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Dolphins say Tua Tagovailoa bolstered throwing power, not slacking amid contract talks

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa participated in an organized team activity session Tuesday in Miami Gardens, Fla. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla., May 28 (UPI) -- Miami Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel says quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has shown increased throwing power, while teammates touted his communication and physical preparation amid highly publicized, off-season contract talks.

Tagovailoa attended the Dolphins' organized team activity session Tuesday at Baptist Health Training Complex in Miami Gardens, Fla.

"I think, without thinking [about it], he probably generated a little more force on some throws he is trying to drive," McDaniel said of his observations of Tagovailoa.

The Dolphins quarterback, who did not speak to reporters, has missed time during the voluntary portion of off-season workouts. Only under contract for 2024, he is expected to receive an extension worth about $220 million.

The 2023 NFL passing yardage leader has dropped about 10 to 15 pounds this off-season, and has a focus on better foot movement.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa focused on being limber in the pocket this off-season. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa focused on being limber in the pocket this off-season. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

He entered the last several off-seasons with precise plans for how to improve -- after struggling with injuries and inconsistency to start his career -- under former coach Brian Flores.

In 2023, he turned to jiu-jitsu to concentrate on the fundamentals of falling and avoid hits to his head after struggling with concussions. He also showed up to training camp with a larger frame, but McDaniel said the strategy of weight gain as a protective measure was a misconception.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is involved in contract talks this off-season. File Photo by Larry Marano/UPI
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is involved in contract talks this off-season. File Photo by Larry Marano/UPI

"That's a very understandable misconception," McDaniel said. "We were not on an off-season weight program last year, it was strength. ... He felt like he could have the same amount of strength and kind of reshape his body and be a little lighter on his feet."

McDaniel -- who has called the quarterback "svelte" -- said Tagovailoa's strategy included focus on his diet, including monitoring caloric intake, so that he could maintain strength gains while becoming more limber in the pocket.

Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel said he noticed increased force on quarterback Tua Tagovailoa's throws. File Photo by Mark Black/UPI
Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel said he noticed increased force on quarterback Tua Tagovailoa's throws. File Photo by Mark Black/UPI

"I think it's what drove him to kind of attack that, which he's done a great job of," McDaniel said of Tagovailoa's plan.

McDaniel, who engineered the No. 1 offense in the NFL in 2023-24, said expecting as much growth from Tagovailoa -- if not more -- this year, compared to last year, is "very safe" for the Dolphins' expectations.

Wide receiver Tyreek Hill (L) participated in a private off-season training session with Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa earlier this spring. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

"He had two practices last week, and we saw some growth and development within what we're specifically asking him to do," McDaniel said.

"So, it's been very exciting because you're at this point and we're like, 'alright, well, let's really push ourselves to challenge this guy because all he ends up doing is rising to the challenge within what we asked him to do.'"

Part of Tagovailoa's off-season plan this year was working under personal quarterback coach John Beck, a previous Dolphins quarterback who also played for the Washington Commanders when McDaniel was on that staff.

"He's worked with some of the quarterbacks we've had already, so there's some familiarity with that, which is awesome, because John knows what we're trying to do and how we ask the quarterback to play," McDaniel said of Beck.

Teammates also touted Tagovailoa for his improvements in leadership last off-season. That trend has continued this year, with Tagovailoa getting together with teammates outside of the facility, kindling rapport. He worked out privately this spring with wide receivers Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill.

"The wait is over," Hill said in a video of the workout. "The season is here. It's about to be crazy this year. Can't wait. It's the moment we've all been waiting for, year three in the [McDaniel] system."

Dolphins wide receiver Braxton Berrios and running back Raheem Mostert were among other teammates to recently commend Tagovailoa for a desire to maintain communication outside of the team facility.

Mostert also said he noticed Tagovailoa was a "little more in shape" and lauded his ability to silence previous criticism over the last few off-seasons.

"He's doing everything he possibly can," Mostert said of Tagovailoa. "He's just taking care of himself. ... I believe that he's doing a great job and he's not slacking. It comes with the territory of being in that position."