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Tua Tagovailoa proud of staying healthy as Dolphins QB enters 17th start of 2023 season

Sunday will mark the first time in Tua Tagovailoa's career in which he's played in all 17 games.

It's not a rare feat -- plenty of players do it each year -- but for Tagovailoa, it's a massive checkpoint on his NFL journey. The often-injured quarterback entered the 2023 offseason with a primary goal: stay healthy. And when he takes the field for Miami's Sunday night affair against Buffalo, he'll have achieved what he couldn't in 2022.

"I take a lot of pride in it," Tagovailoa said Wednesday. "But I also take pride in helping our team win. I look back at some of the losses we've had and wish I could've had some plays back. Wish we could've done some things different. I think those things stick in my brain more than where I'm at right now this season. Things that I could've done better to help our team."

Tagovailoa can lament the mistakes and the turnovers, including the two interceptions that helped the Ravens bury the Dolphins in Week 17. But even then, the mere fact he's been on the field is significantly better than where he'd left the Dolphins at various points in 2022.

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It hasn't been an entirely injury-free campaign for Tagovailoa in 2023. He suffered an arm laceration in Miami's Black Friday win over the Jets, which landed him on the injury report, and he's currently dealing with a shoulder ailment.

Fortunately, Tagovailoa said the shoulder won't keep him from playing.

"My shoulder is good, brother," he said. "It's all good. Thank you."

In an unusually bad year for quarterback health across the league, Tagovailoa has outlasted all but 12 quarterbacks in starting 16 games through 17 weeks. He's part of a select group that includes Josh Allen, Jordan Love, Baker Mayfield, Jared Goff, Derek Carr (who has fought through multiple injuries to remain available), Jalen Hurts, Dak Prescott, Sam Howell, Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes. Tagovailoa's season has been the polar opposite of the situations the Vikings, Browns and Jets have found themselves in this year.

With Purdy, Jackson and Mahomes expected to sit in Week 18, and Mayfield's status still not entirely certain entering the final game of the regular season, Tagovailoa may end up a member of a select group as small as eight quarterbacks to start all 17 games. If you'd asked the average fan whether Tagovailoa would complete such a streak, they'd have likely laughed you off back in August.

But Tagovailoa has arrived to this point because of offseason work, high-quality play, and a little bit of luck. The NFL's passing leader will look to continue his run in a huge game against Buffalo before heading into the postseason.

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