MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Tua Tagovailoa’s first simulated game action since Week 15 of last season came Saturday at the Miami Dolphins’ scrimmage at Hard Rock Stadium, a series of 11-on-11s that featured a 58-yard touchdown to Tyreek Hill and ended with the QB gathering the offense for a spirited discussion.

The signal-caller was animated as he addressed the team following an uneven day with defensive lineman Christian Wilkins frequently causing havoc.

“Today it seemed, without watching the tape, that it was clearly advantage defense,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said. “ … Pretty locked in with Tua during the day, and I could feel that he could feel that guys were a little too geeked up, and sometimes you can get overcompetitive and then you jump offsides.

“Then you start pressing and stop thinking about your technique and end up focusing on trying to make a play and then the inverse happens. I know [Tagovailoa] could feel it. There were some guys that weren’t their normal selves.”

Tagovailoa was without his Pro Bowl blindside protector Terron Armstead, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in the offseason, and he was under duress for much of the day.

One errant deep ball to Hill was broken up. But Tagovailoa did find his No. 1 receiver later for a long TD toss and connected with Jaylen Waddle down the field.

The quarterback’s performance was uneven after he missed the better part of six games last season with multiple concussions, but his leadership wasn’t in question.

“Him just being a leader like he is every day,” offensive lineman Robert Jones said of the post-scrimmage talk by Tagovailoa. “ … Last year he was a great leader and this year, you can just see the confidence keep growing. He’s just taking control of the whole offense, the whole team.”

Wilkins is entering a contract season where he’ll earn $10.7 million after the Dolphins exercised his fifth-year option. If Wilkins and the Dolphins can’t agree on an extension, the team could lock him up for the 2024 season with the franchise tag projected to be at $18,937,000.

“I definitely feel like I’ve done enough and done a lot to earn a new deal and a new contract,” said Wilkins, who recorded 4.5 sacks last season. “ …. Just giving my all to this organization. Hopefully, they’ll give their all back to me.”

Dolphins defensive coordinator Vic Fangio called the defensive tackle one of the NFL’s best players.

“That’s definitely a lot of high praise, because coach Fangio is not just throwing out compliments like that.”


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