Quick Slant: Day Two of Miami Dolphins 2015 Training Camp

Day two of training camp is complete. Today was the last day before Joe Philbin’s team puts on the pads, and that’s when we will really get a good look at the progress players are making. Here’s what we saw during the last day of what Joe Philbin called the “acclimation period” in training camp.

Standout Offensive Performance: Ryan Tannehill

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Ryan Tannehill’s day was more about what he did between plays than what he did throwing the football. He looked sharp and accurate, which is most likely thanks to the work he put into his mechanics this summer. Tannehill also did not hesitate to meet receivers back at the line and spend more time with them after the drill. He appeared to be correcting them mostly on routes and timing.

Tannehill spent a good deal of time early in practice with the tight ends working on seam routes, which paid off later in 7-on-7 drills when he hit Jordan Cameron for a big gain up the middle. If receivers mistimed routes, Tannehill was quick to correct them, and notably spent time with Kenny Stills after a few misses. The progression of Ryan Tannehill’s leadership is a positive sign for Miami, and really stuck out in today’s practice.

Standout Defensive Performance: Kelvin Sheppard

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Practices without pads are hard for defenders, given that they cannot tackle offensive players (so fans should probably stop cheering for running plays given they have nowhere to go but forward and are not allowed to be stopped). But if I had to pick a player, Kelvin Sheppard appeared to shine today in the starting middle linebacker role. He recorded a would-be sack, and showed good decisiveness in scrimmages. The linebacker battle should get very interesting when contact is more welcome, but for today it appeared that Kelvin Sheppard left the biggest impression on that side of the ball. He definitely made the most of his opportunity, and a battle between he and Misi could develop for the starting job.

Standout Special Teams Performance: Andrew Franks

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Dolphins’ fans know that Caleb Sturgis is not the answer at kicker. The coaching staff has also come to this realization given that rookie kicker Andrew Franks took all of the snaps at the position today in drills. Franks performed admirably, hitting the vast majority of his attempts, all of which came from about 38-45 yards. It’s too early to make any judgments, but the idea of a Sturgis replacement has to be exciting for the team.

What Jumped Out:

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  • Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle was all over the linebackers today. He spent most of the day scouting the position as Tripp, Jenkins, McCain, Misi, and Sheppard took the majority of the reps. This is slightly interesting given Coyle’s background as a defensive backs coach (his job for years in Cincinnati).
  • Christion Jones and Damarr Aultman stood out in special teams drills. This is when players start to realize that their best shot at the 53-man roster is through Darren Rizzi’s unit as gunners, returners, and on the hands team. Jones performed well in tip drills and fielding punts. It will be interesting to see how he looks as a gunner in pads. According to Omar Kelly, Aultman almost blocked a punt and performed well in kicking drills.
  • Today was another strong practice for Michael Preston. Seriously, this kid came out of nowhere. He made one diving catch for a deep ball, and caught one in stride from Matt Moore down the right sideline.
  • The offensive line clearly needs work. Even in one-on-one blocking drills they were getting driven back. That doesn’t just pertain to Vernon, Suh, and Wake. Shelby, Fede, and Phillips all looked like they were finding some success against the team’s o-line.
  • According to multiple Dolphins reporters, Jay Ajayi left practice early holding his elbow. Good news- it wasn’t his knee. Ajayi hasn’t been taking many reps with the first team, as Lamar Miller and Damien Williams appear set to be the top runningbacks.Jay-Ajayi
  • Branden Albert was on the field today doing rehab. Good to see him running, but he did still look somewhat impaired.
  • The Miami Dolphins need to learn from Brent Grimes’ attitude on the practice field. 1) He always has fun, and 2) he always plays his hardest with no excuses. Even if it is the 5’10 cornerback defending a pass against 6’5 Jordan Cameron, he never makes excuses or backs down. Grimes always appear loose and easy-going during practice, and you can sense that his presence makes a difference for the team.

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Overall:

Practice was less crisp today. There were plenty of miscues and dropped passes. You can tell that it is time for players to put on the pads and start conditioning for the season. I am interested to see how the fringe players perform in special team drills, specifically camp’s surprise performer thus far, Michael Preston.

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There is a new intensity surrounding the team this year, and you can feel the energy from the top of the organization all the way down. Yesterday, owner Stephen Ross captured this perfectly. When asked if he was getting antsy for the team to start winning, he answered with “You’re goddamn right.” Tomorrow in pads we will get a better idea of how close the Miami Dolphins actually are to winning some serious games in 2015.

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