Miami Dolphins Training Camp Report

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An earlier report from after week one of the pre-season that was published on Thursday, 27th.

MMQB Training Camp Blog week 2: Miami Dolphins

By Jenny Vrentas

Site: Miami Dolphins Training Facility, Davie, Fla.

What I Saw: Two-hour padded practice, Sunday, Aug. 16. Storms rolling through the area forced the team back into the bubble midway through the early-morning session.

Three things you need to know about the Dolphins:

1. Ryan Tannehill looks and feels more comfortable in year two of Bill Lazor’s offense. The base for every quarterback’s play is his footwork, which is why it was promising to hear Tannehill list his footwork as the part of his game he’s emphasized the most this offseason. “Accuracy starts with footwork,” Tannehill said. “Last year at this time, I was still learning new footwork with a new offense, and the timing of the different routes we were running, a lot of the different combinations, I hadn’t run before. Developing that, and being more comfortable, has helped my accuracy and decision-making. I just feel more settled back there.”

2. Ndamukong Suh is making his presence known. We won’t see fully until September how Suh’s presence will change the Miami defense from the inside out, but watching a practice, it’s apparent how he is literally making the players around him better. I questioned in the spring Suh’s decision to skip some of the offseason program and train on his own, but since he’s been in camp, he’s gone out of his way to help develop younger players on whom the team is counting. One of those players is fellow defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, a second-round pick from Oklahoma. Another one is Billy Turner, the presumptive starter at right guard should Miami not go the Evan Mathis route. Turner going up against Suh in practice daily is the best preparation he could have.

3. A lot is riding on the health of Branden Albert. The Dolphins are counting on the left tackle to return from season-ending ACL and MCL tears last November and be an anchor for the offensive line. Albert still hasn’t returned to practice fully, but on Sunday he was dressed in pads and moved well in one-on-one drills against Cameron Wake. “I was delighted,” coach Joe Philbin said after practice. The goal is still for him to be ready for Week 1 (update: On Monday, according to beat reporters, he began 11-on-11 work). The Dolphins need him to be ready, because as late last season showed, there would be a big dropoff in the play of the line without Albert in there.

What will determine success or failure for the Dolphins: Joe Philbin. Normally I wouldn’t say the coach in a talent-driven league, but the Dolphins have a lot of talent on their roster, and it’s up to Philbin to harness that potential and prevent another late-season slide. The pressure is on Philbin, who posted records of 7-9, 8-8 and 8-8 in his first three seasons as Miami’s head coach, and he knows it. He tweaked his coaching style this offseason with an eye on building a closer, tougher team that can finish out the season, instead of again being a game or two from the playoffs.

Player I saw and really liked: RB Damien Williams. The undrafted free agent from 2014 appears to be slotted for the role of the No. 2 back, behind Lamar Miller. He mixed in with Miller for first-team reps during Sunday’s practice, especially down near the goal line. The Dolphins are counting on production from him in the run game.

Five dot-dot-dot observations about Miami: Fans at one of this weekend’s practices called out to the row of media, “Evan Mathis? Evan! Evan!” It was a clamoring for the Dolphins to sign the free-agent guard, but don’t be so sure it will happen. And definitely not at the price for which Mathis appears to be holding out. Mathis was due $5.5 million this season before he was cut by the Eagles, and while he may in fact be worth $5.5 million, how many times have you seen a team dole out that kind of money to a free agent in August? By this point, resources are usually committed elsewhere. The good news for the Dolphins is that Turner played pretty well in the preseason opener last week, and if he keeps it up, the Dolphins may be able to stand pat at the position. … The receiving corps looks deep and diverse on paper—if everyone is healthy. First-round pick DeVante Parker is still on the physically unable to perform list after summer foot surgery, and Kenny Stills was sidelined with a calf injury (update: Stills returned to practice Monday). Both are new additions who need to get in valuable reps with their new quarterback. … The Dolphins run a very precise, organized practice, which includes lining helmets up on the sideline by position group so players can quickly grab them when the walkthrough period is over. They also use yellow ropes to cordon off where players stand during drills so as not to block the cameras filming the session. … DT Earl Mitchell got a few reps at fullback with the offense and even caught two passes during 11-on-11 drills. … Personalized smoothies aren’t just a Chip Kelly thing. After practice Sunday, safety Louis Delmas was sitting in the lobby of the practice facility sipping from a cup labeled “Delmas.” The Dolphins are as serious about sports science as the Eagles, particularly after hiring new sports performance director Wayne Diesel. He spent the last eight years working for Tottenham Hotspur, and when it comes to sports science, the English Premier League is at the forefront.

One name I’d forgotten about: Josh Freeman. Six years removed from being a first-round draft pick, Freeman doesn’t look like he’ll make the Dolphins roster. Miami may keep only two quarterbacks, Tannehill and backup Matt Moore, which means Freeman’s NFL career may be at the end of its line.

The thing I’ll remember about Davie, Fla.: You always feel like you’re surrounded by history at the Dolphins’ facility, and that’s especially true as the Dolphins celebrate what will be the team’s 50th season. One of the banners on the practice field reads, “Champions Practice Here.” For the current players, as much as anything, that’s a reminder of how long it’s been since that was true (42 years). “You think about the storied Miami Dolphins teams of old,” Wake said. “Every year is another opportunity to put this franchise back where it belongs, and that’s on top.”
Gut feeling as I left camp: There’s enough talent on this roster for the Dolphins to make the playoffs as a wild-card team.
Full article and many more team's training camps here: MMQB - SI
 

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Wild-card shmile card Jenny. We taking this division back.
 
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