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Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa 'ready to go' as training camp nears

Tua Tagovailoa won't be able to convince most of the football world he's fully healed from his gruesome hip injury until he proves it on an NFL field.

Before he can do that, he has to convince himself he's 100 percent back to his old self. Tagovailoa is already working on that sale.

"I'd say I'm ready to go," he told USA Today. "It's kind of those things where you start getting the itch to get back out on the field, to be able to compete. It's going to be a new setting, so that's what's even more exciting."

Tagovailoa got an early start to acclimating to the new setting, receiving early access to the Dolphins' facility amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic because he's a player who is still rehabbing an injury. That has allowed him to get comfortable quicker than most of the rest of his fellow rookies, which could end up being crucial if Tagovailoa has his eyes on opening the 2020 season as Miami's starting quarterback.

Getting there will require him trusting his body and leaning on what pushed him to the fifth-overall pick of the 2020 draft. It might also require some humility, something that shouldn't be too difficult for Tagovailoa to drum up.

"I think the way I stay myself is, I just go out there and do whatever I can to help the team," Tagovailoa said. "If helping the team looks like me being on the sideline and telling (Ryan Fitzpatrick) what I've seen, then that's what it is. Or whoever the quarterback is out there."

It's fair to expect Miami to proceed full speed ahead with Tagovailoa penciled in as QB1. But if for whatever reason -- amid a pandemic, there are plenty more legitimate reasons than usual -- Tagovailoa isn't quite ready to pilot the franchise, he'll have a Sunday driver with a flair for a little excitement behind him in Fitzpatrick. Tagovailoa is appreciative of Fitzpatrick's experience and assistance, even if he is essentially replacing the veteran.

"I have much respect for a guy like that," Tagovailoa said. "The way he takes care of his body, the way he takes care of things off the field. He's a coach in the meeting rooms for the offensive line, the receivers. I mean, he has the mindset of a coach but the heart of player. He plays like a player but the way he thinks, he thinks like a coach. Being able to be under someone like that and learn under someone like him, I really think you can only go up with your game."

Time will tell how much it helps Tagovailoa, but we can be sure of one thing: He's happy to be focused not on his hip, but on football.

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