Barry Jackson: What has Tua been doing in first 2 months as a Dolphin? His agent, others weigh in

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A six-pack of Tua Tagovailoa notes on a Monday:

—So how has the rookie quarterback spent his first two months as a Miami Dolphin?

Tagovailoa spent the first seven weeks in Birmingham, Alabama, doing more than three hours a day of rehabilitation and strength and conditioning work with a trainer who received input from the Dolphins training staff, while also partaking in Dolphins Zoom sessions and cultivating a phone/texting relationship with new teammates.

Since moving to South Florida nine days ago, he has regularly worked out at the Dolphins’ Davie facility, rehabbing from his November hip injury while being examined by the team’s medical staff. But by league rule, he has not been permitted to speak with Dolphins coaches in person about the playbook or the team’s offense, with that work still limited to Zoom calls until the Dolphins’ offseason program ends later this week.

(Only players recovering from injuries are permitted in NFL facilities, due to coronavirus rules.)

Also, according to a source, because Tagovailoa has been busy rehabilitating and adjusting to life in South Florida last week, he has not gotten together with the Dolphins’ top receivers to throw passes — something that isn’t permitted at the team facility.

The chance of that happening before training camp is now remote, because the NFL on Saturday said it has discouraged players from partaking in informal on-field workouts until training camp, which is scheduled to begin July 28 for the Dolphins and most teams. And at least one Dolphins receiver isn’t even in South Florida.

Even though Tagovailoa could not be at the Dolphins facility until last Monday because of the NFL’s Covid-19 rules, rest assured that he’s preparing diligently for his rookie season.

That’s the word from his agent Chris Cabott, who is president and chief operating officer of Steinberg Sports & Entertainment and works in conjunction with partner Leigh Steinberg.

“He’s working incredibly hard,” Cabott said in a recent phone interview. “The success for any of these quarterbacks is to spend a ton of time in the offense, studying, reading, learning the verbiage. And the reality is that’s a multiyear process.

“He’s doing a lot of strength and conditioning. He’s primarily working with the Dolphins staff with what they’ve had him do. There are footwork drills he’s done; one of the great things about Tua is the root of accuracy is balance and the root of balance is footwork. He’s religious in what he does with his footwork drills.

“He’s spending a lot of time with the playbook and working hard and participating in Zoom meetings and learning from [teammates] in the quarterback room. He’s hungry and humble and has his head down and learning. He’s talked to some veterans and gotten some guidance from some guys. He recognizes the transition is not a short-term process. It’s a long-term process.”

—Cabott echoed what Tagovailoa and doctors have said in the wake of November’s serious hip injury: He is ready to play if the team decides to play him.

“He is physically all ready to go,” Cabott said.

Asked about an NFL Network report that Miami gave Tagovailoa $11 million of his $19.6 million signing bonus by the end of May — before it was contractually required — Cabott said: “Tua has a great rookie contract. The Dolphins worked really hard on that. It’s been a great relationship with the Dolphins.”

—Cabott, on one of the things that’s special about Tagovailoa: “Tua has an aura about him. He spreads positivity with people. He’s pleasant, authentic, loving, legitimately loving.

“When you see him in the locker room, he calls you by your name. He’s a loving soul. And positivity is part of his leadership. You never feel like you’re out of a game with Tua. He gives us that sense of hope and belief. He truly has an aura.”

—The hope is that Tagovailoa, who stands 6 feet, will join 6-0 Drew Brees and 5-11 Russell Wilson as one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks below 6-1. (Arizona’s 5-10 Kyler Murray also hopes to join that group.)

But ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky said it’s important Tagovailoa plays like Brees — not Wilson — as his NFL career unfolds.

“Tua’s biggest thing is to realize availability is a big deal in the NFL,” Orlovsky said. “You don’t have to prove how tough you are. Tua has so many incredible traits. And so often, that leads him to play a little bit too much like Russell Wilson. He needs to be more like Drew Brees and understand scrambling is not your strength; running around is not your strength.

“Your strength is getting through progressions and getting the ball out of your hands to keep you safe. That is going to be the biggest growth for him. Intellectually, he’s going to be really ready for the NFL because of the stuff he ran and learned in college.”

—If you missed this, here was Tim Tebow opining on ESPN’s “First Take:” “I think Tua is one of the most accurate, gifted quarterbacks I have ever seen coming out of college. I think he has the chance to really change a franchise. He’s that remarkable of a young kid and that unbelievable of a talent.”

—ESPN’s Rob Ninkovich, the former Patriots linebacker, predicted recently that Tagovailoa will be the NFL’s best quarterback in three years, even better than Kansas City’s Pat Mahomes…. One common topic-filler on network NFL studio shows is guessing when Tagovailoa will appear in his first NFL regular-season game. Former NFL star running back LaDanian Tomlinson, now an NFL Network pundit, goes with “late November, early December.”


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