By: Brandon Liguori
Brian Flores’ Miami Dolphins will take the field this upcoming Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium and play a meaningful football game vs. the Los Angeles Rams for the first time since pitching a 24-0 shutout Oct. 18 vs. Adam Gase and the winless New York Jets.
Tua Tagovailoa, drafted fifth overall this past April, will make his first start as a professional football player vs. a Rams defense that allows just 17.7 points per contest, good for second in the league behind the 5-1 Baltimore Ravens (17.3).
One face Tagovailoa and practically Miami’s offensive line as a unit will have to key their eyes on a consistent, down-to-down basis is former Pittsburgh Panther graduate Aaron Donald, whose 8.0 sacks trails only Cleveland Browns’ Myles Garrett (9.0) for the highest in the National Football League.
“I think from a health standpoint, we feel good about where he is. He’s going to get hit in the game, we know that,” Flores said. Sunday will mark 351 days since Tagovailoa suffered a season-ending hip injury against Mississippi State during Tagovailoa’s junior season at Alabama, an injury that many thought would be the last of Tagovailoa on a football field.
However, after months of rehab and hard work, Tagovailoa is ready, despite some butterflies in his stomach: “I think it’s really exciting for our offense and our team. It will show what kind of team we kind of have after a bye week and whatnot; but we know what we’re going up against,” Tagovailoa said. Coming off a 24-10 victory this past Monday night vs. the Chicago Bears, Sean McVay’s group will pay a visit to Hard Rock Stadium for the first time since being named the St. Louis Rams (Oct. 14, 2012).
Ryan Tannehill, a right-handed quarterback, started in the Dolphins’ last two victories over the Rams (2012 and 2016), but Sunday will feature the left-handed gunslinger in Tagovailoa, the hopeful franchise-changing quarterback the Dolphins have been seeking since Dan Marino’s retirement before the 2000 campaign
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