NFL QB Talk: Tua Starts; Mahomes Understands Brady; Zach Wilson Year 2; Tannehill Embraces Checkdowns

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who is listed as questionable with back and ankle injuries on the team's injury report, is expected to start Thursday night's game against the Cincinnati Bengals. That's according to a league source who spoke with OutKick.

Tagovailoa is not 100 percent but has told coaches he feels he can be effective. Per the source, Miami's staff believes his velocity on passes will be good enough to play, as long as he can manage whatever pain remains.

The source cautioned that the Dolphins will continue monitoring Tagovailoa in case he suffers a setback to the back, perhaps even because he's sleeping in an unfamiliar bed Wednesday evening. Tagovailoa's ankle injury is not considered problematic enough to keep him out of the lineup.

The Dolphins are the AFC's lone undefeated team and the Bengals are the defending conference champions.

Mahomes Understands Brady Wanting To Play

The premier quarterback matchup in the NFL this week is Tom Brady versus Patrick Mahomes.

(Sorry, Josh Allen vs. Lamar Jackson, but neither of you has played in a Super Bowl and these guys have played in 12 combined.)

Anyway, being in the top matchup of the week is getting to be a habit for Brady. Last week he led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their loss to the Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

The fact Brady is still in these games, at age 45, is something other quarterbacks marvel about. Mahomes, 27, is no different because he'd like to stay at his post as the Chiefs starting quarterback as long as he can.

And the only way he can do that is by playing so well that he'll be in the top QB matchups a decade or two from now.

"Yeah, I want to play as long as I can play, and I can still have a chance to help the team get better," Mahomes said Wednesday. "Obviously, it’s hard to play until you’re 45 years old, and I don’t want to be out there just hanging on.

"You see what Tom is – he’s still playing at a very high level. I think that’s why it’s hard for him to kind of give it up. When you’re playing at a high level you don’t want to leave it.

"For me, I’m going to try to keep my body in the best shape possible and as long as they’ll let me play and I can play at a high level, I’ll be out there."

Game May Be On The Move

There's no telling where the Chiefs and Buccaneers will be playing this one. The NFL will consider the aftereffects of Hurricane Ian, which slammed the southwest coast of Florida Wednesday, and decide if the Buccaneers can indeed host the game at Raymond James Stadium.

Otherwise the game will be played in Minnesota's U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis -- a possibility that does not bother Mahomes.

"For us it’s an away game regardless, so you’re going to be going somewhere to play, so you’ve just got to focus on the game plan and try to prepare yourself that way. And I mean obviously I want to send thoughts and prayers to everybody in the Florida area, and hopefully they got out of there and if not that they’re buttoned down and safe."

Steelers Confident In Trubisky Despite Rocky Start

The last time we watched Mitch Trubisky play, in a 29-17 loss to the Cleveland Browns, he was not too effective.

He was better than he'd been the previous game against New England. But good?

Not when he failed to get the Steelers offense in the end zone more than once. That marked the third time in three games that had happened.

So obviously the thought of eventually moving on to rookie Kenny Pickett has to be considered, right?

Well, if coach Mike Tomlin has considered it he's also rejected it. At least for now.

Trubisky is his guy. He's sticking with him for Sunday's home game against the New York Jets at the very least.

Does that make Trubisky feel like coaches and players have his back although he's played below expectations so far?

"I do, I do," Trubisky said Wednesday. "I think they have confidence in me. It’s just communication and being on the same page and everybody detailing our work. The plays have been there on film, we just need to go out and make them.

"But I feel like we’re heading the right direction and it's just going to take a great week of work."

Let's think of this a moment, shall we?

The plays have been there. But Trubisky admits he and others haven't made them.

And that's something to feel good about?

It's Zach Wilson Time

Something was obviously amiss with Zach Wilson's career arc when the two biggest headlines about the New York Jets quarterback the past two months was about his relationship with his mom's best friend and an injury.

But Sunday should correct that weird wrong because Wilson will make his 2022 regular-season debut when the Jets visit the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"It’s the happiest I’ve been in months," Wilson said after learning he's been 100 percent cleared from his injury and is will be in the lineup at last.

"I mean once you get out there, it’s like being a quarterback your entire life, you have to be calm in certain situations. I’m sure there’s going to be times where I got to be able to bring myself back down, but it’s just back to playing ball.

Year 2 is typically a big deal for quarterbacks. Many make a leap in their second season as the game slows for them.

But the reason this is Wilson's first game action of this regular season is because he suffered a torn meniscus and bone bruise in an Aug. 12 preseason game. He's been out six weeks and missed New York's first three games.

Luckily for Wilson, whatever he wanted to accomplish to start his second NFL season is still within reach. He's hoping he's better than the rookie who threw 9 TD and 11 interceptions last year.

He's also hoping the talent the Jets have added and the lessons he's learned from veteran Joe Flacco during his past three starts jump start him toward success.

So it is finally here.

"I’m going to be super excited," Wilson said. "I just got to go out there and play ball, so I’m excited to get on the field."

Checkdown Pass Is Ryan Tannehill's Friend

Most quarterbacks do not love the checkdown pass.

It's a necessary tool when the moment is difficult, no one is open downfield, and a play needs rescuing. But make no mistake, throwing a short pass to the running back in the flat or a few yards from the line of scrimmage is not the first option.

It's not what most quarterbacks want to do.

Ryan Tannehill, however, is all about the checkdown pass right now.

He's thrown 3 TD passes this year. All of those went to running backs -- two to Dontrell Hilliard and one to Derrick Henry.

"Any time you check the ball down to Derrick or Dontrell it is not even close to a give-up play," Tannehill said Wednesday. "Both of those guys are explosive with the ball in their hands.

"Derrick had some good gains underneath, as well as Dontrell and what he's done a little bit earlier in the season. We are going to try to push the ball downfield, take our shots and give opportunities to our receivers. I'm not going to force it into a window we shouldn’t, and I will drop it down when we need to."

Translation: Tennessee doesn't have A.J. Brown anymore. The team's best receivers, veteran Robert Woods and rookie Treylon Burks, are still getting fully acclimated with Tannehill.

So Tannehill thinks checkdowns, productive in an otherwise inconsistent offense, are pretty good.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero