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Tua Tagovailoa, Tyreek Hill among 20-plus Dolphins sitting out preseason opener at Buccaneers

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa indeed is not playing the team’s preseason opener on Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Dolphins listed Tagovailoa among 20-plus players that won’t dress for the exhibition, announced 90 minutes before kickoff at Raymond James Stadium. Miami’s top offseason acquisitions in wide receiver Tyreek Hill and left tackle Terron Armstead, along with All-Pro cornerback Xavien Howard, were included in the lengthy list of players “not expected to play.”

Rookie quarterback Skylar Thompson is expected to start with Tagovailoa resting, according to a league source. The seventh-round draft pick gets the nod as backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is available if needed.

Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel appeared to be leaning the way of giving Tagovailoa the game off in his Thursday comments ahead of the second of two joint practices with the Buccaneers this week in Tampa.

“Based off of the last couple practices, I’m encouraged about the idea of not playing him,” said McDaniel after watching a string of effective, efficient practices from Tagovailoa in training camp. “That has nothing to do with bottom-line results offensively. It’s more how prepared he is at practice. I just want to continue to build on what he’s been building on.”

Neither team’s starting quarterback is suiting up on Saturday, as future Hall of Famer Tom Brady began a personal leave from the Buccaneers on Thursday.

McDaniel noted the need to weigh the benefits of in-game preseason reps with the potential injury risk.

“There is value in it, but every time you don’t have a red jersey on, you have the ability to get tackled,” he said. “That’s risk. There’s a lot of risk in the game of football, but you also have to weigh that upon what’s the best thing for regular-season [Week] 1. It’s a constant battle that you just have to take your time and make the best decision, hoping it’s the right decision.”

McDaniel also indicated this week he would be “surprised” if Tagovailoa didn’t get any action in the exhibition season ahead of the Dolphins’ regular-season opener against the New England Patriots on Sept. 11 at Hard Rock Stadium.

Armstead sits out the game after seeing his most active practice day of training camp with his new team on Thursday. He has been slowly worked back into action from an offseason knee procedure after his 2021 campaign with the New Orleans Saints.

New Dolphins center Connor Williams was also among the inactives, which was mildly surprising considering he’s making a move from guard the past four years with the Dallas Cowboys and has had snapping issues during camp.

Wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, safety Jevon Holland, edge defender Melvin Ingram, running backs Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert, fullback Alec Ingold, linebackers Jerome Baker and Elandon Roberts, defensive linemen Emmanuel Ogbah, Christian Wilkins and Zach Sieler and tight end Adam Shaheen were the other players listed that won’t play. Shaheen was traded this past week to the Houston Texans but returned to the Dolphins after a failed physical with the Texans.

With the inactive list a who’s who of top Dolphins players, tight end Mike Gesicki surprisingly is available to play. He is transitioning in McDaniel’s offense, which will call for him to block more often. Young offensive linemen Austin Jackson and Liam Eichenberg are both active as blockers playing a different position from last year, Jackson going from left guard to right tackle and Eichenberg from left tackle to left guard.

Cornerback Byron Jones is still on the physically-unable-to-perform list, and therefore not playing.

The Dolphins, minutes before kickoff, added safety Sheldrick Redwine, tackle Greg Little, cornerback Kader Kohou and fullback John Lovett to the list of inactives.

Dolphins-Bally partnership

The Miami Dolphins and Bally Sports Florida/Sun on Friday announced a new partnership to bring Dolphins and NFL programming to the regional sports networks this season.

“We look forward to having the Miami Dolphins on Bally Sports and partnering to create more programming for fans, especially at this exciting time for the franchise,” said Steve Tello, Bally Sports Florida/Sun general manager and senior vice president, in a statement.

If you miss the Dolphins’ first preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the Saturday night CBS4 broadcast, it is scheduled to replay on Bally Sports Florida on Sunday at 5 p.m. and Wednesday at 8 p.m.

Dolphins programming on Bally will include Dolphins Today, a weekly show that will air every Friday beginning Sept. 2, the weekly Coach Mike McDaniel Show and re-airings of Miami’s three preseason games.

Bally Sports Florida/Sun now carries programming for South Florida’s clubs in the four major professional team sports, as it already covers Miami Heat, Miami Marlins and Florida Panthers games.

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