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Tua Tagovailoa, ‘fun’ Dolphins offense ready for Titans

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Tua Tagovailoa is on the verge of setting personal bests for passing yardage and touchdown passes when the Miami Dolphins face the Tennessee Titans on Monday night in Miami Gardens, Fla.But it is t

Tua Tagovailoa is on the verge of setting personal bests for passing yardage and touchdown passes when the Miami Dolphins face the Tennessee Titans on Monday night in Miami Gardens, Fla.

But it is the victory total and the “fun” factor that is making this the most enjoyable season of Tagovailoa’s four-year career.

Miami (9-3) sits in first place in the AFC East, leads the NFL in total offense at 428.4 yards per game and ranks second in scoring at 32 points per outing heading into the homestretch of the season.

“This offense is fun,” said Tagovailoa, who has passed for 3,457 yards and 24 touchdowns. “I think any offense is fun when you’re scoring a lot of points. It helps to go out there when you’re scoring points.

“Guys get into rhythm, guys get into the flow of the game. You know, you get the crowd going and everyone just enjoys the success that we all have because of it.”

Tagovailoa’s current career bests of 3,548 yards and 25 touchdowns were set last season.

Meanwhile, star wideout Tyreek Hill is enjoying one of the top receiving seasons in NFL history.

Hill caught five passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns in last weekend’s 45-15 rout of the Washington Commanders. He leads the NFL with 1,481 receiving yards and 12 scoring receptions and stands second with 93 catches.

Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel is impressed with how quickly the Tagovailoa-Hill partnership flourished.

“My thing is I think they’re tremendous players that can make plays on their own for sure,” McDaniel said. “Tyreek’s able to be super aggressive because he trusts Tua’s field vision and knows that if he is putting the ball up in the air a little bit over the middle to just track it and catch it because Tua’s not going to lead him in harm’s way. …

“They’re independently awesome but together they’re even better.”

The Titans (4-8) will try to limit Miami’s big plays with a middle-of-the-pack unit in both scoring defense (21.3) and total defense (337.0).

Tennessee sustained a big blow with the loss of star defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, who sustained a knee injury in last Sunday’s 31-28 overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

“Especially being on Monday night, that’s a big game, because it’s the next game, and this is a great team,” Simmons said Thursday of missing the game with Miami. “They have a lot of skill guys, track stars. I wish I was out there. I love the game of football. Injuries suck, but it happened. It’s going to be different.”

The Titans will have star running back Derrick Henry on the field after he was removed against the Colts because the team’s medical staff determined he was displaying concussion symptoms.

Henry, who gained 102 yards and two touchdowns against Indianapolis, maintained Thursday that he didn’t have a concussion.

“I felt fine — just took a helmet-to-helmet hit and they saw enough where I couldn’t go back in,” said Henry, the NFL’s second-leading rusher with 841 yards. “I wanted to go back in — it was hard to watch — but I have to respect their decision.”

With Tennessee tied for the second-worst record in the AFC, the rest of the season revolves around developing rookie quarterback Will Levis. The second-round pick has passed for 1,266 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions.

In addition to Simmons, the following players missed Thursday’s practice: cornerback Kristian Fulton (hamstring), linebacker Joe Jones (finger), tight end John Whyle (knee) and punter Ryan Stonehouse (knee). Levis (ankle) was a full participant.

For Miami, guard Robert Hunt (hamstring), tackle Terron Armstead (knee/ankle), tight end Durham Smythe (ankle), safety Jevon Holland (both knees) and linebacker Jerome Baker (knee) missed practice. Hill also sat out, partly because of a planned rest day and also due to ankle soreness.

In the last meeting, the host Titans rolled to a 34-3 victory on Jan. 2, 2022.