Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will be away from the team for an indefinite period of time following the death of his mother Saturday morning.
Fitzpatrick was at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday morning in uniform and warming up for the Dolphins' scrimmage, but he walked off the field with head coach Brian Flores' arm around him.
Flores gathered his players after returning to the field and everybody then kneeled in prayer.
Flores said Fitzpatrick would be given all the time he needs to grieve and wouldn't speculate on a timetable for the 38-year-old quarterback's return.
"His mom passed away this morning," Flores said. "So, yeah, there’s no quarterback controversy. He’s not opting out. He’s not retiring. There was a lot written the last time he had some personal situations, but his mom passed away. ‘Fitz’ has tried to work through this. He always wanted to practice. He tried to go out there today, but you know, and I’ve had multiple conversations with him having dealt with this also. And it’s a tough situation and our hearts go out to him as a team, as an organization. This is a competitive guy, tried to go out there, but some things are more important than football. So he left to be with his family."
Fitzpatrick put out a statement through the Dolphins late Saturday afternoon expressing his appreciation for the outpouring of support.
Flores said the Dolphins have contingency plans in place at every position, but wouldn't speculate as to who the starting quarterback would be for the season opener against the New England Patriots on Sept. 13 in the event Fitzpatrick wasn't back.
"We have an idea what we would do," Flores said. "We’ve got a competition going on. Nothing is set is stone."
Fitzpatrick missed practice last week for what Flores called "personal reasons," but was back after one day.
With Fitzpatrick absent, rookie Tua Tagovailoa and third-year player Josh Rosen took all the snaps during the scrimmage Saturday.
“It’s a brutal situation," Rosen said. "I just tried to support him like any way I could these last couple days, weeks and months, but I mean, Ryan’s mom raised a hell of a kid —really strong, awesome, independent kind dude. And I’ve been fortunate enough to be around him these last couple months, almost a year now, probably. And, yeah, it’s a tough situation, but kind of puts everything into perspective and reminds you that we all are still human and human things happen.”
Tagovailoa later also reflected on this difficult day.
“Yeah, I’d say that was something that was pretty difficult," Tua said. "I kind of told Fitz that I’m here for him, but it was something more so emotional for me, too, because I kind of thought of my own mom, and just the thought of not having a family member, losing a family member, I mean, it’s hard.
"I got emotional when Fitz ended up leaving, too, and while we were about to pray as a team, but that’s not something that’s easy. I reached out to him, too, telling him that he’s in my prayers and he’s been on my mind and my heart and that if they need anything, that they can reach out to me and I’m here.”