Barring setback, Dolphins say Tagovailoa is ready to return

Sports

Miami Dolphins quarterbacks coach Charlie Frye works with Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) during practice at Baptist Health Training Complex in Hard Rock Stadium on Wednesday, October 13, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida, in preparation for their game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on Sunday, October 17.(David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP)

January 01 2022 12:00 am

Barring a setback, Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is ready for his comeback.

Tagovailoa returns to his starting role Sunday when the Dolphins play the Jacksonville Jaguars in London, after missing most of the last four games — all of them Miami losses — with fractured ribs.

Dolphins coach Brian Flores made the announcement Friday, a few hours after the team made the overnight flight from Miami to England.

“Assuming everything goes well in practice, Tua’s going to start the game,” Flores said.

Not all the injury news was good for Miami on Friday, though. The Dolphins ruled cornerback Xavien Howard (shoulder, groin) and wide receiver DeVante Parker (shoulder, hamstring) out for Sunday.

Tagovailoa being back sets up a rematch of the quarterbacks from the College Football Playoff national championship game from the 2018 season, when Clemson topped Tagovailoa and Alabama 44-16. Trevor Lawrence played quarterback for Clemson in that game; the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft is in line to start for Jacksonville (0-5) on Sunday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

“I know they’re hungry for a win as a team, and for us as a team, we’re hungry for a win as well,” Tagovailoa said.

He said this was his first trip out of the U.S.; one of his initial takeaways was how he’d never seen driving on what Americans would consider “the other” side of the road, as is done in England.

“It’s awesome. It’s different,” Tagovailoa said.

The Dolphins can only hope his return brings different results, too.

All signs were pointing toward Tagovailoa’s return to the lineup throughout the week, starting with the Dolphins designating him for a return off what was a three-week stint on injured reserve. He was hurt during the second series of Miami’s Week 2 loss to Buffalo, fracturing the ribs on a first-quarter sack by A.J. Epenesa.

He practiced Wednesday and Thursday, without major issues, which put him in line for the start.

“Tua has stepped in and just been him,” Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle said.

Jacoby Brissett started each of Miami’s last three games while Tagovailoa was on injured reserve. The Dolphins beat New England in the season opener with Tagovailoa playing, and are 0-4 since — plummeting to near the bottom of the NFL in virtually every major offensive category.

“We’re excited to have Tua back, there’s no doubt about that,” Flores said. “But there’s 53 guys on the team, 48 can play on game day, so it’s never one person that’s the reason. We have to play together as a team. It’s 11 guys on offense, 11 guys on defense, 11 guys on special teams. It’s never one person.”

Tagovailoa clearly thinks the same way.

“The way I kind of look at it, all 11 have to go out there and do our jobs,” Tagovailoa said.

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