Miami Dolphins training camp observations: Inside the mind of Tua Tagovailoa

On the opening day of the Miami Dolphins' 2022 training camp, Tua Tagovailoa's confidence was a big topic of conversation.

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The Miami Dolphins opened training camp Wednesday, going through a brisk workout under the leadership of first-time head coach Mike McDaniel. Here are the biggest news, quotes, observations, and takeaways from Day 1 of the summer.

All eyes on Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa

Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s morning on the practice field was brief — and relatively uneventful.

Over the course of just 80 hot minutes here Wednesday, Tagovailoa was asked to throw the ball just a handful of times in team drills — and not once downfield.

He unofficially completed three of five attempts for roughly 30 yards and had two designed throws blown up by pass-rush pressure. He nearly had a pass intercepted by ascending cornerback Noah Igbinoghene.

It was a run-heavy installation day for the Dolphins’ offense, and by our rough estimation, Tagovailoa got fewer passing chances than his backup, Teddy Bridgewater.

But with Tua, the evaluation is never just what he does. It’s also what he says.

Earlier in the morning, McDaniel acknowledged that “Tua is super hard on himself, which is a good thing, but anything in excess isn’t the best thing either. He’s very – he holds himself at a high standard, so I don’t want that to impede when things don’t go the way he wants. I don’t want that to impede the next play. So I’m looking – I said it about the whole team, but specifically with the quarterback, he has such a natural football presence on the football field that who cares if there’s one read this way or that way. Again, like every quarterback, it’s not if but when. So those short-term memories, that’s what I think you can really work on in the training camp right now and moving forward as the leader of our team.”

Tagovailoa didn’t dispute the premise that he can dwell a bit on the negative. And Wednesday, the perfectionist found plenty of nits to pick.

“I’m always hard on myself,” Tagovailoa said. “I will never say I had the best practice or it was a great practice. I think overall, it was a good first day of practice. Obviously, there are things we can work on. It’s the best when you get to come back, you get to get back on the field, throw to the guys, see coverage again, get back into the groove of things. Once you get into your rhythm, that’s where things start to as we click on both sides.”

Tagovailoa later added that criticism from the outside is irrelevant to him and that he only values feedback from people in his inner circle.

Our take: The more Tua sees and reacts, and the less he thinks, the better the Dolphins will be in 2022.

Dolphins thrilled that Tyreek Hill is Tua’s hype man

If Tua — who is entering a potentially career-defining season — ever gets too down on himself, he simply needs to go over to new receiver Tyreek Hill, who won’t hesitate to pick him up.

Hill and Tagovailoa didn’t connect in team drills but had a gorgeous deep sideline completion in 7-on-7, with Hill beating backups Sheldrick Redwine and D’Angelo Ross in coverage.

It was the kind of pinpoint pass that led Hill this week to declare that Tua is the NFL’s most accurate player. He’s not, as we explained, but we applaud the support Hill shows his QB.

Tua and McDaniel approve too.

“you really appreciate when people believe in each other, and you guys will get to know Tyreek more and more as we progress,” McDaniel said. “But one thing that I didn’t know before having the opportunity to work with him is you’re looking at probably if not the No. 1, he’s right up there as one of the most competitive players I’ve ever been around in my life. And part of how Tyreek has become who he is, is because he is brash, extremely convicted and competitive and that’s his driving force. And if Tyreek is saying it, it’s because he believes it.

“So all that led me – I do have some wherewithal. I understand that that’s an aggressive statement, but I can promise you that Tyreek didn’t get to where he is by thinking that he was an average receiver. It’s because that’s how he thinks and they’re developing a great, great relationship and rapport. So we all know – I know what you guys know – is that Tyreek believes in his quarterback, and that’s a good thing, and they moving forward will continue to work together to make that relationship as good as it could possibly be.”

Added Tua on Hill: “Tyreek is someone that has established himself in this league. To have the support from him means a lot. I’m glad to have him as my teammate.”

Mike McDaniel keeps it brief

Not every practice is going to clock in at under an hour and a half. But many will — which is by design. McDaniel sees more downside than upside in having long practices and plans to do more with less.

“Your job is to maximize the athlete at his craft,” McDaniel said. “So my personal philosophy, the one that we’re imploring here, is that we have full speed, effort and intensity on all the plays in practice.

“To do that, we don’t do as many reps as maybe – practice wont be as long as maybe you’ve been around previously. But it’s all because it’s built towards there’s no such thing as just going through the motions. When we practice, we want to practice with an intent and a purpose and a speed and a veracity that separates ourselves from the rest of the league.”

More Dolphins training camp observations

  • Cornerback Byron Jones began training camp on the physically unable to perform list but “is fully expecting” to be ready for Week 1, per McDaniel. He had surgery in March to repair an undisclosed ankle/Achilles injury.
  • Jones’ absence has created what McDaniel called “a tremendous opportunity” for former first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene. And on Wednesday, he took advantage of it. “I feel like he’s locked in right now,” Howard said. “It’s the first day. It’s a long camp. We have to get better each day. He made a play on the ball, I said, ‘You’ve got to do that every day.'”
  • Left tackle Terron Armstead made his Dolphins practice debut after sitting out the spring rehabbing a knee issue. When asked how much he needs to do in training camp to be ready for the start of the season, the oft-injured Armstead replied, “It varies. Been doing it for a little while now. This will be my 10th training camp. Always just get to the spot where I feel like I’m ready. That can come a couple of weeks, three weeks, whatever. It just depends on the work, the reps. I’m getting used to a new system, new guys next to me, so it might take a little longer.”
  • Defensive tackle Adam Butler did not practice Wednesday. Running back Sony Michel did little after warmups. Hill, Jaylen Waddle (who looked really fast Wednesday), Preston Williams, and DeVonte Dedmon are among the Dolphins players getting a chance to win the returner job. Connor Williams and Tagovailoa had a botched center/quarterback exchange in team drills. Veteran pass rusher Melvin Ingram practiced for the first time since signing with the team in the spring.

Adam Beasley is the NFL Director for Pro Football Network. You can read all of Adam’s work here and give him a follow on Twitter @AdamHBeasley.

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