HOUSTON — Jaylen Waddle boosted his connection with Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa as the two former Alabama teammates reunited during the wide receiver’s prolific rookie season.
Their collaboration was successful as Waddle seamlessly transitioned to the NFL as an all-rookie selection who set an NFL rookie record with 104 receptions for a franchise record 1,015 receiving yards to go with seven touchdowns.
Tagovailoa, one of the more scrutinized quarterbacks in the NFL, has drawn heavy praise this offseason from Waddle, fellow wide receiver Tyreek Hill, and new coach Mike McDaniel.
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Waddle, who has set his ambitions for a big second NFL season, is convinced the arrow is pointing up for the Dolphins and Tagovailoa, who went 7-5 as a starter last season and completed 67.8% of his throws for 2,653 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions for a 90.1 passer rating.
The chemistry between Tagovailo and Waddle is expected to continue to improve during their second NFL season together.
“Tua is great,” Waddle said Saturday during a youth football camp hosted by Dolphins corner Xavien Howard. “I think, a great leader. Real confident, got a lot of swag to him. Tua is going to be alright.”
Joined by Hill following an offseason trade from the Kansas City Chiefs, Waddle, drafted sixth overall last season, averaged 9.8 yards per reception. The Houston native is looking to increase his yards after the catch in his second NFL season.
“I’m just going to say to play consistent, in and out every week, continue to make plays, and just try to play my game week in and week out,” Waddle said. “I think my coaching staff, my teammates, put a lot of confidence in me throughout the week. That definitely went into Sundays and made Sundays a lot better.”
The Dolphins’ players, under McDaniel as the replacement for former coach Brian Flores, are encouraged by the outlook for the AFC East franchise. The Dolphins went 9-8 last season and didn’t qualify for the playoffs. They finished 25th in total offense and 17th in passing offense.
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Besides hiring McDaniel and trading for Hill, they signed veteran offensive tackle Terron Armstead as a free agent, inked Howard to a contract extension, retained pass rusher Emmanuel Ogbah, and franchise-tagged tight end Mike Gesicki. Additionally, Miami signed quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to back up Tagovailoa, who has a history of injuries, and signed experienced running backs Sony Michel, Chase Edmonds, and Raheem Mostert.
“I think it’s a good time,” Waddle said. “We got some new players. Everybody that came in are great guys, and I think will help us get to where we want to go.”