comscore Tua Tagovailoa looks to build off his return as Deshaun Watson talks resurface
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Tua Tagovailoa looks to build off his return as Deshaun Watson talks resurface

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                                Tua Tagovailoa practices on Oct. 13 in Miami.


    Tua Tagovailoa practices on Oct. 13 in Miami.

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. >> After three weeks away with fractured ribs, Tua Tagovailoa got through his first game back healthy and feeling comfortable with what he was able to do, yet dissatisfied that the effort did not result in a win.

The Miami Dolphins quarterback now looks to build off his 33-of-47 performance for 329 yards and two touchdowns in a 23-20 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, even as reports resurfaced on Wednesday of Dolphins trade talks with the Houston Texans over Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Multiple media reports out of Houston Wednesday afternoon — that then turned into national reports — indicated that the Texans are moving closer to a deal with the Dolphins for the star quarterback with the possibility that it happens this week, ahead of the NFL’s Nov. 2 trade deadline.

Watson has not played this season amid 22 civil suits accusing him of coercive and lewd sexual behavior, with two that allege sexual assault. He has not been charged criminally, and his lawyer has denied the accusations.

For Tagovailoa, who spoke to Miami media following Wednesday’s practice but before the latest reports came about, he’s focused on translating his mostly good and few bad plays into a win this Sunday against the Falcons after his team has now suffered five consecutive losses. The previous three were entirely without him, and the first one he made his exit in the first quarter of a Sept. 19 defeat to the Bills.

“Obviously, it wasn’t the outcome we wanted,” Tagovailoa said of the loss to Jacksonville. “I think there’s some things that we did really well in the game, and there’s bits and pieces that we can go back into the film room and say, ‘This isn’t up to our standards, and how do we go about fixing that?’ And that’s what this week is for. We have another chance to play another game, another team.”

Tagovailoa, who appeared to be throwing harder coming off his injury, was encouraged by the offense’s execution, offensive-line play, efficiency in the run-pass option offense and connection on downfield throws. In his first game back, he was still feeling “sore” in the ribs but said it’s something he forgets about in the heat of competition.

“Yes and no,” he said of whether he was feeling discomfort. “Yes, there’s some points of discomfort when I do certain things. But no because, when I’m in the game, you’re just going.”

Through it all, Tagovailoa impressed with most of his throws and ability to run the Dolphins offense, aside from his interception late in the third quarter.

“For a guy that had quite a bit of time off, he came out firing,” co-offensive coordinator George Godsey said. “Coming off of injury and not being able to practice how he wanted to, I thought that was a credit to him and his preparation.”

Added quarterbacks coach Charlie Frye: “I thought he moved well, he made some throws in some tight windows, generated some explosive plays. You can see that he was into it the three weeks that he wasn’t on the sideline with a different perspective to be able to come back and perform, fight through the pain, fight through discomfort and go out and execute.”

Frye said Tagovailoa “got caught in between” two routes, one short and one deep, when he threw the interception to Jaguars cornerback Nevin Lawson, who was all alone in a zone as the ball floated to him. Miami was fortunate it didn’t result in Jacksonville points, but Frye liked how Tagovailoa responded with his following drive, going 6 of 6 for 83 yards and a touchdown to take the lead.

“You throw an interception, what’s the next play look like? And what’s the next drive look like?” Frye said. “Do you hang on to that on the sideline or are you able to flush it and go back on the field? And that was an impressive drive. His next play was impressive.”

As Tagovailoa was without receivers Will Fuller, DeVante Parker and Preston Williams against the Jaguars, almost a third of his completions, including the two touchdowns, went to former Alabama teammate Jaylen Waddle, who had 10 catches for 70 yards. Tight end Mike Gesicki, though, led the team with 115 receiving yards, catching eight of nine targets.

“I’ve gotten plenty of work with him since the day we drafted him,” Gesicki said. “I feel like chemistry is there and all that kind of stuff, so nothing new with that, but just obviously good to have him back and good for him to get reps and that kind of thing.”

Reports from Houston media came out around the same time Wednesday, indicating it was likely information someone within the Texans or Watson’s camp wanted to get out.

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