Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins were back practicing with and against another team Wednesday, this time the Atlanta Falcons at the Baptist Health Training Complex on the grounds of Hard Rock Stadium.
This came four days after Tagovailoa had an impressive outing against the Chicago Bears in the preseason opener at Soldier Field, but Tua kind of hinted he actually has gotten more out of the joint practices than he did in the game last Saturday.
“I think joint practices are really good because you get to see a good glimpse of the packages that these coaches have installed with the players on the defense and with their team,” Tagovailoa said after practice Wednesday. “I would say when it comes more time to the preseason games, they obviously don’t want to show everything. Us too. It’s the same and I think it’s like that around the league, too.”
The Falcons came down for two days of joint practices, with the teams going against Thursday ahead of their preseason game at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday.
"I think their DC does a great job," Tua said. "And their defense overall, they do a great job disguising looks. They have a lot of good players on their team. They do a great job communicating what they want to do and what they want to accomplish. I think today, for us offensively, we’ve got to be a lot better operationally — getting on the ball quicker, seeing what the defense is giving us and playing. If you look at their two-minute drive, I think they did a really good job from an operational standpoint. So that’s something that we can also look at and continue to learn and grow, not just on our side of the ball, but both sides of the ball."
MISSING HIS TOP WIDE RECEIVERS
The practice Wednesday was yet another for Tua without three of his top wide receivers — actually, the three wide receivers listed as starters on the team’s depth chart.
Those three, of course, are DeVante Parker, Will Fuller V and Albert Wilson, but Tagovailoa said it was no big deal that they're not practicing at this time.
“I don’t think it is a concern,” Tagovailoa said. “For me, I think the most important thing for them is their health, making sure that they’re right. Because if they’re not healthy, then that’s going to be a concern. We won’t have any of those guys to come out and play with.
“But it gives a lot of opportunity to the other guys, for me to get work with them, and for them also to experience a lot of the different looks, the coverages, whereas a lot of the veterans that are injured, they’ve seen a lot of that. We’re all still in the same room. We’re all still in the same meetings, communicating and talking through that, so I don’t think it’s a concern at all.”
Fuller has been out since the first practice of camp, while Parker and Wilson have been out of action for more than a week. None of the three played in the Dolphins’ preseason opener and it’s difficult to envision any of them playing against the Falcons on Saturday.
“They’re day-to-day and they’re all working to get back,” head coach Brian Flores said Tuesday morning. “”Wth guys who have been out, you want to ease them back. But getting closer, I would say. Just taking it one day at a time.”
The absence of the three players has provided more opportunities for first-round pick Jaylen Waddle, as well as some of the young receivers trying to earn a spot on the 53-man roster.
On Wednesday, for example, both Robert Foster and Kirk Merritt had strong performances against the Falcons, while Mack Hollins continued his really good training camp showing.
THE FRYE FACTOR
The much-discussed topic of who is calling the plays for the Dolphins and who talks to Tua through his headset came up again Wednesday.
Tua indicated after the game Saturday that it's quarterbacks coach Charlie Frye who relays the play call, and Flores said Tuesday that it comes after a discussion involving several people — though he declined to say who was the final decision-maker.
Tua met Frye when he was in high school taking part in the Elite 11 competition and remembered him from that time as "a good guy" and "very fun to be around."
Tua also said he enthusiastically endorsed the idea of the Dolphins hiring Frye this offseason when Flores brought it up to him.
As for the dynamics of having only one voice in his headset, Tua said that's exactly how it was when he was at the University of Alabama.
"I think that’s something that they would discuss, but it always one person coming and talking to our group within the quarterback room," Tua said. "And I think it’s very similar to here with Charlie. Charlie is the one that gives us the plays. He’s the last person that we hear in our headset and whatever discussion goes on between Charlie, Eric (Studesville) and George (Godsey), that’s what they communicate. But the last person that we hear is just Charlie.”