Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa ‘on a mission.’ How he’s spending his offseason

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Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa didn’t participate in the Miami Dolphins’ rookie minicamp on Friday — high draft picks in their second season typically don’t — but he’s on a “mission” this offseason to improve.

That’s according to Nick Hicks, his South Florida-based trainer.

Appearing on the Miami on the Rockets podcast, Hicks said: “Tua is an amazing person. I’ve never met anybody like him. He’s an insanely hard worker. He’s all gas, no brakes.

“I show up at his house super early; we put in work. Little break, then he leaves me at the field and he works some more. Then he goes home and watches film. He’s on a mission. He’s different.”

Hicks said that Tagovailoa has “never really had a full year to actually train and get better. Look at what happened to him the last year and a half and he had pretty good rookie numbers. Peyton Manning his rookie year? Terrible. Josh Allen his rookie year? Terrible.”

Tagovailoa finished his rookie season with a 6-3 record in nine starts, with 11 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, an 87.1 passer rating and an average of 200.5 yards passing in his nine starts.

Allen, as a Buffalo rookie, had a 5-6 record, a 67.9 passer rating, 181.9 yards passing per game in his starts, 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

Manning, with Colts, was 3-13 with 26 touchdowns, 28 interceptions, a 71.2 passer rating and 233.7 yards passing per game in his starts.

Asked specifically what he and Tagovailoa are doing, Hicks said: “I’m not allowed to talk too much about Tua, because we had a specific ideology of what this offseason is going to be. There was so much doubt... We’re trying to keep things under wraps.”

But Hicks noted strength and confidence are areas among the keys for his success.

“A healthy Tua is a confident Tua and a confident Tua is a Super Bowl contender guaranteed,” Hicks said. “And that’s our goal to make him healthy. And we’re doing a damn good job right now.”

Tagovailoa sustained a serious hip injury at Alabama in a game in November 2019, but the Dolphins said he was healthy and available all last season. He did not end the season with any injury that was disclosed by the team.

Dolphins receiver Jaylen Waddle, who played with Tagovailoa at Alabama, said he has been in touch with the second-year quarterback for input as Waddle learns the playbook.

“I call him and he gives me advice, helps me out,” Waddle said.

Waddle’s assessment of Tagovailoa: “Natural born leader, confident, knows what to do, very smart.”

THIS AND THAT

Fullback Carl Tucker, who played with Waddle at Alabama last season, was asked the moment that gave him appreciation for how special a player Waddle could be.

“First practice at Bama, I had to be the lead blocker and he zoomed past me and I was trying to stay in front of him and he coasted right past me,” Tucker said.

Waddle said he hasn’t wondered how his elite speed will translate to the NFL and whether he will be able to consistently run past defenders.

His focus now, he said, is “being in the right position, not make the same mistake twice.”

Among the factors that should help third-round tight end Hunter Long: He played in two very different offenses at Boston College.

“The first offense I was in was run heavy,” he said Friday. “We ran 70 times a game. Last year was pro style, passed 70 times a game. I got to learn from both systems. That helped my game at both aspects of the position.”

Long said he plans to study tape of 2020 Dolphins games to learn how the team uses tight ends. George Godsey, who coached tight ends last season, is the new co-offensive coordinator and potential play-caller.

“I’ve seen the Dolphins a little bit in Patriot country,” Long said. “I’m going to take in as much film as possible.”

He hasn’t yet spoken with veterans Mike Gesicki, Durham Smythe and Adam Shaheen. The Dolphins also signed former Bengals tight end Cethan Carter this offseason.

Dolphins coach Brian Flores’ message to the rookies this weekend?

According to seventh-round offensive tackle Larnel Coleman, “he told us this is a real learning weekend, make sure you’re in your playbook and make sure we come out of this weekend healthy and better in terms of knowing the playbook.”

The Dolphins rookies did on-field work on Friday, but it was closed to the public and media.

The camp includes seven rookie draft picks; five undrafted rookie signings (Tucker, cornerback Jaytlin Askew, defensive tackle Jerome Johnson, offensive lineman Robert Jones and tight end Jabri Blount); and several players on tryouts: linebacker Joey Alfieri (Stanford), linebacker John Lako (Akron), center Nate Trewyn (Wisconsin-Whitewater), wide receiver Aleva Hilo (BYU) and former Miami Hurricanes defensive lineman Chigozie Nnoruka.

Several young veterans also are participating, including young cornerbacks Tino Ellis and Javaris Davis; linebacker Kylan Johnson; defensive end Nick Coe; safety Brian Cole; guard Durval-Queiroz Neto; offensive tackle Jonathan Hubbard; long snapper Rex Sunahara and quarterback Reid Sinnett, plus former UTEP quarterback Kai Locksley (now a wide receiver).

Here’s my Friday Miami Heat piece with exclusive details on Victor Oladipo’s knee surgery and a potential timetable for his return.

Here’s my Friday Florida Panthers piece, with thoughts from ESPN’s Barry Melrose and much more.

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