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Dolphins highlight in preseason win pays homage to late executive – USA TODAY

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – It’s like Miami Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel knew he was going to win the coin toss. And he already had a play in mind after electing to receive.

New Dolphins star receiver Tyreek Hill was pacing on the sideline during the kickoff. And when Hill got onto the field, the Dolphins showed why they could be a franchise on the rise during the 2022 season.

Hill caught a 51-yard pass from Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa on the first play from scrimmage in his preseason debut. Hill reached 21.72 mph on the play, posting the fastest speed of any player this preseason, according to Next Gen Stats.

It was exactly the type of game-changing speed and production the Dolphins were looking for when they acquired Hill this offseason from the Kansas City Chiefs, and signed him to the richest deal for a receiver in NFL history at $30 million annually and $72.2 million guaranteed.

“Knowing Tyreek was playing, he wanted a go ball. We gave him a shot,” Tagovailoa said of the highlight play to Hill in Saturday night’s 48-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles at Hard Rock Stadium.

But there was so much more meaning behind the highlight play.

The Dolphins announced the passing of senior vice president of communications and community affairs Jason Jenkins during halftime of the preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday night.

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Jenkins, 47, worked closely with Dolphins owner Steve Ross, and spearheaded the Dolphins’ community engagement with many non-profit organizations and small businesses throughout South Florida. He worked for the team since 2009.

Jenkins is survived by his wife Elizabeth, and their three children.

“I am heartbroken. Jason Jenkins was an icon in the Miami community, and above all a kind and incredible family man. His dedication to our organization was unmatched,” Ross said in a statement. “He was my friend but most of all he was a generous soul. My heart is with Elizabeth and his children tonight. The Jenkins family will always be a part of the Dolphins family.”

Trailblazer. Champion. Kind.

We are heartbroken to share that Dolphins SVP of Communications and Community Affairs Jason Jenkins has passed away. pic.twitter.com/YzKGnC8S0U

— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) August 28, 2022

Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel said Jenkins “was a beacon in the community, a trailblazer and champion for others, and above all, treated people with a kindness and dignity that left a lasting mark on everyone he met.”

Dolphins players were not informed of Jenkins’ passing until after the game.

“Jason was a beacon of the community. That’s what I think of when I hear of Jason’s name,” Tagovailoa said. “This guy is always wanting to do stuff for other people.”

“Rest In Peace Jason…one of the most incredible and selfless humans I have ever met,” Dolphins defensive end Jaelan Philips wrote on Twitter. “We will continue your legacy in the community, the impact you have made will last far beyond the physical.”

Added Tagovailoa: “It’s a sad day for us here at the Miami Dolphins and our organization. We lost someone really, really good.”

McDaniel, who learned of Jenkins’ death before the game, said general manager Chris Grier gave him advice on how to coach the final preseason game despite the organization’s loss.

“It was Chris that said ‘Dude, he’d want you to do what you do,’” McDaniel said of Jenkins. “So, that’s all I thought of. It at least gave me direction. Because I was like ‘What am I doing?’”

After Tagovailoa’s first pass to Hill, they connected for a 13-yard pass on the next play. Two plays later, Tagovailoa threw a touchdown to receiver River Cracraft.

Hill played in the first series of the game, caught two passes for 64 yards and helped the Dolphins finish a four-play, 75-yard touchdown drive in the first 2:05 of the game.

Tagovailoa finished 6 of 7 for 121 yards, 1 TD and a perfect 158.3 passer rating after three series. He led three scoring drives, including two touchdowns, the second a 1-yard run by running back Sony Michel.

Still, Tagovailoa was disappointed in his first pass to Hill – an area of his game he hopes to improve in his third NFL season.

“The throw wasn’t to my liking,” Tagovailoa said. “That whole spiel: If it was a better ball, if it probably was a little more in front of Tyreek, we could’ve scored on the first play probably.”

On a week where the Dolphins canceled their second of two joint practices with the Eagles because players and staff members suffered a stomach illness, Tagovailoa and first-teamers on both sides of the ball got extended playing time into the second quarter.

McDaniel waited until the last preseason game to debut the Dolphins’ newest weapon. Hill has rejuvenated the Dolphins this offseason, his presence providing both a calming presence for a first-year coach in McDaniel and a confidence booster for Tagovailoa, who hopes to take the next step of his NFL career.

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