Miami Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel is leaning toward not playing quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in Saturday’s preseason opener at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
McDaniel appears to feel comfortable with how Tagovailoa has performed in two weeks of intrasquad training camp practices and Wednesday’s joint practice against the Buccaneers entering Thursday’s session.
“Based off of the last couple practices, I’m encouraged about the idea of not playing him, but again, that remains to be seen from what happens [Thursday], McDaniel said. “That has nothing to do with bottom-line results offensively. It’s more how prepared he is at practice. I just want to continue to build on what he’s been building on.”
McDaniel has to weigh the benefits of preseason in-game reps with the potential injury risk.
”There is value in it, but every time you don’t have a red jersey on, you have the ability to get tackled,” he said. “That’s risk. There’s a lot of risk in the game of football, but you also have to weigh that upon what’s the best thing for regular season [Week] 1. It’s a constant battle that you just have to take your time and make the best decision hoping it’s the right decision.”
McDaniel added he would be “surprised” if he went the entire exhibition season without giving Tagovailoa in-game reps but is taking it day by day.
McDaniel said he views the preseason as an extension of practice, meant to prepare the team best for the regular season.
Outside of cornerback Byron Jones, who is on the physically-unable-to-perform list, the Dolphins are mostly healthy entering Saturday.
”There’s certain players I feel pretty confident might not play, but I do not get ahead of myself,” McDaniel said. “I talked to the team this morning about it, and as far as they’re concerned, everyone is expected to be prepared to play, but there will certainly be players that don’t, which [Thursday] will have a big impact on
Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady got a rest day from Thursday’s joint practice as the Dolphins did not face him.