MIAMI GARDENS, Fla., Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Nearly 100 players are on the field at Miami Dolphins training camp, and many of them have a story about Ryan Fitzpatrick's leadership since he joined the team fewer than five months ago.
Dolphins coach Brian Flores said Fitzpatrick has been the clear leader over Josh Rosen in the ongoing quarterback competition. Flores has touted Fitzpatrick's leadership ability since he arrived in South Florida a month before Rosen joined the team via trade.
Rosen admits he trails Fitzpatrick when it comes to recognizing defenses and processing the new offense. Dolphins Pro Bowl cornerback Xavien Howard is also familiar with Fitzpatrick's experience, as he was tasked with defending the quarterback when he played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"[Fitzpatrick] has been in the league a minute," Howard told UPI. "Playing against him at Tampa, I was like 'man this guy [is good].'"
Howard said he has been picking Fitzpatrick's brain now that they share a team, composed mostly of young players.
"He has seen a lot from being on different teams," Howard said. "He plays a role in helping the younger guys and guys behind him, with experience he has. He played a big role as soon as he came in. He was a leader from the start ... from the defense I've seen that."
Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson said Fitzpatrick has been "hands on with everybody."
"Coming in every day and taking control is the utmost leadership we can ask for," Wilson said. "Coming in every day ready to work and willing to change things and giving his opinion every day. We are all out here learning this new offense and I think we are doing a great job. His helping out and giving that one-on-one time to whoever needs it is a leader to me."
Fitzpatrick's career performances on the field have been boom or bust. He started the 2018 season on fire, throwing for at least 400 yards and three scores in each of his first three games. He also threw four interceptions in those games, while the Buccaneers posted a 2-1 record.
He was in and out of the Buccaneers' lineup as the team switched between Fitzpatrick and former No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick Jameis Winston at quarterback. Fitzpatrick finished the season with 17 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
But Rosen didn't fare any better in Arizona. The Cardinals' first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft completed just 55 percent of his throws while throwing 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
The Dolphins' decision-makers face the dilemma of either playing the experienced veteran or the unproven second-year option -- with potential -- at quarterback.
Rosen recently has shown more promise than he did in the early stages of the off-season and training camp, but Flores plans to play Fitzpatrick with the first team for the foreseeable future, including at the team's first preseason game.
"I would say from a quarterback standpoint, it's pretty clear to me that Ryan Fitzpatrick is leading the way," Flores said. "I think he's done that in a lot of areas from leadership to production on the field, in the meeting rooms, in the walkthroughs. I think this is an ongoing competition but right now, I'd say he's leading the way."
When asked to clarify what makes Fitzpatrick better than Rosen at this point, Flores again mentioned leadership. He also said Fitzpatrick "has a great rapport with the entire team." Flores said Rosen "relates well to his teammates," but added that every young player is developing in terms of leadership ability and maturity.
"You don't just walk into a place and say 'I'm the leader of the team or the franchise or the building.' It doesn't matter what field you're in," Flores said.
"I don't think that happens anywhere. It's something you have to earn. I think [Rosen] understands that. I think every player on this team understands that. You don't just walk in and you're a leader and at the top of the food chain. It doesn't work that way.
"He's got to earn it. He's got to earn the respect of his teammates. I think he's doing that. I think for any player -- not just Josh but speaking specifically about the quarterback position -- those guys are in more of a leadership role and have more of an opportunity to take control and lead."
Flores said that leadership role also is earned in meeting rooms, the weight room and the locker room. He said players must earn the trust of coaches, teammates and everyone within the organization before they can take the leadership role.
Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders said Fitzpatrick's leadership "comes natural."
"He has a lot of experience a lot of people come in here with," Sanders said. "Years with other teams that they get to learn and grow over the years. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been in the league for a while. It's a leadership that comes natural."
Fellow Dolphins quarterback Jake Rudock is behind Rosen and Fitzpatrick on the depth chart. He has a front row seat to the competition between Rosen and Fitzpatrick, but said all three quarterbacks get along on and off the field.
"I think it's just because [Fitzpatrick] has been in the league for so long," Rudock said of Fitzpatrick's leadership style. "He has had a bunch of different tests in the locker room.
"He has had experiences and knows how to get along with people. He just understands people. He is good at knowing how to communicate or how to twist you a little bit if he needs to light a fire under you."
Flores was asked about his personal style of leadership during a news conference Tuesday at Dolphins training camp. The first-year head coach said he took leadership aspects from New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and other leaders throughout his life to mold his brand of leadership.
Flores also said being authentic is a major facet of leadership.
Fitzpatrick's authentic leadership has been evident for his coaches and teammates, while Rosen is tasked with molding his own unforced style. Rosen's Cardinals teammates said similar things about him last season, even before he was named Arizona's starter.
For now, Rosen said he appreciates learning from the tested Fitzpatrick, despite simultaneously competing against him for a job. Fitzpatrick says he feels more comfortable with himself and his game than he ever has during his NFL tenure.
"If I'm going to beat him out, I'm going to be proud of myself because I know I beat out really, really stiff good competition, and if I don't, I know I've got a really good guy to learn from," Rosen said.
"I'm excited for the next couple weeks and months to come."