When Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa spoke to reporters in Indianapolis two weeks ago, he framed his March 9 medical examination as a turning point in his months-long rehab.
“I’ve been rehabbing my butt off,” said Tagovailoa, a Saint Louis alum. “After March 9 when I get clearance from my doctors, then it’s full-go up until my Pro Day.”
He added: “It allows me to do everything. This rehab process has been gradually getting up as far as workouts with what we’ve been doing. Just strengthening all the parts around the hip, the glute, hamstring, quad. Just being able to be ready that once March 9 hits and we’re cleared to go, I’ll be able to do everything.”
And following Tagovailoa’s fourth-month checkup today, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport — citing a source — reported that Tagovailoa’s scans were “very good with no concerns.” Rapoport added that they tests came back “essentially as positive as possible.”
And still, it doesn’t appear that Tagovailoa will be “full go” — at least quite yet.
Rather, Rapoport reported in a tweet, Tagovailoa will “begin the slow progression of activity to get his body ready for play.”
More, from Rapoport’s colleague Steve Wyche at NFL Network: Tagovailoa has begun light football work but is still “several weeks, if not longer,” to go before he’s in football shape.
So was Tagovailoa’s self-prognosis overly optimistic? Rapoport said the potential Dolphins target and top-five pick “remains on track,” but it’s fair to wonder just how much Tagovailoa will be able to do at his private pro day in one month.
More Tagovailoa from last month: “I’m hoping to do everything. I don’t think there’s much to wait on. Once March 9 hits, [I hope to be cleared] to go out there, run, drop back, work on a lot of those things again.”
That could very well happen, beginning Tuesday. But if, as NFL Network reported, that is the beginning of a slow progression to get him into football condition, there’s a chance he might not be at the top of his game for that workout.
Which means teams who are considering drafting him — like the Dolphins — might have to base their evaluation on what they project he will be in the future, not what he is now.
Tagovailoa insisted he will “be ready to go” for the start of organized team activities, but that might again might be a bit ambitious. Those practices begin in two months.
Rather, whoever drafts him will almost certainly err on the side of caution. The Dolphins, for instance, already have their starting quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick and his backup in Josh Rosen.
Their primary concern for Tagovailoa, rather, isn’t on the short-term, but the long. If his tests reveal his body is healing and the likelihood of chronic issues is low, that’s more important than if he will be on the field for spring ball.