By Mike Cugno

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In week 6 of 2020, the Tua chants filled Hard Rock Stadium.

The future of the Dolphins was here. And although he went 6 and 3 as starter and nearly led Miami into the playoffs, that season felt more like an incomplete picture rather than a celebrated coming out party.

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Even coming from a power house like Alabama, the jump from college to the pros was a big one.

“In the playbook, it is very simplified. Whereas you come in the NFL being a quarterback in the NFL, you realize everyone around you is depending on you to help them. If they don’t understand a play, if they don’t understand their assignment, you’re the first person they’re coming to,” Tua Tagovailoa explained. “So I’ve realized that you have to be a coach as well as a player on the field.”

Before training camp Tagovailoa, made headlines for admitting he didn’t know the playbook well enough last season. While it made for juicy stories and debate, it may have actually been a peek inside his leadership style.

“I think it comes with the territory for me. For me, I love to take ownership of my wrong doings. You know and understand how I can go about fixing them and correcting them. So you know it was just one of those things where I ended up saying it and it was just the truth,” he said.

Flash forward to 2021 and the expectations for a new and improved Tagovailoa have been set by the man himself.

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Rather than go home to Hawaii this offseason, he was here in South Florida holding his own workouts with teammates. And this was more than just running routes. The goal was to improve as a player matched his goals to improve as a team.

“You know just health wise from the mental aspect, also the physical aspect, but also getting down my timing with my players. I got a group of guys together to go out and throw in the park. Then also I got with a good amount of the offensive guys, some of the lineman with the receivers talk through some things,” he said. “Really it’s just the operation of how we do things at the line of scrimmage. You know post snap, pre snap, so they can hear my thoughts and then I can also hear their thoughts so this transition going into this training camp will be a lot better.”

Coming into camp, the most notable improvement to the fans eyes has been Tagovailoa’s size. He wasn’t able to add weight and muscle coming off hip surgery and a truncated off season.

“Well that’s what I lacked last year due to injury. I wasn’t able to focus on anything else other than trying to rehab,” he said. “And not trying to use that as an excuse, that’s just how, how it was for me. And so for me to feel good and to at least mentally feel at my best I know I needed to kind of put that weight back on and also put work in.”

Through the early part of camp, Tagovailoa has looked like a more comfortable passer. He’s emphasized taking shots down field and has spoken up as a leader, meeting with the offense after practice to go over expectations.

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These are all signs that in 2021 the picture of what Tagovailoa can be may is starting to fill in.