Tua Tagovailoa went through the first practice of his second NFL training camp along with his Miami Dolphins teammates Wednesday, and it was followed by his first in-person press conference with the South Florida media.
It was kind of a typical first practice of training camp, a time when the defense traditionally is ahead of the offense.
There were some highlights, to be sure, most notably a long touchdown pass to wide receiver Albert Wilson in an 11-on-11 session that most reporters in attendance estimated at about 65 yards.
There also was a touchdown pass to tight end Adam Shaheen in a red-zone drill after Tagovailoa rolled out to his left. He also a nice completion to former Alabama teammate Jaylen Waddle down the middle of the field.
On the flip side, there were some errant throws, most notably two passes he threw that were picked off by linebackers Jerome Baker and Andrew Van Ginkel. That accompanied a pass batted down at the line of scrimmage and two intermediate completions that forced his receiver — in one case Will Fuller V, in the other Jakeem Grant.
More important than any pass, though, was perhaps the way he took charge on offense, calling his teammates after the end of practice for a quick review of the workout.
“I think last year he was building on that and now he feels comfortable and now it’s his show," tight end Mike Gesicki said. "I’m happy that he’s in that position and comfortable enough to pull the whole offense together after practice and give his whole evaluation. It was just a good day.”
There's no question that at this time it is Tagovailoa's show, a far cry from last summer when he was coming in as a rookie after an offseason that was nothing but virtual.
It's a gradual process, though, and Tua is fully aware of that.
Tagovailoa also wasn't really interested in making comparisons to where he was at this time last year.
“Man, it’s so hard to remember," he said. "I feel like that’s been so long ago. But what I can say to that is how I feel now, I feel really good.”
The Dolphins went out in the offseason and got Tagovailoa some speedy wide receivers, including Waddle and free agent acquisition Fuller, not to mention Wilson being back after opting out in 2020.
The key now is for Tagovailoa get in sync with his receivers.
“I think one of the most exciting things is when everyone is on the same page," he said. "When you know where your guy is going to be, when the line knows what they’re supposed to do. That’s a great feeling, when everyone is working together to accomplish what we need to accomplish on that play.”
Getting to that point is what training camp is about, and Tagovailoa said that lack of synchronization was at play on one of his two interceptions.
"I would say with the bad throws, a lot of miscommunication," he said. "On one of them, I think that’s definitely my fault. I was in a conundrum of throwing it up or coming back down to the back. Unfortunately, that’s how the cookie crumbled on that one. It's good that things like that happen right now. We can see it, go back into the film room, talk about it with our guys, the receivers, the tight ends and running backs and kind of get that fixed.”
As he did at times in the spring practices open to the media, Tagovailoa saved his best for the latter portions of the session.
But in a way the absolute best was after practice when he continued to show his desire to take charge on offense and make his voice heard, while at the same time developing as a player.
And this is how he balances the two objectives: “Just being able to talk to the guys and tell the guys not always what they want to hear but what they need to hear and how we need to kind of build on that, and where we need to be from there.
"After practice, I got to get everyone together and talked to the entire offense and just talked about our evaluation of the day — how we started, how we looked throughout the middle of practice and then how we finished. I think overall we did pretty good. Obviously there’s always going to be things we need to brush up on and clean up, but it’s the first day of camp.”