Miami Dolphins rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa comes into his first training camp with questions about the health of his dislocated and fractured hip still hovering over his head. While it appears he is fully healthy and ready to get back to football after being the fifth-overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft out of Alabama, there is still concern, especially among fans, that will not be alleviated until he is seen in full-speed NFL action.
He is not the only player who is returning from a major in-season injury last year and could be a huge factor in the Dolphins’ offense this year and for years to come. Wide receiver Preston Williams tore his ACL after starting the year as Miami’s number two receiver, and honestly, pushing to be recognized as the team’s number one option. In eight games played, Williams was targeted 60 times, with 32 receptions for 428 yards (13.4 yard average) with three touchdowns. All from an undrafted free agent.
“Preston has worked extremely hard since the injury,” Dolphins head coach Brian Flores said this week of Williams’ rehab. “He’s worked his way back to where he was cleared for activity again. It’s walk-through right now, so there’s strength and conditioning in the morning. So he’s running, he’s lifting and we’ll see him in a walk-through setting; but again, for Preston, it’s a new offense so we’re learning the terminology, the depths on some routes and things of that nature. They are a little bit different than they were a year ago. That’s kind of where his focus is right now. He’s worked extremely hard, as all of our guys have, from a rehab standpoint. We’ve just got to take this one day at a time.”
Williams is likely the starter opposite Parker this year, a combination that could set up Miami’s offense for an explosive aerial attack, along with players like Jakeem Grant, Isaiah Ford, and tight end Mike Gesicki. With the questions of when Tagovailoa will be ready to assume his role under center - both from a health and from a development to the NFL game perspective - Ryan Fitzpatrick is the likely starting quarterback, at least for now. Whichever of the two - or three if Josh Rosen can compete in the competition as well - is throwing passes, will have some fun if Williams is fully healthy.
The 6-foot-5, 218 pound Williams continues to work during the team’s strength and conditioning “acclimatization” period of training camp. He seems to be improving every day, which Flores acknowledged and said needs to continue. “That should be his approach and every player on our team’s approach, and just try to get better on a daily basis,” the coach explained. “You guys are probably sick of hearing me say that, but it’s something that I try to preach to these guys every day. Let’s just try to get better, let’s try to improve, let’s be safe and let’s make smarter decisions. If we can do those consistently, we will be okay.”