MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. >> Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores publicly expressed his support for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa today, which may or may not tamp down speculation about the team’s interest in Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Tagovailoa, a Saint Louis graduate, will be the Week 1 starter against the New England Patriots on Sept. 12, Flores said.
“Yes. I don’t know if I can be more clear,” Flores said. “I don’t know how many times I’ll say it. I don’t know how much more clear I can be here. Tua is the starter. I mean, if I need to say it again, I will.”
Tagovailoa naturally was happy to hear Flores’ comments.
“I think it means a lot, with it coming from the head coach,” he said. “The support that I have from him, from the team, it means a lot. For me, I’m just focused literally on trying to get our guys ready for next week.”
The Dolphins have declined to confirm or deny reports they have engaged in trade talks to acquire Watson, who has been accused of sexual assault and harassment in lawsuits filed by 22 women. He has denied the allegations.
“You know what’s funny? I heard (DT John Jenkins) just say he doesn’t have cable. I’m one of those guys that don’t have cable, too. So I’m not able to turn on my TV and watch what’s going on, to see the news and whatnot.
“Now, obviously I know social media’s a big deal but really, I only hear about those things from my agents or if it comes from (Miami communications executive) Anne Noland or if coach wants to sit down and talk to me about things like that. That’s kind of how I find out a lot of the talk that’s going on.”
Speculation regarding a possible trade has raised questions about Miami’s commitment to Tagovailoa, a top-five draft pick last year.
”Tua is our quarterback,” Flores said. “I think he has had a good training camp. I think he has made a lot of progress. I think he has made a lot of improvement. We’re pleased with where he is.”
Tagovailoa had a 6-3 record as a starter as a rookie after replacing Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starting quarterback after six games. He passed for 1,814 yards with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions, and was pulled in favor of Fitzpatrick in games against the Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders.
No charges have been filed against Watson, who has made the Pro Bowl the past three seasons. His availability this season is unclear, and Houston police and the NFL are investigating the allegations against him.