley of The Miami Herald. "When there's practice, you'll see him out there."
It's fantastic news for not just the Dolphins, but Tagovailoa especially, considering he's only eight months removed from a traumatic hip injury some believed would end his football career. He's since gone on to clear one medical hurdle after another, and in miraculous fashion, often releasing conditioning videos to silence his doubters this offseason.
"He's not on [the Physically Unable to Perform list]," Flores made clear of his rookie QB. "There's an acclimation period for the next two weeks. There's strength and conditioning and walkthroughs."
Due to stringent COVID-19 protocols, teams won't be permitted to hold padded practice until Aug. 17, which gives Tagovailoa added time to ramp up for what awaits him at the NFL level. The Dolphins have struggled mightily at the quarterback position in recent years, and are likely none too pleased to discover Ryan Tannehill -- the team's former eighth-overall pick (2012) -- still had quite a bit of juice left in his tank when they traded him to the Tennessee Titans in 2019. Flores had an impressive first year as head coach in Miami despite the challenges at QB, but did often find himself waffling between Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen, the latter having been acquired last season via trade with the Arizona Cardinals.
Despite a flash here and there by both, neither presented themselves as the longterm answer for Flores, putting the club on a collision course with Tagovailoa in this year's draft. And if a now-healthy Tagovailoa can do in the NFL what he did in Tuscaloosa prior to the devastating injury, the Dolphins will be making quite the ruckus in the AFC East.