Fitzpatrick went out to stretch with the intention of playing, but as they broke to begin individual drills, Flores approached Fitzpatrick. They had what appeared to be an intimate and emotional conversation and then Flores placed his arm around the quarterback as they walked toward the tunnel.
When the coach returned, he did so without Fitzpatrick.
“Fitz has tried to work through this. He’s always wanted to practice. He tried to go out there today,” Flores said. “… It’s a tough situation. Our hearts go out to him as a team. He’s a competitive guy. He tried to go out there. But some things are more important than football.”
Flores informed the rest of the team prior to the scrimmage, and they all took a knee in prayer.
Fitzpatrick missed practice last Friday for what Flores called “personal reasons.” The quarterback returned the next day and jokingly clarified he wasn’t retiring, he didn’t have the coronavirus and his wife wasn’t pregnant — three of the most common speculations for his absence at the time.
The expected Week 1 starter, Fitzpatrick has had a strong training camp during which he’s been one the team’s top leaders. It’s yet to be seen how long Fitzpatrick will be away from the team.
“He’s going to take as much time as he needs,” Flores said. “I think, as an organization, we’re going to give him his time to grieve. My thought on this, is he’s going to try to get back as quickly as he can.
“Like a lot of us, football is our sanctuary and it’s our place to get away from the tough times, pain and anguish in our lives. I know he’ll probably try to get back as soon as he can, but we’re going to give him as much time as he wants or needs.”
Flores said it’s “hard to say” whether Fitzpatrick will be back in time for their Sept. 13 opener at New England, but they have contingency plans if he isn’t.
The scrimmage began with Tagovailoa and Rosen playing opposite each other. It was a rough day for both young quarterbacks as they combined for just 16 points (three field goals, one touchdown) over 15 drives. Each had one interception, and there were multiple other passes that could have been intercepted had they not been dropped or negated by penalties.
Rosen, whose team won 10-6, had the pass of the day — a 50-plus-yard completion to Malcolm Perry on a go route down the right sideline.