This article originally appeared on USA TODAY Sports+: Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill stands up for QB Tua Tagovailoa

Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill stands up for QB Tua Tagovailoa

Safid Deen

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — When a video of an underthrown pass from Tua Tagovailoa went viral on social media earlier this month, it was new Miami Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill who came to his quarterback’s defense.

Hill channeled his best Allen Iverson impersonation, posting a more favorable offseason practice video of Tagovailoa on Twitter with the comment: “Can y’all chill or nah? We talking about practice.”

Hill joined the Dolphins earlier this year as the richest receiver in league history. He’ll feature in a new offense alongside speedy second-year receiver Jaylen Waddle, and new Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel.

Hill is ready to lead a young team and hopes to achieve what he once did with Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Andy Reid with the Kansas City Chiefs.

And Hill knows helping Tagovailoa gain confidence — after some early struggles during his first two NFL seasons — will be instrumental in that effort.

“I feel like football is all about confidence. I’m very confident in my quarterback,” Hill said of Tagovailoa after a Dolphins OTA practice Tuesday.

“If I’m able to help him build all the confidence in the world, and other guys push that confidence in Tua, then sky’s the limit for the guy because he’s heckuva talent. He has crazy arm strength and arm talent. We’re excited to see him sling the ball each day.”

Tagovailoa, however, did not participate in practice Tuesday. He reported to the team facility, but had a non-COVID-related illness and was sent home.

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) takes part in drills at the NFL football team's practice facility in Miami Gardens, Fla., Tuesday, May 17, 2022.

Still, Tagovailoa was very much the topic of discussion after veteran backup Teddy Bridgewater and rookie Skylar Thompson led the practice session.

Tagovailoa enters his third season with renewed help from Hill’s brilliance and McDaniel’s offense.

Making the playoffs, which the Dolphins have done only three times since 2001, would be a positive, too.

“I’ve seen a guy that’s attacking the moment, a guy that really likes to play football,” McDaniel said while praising Tagovailoa’s instincts before Tuesday’s practice. “I’ve been very excited about his development as far as the offensive plan and being the starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins.”

Hill, who won the 2020 Super Bowl with the Chiefs at the Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium, has gone out of his way to defend Tagovailoa as they continue to forge a friendship and working relationship.

When asked about his new experience catching footballs from a left-handed quarterback, Hill said, “Tua actually has probably one of the prettiest balls I’ve caught in my life.”

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Hill also spoke positively about Tagovailoa in April when he answered a question from Hall of Fame receiver Terrell Owens during a celebrity football game for rapper Quavo.

“What a lot of people don’t know about Tua is he’s very competitive, he’s a very hard worker, and the guy can actually throw the ball better than a lot of people actually think,” Hill said in a video he posted to YouTube this week.

Hill, who will receive $30 million annually and $72.2 million guaranteed from Miami, had a tough practice Tuesday. He caught a deep pass from Bridgewater and fielded punts, while still getting acclimated to the South Florida heat.

Hill said from an early age his grandparents instilled in him: “the mind is going to help you get to where you want to get.”

And he hopes the same encouragement behind a renewed mindset pays significant dividends for his new quarterback and teammates in Miami.

“When I came here, it wasn’t just for a paycheck," Hill said. "I also signed up to be a team leader … and show them how I do things.

“I have to be that guy that comes out on the field and works hard, and shows these guys how to get the job done and potentially win a Super Bowl. That’s what I’m here for.”