Tagovailoa, Dolphins have right ‘mindset’ for Buffalo weather

MIAMI — Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa isn’t overly concerned about what the weather might be in Buffalo this weekend, calling playing in the cold “a mindset thing.”

The Dolphins and Bills are set to face off for the second time this season Saturday night, when several outlets are projecting heavy snow to fall on Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. He would mark Tagovailoa’s first time playing in the snow in his NFL career, but he said apart from spending time in the cold tub last week while the team practiced in Los Angeles, he hasn’t put much thought into Saturday’s playing conditions.

“I think for me, it’s understanding that there could be many things — could be snowing, it could rain, I don’t know,” Tagovailoa said. “For me, it’s a mindset thing, really. If I’m too focused on, ‘Is it too cold? Can I grab the ball,’ then I would say I’m focused on the wrong things. It’ll be hard to play that way going (up) there and playing against a good team.”

Tagovailoa turned in one of the worst games of his career last season when the Dolphins played the Tennessee Titans in Nashville under near-freezing, wet conditions. The experience inspired him to practice throwing the ball in a cold weather environment this offseason — which he did while visiting his brother, Taulia, in Maryland.

He said there was snow on the ground and temperatures in the 20s during his Maryland visit, and he threw with some of Taulia’s teammates; he came away confident in his ability to throw in those conditions.

“Me personally, and it might be a mindset thing, too, but it felt really good throwing it while it was snowing,” he said. “I didn’t feel any effects of throwing in the snow.”

Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said he would personally do “zero monitoring” of the upcoming weather in Buffalo, adding that you expect it to be cold there this time of year. He said the team won’t practice outside this week, but ultimately, Miami can physically prepare only so much for something McDaniel believes is a mental challenge.

“You don’t really prepare for it besides mentally deciding whether it’s going to matter to you, or not,” McDaniel said. “To me, you just decide whether you’re going to let it factor in or not, and then you adjust as best you can. There’s certain things that become harder when there’s moisture or it hits a certain level of frigidness. But the good news is that there’s not different atmospheres on both sidelines.

“That’s the objective — are you going to let the elements matter more to you than (your opponent does). It is the same field, the same elements, so you just mentally decide how much you’re going to let it affect you .”

The Dolphins are on a two-game losing streak entering Saturday’s game but can keep their division title hopes alive with a win over Buffalo — which would mark a season sweep. The Bills currently hold a two-game lead over Miami in the AFC East.

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