Quick Slant: Recapping Days 2 & 3 of Miami Dolphins Training Camp

The Miami Dolphins are back in Davie. The team hosted its first three practices of 2016, and of the Adam Gase era, over the weekend. Despite the fact the team isn’t in full pads, training camp gives fans an opportunity to get the first glimpse at some of the team’s new players and of the approach taken by a new coaching staff.

 Without pads, practice provides little relevant information. However, observations and trends can help demonstrate where players stand within a new regime and how the team is progressing as they install a new system.

 Here are our quick notes from the first weekend of Miami Dolphins training camp.

Quarterbacks:

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(Mike Stocker/Sun Sentinel)

  • The close relationship between Ryan Tannehill and Adam Gase has been evident on the field. He is working with his head coach more than offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen, and Gase gravitates heavily towards drills involving his signal caller.
  • Tannehill is also stepping up in terms of his vocality. After an 11-on-11 drill during Sunday’s practice, he took issue with some element of the receivers’ performance. He went over to one of the team’s positional coaches and displayed clear frustration and proceeded to explain to Kenny Stills where he saw issues. This was followed by a conversation with Adam Gase, who brought his attention towards Tannehill and their work while the second and third teams ran through drills.
  • Matt Moore’s 2015 training camp performance is comparable to what he has displayed this year. He isn’t overly sharp, but does present himself as a much better option than any other backup.
  • Dysert and Doughty are clearly rough around the edges. Each posted cringe-worthy misfires over the weekend and will need to work towards raising their level of performance if they want to stick around. While only one will likely remain in Miami, it seems like the team would be picking the lesser of two evils.

Offensive Line: 

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(Amy Beth Bennett/Sun Sentinel)

  • During Friday’s practice, Dallas Thomas started above Laremy Tunsil at left guard. On Saturday, Tunsil started at left tackle while Albert took a back seat. Albert did not participate on Sunday in what is being called a rest day. This meant more time for Tunsil at left tackle in the weekend’s final practice.
  • The Dolphins are shuffling the offensive line early in camp, but nothing will be definitive until the pads come on. It is interesting that Albert is being given rest days this early, and the decision falls in line with Adam Gase’s level of concern with player health (demonstrated by his decision to keep rookies off of the field in their first minicamp).

Defensive Line & Linebackers:

  • Pads have not come on, which means it is almost impossible to evaluate linebackers or defensive lineman. They must move with immense care as to not injure any teammates.
  • Starters for the defensive line have been the same at ¾ positions for both days. Mario Williams has been the left end, with Ndamukong Suh and Earl Mitchell starting inside. Cameron Wake has been rotating in frequently with the starters on passing downs in 11-on-11 drills.
  • Jason Jones and Andre Branch are battling it out for the starting right end spot. Branch started on Saturday, with Jones getting the nod on Sunday. Once again, evaluation will be easier when the full pads come on.
  • Linebacker roster spots will likely be determined by special teams work. All of the team’s nonstarters in the group have been working heavily with Darren Rizzi.

Running Backs:

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(Joe Cavaretta/Sun Sentinel)

  • Arian Foster began Dolphins training camp on the PUP list. On Sunday, he made his debut (technically). The Dolphins are clearly being cautious with their deployment of Foster.
  • Jay Ajayi is firmly the team’s starting running back at this point. He receives the lion’s share of reps with the starters.
  • Kenyan Drake’s versatility is front and center during camp so far; Adam Gase has him working with the second team, but it’s hard not to be impressed during pass catching drills.
  • Speaking of pass catching drills, Gase has clearly emphasized this during the early stages of camp. In his offense, running backs play a huge role catching the ball. Running backs are frequently off working on goal line routes. In 11-on-11s they have been among the quarterbacks’ favorite targets.

Wide Receivers:

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(Mike Stocker/Sun Sentinel)

  • Jarvis Landry is Jarvis Landry. Outside of one drop during Sunday’s practice on a deep route, he has been his usual self in camp.
  • DeVante Parker is looking like he could become one of the Dolphins’ few examples of players who live up to expectations of a breakout year. He had one of the most impressive early showings of camp on Sunday, catching several passes, one of which was a well-covered deep ball in which he rose up over Tony Lippett for the completion.
  • Kenny Stills has been a favorite target in early practices. His speed is on display, and he appears to be more accustomed to the South Florida training camp climate in 2016. Reports emerged during OTAs that Stills was going to be a top option heading into a contract year, and early in camp he seems poised to capitalize on opportunities afforded by the coaching staff.

Defensive Backs:

  • Byron Maxwell has been inconsistent, but has made a few strong plays early in camp. On Saturday he covered Kenny Stills well deep on a trick play that saw Jarvis Landry throwing Stills the ball 40-yards downfield. On Sunday, Maxwell blew up a play in 11-on-11 drills after snuffing out the receivers’ route. However, he has also struggled sticking with receivers down field at times.
  • Michael Thomas has been starting opposite Reshad Jones at safety and has actually been calling plays in the secondary. It could be possible that Thomas is putting himself in position to unseat Isa Abdul-Quddus (the expected starter).

Special Teams:

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(Logan Riely/Miami Herald)

  • Jakeem Grant has been first up in every punt returning drill. While he dropped one on Friday and almost dropped one Sunday, he is in the driver’s seat for that job. Griff Whalen and A.J. Cruz are also taking reps as returners, with Kenyan Drake interestingly sitting out from those duties.
  • While many thought Andrew Franks was safe, he is locked in a competition with Marshall Koehn early in camp. Both have performed well early, rotating on kicking duties.
  • John Denney also faces competition from long snapper Ryan DiSalvo, who took reps on Sunday.
  • Matt “The Leg” Darr appears to be immune to competition at this time.

Top Plays:

  • Saturday’s top play came courtesy of Jarvis Landry. He was handed the ball on what seemed like an end around from Tannehill and proceeded to throw the ball deep down the field to Kenny Stills. The ball was well thrown, but Byron Maxwell disrupted the pass.
  • Sunday’s two best moments were both receptions by DeVante Parker. Parker dove to the corner to catch a ball thrown by Tannehill in 7-on-7 drills for what would have been a touchdown. In 11-on-11 drills earlier, Parker rose above Lippett to catch a well thrown ball from Tannehill.

Miscellaneous:

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(Joe Cavaretta/Sun Sentinel)

 

  • Dion Jordan was on the field for Sunday’s practice, but was working off to the side. He is not ready for work with the team according to Coach Gase.
  • Jakeem Grant is going to be a Swiss Army knife for Miami. He has been the primary punt returner and participated in an interesting drill during which he took handoffs from Ryan Tannehill on what looked like an option play.
  • Jake Stoneburner’s dismissal seems to be a strong statement that Thomas Duarte, a receiving-tight end out of UCLA, is in the driver’s seat for the third tight end job.
  • The emphasis for the offense early on has been the goal line. This makes sense since full pads haven’t been donned, but it is worth nothing that Gase is strongly focused that area of the field (a fact he confirmed during his press conference after practice).

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