Head coach Brian Flores pulled him off the practice field during warmups and apparently broke the news to him before telling reporters that Fitzpatrick was taking a leave from the team.
“He's not retiring,” Flores set of the 37-year-old veteran, per ESPN. “He's not opting out. He's going to take as much time as he needs. We're going to give him time to grieve.
“My thought on this is he's going to try to get back as quick, as soon as he can. But we're going to give him as much time as he needs.”
‘Hard to say’ if Fitzpatrick will play Week 1
Flores said that there was “no quarterback controversy” amid the loss of the team’s anticipated starter two weeks before a Week 1 matchup against the New England Patriots. He also noted that it’s “hard to say” if he’ll be ready in time for the Sept. 13 season opener.
“He tried to go out there today,” Flores said. “I have gone through multiple conversations with him. He’s a competitive guy, tried to go out there but some things are more important than football.”
The quarterback did not speak with reporters.
Could Tua start Week 1?
Fitzpatrick’s absence leaves quarterback duties in the hands of Josh Rosen and highly touted rookie Tua Tagovailoa, the Dolphins first-round draft pick out of Alabama. Tagovailoa is the future of the franchise, but the team has planned to ease him into his role with Fitzpatrick maintaining the reins of the offense this season — at least at the outset.
If Fitzpatrick isn’t available for Week 1, his absence will mean either Rosen takes over or the Dolphins accelerate their plan for Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa hasn’t played live football since dislocating his hip last November, cutting short his career with the Crimson Tide.
Reports of his recovery from the hip injury have been overwhelmingly positive. But without the benefit of preseason reps amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems unlikely that the Dolphins would put Tagovailoa under center in Week 1 if Fitzpatrick can’t go.
The Miami Herald reports that the Dolphins offense struggled at practice without Fitzpatrick, scoring just one touchdown on a Rosen pass in 15 possessions. Flores declined to say who has the leg up on the No. 2 spot on the quarterback depth chart and start for Week 1 if Fitzpatrick doesn’t play.
“We have an idea what we would do,” Flores said, per SI. “We’ve got a competition going on. Nothing is set in stone.”
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