Quick Slant: Recapping Day 4 of Miami Dolphins Training Camp

The Miami Dolphins were in full pads for the first time during Monday’s practice. With this step, the team entered a more physical stage of practice as we got a better idea of how the defense is shaping up and how the offense deals with increased physicality from the opposition. 

Depth Chart Shuffling:

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(Joe Cavaretta/Sun Sentinel)

  • Jay Ajayi did not participate in Monday’s practice (knee bruise). Isaiah Pead, not Arian Foster, ran with the starters. This could be simply to let Foster acclimate. The team is welcoming back Damien Williams to practice tomorrow according to Coach Gase, so we will see where he falls in the rotation.
  • Zac Dysert subbed in as the No. 2 quarterback for Matt Moore, who received a rest day from the coaching staff. Dysert improved his performance slightly today after a disappointing opening weekend.
  • Offensive line pairings have been highly sporadic to this point. Early on Monday the team went with (left to right) Albert, Thomas, Pouncey, Turner, and James. Later in the day, they finally gave us a dose of Laremy Tunsil with Branden Albert, sliding Dallas Thomas over to right guard with the team’s first round pick playing on the left interior. However, they later reverted back to the lineup with Thomas and Turner as the guards.
  • Today we saw Cameron Wake enter the starting lineup at different intervals. On Saturday and Sunday the starting job had been rotated between Branch and Jones.

Ramping Up:

  • When full pads come on, practice dynamic always changes. Today it was clear that players were ready to bring up the tempo. During goal line drills, defensive linemen weren’t letting running backs slip through. Players were clearly ready to get to the core of football: physicality.
  • Chris McCain has been the instigator of camp’s first two scuffles. On Sunday, he mixed it up with OT Sam Young. On Monday he got into it with Laremy Tunsil.

Battle Downfield: 

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(Joe Cavaretta/Sun Sentinel)

  • Cornerbacks and receivers were locked in today. Early in practice eyes shifted to Lippett and Maxwell, who performed well with the starters.
  • DeVante Parker made another outstanding catch today despite being covered deep by Lippett. He continues to be the team’s best target down field in camp regardless of who covers him.
  • With the second-team, Chimdi Chekwa performed well on Monday. His best play was a deep route on which he stuck with Leonte Carroo and made a good play on the ball to break up the pass.
  • Jarvis Landry was also making plays down field, which is a good sign. A common complaint during 2015 was that the team didn’t utilize Landry’s physicality to fight for deep passes.

Goal Line Takeaways:

  • The Dolphins spent much of Monday’s practice working in goal line situations. The increased physicality made for a more interesting series in that area.
  • Jelani Jenkins played well early in these drills; he penetrated well and made two tackles to prevent what would have been touchdowns.
  • Ryan Tannehill audibled. Yes, those three words can finally be combined. On a third down, Tannehill checked out of a play that appeared to be a run, called out a protection to roll out towards the right side of the field, and hit Jarvis Landry for a touchdown.
  • Tannehill is still struggling with fade routes. They haven’t been incorporated heavily, but are a weak point in his arsenal up to this point.
  • Isaiah Pead ran with the starters for the majority of the day. On the goal line, he struggled to find holes.

Best Plays:

  • Offense: DeVante Parker made a strong catch down the right sideline while covered well by Tony Lippett. Parker has been the star of the show so far in Davie.
  • Defense: Chris McCain has been flying around the field. He is consistently a good training camp performer, but today his two sacks (one of which would have forced a fumble) were particularly impressive.

Miscellaneous:

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(Allen Eyestone/Palm Beach Post)

  • Peyton Manning joined the Miami Dolphins as a guest for today’s practice. He, Dan Marino and Adam Gase were seen talking between the two fields. Manning also took time to speak with Matt Moore, who was given a day off by coaches.
  • Wes Welker was also present working with the wide receivers. This is his second appearance after helping coach the group earlier in the offseason program.
  • Coach Gase has spoken at length about his desire to have fans at practice. If actions speak louder than words, Gase’s message is coming across loud and clear. His 11-on-11 drills are hosted mostly on the field closest to fans, and he is allowing players to stay out for extra time to sign autographs. In fact, the position group that performs the best gets extra time to stay out on the field and either sign autographs or visit with their families. Fan experience has surely improved at this year’s camp.
  • It’s too early to tell if anyone is really losing footing in any battles during training camp, but it’s not out of the question to believe that Michael Thomas’ frequent appearances with the starters at safety indicate a slow progression for Isa-Abdul Quddus.
  • Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, despite being healthy, is running mostly with the third string and special team units.
  • The Dolphins have been running a high number of plays with single-high safety. This could be an interesting decision throughout the season if they intend on shifting Reshad Jones around to capitalize on his run stopping ability.
  • The tight end group will need to improve their blocking; during a protection drill, each tight end gave up at least two would-be sacks in one-on-one matchups.
  • The Dolphins seem to be exercising caution with injuries. Arian Foster has been eased into practice, Matt Moore was given a rest day on Monday, and on Sunday they had Albert out as a precaution.

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