Quick Slant: Day One Recap from Miami Dolphins Training Camp

With palpable energy, the gates to the Miami Dolphins’ training facility opened at 7:50 this morning. About an hour later, 90 players took the field, and the first air horn officially rung in football season. Quick Slant is our method of providing fast analysis for fans looking for a recap or summary of team activities. The first edition of Quick Slant comes on the first day of training camp, where we got an early look at our 2015 Miami Dolphins.

Standout Performance on Offense: Michael Preston

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Preston played for the Titans in 2012 & 2013, and did not appear in any games last season. It is important to note that I am not saying Preston will become a star for this team, or that he will be the next under-the-radar star for Miami. All I can say is that he had a very impressive day of practice.

His first substantial play came on a pass he laid out for from Matt Moore deep down the sideline. Jamar Taylor broke it up, but Preston definitely wins Best Effort for his dive. He also caught a deep pass from Tannehill against the first team. It’s too soon to draw any conclusions, but Michael Preston definitely helped himself with a strong first day of practice.

Standout Performance on Defense: Chris McCain

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Chris McCain performing well comes as no surprise; fans are entering 2015 with high expectations for the 2nd year linebacker. Last season McCain flashed his abilities, but was unpolished. Apparently the coaches feel he has improved his technique and knowledge of the system given, that he is penciled in as the starting strong side linebacker for the season.

McCain was in on tons of running plays, and applied tons of pressure. In training camp it’s hard to tell what is a sack or atackle given the ban on heavy contact (at least this early), but it seemed like he blew up at least three or four pass plays. McCain was clearly hyped to be back on the field, and appeared to be quick and reactive in both the run and pass games.

What Jumped Out:

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  • The defense was chippy. Jordan Kovacs was making contact more heavily than coaches mat have liked early in practice. The starters clearly didn’t feel the need to play aggressively, but fringe players knew they had to make their mark.
  • Ryan Tannehill looked very attentive to other positions, and spent plenty of time seemingly coaching up receivers and running backs. It’s good to see him taking a more active leadership role.
  • Joe Philbin was all over the linebackers today. He spent the vast majority of individual drills with that position group. Makes sense, given the number of young players and the lack of a clear pecking order at the position.
  • The receiving core looks deep. Rishard Matthews and Matt Hazel both got reps with Tannehill and the first team. It’s good to finally see a wealth of talent at the position.
  • Kenny Stills got plenty of looks in the short pass game. That’s a good sign for Miami, given his abilities to create space and make people miss. One of the mistakes they made with Wallace was not letting him make more plays on short passes near the line of scrimmage (except that same screen they ran 4 times every single game). If Kenny Stills can turn dump-offs into big gains, the Dolphins have a deadly weapon on their hands.
  • Sturgis started out hot, hitting 8 of 8. Good sign, but nothing indicates he will suddenly become an above average kicker.

Overall:

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It was the first practice. What else do you want me to say? The players looked rusty, and there wasn’t a wealth of plays installed. Camp is still in the evaluation stage, assessing what works and what doesn’t within the system. Before the team really has a good idea of the plays and how to execute them, not much can be done. The main thing to take away from this morning’s practice? Football is back.

The team looked ready to practice. While they were rusty, they were anything but sluggish. Guys were flying around the field, and there appears to be a strong drive with this year’s team. It’s a new year, and the players seem eager to prove themselves with a fresh start. Fins Up, Miami- your Dolphins are back.

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