MIAMI – Tua Tagovailoa now has a role to match his jersey number. He’s the Miami Dolphins’ No. 1 quarterback.
The former Alabama star will make his first NFL start next week for the Miami Dolphins, who are turning to him to replace Ryan Fitzpatrick, a person familiar with the team's decision said Tuesday.
The person confirmed the decision to The Associated Press on condition on anonymity because the Dolphins hadn't made an announcement.
The change by coach Brian Flores will come after the Dolphins’ bye this week and has been long anticipated, but the timing is surprising because the team won its past two games to improve to 3-3. Tagovailoa will start at home against the Los Angeles Rams on Nov. 1.
Tagovailoa made his pro debut in mop-up duty at the end of Miami's 24-0 victory Sunday over the New York Jets. He will become the 22nd quarterback to start for the Dolphins since Dan Marino retired following the 1999 season.
At Alabama, Tagovailoa wore Marino's No. 13. That Dolphins jersey is retired, and so Tagovailoa now wears No. 1.
Touted as a potential franchise quarterback, the dynamic Tagovailoa raises the profile of a team that has been off the NFL radar for much of the past two decades. He was drafted in April with the fifth overall pick — the highest choice Miami has devoted to a QB since Bob Griese in 1967.
Tagovailoa is coming back from a serious hip injury that cut short his Alabama career last November. The recovery slowed his preparation to assume a starting NFL job, as did the coronavirus pandemic that forced the cancellation of offseason drills and exhibition games.