Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa takes off his helmet between drills during Tuesday’s minicamp session at Davie, Fla. Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

 

DAVIE, Fla.— Tua Tagovailoa threw five interceptions in practice on Tuesday. Worse, all those giveaways came with the player who picked off more passes than anyone else in the NFL last season nowhere to be found.

Xavien Howard was a no-show for the first day of the Miami Dolphins’ three-day mandatory minicamp, with Coach Brian Flores saying it was “a contract situation” – a clear indication that the All-Pro cornerback who led the NFL with 10 interceptions last season wants to renegotiate a contract that he already reworked two years ago.

“We love X,” Flores said. “Let me just go ahead and say that right now so you guys can make sure you write that. We love him. He’s very productive. He’s a team player. He’s an important player on this team. But again, unique situation. We want to keep him here.”

The Dolphins’ defense didn’t seem to miss him.

Granted, it was just practice, much of which was held in an absolute downpour; footballs were wet, players were slipping and any sort of visibility was more of a wish than a reality during the worst of the rainfall. One of the interceptions by Tagovailoa was returned to the end zone by linebacker Nik Needham, who did a little dance as he headed back to the defensive huddle.

They all weren’t Tagovailoa’s fault, and Jacoby Brissett threw a pair of interceptions as well during the workout. And part of it, Tagovailoa said, was a conscious decision to make some riskier throws and see what happened.

“The emphasis for us quarterbacks, we wanted to be aggressive today within the pass game,” Tagovailoa said. “We wanted to see if we could fit throws in. We wanted to see what throws we could make under these conditions. We’re just trying to push the ball vertical down the field. There were some plays that didn’t go our way, but those are plays we can take a look at in the film room and move forward with.”

He’s entering his second season in Miami after his stellar collegiate career at Alabama, and with Ryan Fitzpatrick now in Washington, it would seem the starting job is Tagovailoa’s from the outset of this season. Tagovailoa completed 64% of his passes last season, with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions in 290 attempts.

VIKINGS: The Minnesota Vikings signed defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson before their minicamp began, bringing back a proven interior pass rusher in the latest part of their offseason makeover.

Defensive end Danielle Hunter also made his first appearance on the practice field, after skipping the previous spring sessions. Hunter, who did not play last year because of a neck injury, agreed to rework the terms of the contract he signed three years ago.

Richardson played the last two seasons for the Cleveland Browns, with 4 1/2 sacks and 10 quarterback hits in 2020. His lone previous season with the Vikings, in 2018, was productive, with 4 1/2 sacks and 16 quarterback hits. They let him leave as a free agent in a salary cap crunch.

PANTHERS: The Carolina Panthers have agreed to terms on a four-year contract with first-round draft pick Jaycee Horn, a cornerback from South Carolina.

The deal includes a fifth-year team option.

Horn was the eighth player selected in this year’s draft and the first defensive player chosen.

COWBOYS: The Dallas Cowboys are headed back to California for training camp after the pandemic kept them home last year.

The club said its first practice will be in Oxnard on July 22, and fans will be allowed. The Cowboys had gone to Oxnard every year since 2012 before COVID-19 prompted the NFL to order all teams to stay home for camp in 2020.

Dallas will return to California after playing the Hall of Fame exhibition game against Pittsburgh in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 5. The Cowboys break camp Aug. 12 before a preseason game at Arizona.

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