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Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa will likely be active against Bengals, but will he start?

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The Miami Dolphins will have both Tua Tagovailoa and Ryan Fitzpatrick available for today’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, but at this time it’s unclear which quarterback will start the 1 p.m. home game.

Tagovailoa’s agent Lee Steinberg posted on his Facebook account Saturday morning that he’s traveling to Miami to watch Tagovailoa play against the Bengals (2-8-1).

That doesn’t mean that the rookie quarterback will start, but it’s a good indication that he’ll be active today, especially since Miami didn’t downgrade Tagovailoa to doubtful like they did last week, or promote rookie quarterback Reid Sinnett up from the practice squad.

The Dolphins (7-4) continue to be extremely guarded about whether Tua Tagovailoa’s thumb injury has healed enough for former Alabama standout to return as the team’s starting quarterback.

Because Tagovailoa has been limited by the thumb injury he suffered in practice last Wednesday, Ryan Fitzpatrick has taken a significant chunk of Miami’s first-team reps on offense, and it’s possible he could start his second straight game, and eighth of the season.

The Dolphins have prevented reporters from watching Tagovailoa throw the football during practice this week by limiting access, so it is difficult to tell how much the injury to his throwing hand is still affecting Tagovailoa’s throws.

“Any time you’re dealing with something that’s bothering you, (it has an) impact on all those things you mentioned, accuracy and velocity. Obviously, any time you have an issue on the hand, there’s some impact,” coach Brian Flores said on Friday.

Flores has vowed that when healthy, Tagovailoa, would continue as Miami’s starter.

Tagovailoa has led the Dolphins a 3-1 record in his four starts this season, completing 61.9% of his passes while throwing for 602 yards (6.2 yards per attempt) and six touchdowns. He has a 100.1 passer rating this season and has been sacked 10 times.

Fitzpatrick has led the Dolphins to a 4-3 record in his seven starts, and is completing 68.5% of his passes (7.5 yards per attempt), throwing for 1,909 yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s thrown eight interceptions and has been sacked 14 times. He has a 93.1 passer rating for the season.

The Dolphins won’t play today’s game against the Bengals with Patrick Laird as the team’s only healthy tailback because Myles Gaskin, who has missed the past five games because of a left knee injury he suffered back in October, was taken off injured reserve on Saturday.

Gaskin, who leads in rushing attempts (100) and yards gained (387) after emerging as the team’s leading back in the first month of the season, has practiced with the team for the past two weeks.

Miami placed Matt Breida on the NFL’s COVID-19 reserve list on Friday, which means he’s not eligible to play against the Bengals. Miami elevated safety Nate Holley up from the practice squad as a COVID-19 replacement for today’s game.

And rookie tailback Salvon Ahmed, who has been nursing a shoulder injury for the past two weeks, and DeAndre Washington, who injured a hamstring last week, were both listed as doubtful for today’s game.

Laird started four games for the Dolphins in the 2019 season and gained 168 rushing yards on 62 attempts. He also caught 23 passes his rookie season, turning those receptions into 204 yards.

This season Laird has gained 27 rushing yards on four carries and caught five of the six passes thrown his way, turning them into 36 yards.

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