It’s been a long time coming. Not since Thanksgiving of last year has veteran wide receiver Will Fuller officially touched an NFL football field. Finally, on Monday, Fuller dressed fully and participated with his new Miami Dolphins teammates in practice.
“I haven’t played a game in a long time – since I guess Thanksgiving.” Fuller said on Monday. “That’s just something I have to work out through practice and shake that rust off. I feel pretty good, though. I’m out here running routes today and I feel pretty good.”
As of now, Fuller is the only wide receiver who hasn’t had much of a chance to work with QB Tua Tagovailoa. They did spend some time together in the offseason, running basic routes and building timing. But all of that was done on their own time. Now, everyone will get a chance to see what Fuller brings to the offense designed specifically for Tagovailoa. The very same offense that already boasts the likes of Albert Wilson, Mike Gesicki, and electrifying rookie Jaylen Waddle, among others.
“This is probably one of the deepest and talented receiving corps that I’ve been a part of, just as far as all of the guys.” Fuller said. “We all can get it done and of course the tight ends as well and the running backs. It’s been fun to watch these guys. I’m excited to get out there with them and put my best out there.”
6 of 7 targets | 171 yards (28.5 YPR) | 2 TDs pic.twitter.com/g5r9IPy6t8
— josh houtz (@houtz) March 20, 2021
Now with two consecutive days of practice under his belt, signs point to Fuller finally being healthy. Injuries have been the story of his career so far. His talent is undeniable, and his speed is deadly. Unfortunately, it’s his health that’s the biggest question mark. Since being drafted in the first round by the Houston Texans in 2016, Fuller has missed 27 games in five seasons thanks to nagging injuries.
“Those guys are working hard to get back.” Head coach Brian Flores said on Tuesday. “I wouldn’t say there’s any worry, it’s more they’re working to get back. They’ll be out there today. From that standpoint I know they are doing everything they can and that’s really all we can ask of them. That’s kind of the approach I take. Injuries happen … All that we can ask is that they do everything they can to get back as quickly as they can. All the guys who are dealing with nicks and bruises are doing what they can to get back.”
However, there is a more telling story with Will Fuller. When DeAndre Hopkins was in Houston, Fuller had to share the glory. Hopkins always had the spotlight as a perennial All-Pro wide receiver. Once Hopkins left to Arizona, however, everything changed. Quarterback Deshaun Watson now relied on Fuller to be his top target, and he took advantage of that chance. 2020 was Fuller’s best statistical year yet, as he logged 53 catches for 879 yards and eight touchdowns. The craziest thing of all, is that Fuller only played in 11 games last season. Which means he put those numbers up while still missing five games.
If Fuller had played the whole season, who knows what he could have done? Now, it’s Tua Tagovailoa who will get the chance to benefit from Fuller’s presence, and he spoke about how happy he was to have the veteran back in practice at last on Wednesday.
“It’s good to have all of our guys back out here, to be able to work some timing and to be able to get some work in with them.” Tagovailoa said. “I think just them being able to get back into the huddle, hear calls, get out, know where they’re lining up at and then executing with them, I think that’s very important.”
The Miami Dolphins offense already looks vastly improved even without Will Fuller on the field. It’s hard to imagine how much better it can look with Fuller added to the equation. Perhaps, if he can stay healthy, Miami may feel compelled to offer him a big extension. Fuller signed a 1-year, almost fully guaranteed $10,625,011 contract with the Dolphins, both cashing in and betting on himself simultaneously.
Will Fuller is betting he can stay healthy. He’s betting that Tua Tagovailoa is ready to make a huge jump in his career and make him look good. If he wins those bets, there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Fuller will be a very rich man in 2022 and beyond.
Luis Sung has covered the Miami Dolphins for numerous outlets such as Dolphins Wire for seven years. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
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