August 08, 2016

First depth chart of 2016 Miami Dolphins preseason PLUS early notes, Ifo knee injury [Updated]


The first depth chart of the 2016 season is out this morning for the Miami Dolphins and here are some interesting tidbits:

The starting running back is Jay Ajayi. This despite the fact Ajayi missed a few days of practice with a bone bruise to a knee and Arian Foster took the first-team work those days and was impressive. Foster is second team and Damien Williams, who also missed time this training camp, is third team.

Dallas Thomas is listed at the starting left guard. Rookie first-round pick Laremy Tunsil, who is expected to have this job by the time the regular season rolls around, is listed as second team left guard.

No surprise at starting center with Mike Pouncey, but backup center right now belongs to first-year player Anthony Steen. He is ahead of Jamil Douglas, who played in Pouncey's absence last year.

The starting receivers are Kenny Stills, Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker. Second team is Leonte Carroo, Matt Hazel and Griff Whalen.

Earl Mitchell, who is coming off a less than stellar season in 2015, remains a starting defensive tackle with Ndamukong Suh ahead of rookie Jordan Phillips. Chris Jones, a veteran of three previous NFL seasons, is listed as the other backup defensive tackle.

Cameron Wake, who the team is bringing along wisely as he returns from a 2015 torn Achilles, is listed at his usual starting defensive end spot. Mario Williams is the other starting defensive end. The backup defensive ends are Jason Jones and Andre Branch.

The starting linebacker corps is what we've seen throughout camp: MLB Kiko Alonso, OLB Jelani Jenkins and OLB Koa Misi. The backups are OLBs Neville Hewitt and Spencer Paysinger and MLB James-Michael Johnson.

Tony Lippett, uneven in his performance as a starting cornerback since training camp opened, remains the starting cornerback opposite Byron Maxwell. Chimdi Chekwa, who lately has gotten first-team snaps, is listed as the backup behind Lippett.

No surprise at starting safety with Reshad Jones and recently acquired free agent Isa Abdul-Quddus at the other spot. It should be said that Abdul-Quddus has been off the field in some nickel packages since the start of camp with either Bobby McCain or Michael Thomas at the slot corner.

McCain is listed as the starting slot corner ahead of Thomas although the two have been sharing some of those first-team repetitions. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is listed as the third-team slot cornerback.

[Update: The Dolphins have waived/injured Ekpre-Olomu this morning. All the buzz about his signing in the spring resulted in ... nothing. Ikpre-Olomu sustained another ACL tear, this time to his other knee during a practice Saturday. The injury happened inside the team's bubble, which has field turf. He's done for the year and done on this team for now. The team has added free agent Al Louis-Jean to fill the spot.]

Landry remains listed as the team's kick and punt returner but the team is hoping rookie Jakeem Grant can win the punt return duties and Damien Williams is listed as the second-team kick returner.

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 The Dolphins returned to practice Monday morning. Well, most of them.

Missing practice Monday were receiver DeVante Parker (hamstring), running back Kenyan Drake (hamstring), DE Mario Williams (rest), DE Cameron Wake (rest) , CB Chimde Chekwa (thigh strain), DE Farrington Huguenin (ankle), DT Earl Mitchell (calf).

Running back Isaiah Pead (hamstring) returned to practice.

 

August 05, 2016

Dolphins slog through injury-filled practice; Howard improving

Rough day out there today, folks. Very rough.

Firstly, there were injuries: Cornerback Chimdi Chekwa left practice with an apparent leg injury even as he was working with the first-team defense. Cornerback Jordan Lucas left practice with an apparent leg injury.

[Update: I am told Chekwa has a leg strain. That isn't good news but obviously not terrible, either].

The injury has to be frustrating for Chekwa because he is obviously getting a long look with the Dolphins. Even if he doesn't win the starting job, his work with the starting unit could help him lock down a roster spot if he performs well. After Chekwa went down, Tony Lippett returned to work with the first-team defense.

And running back Kenyan Drake pulled up with an apparent hamstring injury. Drake was on a long run he broke outside when his leg went stiff. He spiked the football and ripped his helmet off in frustration as he was slowing down.

Drake, you must remember, missed time this offseason with a hamstring injury and had a history of injuries in college at Alabama. 

With two cornerbacks going down, the importance of getting rookie Xavien Howard back grows. Howard has not practiced this training camp but today seemed to take a significant step as he ran and did some cutting on the field.

That was a first.

Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, speaking after practice, said Howard "absolutely" could be the team's starting cornerback in the regular-season opener at Seattle but added he cannot say for certain because Howard still has not practiced at all.

"He's a second round pick for a reason," Joseph said of Howard. "He's talented. From what we saw in the spring he could be a starter. But he hasn't practiced, he hasn't worked. Until he comes back I won't know that answer."

Head coach Adam Gase said he could not predict how long before Howard joins practices.

"It's hard for me to say, 'Hey, we know this is going to be the exact date,'" Gase said. "It's hard for me to say it's ahead of schedule. We're still a ways away. He knows I need to get out there. He knows he needs to get every bit of work he can before the season gets off."

Several players missed practice today.

Ndamukong Suh did not practice because of a back issue. The Herald's Adam Beasley reports Suh is fine. Had this been a game day, he would have played. Defensive end Jason Jones and offensive tackle Branden Albert did not practice because as they both got rest days.

Isaiah Pead (hamstring) missed practice again but Gase said the running back approached him earlier and pronounced himself ready to get back to work. The club held him out as a precaution, to give him more time to heal.

Receiver DeVante Parker (hamstring) missed practice but seemed to be running smoothly on the side. I'd venture to guess he's back at practice next week the latest.

against With Albert taking a rest day, first-round draft pick Laremy Tunsil took all his reps at left tackle with the starting unit. He gave up one sack that I saw. Cameron Wake, ladies and gentlemen.

Starting right tackle Ja'Wuan James also gave up a sack to Andre Branch.

This was a rough day for Dolphins offensive tackles, but much of that is probably that the Dolphins have some pretty good defensive ends.

Speaking of a rough day, it was that for the cornerbacks regardless of the injuries to Chekwa and Lucas.

Before the injury, Chekwa was struggling to cover Jarvis Landry, who had two touchdowns against the corner from 33 and 24 yards.

At the slot cornerback position, Michael Thomas, who struggled getting his hands on receivers earlier this week, seemed to be having a good day. He was all over the lower-tier receivers.

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu gave up a 40-plus-yard touchdown pass to Rashawn Scott. Scott simply got behind the rookie corner. Ekpre-Olomu is working his way back from a significant knee injury and surgery that forced him to miss the 2015 season.

On that particular play, he looked to be laboring to keep up with Scott.

By the way, ask Joseph about cornerback and he mentions how well Byron Maxwell is playing. At the other positions, he says the problem is not one of lack of talent. He says it is about a lack of experience.

"We'll find someone to play there," Joseph said.

August 04, 2016

Don't expect OL shuffle to end; tons of news, notes, quotes

The Miami Dolphins are done with their Thursday practice and the team made offensive assistants available to the media.

And offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen, peppered with questions about the offensive line among other things, said he's not worried that the offensive line has been shuffling guys in and out with regularity.

That shuffling has been particularly true at guard. First round pick Laremy Tunsil gets some snaps with the first team at left guard. He gets some snaps at left tackle. He works with the second team most of the time as well. Dallas Thomas gets reps with the first team at left guard; he's also gotten work at right guard with the first unit. And sometimes Billy Turner, always at right guard, is mostly with the first unit but sometimes with the second unit.

Christensen called the shuffling, "teach mode."

And Christensen said that is the way it is going to remain this week. And next week. And through the first preseason game Aug. 12.

"It’s still the teach mode, as much as I kind of want to jump ahead and let’s get into a starting lineup. You know, we haven’t even got the first preseason game or game week, so through the first preseason game, it’s just keep teaching.After that ... when the coaches get back and evaluate the tape, it is possible the shuffling will cease because as Christensen said, "We'd love to have one unit we know is going to go out there every play and get their chemistry down."

So maybe that happens after the preseason-opener against the New York Giants.

But not before then, it seems.

ARIAN FOSTER HAS OL FIGURED OUT; AJAYI NEEDS TO WORK ON THAT

Ever since coach Adam Gase said running back Arian Foster would be "rolling with the ones" it has been clear that the Dolphins have found their starting running back. But as the team needs two running backs that can contribute because Foster has a long injury history and Gase has a long history of distributing carries among multiple backs, it is important for Jay Ajayi to get healthy and back on the field.

"He's not falling behind mentally for sure," Gase said today. "For me, the sooner we can get him back the better. He's working hard to get back. It's so day-to-day. Everyday we walk in and say, 'Alright where's he at?' ... I know he's itching to get back there because he knows his biggest thing is getting that feeling for what we're doing in the running game and looking at the line of scrimmage and understanding, 'how do I fit in with the o-line.' "

Interestingly, Foster already has that feeling after only six practices. 

"That's the thing Arian has done a great job at," Gase sadi. "Right away, a couple of days in, he's got a good feel where some of his holes are popping. Jay is trying to do the same thing, it's just that some of the things we're doing is different than what he's done in the past."

MONEY QUOTE THAT WILL MAKE YOU LOVE ADAM GASE.

I covered Don Shula.

And one thing I consistently saw from the coach, aside from winning and integrity, was that he coached players rather than a system. If his players did one thing better than others, he used those abilities and tried to hide the flaws or weaknesses.

He didn't insist on players conforming to his system. He conformed his system to them.

That is why Shula went to a Super Bowl with a running team riding Larry Csonka. And he went to the Super Bowl with a passing team riding Dan Marino.

And Gase believes in this very philosophy. He's not going to ask Ryan Tannehill to throw passes the quarterback isn't comfortable throwing -- even if Peyton Manning and Jay Cutler liked to do it. He's not going to ask linemen or receivers or running backs do something they struggle to do.

Consider:

"We're still developing what's best for [Jay Ajayi]," Gase said. "So right now it's real generic. As we get through the preseason and we get into the regular season, we'll have a better idea. We're going to do what he does best. We're still trying to figure that out."

Not to kick dirt on a previous head coach's grave, but the past couple of seasons, I've heard more than once things like, "We're going to do something and our guys will do it because they're professionals."

Craziness.

PRACTICE NOTES

After what was a physical practice Tuesday night, the Dolphins came back after a day off Wednesday and picked up where they left off, Gase said. He said he was pleased with the intensity today.

Kenny Stills, who coaches say has been the first receiver in and last one out of the building this year since the spring, had a mostly good day today. He caught three red zone touchdowns, including a tight rope catch against the end line. He also dropped a couple of passes.

DeVante Parker (hamstring), Ajayi (knee), Isaiah Pead (hamstring), Farrington Huguenin (ankle) did not practice.

Cornerback Tony Lippett, who has been taking practically all the first-team snaps until one period Tuesday evening, was back with the first team today.

This is simply my opinion and not what anyone has whispered to me:

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has lately locked on to Jarvis Landry in the red zone. Yes, he throws to others, but it seems he looks to Landry first. And I get it, Landry is good. Very good.

But the reads need to get a little quicker.

Again, just my opinion.

FORMER DOLPHINS COACH HAPPY TO BE BACK

The last time we saw Chris Foerster in 2004, he was the Dolphins offensive coordinator -- a position he inherited just days before the season began -- during the 2004 season under Dave Wannstedt.

Now he's back as Miami's offensive line coach.

(God, I've been doing this so long the team is recycling coaches).

Anyway, how does Foerster feel about being back?

"It's great to be back. Obviously I don't want to talk about last time, it wasn't a great stop," he said. "But it was a great experience for me from [a coaching] standpoint. It was a wonderful opportunity to coordinate during a real catastrophic year. It was awful. I mean, all the hurricanes hit the state. I was in this building more when the power was off than when it was on that year. It was crazy with the hurricanes and the season with Wannstedt in the middle of the season being out ... But coming back with coach Gase, a very, very close friend of mine, and a guy I've always respected and admired. And I'm very excited about the opportunity. I love this football team. Love the field. The building. And the ownership. It was a different ownership at the time. It was great back then. But it's just different now."

 

Miami Dolphins comfortable with CB talent, think Salguero is a foof

You may have noticed I've been a bit worried about the Miami Dolphins cornerback situation. If you haven't noticed, you can come up to date with my concern ... here and here and here.

Yes, I've been banging the drums that cornerback talent for the Dolphins right now -- as shown to my untrained by what I see on the field -- is substandard.

And the Dolphins have noticed me noticing.

From the top of the organization, I've been getting some pushback on the idea that cornerback is a problem.

Two days ago a coach told me, "Keep writing that negative stuff. I love it. I love it."

Last night a highly placed source in the organization said confidently, "When we line up against Seattle, we are comfortable'' there will be answers at cornerback.

And I get it. Xavien Howard is not on the field now. The team has high expectations he's going to be quite good.

And (news coming) the suggestion I got is that he will be playing at Seattle. So Howard, who has missed six practices, including today, is likely going to be ready for the season-opener, per the team. The thing is, for him to be ready for Seattle, he has to start practicing at least a couple of weeks before that opener.

I was also told I shouldn't get my underwear in a bunch about signings such as Rashaan Melvin and portray him as an answer because this is never going to be the case.

So there. I've delivered the good tidings based on the pushback I'm getting.

(Yeah, I'm being dramatic. The pushback is simply a difference of opinion delivered professionally and graciously).

But the message is the message.

The Dolphins believe they are going to be just fine.

Me?

I think I know what I think I know.

I think I know that Howard isn't Deion Sanders and so it is going to take him time to get comfortable and in the meantime, he'll be targeted.

I think I know that teams typically need four or five corners who can play because every NFL season is a marathon requiring backup talent to step forward.

I think I know that beyond Byron Maxwell and maybe Howard (eventually) I don't see any really good NFL cornerback on the Dolphins.

I think I know that in practice Bobby McCain has been better than Michael Thomas at slot cornerback and yet they continue to share the starting role. I like Thomas as a backup. And McCain is indeed promising. But I know he is relatively unproven so forgive me if I don't throw him a parade.

That's what I think I know.

The Dolphins think they know better.

They're probably right. I'm probably wrong.

Maybe. 

August 03, 2016

Miami Dolphins looking for linebackers (update)

The Miami Dolphins are off today so the personnel department is, well, looking at personnel. The team brought in three street free agent linebackers today, obviously looking for depth at a position that currently has very little.

Brandon Spikes, a former starter in New England and star at the University of Florida, was among the linebacker worked out. Former Lions linebacker Jerry Franklin, released by Detroit July 28, is also among the group worked out, per a source.

Franklin has been with the Saints (2014), and Bears (2012-13) in addition to the Lions. He signed with the Lions in February.

Danny Lansanah, who was a rotational linebacker for Tampa Bay the last three years, was also in for a workout. Stephen Tulloch, who was cut by Detroit, remains an option down the line. The Dolphins have shown mild interest in Lansanah in the past.

[Update: I am reporting the Dolphins are signing Lansanah. He most impressed coaches and others during the workout today. To make room for this acquisition the Dolphins waived/injured wide receiver Tyler Murphy.]

And then there's this ...

I know that fans, especially Gators fans, will get crazy with this news because it suggests the Dolphins are about to pick up a starting middle linebacker. That is not what this is about.

The Dolphins are not looking to replace starter Kiko Alonso five practices into training camp.

The team is looking around to see if it can shore up depth.

The team has questionable -- indeed, highly questionable -- depth at linebacker. You'll remember I made that point clear on Tuesday.

Neville Hewitt, who plays outside as well as inside, and Mike Hull as possibilities inside are not answers. Zach Vigil remains on the non-football-injury list. 

Indeed, if Alonso were to miss time, it is likely the team would ask Koa Misi to move to the middle rather than use Hull or Vigil inside. Hewitt would then shift outside.

It is not optimal.

And so this round of workouts.

August 02, 2016

DeVante Parker injured but not serious, Chekwa gets 1st team work, Dolphins get physical, defense comes strong

Before I tell you about the Miami Dolphins evening practice Tuesday that was perhaps the most physical of training camp so far, let's cover some news:

Wide receiver DeVante Parker was held out of practice because he tweaked a hamstring during practice the day before -- Monday. I'm told by a source the team does not believe the injury to be serious. 

The team believes the injury might have something to do with Parker not hydrating enough either before, during or after practices.

And so during drills Monday, Parker felt a tug at his hamstring but wanted to keep working. Sure enough, he kept going and tweaked it.

"I wasn’t very smart and shouldn't have put him out in two-minute," coach Adam Gase said. "He felt something. So we brought him back in there. He was a little bit dehydrated. We felt like if we gave him today off with tomorrow off, we think we should get him back soon.”

The Dolphins are going to talk with Parker and ask him to be more proactive with his hydration. And if that doesn't work, they're going to make sure somebody monitors how much he drinks to make sure he's hydrated.

Rookie Leonte Carroo took first team snaps in Parker's absence today.

Cornerback Chimdi Chekwa, a fourth-year player out of Ohio State, got some first team snaps at cornerback today ahead of Tony Lippett. Coach Adam Gase said it was a matter of simply rolling players in and out but the truth is it seems a reaction to Lippett's inconsistent play the first few days of camp.

It is also another sign that the club is still searching for answers at that cornerback spot opposite Byron Maxwell. Let's be clear, if Lippett was playing really well, he'd continue to take all the repetitions with the first team as, say, Maxwell has.

So what does Chekwa think he offers?

"Really, breaking on the ball. I get out of my breaks fast," Chekwa said. "I can go up there and jam, play man. And I'm really out here just trying to get better and trying to make this team."

Look, this feels more like Lippett not being good enough yet than Chekwa being the answer. We shall see ...

Running back Isaiah Pead, who tweaked his hamstring in practice Monday, missed practice Tuesday.

By far the biggest issue during this evening's practice was the series of events midway through practice. The offense was coming out of the end zone inside the five yard line in team drills.

On one pass play, linebacker James Burgess, a rookie out of Louisville, went hard and leveled running back Damien Williams. The contact was so concussive that the sound could be heard throughout the Nick Saban Memorial Bubble (my name for the facility).

Chris McCain did a celebratory dance.

Today was Williams's first practice of training camp after spending time on the physically unable to perform list with a hamstring and conditioning issues. So he wasn't going to let that be how his first practice would be remembered.

On the very next play he obviously was looking for payback and got it.

Williams laid a block on defensive end Farrington Huguenin that left the rookie doubled over in the end zone clutching his midsection. A couple of minutes later, Huguenin was carted out of the bubble.

The two plays caused Gase, who by the way wants a physical team, to gather his team and warn them about getting too zealous in this practice.

“We came out, we were supposed to be in full pads today," Gase said. "Once we came in here, we just went to the uppers, we went to the shoulder pads. We had a couple of guys get hit and go to the ground and the biggest thing about practicing with not full pads, being in shoulder pads, last thing we want is anybody going to the ground, somebody getting rolled up on.

"It was just a reminder to make sure everybody, we’re staying on our feet. That’s the good thing about having a younger team, when you’re athletic, you should be able to do that."

The episode was not over. As the players dispersed, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh found Williams and talked to him, clearly showing his displeasure with the hit on his defensive line mate. Williams seemed to be explaining his reason for taking the shot but I couldn't tell for sure because they were out of earshot.

Part of this physical practice included a five-yard touchdown run by Daniel Thomas on an inside run. He showed ... toughness on the play. Toughness.

On the play before, Arian Foster bounced outside and also scored on a five-yard run.

By the way, Foster ran with the first team most if not all the reps in team drills.

Today felt like it was a better day for the defense than the offense.

Jason Jones had a sack. Reshad Jones had a sack in red zone.

Ryan Tannehill struggled handling the football on snaps from center on a couple of occassions and threw the first interception of camp when a tipped pass ended up in the hands of Isa Abdul-Quddus. The offense did push ups.    

Kenny Stills, who has been one of the most impressive offensive players since the spring, certainly among the hardest working, had a tough evening. He dropped multiple passes.

The crazy offensive line shuffling continued. Laremy Tunsil worked at first-team left guard and second team left tackle. Jermon Bushrod played with both the first and second team and ran at right guard. Dallas Thomas worked at left and right guard with the starters. Billy Turner worked at right guard on first and second team.

The Dolphins are not looking to lock down the offensive line right now, folks. Give it a few weeks.

Finally this evening, let me share with you that Tannehill's son, born last week, is named Steel Ryan Tannehill. He was born at 9 pounds eight ounces.

“Hopefully it will push him into being a tough kid," Tannehill said of the name. "We’ll see. He can’t be a wimpy kid with a name like Steel. My wife’s loving it; I’m loving having a kid. She’s just a champ for pushing out a nine-pound, eight-ounce baby. Kudos to her for doing that. I couldn’t believe it but she’s a champ. She’s a real strong girl.”

  

 

 

 

Dion Jordan truly is many steps from seeing the field

Dolphins head coach Adam Gase said over the weekend that Dion Jordan was on step one of "like 500" when he returned to the team after serving a year-long NFL drug suspension that was actually more like 16 months.

One of those steps passed Monday when the roster bonus deadline that was supposed to help determine Jordan's status on the team -- either on it or off -- came and went and nothing happened because ... well, because it was moot.

Jordan is recovering from surgery on his left knee. He's on the non-football injury list, which means he's not on the roster. So no bonus. And so he's got 499 steps before he factors for the Dolphins.

But, the direction I'm seeing this pointed, it is hard to fathom Jordan actually factoring.

I'm not talking about his drug problem. I'm not talking about his drinking. Remove those significant issues, which Jordan says he has addressed and continues to address, and I still don't see Jordan factoring from a sheer football perspective.

Consider this picture.

He has been away from football for over a year. And he returned to his team recovering from a knee injury and subsequent surgery?

Is this real life?

He has had plenty of time to work out and get in great shape. But although he says he's 275 pounds (who really knows because until he earns trust you cannot trust anything he says or does) he didn't look cut or strong in any way when I saw him.

And those two together mean things.

It means Jordan is going to miss two and maybe three weeks of camp. The last time he missed that much time in training camp was his rookie year. And despite having a relatively clean slate then, despite having played football the previous year, which is significant because he wasn't rusty, Jordan could not make up for the lost time.

So he didn't really factor all that much.

And now he's in the same situation. Well, he has more experience, one might argue. But that's relative because his limited experience his rookie season and limited experienced when he returned from his first and second suspensions in 2014 hardly a seasoned veteran made.

So Jordan is kind of right back where he was at the start of his rookie training camp: On the side. Falling behind while teammates sweat and work and hone skills.

That leads me to this: While Cameron Wake, Mario Williams, Andre Branch, Jason Jones, Chris McCain and the other two or three defensive ends on the roster are getting better, Jordan is merely trying to get healthy. And those guys were better than Jordan at the start of camp to begin with because they've played, they've been in the conditioning program, they were under the team's care and direction the past six months most of them.

Jordan was under the care of a clinician who was trying to keep him on the right life path.

Sorry fans, none of this suggests Jordan will be a beast when he finally gets on the field. None of this suggests he's going to be in a position to legitimately earn a spot ahead of any of those named above.

And for that reason, it would not surprise if the team simply keeps him on NFI or moves him to the regular-season physically unable to perform list, thus giving Jordan more time to get his football legs under him, get some practice in when the window for such things open.

And then we can check back later on in the season to see where things are.

(And this is where some fan suggests the Dolphins trade Dion Jordan for a good player, maybe a cornerback such as Richard Sherman).

I doubt any team is going to give up a quality player for Jordan. Maybe someone gives up a sixth-round pick. Maybe.

Remember, Jordan is one failed test away from a lifetime ban.

Anyway, if I were making decisions -- which I'm not because I'm a stooge -- I would draw up a longterm football plan for Dion Jordan. The Dolphins are planning and supporting and doing things to make sure Jordan succeeds as a person. They need to do similar work to make sure he succeeds as a player.

I would look at the talent on my roster. I would look at Dion Jordan. I would look at the current situation. And I would determine the following:

I would determine Dion Jordan cannot and will not be in the plans now. I would determine Jordan is a strongside linebacker -- the position he played in college. I would determine Jordan has to drop 15 pounds to play that position. And forward we go to the midpoint of the regular season when we see if Jordan has done the work to become that player.

Why am I determining this?

Looking at the Dolphins roster, Jordan simply cannot beat out the defensive ends ahead of him right now. He's going to take snaps away from Wake? Williams? Branch? Jones? Be serious.

Looking at the roster, the linebacker corps has no serious depth. With all respect to Spencer Paysinger and Neville Hewitt, I would not be comfortable with them as the answer if either Koa Misi or Jelani Jenkins get hurt and miss time. And by the way, are you aware both Misi and Jenkins have missed time the last couple of seasons?

So Jordan as the backup plan.

And why him?

Because, again, he played the position in college. He wasn't a defensive end. The Dolphins didn't draft a defensive end named Dion Jordan in 2013. They drafted a kid who was so athletic he played all over the place, including some at end, because he could win on sheer athleticism. Except for the foreseeable future that doesn't matter because NFL tackles are typically pretty good, because Jordan is 35 pounds heavier than he was in college, and because he hasn't played any organized football since 2014.

It is now 2016.

So trim 15 pounds, get healthy, get in your playbook (tablet), and factor when it's your time.

Look, the only Dolphins player who has successfully covered Rob Gronkowski like, ever, is Dion Jordan in 2014. The guy the team used late in a game at Detroit to match up with Calvin Johnson was Dion Jordan.

The New England Patriots have a linebacker named Jamie Collins. He has pass-rush skills. But he is so valuable in coverage and doing so many other things, the Patriots use him in a manner that maximizes those skills. Jordan seems to have similar skills.

Dion Jordan is not a defensive end. Putting him there because he doesn't have to think and all he has to do is chase the ball is the easy approach. It'll be interesting to see if that approach bears fruit. I have doubts -- at least in the short term.

August 01, 2016

Monday practice notes, quotes, anecdotes from Miami Dolphins camp

Loved the competition at Miami Dolphins camp today.

There was plenty of it and, as with all competive endeavors, there were winners. And there were losers.

The winners?

The wide receivers. The defensive linemen. Kicker Andrew Franks who didn't take even one swing at a FG today (more on that later. Way later).

The losers?

The defensive backs and specifically the cornerbacks.

And the offensive line has to get better. It is predictably behind the defensive line.

Let's start with the newsy stuff first, however. Running back Jay Ajayi missed practice today. He apparently knocked knees or something with linebacker Jelani Jenkins during practice Sunday and started feeling discomfort during meetings last night.

He got with trainers and it was diagnosed as a bone bruise. Now, Ajayi has a chronic bone-on-bone issue in his right knee. But this injury is to his left knee.

"I feel like it's just going to be a couple of days before I'm back to normal. All it was was a bone bruise. We're just doing precautionary measures and letting the swelling go down. And once that happens I'll be back out with the team and getting to work."

Ajayi is day to day.

Ajayi's absence today meant Isaiah Pead started the practice as the starting running back. But he was not able to finish practice. Pead seemed to tweak his left hamstring or suffer a cramp in the back of his left leg and stopped working three or four periods before the session was complete.

That meant a lot of work today for Kenyan Drake, Daniel Thomas and even Arian Foster, who is still learning the system but got a couple of first-team snaps in two minute drills.

I have to say, the running back corps is ... interesting.

We know Ajayi has a history with the knee. We know Foster is productive and Pro Bowl caliber but is often injured. Drake was injured a lot in college. Thomas was injured a good deal with the Dolphins during his previous stints with the team.

Those are facts.

Damien Williams, who was on the physically unable to perform list the first four days of training camp, is going to be activated by practice time Tuesday and will work for the first time, coach Adam Gase said.

That out of the way, onto the competition ...

I counted seven likely-possible sacks during practice today. Obviously, the Dolphins are not hitting the quarterback. Defensive linemen are pulling up. But it's clear what would be a QB hit or sack to these eyes and there were seven.

Cameron Wake, Mario Williams, Chris McCain (2), Ndamukong Suh, Jason Jones all had sacks. The Dolphins also brought pressure on slot corner blitzes.

The Dolphins are having Mario Williams, traditionally a right end, move to left end when Cameron Wake, traditionally a right end, is on the field. That means Williams is lined up against the left tackle a lot.

Jason Jones and Andre Branch have been asked to show similar versatility so far this camp.

The offensive line is still in its experimental stages. Today, rookie Laremy Tunsil got first team snaps at left guard and left tackle. Dallas Thomas got first team snaps at left guard and right guard.

There was a little scuffle between Tunsil and McCain that was much sound and fury signifying nothing. The two pushed each other a couple of times. McCain took a swing. And then they were seen chatting during special teams drills.

Interesting only perhaps to me, the Dolphins are asking Tunsil to forget what he learned at Ole' Miss relative to how he sets for each play.

"What we do here is have our hand in the ground," Tunsil said. "I'm used to my hand up at Ole Miss. But there's nothing major. I got a lot to learn. I'm going to stay in the meeting rooms."

All that action up front was interesting. On the back end, the defense did not win. Yes, there were more hands on the football today than the past three days. Bobby McCain even had an interception in his hands that he dropped.

But overall, the receivers dominated the defensive backs, and specifically the cornerbacks, today.

Even with second-team quarterback Matt Moore getting a rest day and rookie Brandon Doughty getting second-team snaps, the defensive backs struggled.

(By the way, Gase said Tannehill isn't going to be getting rest days).

A sampling:

 

It was especially rough for Lippett and Lucas in one-on-one drills versus the receivers. Lippett is working against the starters because he is Miami's starting cornerback opposite Byron Maxwell.

In the slot, Jakeem Grant dominated Michael Thomas today. The sixth-round pick rookie receiver got open on both an intermediate route and then showed his speed on a deeper route that went for a completion over Thomas's head.

Foks, the Dolphins are supposed to be playing press-man.

Miami's defensive backs haven't been doing a good enough job getting their hands on the receivers at the line of scrimmage and if that does not happen ... Bye-bye.

The Dolphins have been in camp four days. There have been four open practices. Hundreds of passes have been thrown. No interceptions.

Finally, you probably know the Dolphins have a kicking competition of sorts going on. They have incumbent Andrew Franks versus undrafted rookie Marshall Koehn.

Today was not a good day for Koehn. He connected on three of six kicks and his last one, from over 50 yards out barely reached the end zone. Koehn had been solid before today but obviously, consistency is key for a player trying to supplant a veteran.

 

 

 

Football: Full pads at Dolphins camp today

The first three days of Miami Dolphins training camp have been ... nice.

It has been solid.

It has been good.

But it really hasn't been football per se.

Today we see something closer to football. Today, the Dolphins are able to go with full pads as allowed by the NFL collective bargaining agreement that says full pads cannot go on until after three days of camp. And today is Miami's fourth day in camp.

Now it gets real.

"I mean your body temperature goes way up and if we can practice like this, it’s great," coach Adam Gase said Sunday after the team put on shoulder pads and got some but not a lot of contact. "But now moving forward into training camp, we should be in full pads almost every day and we’ll really see where we’re at.”

And that is the beauty of full padded practices. We don't have to project anymore.

We can see to a greater degree exactly how much improvement the Miami offensive line has made from a year ago. I've been told by people within the organization that this could be the best offensive line in years.

Gase has told his assistants this could be his most talented offensive line he's ever worked with.

But they have to prove it. We want to know if, in fact, rookie Laremy Tunsil is what the personnel department and coaching staff sold him as when he was drafted in the first round. We want to know if all that weight lifting and new attitude has made Dallas Thomas any better. We understand why Branden Albert got the day off Sunday -- so he can thud some people on Monday. We want to see whether right tackle Ja'Wuan James is improved from his rookie form of 2014 after missing most of 2015 with a dislocated toe. We want to see if center Mike Pouncey, the leader of the line, is stronger because he needed that.

Full padded practices also test the defensive front.

The Dolphins have been saying this defensive front is going to be great. Great!

Vance Joseph told me months ago he has no concerns about the defensive front.

“We’re going to allow those guys to rush and be aggressive," Joseph told me. "My vision for this defense is to have the most aggressive front in the league. And with those four or five guys, even with [Andre] Branch, he’s come here and been a really good surprise because he can rush. And he’s been a compliant guy. He’s worked hard. So we have five or six rushers. So we’re going to rush.”

I want to see that today. I want to see what is supposed to be a great defensive front get after an improving offensive line that the Dolphins believe will be pretty good this year.

Check back after practice for the verdict.


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/armando-salguero/article77712732.html#storylink=cpy

 

July 31, 2016

News, notes, quotes from Sunday Dolphins practice

After a busy and news-filled morning, let's do what a good NFL offense does and advance the ball.

Dion Jordan, on the non-football injury list, spoke to the media and struck equal parts excitement (about being back) and confession (about what led to his year-long suspension for violating the NFL's substances of abuse policy).

"I'm excited, man," he said. "I'm happy to be in the building. There's a lot of new faces. Everything seems brand new. I'm excited to get out here and be around the guys and the locker room and have an opportunity to compete once again."

Jordan is so far the biggest bust in Dolphins history, having as many career sacks since 2013 as NFL drug suspensions -- three.

But he doesn't want you to hate him.

"I'm just a good person overall," he said. "I had a couple of bumps and I had to overcome 'em. It was a part of my journey as a person first of all and a football player second. I'm trying to put that in the past and learn from it moving forward to improve myself as a person."

Does Jordan believe he's let the Dolphins down since they drafted him with the No. 3 overall selection in the '13 draft?

"Honestly, I've never felt I've had to live up to anybody else's expectations but mine," he said. "My expectations for myself is higher than anybody else can have for me. So I feel like my main thing, my mistakes off the field is what kind of caused me a lot of games and keep me from progressing as a football player. I've addressed those things. Now I'm back and now it's time for me to get in and work with these guys."

Jordan understands he screwed up.

"I made mistakes," he said. "I'm going learn from them and move forward.

"I wish I'd had made better decisions because then I would have progressed as a player. It's life. It's mistakes that I made. Like I said, everything happens for a reason. I learned from it. I've moved forward. I'm a better person now. And now I have to work to be a better football player."

Jordan says he weighs 275 pounds now. The Dolphins have not spoken about their plans for him once he's actually recovered from his knee surgery, which he characterized as the joint being "cleaned out," but based on the weight and other factors, it's pretty clear Jordan will be at defensive end.

That's a crowded position for Miami with Andre Branch, Mario Williams, Cameron Wake and Jason Jones all ahead of Jordan. All more accomplished than Jordan. All better than Jordan so far.

On the practice field ...

It was a good day for quarterback Ryan Tannehill if deep-ball accuracy is a measure of success. He connected with DeVante Parker on a 40-yard pass down the right sideline early in team drills. Parker didn't have a ton of separation on Tony Lippett but the pass was perfect (in stride) and Parker created space at the last moment with his body.

Jarvis Landry was similarly well covered by Byron Maxwell on a nine-route down the left sideline and Tannehill laid it right in his hands in stride. But Landry dropped the ball. Still a fine pass.

Branden Albert got a veteran's day off from practice today. Rookie Laremy Tunsil took the first-team left tackle snaps.

By the way, don't tell me Tunsil can go through a practice as the starting left tackle but isn't going to be the starting left guard when the season begins. Please.

Kenny Stills had a couple of receptions in practice today. He's open a lot. He's seemingly a better player than I saw at training camp in 2015.

Sunday was the third day of training camp. Dolphins quarterbacks have still not thrown an interception. Similarly, Dolphins defensive backs have not collected an interception yet.

Speaking of DBs, the Dolphins today cut Tyler Patmon and signed Brandon Harris, formerly of the University of Miami. Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph was familiar with Harris because he coached there while Harris played his 42 games for the Texans.

Arian Foster, who was activated from the PUP list today, "annihilated" the conditioning test, according to coach Adam Gase.

The Dolphins did a lot of work in their base packages today. With two receivers on the field, the Miami defense went with Isa Abdul-Quddus at safety opposite Michael Thomas today. Thomas has been in the lineup with the first team the previous couple of days and has been the slot corner in the nickel packages.

Bobby McCain, activated from PUP Saturday, practiced for the first time today and took first-team snaps at slot cornerback. McCain confirmed the reason he was on PUP the first couple of days is because he suffered cramps during his conditioning test Friday.

"I'm fine," he said. "No problems."

Cameron Wake, who took mostly second-team snaps training camp's first couple of days, worked with the first team Sunday. Jason Jones, who has been active but relegated mostly to second- and third-team work, got some first-team snaps as well.

Andre Branch, who had been with the starting unit the first couple of days, dropped back to second team. He diagnosed and blew up an end around during team drills.

Undrafted rookie free agent defensive end Farrington Huguenin had a sack.

Undrafted rookie free agent long snapper Ryan DiSalvo fired one his snaps about three yards over punter Matt Darr's head.

The Dolphins will be in full pads for the first time Monday.

Dion Jordan to NFI list; won't earn roster bonus

The Miami Dolphins are placing defensive end Dion Jordan on the Non-Football Injury list this morning, per a source.

Jordan had knee surgery prior to rejoining the team Saturday and will not be able to practice or pass his physical for 2-3 weeks.

[Update: The team has now announced this move.]

That means Jordan, who was reinstated on a conditional basis Saturday, will not earn the $1.69 million roster bonus due him Monday. The Dolphins will nonetheless continue to keep his rights.

I am told the Dolphins still have hopes Jordan is able to complete all the necessary issues relative to his conditional reinstatement, as well as making a recovery from the knee injury, and make their team. The injury does not really seal Jordan's fate one way or another.

In other news, the team activated running back Arian Foster off the physically unable to perform list.

Foster will practice today.

The team also signed former University of Miami cornerback Brandon Harris, a former second-round pick of the Houston Texans. To make room for Harris the team cut Tyler Patmon.

Don't blame this braintrust for chronic cornerback problem

My column this morning explains the mistake I believe this team made this offseason that is costing them (or should be) sleepless nights now because the cornerback position is so weak.

That's on this front office. This coaching staff. The folks running the franchise today.

But the cornerback position didn't become a chronic problem because these folks messed up. The foundation for today's problems were laid by other people who ran the franchise in the past.

Mike Tannenbaum didn't draft Jamar Taylor in the second round of the 2013 draft.

He didn't draft Will Davis in the third round of the 2013 draft.

Tannenbaum had to clean up that spill.

Adam Gase didn't have issues with Vontae Davis and his maturity and drinking. Rather than get those addressed, it was Joe Philbin who didn't have the patience or the wisdom to keep Davis. And it was Jeff Ireland who traded Davis -- who is now a Pro Bowl caliber player.

Letting Sean Smith go elsewhere in 2013 ... I wouldn't call that a mistake. Sometimes players find better deals elsewhere. But the Dolphins had a press cornerback they had drafted to play press man. And then Kevin Coyle came in as defensive coordinator and seeing that his best cornerback played press, still wanted to play off man.

None of those moves were made by this braintrust. They were simply inherited by this braintrust.

So fair is fair.

Now, this braintrust did not properly address the position this offseason from what I can see. Look, Bobby McCain returns to practice today and will be vying for the starting slot cornerback spot.

But I personally think Brice McCain, who wasn't making very much, would be better there. He played out of position all of 2015. He didn't complain about it, indeed tried to embrace it. And he failed on the outside. I don't see that as his fault. I see it as the team's fault for putting him in a position to fail.

And then the team compounded the problem by letting him go.

And I know rookie Xavien Howard will be healthy eventually. The team says by the opener. It'll be interesting to see how much he can contribute early in the season.

But it seems the Dolphins paid an abundance of attention to other positions -- such as defensive and offensive line -- while managing cornerback in bare minimum fashion.

Anyway, the team thinks there is nothing to see here. The team thinks I'm making too much of this. Gase bared his teeth at me during a press conference Saturday when I asked about the corners. (Love it).

So I'll move on to other things after today.

Maybe.

By the way, the Dolphins are installing a new offense. The quarterbacks are learning new things every day. But none have thrown an interception in like 300 passes thrown the first two days of training camp.

Just sayin'.

 

July 30, 2016

Dolphins add free agent CB Rashaan Melvin, activate McCain

The Miami Dolphins swear their cornerback situation is fine, thanks.

And so today they held cornerback tryouts, as I reported on twitter. And now they've signed cornerback Rashaan Melvin.

To make room for Melvin on the 90-man roster, the team has waived tight end Jake Stoneburner. The team also activated cornerback Bobby McCain from the physically unable to perform list.

Melvin joins the Dolphins after spending the 2015 season with the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots. He played in nine games – eight for New England and one for Baltimore – and totaled five tackles (three solo) in 2015.

Melvin played in three gamess and started two for the Ravens in 2014. He originally entered the league as an undrafted college free agent with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2013 and briefly spent time on the Dolphins practice squad in 2014. Melvin played collegiately at Northern Illinois.

Melvin has had his moments, getting the starts mentioned above. He's also been victimized.

He was lit up by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in a January 2015 playoff game. Melvin gave up 14 catches for 210 yards and two touchdowns on 18 passes in his coverage in that game. New England won the game, 35-31.

McCain missed the first two days of training camp on PUP after he failed to complete his conditioning test. He completed it Saturday morning. McCain is expected to compete for the starting nickel job (slot cornerback) job with Michael Thomas.

Melvin will play outside.

The drill to address Ryan Tannehill's pocket presence

My favorite drill the Miami Dolphins are doing this training camp is perhaps the most important one relative to quarterback Ryan Tannehill that we've seen in a while.

Coach Adam Gase has installed a period for quarterback where he will take a shotgun snap, drop two steps, chop step to the right, chop step to the left, forward, backward and then throw the ball. A complementary drill has the QB dropping and moving around in what would be the pass pocket with several people around him swiping at the football in his hands.

"One, we're trying to create great habits for pocket presence," Gase said. "You try to make things as chaotic as possible so that during the game, it's just normal for them. So you're trying to create chaos as much as possible to make sure they feel that's how it could be in the game and they know how to handle it."

And I ask, what has been one of the significant critiques of Ryan Tannehill in the past?

Pocket presence. He hasn't often shown great instincts in the pocket. He hasn't often seemed to have that innate sense that trouble is coming and what to do about it, where to slide, where to throw, when to throw.

Gase has been working this drill with his QBs for years. I've never seen this drill in Miami the past four years.

If it addresses the issue that it is intended to -- ostensibly, improving Tannehill's pocket presence, this otherwise short drill could pay big dividends in 2016 and beyond.

Onto Saturday's practice ... 

Dion Jordan did not practice but Gase confirmed he is in the building. Right now Jordan is following the protocols set by the league whereby he must walk through certain steps including setting up "clinical resources in Miami" to let him move forward with practice and preseason games.

"We're allowed to have certain conversations," Gase said. "He's allowed to do certain type of things that he's allowed to be around. We're taking things very slowly.

"We're on step one of like 500."

Gase said he has "no idea" when Jordan will practice.

On the field, Miami quarterbacks had their second consecutive day without an interception. Good for them.

Reshad Jones had a fine pass breakup of a Ryan Tannehill pass and that's good because he is a Pro Bowl player. Byron Maxwell had a good pass defensed on gadget play meant to fool the defense that didn't work.

In red zone, Kenny Still caught a TD pass from Ryan Tannehill that ended practice on an upbeat note for the quarterback and receiver. Stills, by the way, has been impressive since minicamp in June. He's opened some eyes since that time and has picked up this training camp where he left off.

The shifting and experimenting continued on the offensive line today.

Dallas Thomas, who worked at starting LG the first day of training camp, was on right side both with the first and second team.

Jermon Bushrod and rookie Laremy Tunsil both got first team left guard work.

There were hiccups ...

Ndamukong Suh had an offside call.

There was a defensive holding on Byron Maxwell in red zone.

I saw two bad snaps with the backups. Ryan Tannehill and center Mike Pouncey had a flubbed center exchange that led to Tannehill picking up the ball and running with it.

Kenyon Drake fumbled once.

Cameron Wake continues to work with the second-team defense. The starting defensive ends have been Mario Williams and Andre Branch. But Wake is getting his share of work. Today the team got 30-plus minutes of individual work and Wake participated in that.

July 29, 2016

The reason Antonio Cromartie not a Dolphins possibility

If you want to know why the Miami Dolphins, obviously short on starting caliber cornerbacks with the PUP status of Xavien Howard and Bobby McCain, have so far ignored the idea of chasing free agent cornerback Antonio Cromartie, all you have to do is go back to Oct. 5, 2014.

On that day, the Denver Broncos lit up the Arizona Cardinals, 41-20.

Cromartie was on the field that day for the Cardinals and he spent the afternoon shadowing Denver receiver Demaryius Thomas. Well, trying to shadow Demaryius Thomas. Well, not really doing a very good job at all against Demaryius Thomas.

Thomas caught eight passes for 226 yards with two touchdowns.

And all but two of those catches were against Cromartie.

Cromartie was beaten on am 86-yard TD pass to Thomas.

And he was beaten on a 31-yard TD pass to Thomas.

And he was beaten on a 77-yard TD pass to Thomas that was called back due to offsetting penalties -- with one of those penalties going against Cromartie, who was flagged for holding Thomas as the receiver sped past him for the score.

It was not Cromartie's finest hour in what has otherwise been a solid career.

And what does that have to do with the Dolphins in 2016 as they look around for possible help in the backfield?

Well, the offensive coordinator for the Broncos that fateful autumn day in 2014 was Adam Gase. And Gase is now the Dolphins' head coach.

And I am told that while Gase respects Cromartie, he also remembers that day. And he isn't eager to have someone else have a similar day against the Dolphins if Cromartie were to be signed and handed a Miami uniform.

So if Cromartie were to ever be a Dolphins player it would require Gase to lose his memory or his mind altogether. It would require the Dolphins being down to plucking folks out of the stands at their Davie training facility to play cornerback. It would require a major shift for the Dolphins high up in the organization ...

Starting with the head coach.

Newsy morning at Miami Dolphins camp

Lots of news this morning.

The Dolphins have five players on the physically unable to perform list and Dion Jordan has been reinstated. Oh, yes, and owner Stephen Ross expects the Dolphins to be in the playoffs this year. And the stadium will be ready in time for the final preseason game Sept. 1, the owner said.

And those revelations all came before the Dolphins got through the first hour of practice this morning.

Specifically:

The team placed running backs Damien Williams and Arian Foster, cornerbacks Bobby McCain and Xavien Howard, and linebacker Zach Vigil on PUP.

The players can come off PUP at any time in the preseason to begin practicing. I'm told McCain will likely be back in a couple of days. It is not a long-term issue.

Williams is out of shape and coach Adam Gase is not pleased with him because, I'm told, the player was out of shape a month ago and he remains that way. The coach would not disclose that Williams is out of shape but when asked if all players passed the conditioning test, he answered, "maybe not."

Howard, who is expected back for the regular-season opener, is the most serious in terms of time he's about to miss.

Jordan was today reinstated by the NFL on a conditional basis. He can join the Dolphins as soon as Saturday and participate in team meetings, conditioning work and similar activities. He cannot practice or play in game until "arrangements have been confirmed regarding [his] clinical resources in Miami," the NFL said.

Prior to the start of the regular season, Jordan will meet with the NFL to review his progress and based on his compliance and engagement with his program, he will be permitted to participate in regular season activities, including games, beginning with Week 1.

He will evaluated (again) later in the season for full reinstatement.

Jordan had been suspended indefinitely since April 2015.

Gase has studied Jordan but said, "I haven't met him." He did not get into specifics about where Jordan will play -- defensive end or strongside linebacker. He didn't get into specifics about when Jordan will join the team, although the assumption is Saturday.

This much is certain: Jordan must play special teams to make this team.

Owner Ross talked to the media before practice. He was feeling good as he often is this time of year. But this year, aside from showing his usual optimism about the coming season, he had news about his stadium improvement project.

“At 11:30, I’m signing the last piece of steel that’s going up, and you’re all invited to see the stadium," Ross said. "I’ve been on a phone call every day at 4:30 (p.m.) since January and really pushing it, using our people in New York to push it. I think what we’ve done is probably unprecedented – to put a roof on top of a stadium. When you go out there and you see it, it’s kind of amazing. I would encourage you to see it, because when it’s up and it’s all done, people will say, ‘Hey, that was easy.’ 

"I’ve built over $20 billion worth of projects and this is the most complex – basically because you’re putting such a large structure in place in such a short period of time – and there’s no way you can be late. There’s no alternative. I know we will be playing September 1 there."

Ross was asked again if he is concerned work on the stadium will cause problem for the opening Sept. 1.

"Let’s put it this way, I’ve had those worries. I’ve been living with them. I don’t feel them today and there is no backup plan.”

Ross told me the project will come in at around $500 million. A totally brand new stadium would cost between $1 and $1.2 billion he said.

On the field ...

Dallas Thomas took all the first-team reps at left guard. First-round pick Laremy Tunsil took second team snaps at left guard and left tackle.

During special teams drills, rookie Jakeem Grant looked great. He is quick and practically impossible to get hold of in space. But ...

Remember, today was not a padded practice. The NFL does not allow pads to go on until the third day of camp. We'll see about Grant, 5-7 and 172 pounds, when the work gets more physical. The Dolphins will be in full pads Monday.

Tony Lippett took all the first-team cornerback reps with Byron Maxwell at the other cornerback.

In base defense, Michael Thomas was at one starting safety with Reshad Jones. In the nickel, Thomas moved to slot cornerback, for the absent Bobby McCain, and Isa Abdul-Quddus played at safety. 

July 28, 2016

Dion Jordan owes Dolphins more than they would owe him

The Dion Jordan watch continues today, with the NFL due to make a decision whether or not to reinstate the Miami Dolphins defensive end after a one-year ban by Monday, Aug. 1.

Obviously, because the Dolphins open training camp Friday (July 29), the team and the player would like direction on which way this is going sooner rather than later. All parties, I'm told, are hopeful a decision will come down today or Friday and certainly by Monday.

If NFL commissioner Roger Goodell doesn't decide by Monday, it supposedly calls into question a roster bonus clause in Jordan's deal.

That clause calls for the Dolphins to pay Jordan a $1.69 million bonus to keep him. Otherwise they have to cut ties somehow.

Well, multiple reports are saying that bonus is moot. One report said it is no longer owed. That is not factually true. The Dolphins would still owe it. Another report said it is no longer guaranteed. That is more vague and closer to the truth.

What I am hearing from a source is that the Dolphins do indeed have that clause hanging over their head.

But I am also hearing that Jordan has a responsibility for having to return $3.35 million in signing bonus money he got as the No. 3 overall selection in the 2013 NFL draft. Jordan has to return that portion of his singing bonus based on his multiple suspensions. And, I'm told, that money has not been fully returned yet.

And so, as the player owes the team nearly twice what he would be owed as a roster bonus, in actuality he's not getting a dime of that bonus because he owes the team more than they would owe him. The Dolphins are going to keep him on the roster anyway.

So that big decision on the fifth day of training camp has already been made, as far as the Dolphins are concerned. If he's reinstated today or by Friday, he will be on the roster until such time that 1. He makes the team. 2 He doesn't make the team and is cut. 3. He is traded.

With Jordan, all three are possible. But none of the three would likely be forced by a roster bonus payment that isn't actually going to involve a payment of money to the player.

July 26, 2016

EVERYTHING Adam Gase told the media Tuesday

So Adam Gase, engaging and not quite as tight as we've seen some past Miami Dolphins coaches, welcomed the media at the team's main meeting room Tuesday, days ahead of the opening of training camp.

He addressed issues about Arian Foster, Ryan Tannehill, Tony Lippett, and others. Here is everything he said:

(Opening statement) – “I’m going to hit you with a couple roster updates here. Obviously, you guys know we signed Arian Foster. (I am) not sure how many days ago it was, probably last week. Xavien Howard will start the preseason on PUP. He was injured on the last day of minicamp. We had to scope a knee, and he will be out for a little bit. We expect him, at worst, to be back by the first regular season game. He has been working hard trying to work his way back.”

(On who he anticipates being the starting cornerback) – “Tony (Lippett) has been starting the entire time anyway. We’ve been rotating those two guys (Howard and Lippett) in and out. Tony is just going to keep working at that spot right now.”

(On RB Arian Foster joining the running back competition) – “I think it adds great competition to that group. I really like his skill set. I’ve been an admirer of his for… I don’t even know how long he has been playing. It just feels like forever. (It is) a great opportunity for us (with) him still being out there. We had been in conversations with him for a while. We had brought him in on a visit. We had a really good talk and allowed him to get healthy and work to get back. It’ll be interesting when we get him out there and see how he fits in.”

(On determining how the running backs divide their reps) – “It usually sorts itself out. It’s hard to predict anything as far as going into the regular season. I know in practice, (Running Backs Coach) Danny (Barrett) does a great job as far as making sure everybody is getting the right type of reps, whether it be routes, outside zone, inside zone, gap scheme-type plays, protections. That’s the beauty about what our position coaches are doing to where they’re keeping track of what their guys have been doing in practice and then they can adjust. They see it on the (practice) script and know, ‘I need them to get these two outside zone runs, because he hasn’t had that many.’”

(On RB Arian Foster’s route running ability) – “I’ve always been a fan of how he does things. He’s the type of guy that he can run his route tree similar to what a wide receiver’s is. When we worked him out, I put him in a couple spots to see how that looked. He runs about as smooth as any running back that I’ve ever seen. I’ll be interested to see how far we can grow the running back position with him.”

(On whether he has spoken to RB Kenyan Drake about his route running skills) – “No, because I haven’t seen anybody. We’ve been here just a couple days now and there’s not a whole bunch of players hanging out here, obviously, especially four days before they’re going to report. Everybody is trying to get that last couple days to stay away.

(On the emotions of his first training camp as a head coach) – “It’s no different for me. It feels like what it has always been. I haven’t really given it much thought. I just know that as a staff, we’re trying to get ready right now, and we know we got meetings coming up here real quick on Thursday and then we got practice on Friday. There’s just not a lot of time to waste. Training camp is going to go by fast and we’re going to be at our first preseason game before we know it.”

(On RB Arian Foster’s health) – “I have a lot of faith in our training staff and our strength and conditioning (staff), our sport science (staff). We spent a lot of time with him on two different visits. We’re going to see how this all plays out. That’s the thing. Right now, we still have to get everybody here, have our trainers reassess everything – have our sport science guys reassess everything – when you have a conditioning test. Not only him (Arian Foster), but our entire roster, to make sure, ‘Are we completely healthy? Is there anybody else that we actually have to put on PUP?’ Right now, it’s a gray area for us. We feel like we’re fairly healthy, but you’ve seen a couple things pop up from other teams to where you get a little bit surprised. We just got to make sure before we declare, ‘We only got one guy on PUP.’ We got to make sure we get everybody in the building first.”

(On determining veterans’ practice time) – “We’ve had some discussions about what’s the best way to handle some of our guys (by) looking at our schedule and the days off and when you have a preseason game. It’s almost like you count back to try to figure out, ‘Alright, what’s the smart thing to do.” (You) develop a plan and you head into Thursday and Friday and you start saying, ‘Okay, how many days in a row should we go? How many reps should guys get?’ The good thing is, it feels like you got so many people that are really good at their job that can give you a heads up of, ‘Here’s what we need to do. He’s how many reps Cam (Wake) needs.’ As long as our sports science people keep doing a great job – (Sports Performance Director) Wayne (Diesel) and his staff – as far as giving myself and the coordinators a heads up, I think we’re going to do a good job of taking care of these guys in training camp.”

(On what he expects WR DeVante Parker) – “Well I haven’t seen him in five weeks. I’m hoping that when he comes back, he does a really good job on his conditioning tests and then he’s ready to go because as far as I know, we shouldn’t have any limitations and we should be able (to be) full go right out the gate.”

(On if he plans on G/T Laremy Tunsil to start training camp with the second team like he did in OTAs) – “I would say right now when (Offensive Line Coach) Chris (Forester), whoever he trots out that first day, that’s whoever’s out there for that group. I don’t even know. I haven’t even talked about it yet. They’re going to switch lineups around. He might be on the second team that very first period and then two periods later he might be with the first team. I mean we’ll see. We still got a couple of days to sort all that all out.”

(On if there’s a point in preseason he would like to have his starting lineup set) – “You just got to kind of see how this thing comes together. I just keep thinking back a couple of years ago in 2014, I think it was Week 11, against (the Dolphins). We changed the whole offensive line and played six or seven games and (were) one of the top teams in rushing, and we changed (the starting offensive line) in mid-season. So I mean it’s really, it’s irrelevant as far as how fast we need to be declaring a starting lineup.”

(On if they’ll see one on one’s with the wide receivers and defensive back matchups and why they didn’t have any in OTAs) – “Well you can’t do it in OTA’s. So this is the best time because once you get into training camp, when we get in full pads, now you’re going to see more one on one’s – whether it be linebackers, safeties, running backs, wide receivers versus DBs, o-line, d-line. You’re going to get to see it here in the next few days.”

(On what kind of stories he’s heard about the training camp weather) – “I mean it depends who you talk to. I’m a little disappointed to be honest with you. Baton Rouge is way hotter than it is down here. So if I hear anybody complain about weather, I’m going to be severely disappointed.”

(On how different he thinks the weather will be from where he’s been) – “I mean it’s going to be different than Denver and obviously it’s going to be different than Chicago. I mean it is what it is. I mean weather – it’s hot, cold – it shouldn’t matter to our players.”

(On if he sees the hot weather as an advantage) – “I do. Because if you’re training in the heat, I mean it’s an advantage for us.”

(On if he likes to run a physical camp or will take it easy with the veterans and injury concerns) – “We still got 35 guys under 25. So it’s not going to be a cupcake. We’re here to work. I mean we need to get better. We were 6-10 last year. I mean the team up in New England has won the division like 13 out of 16 years. We got a lot of work (to do).”

(On a determination of what role DE Dion Jordan might play) – “I mean until somebody tells me that he’s reinstated, I got nothing to add to that.”

(On if he has any timetable from the league on a reinstatement decision about DE Dion Jordan) – “I haven’t heard anything from the league.”

(On what the main thing he wants to get done in training camp) – “Probably just to see where our mental toughness is. What are we going to do when it gets tough? Because it’s going to be tough in camp. There’s not going to be any special treatment. We’re going to work and we’re going to make it hard and we’re going to see – when it really gets tough – who’s going to rise to the top and who’s going to fall off.”

(On his vision of the rotation at defensive line and DE Cameron Wake’s role in that rotation) – “I mean we’re going to be smart with him. I mean we know what the end goal is with him and that’s to make sure that he plays 16-plus games this year. I know the d-line coaches will do a great job as far as rotating those guys in and out. Once again the sports science staff, the strength staff and the trainers will make sure our guys are on it as far as ‘Hey, we only want him to take this many reps this day.’ The hardest thing is the individual (drills). We have a long, long time frame there with individual (drills) and it’s harder to keep track for the assistant coaches because you really don’t keep track of those reps. It’s easy to go on a script and if you have a 12-play period saying ‘He’s getting two reps this period.’ But when you’re in individual and you’re going 20, 25 minutes, it’s like how many reps did he get? So that’s where out sports science guys will tell us ‘Hey, you got to cut back on the individual,’ and the goal is to make sure that he’s healthy the entire year.”

(On if he thinks at some point there will be diminishing returns if DT Ndamukong Suh is out on the field 90 to 95 percent of the game) – “I don’t. I want him to do his thing. That’s why he trains the way he does in the offseason.”

(On if he has spoken to QB Ryan Tannehill since he became a new father) – “I haven’t seen him. I got a text saying that happened the other day. After that, it was just ‘Congratulations, I’m glad everybody is doing well.’ I haven’t really spoken to him since.”

(On if he is looking more at the physical or mental side of QB Ryan Tannehill’s game during the first week of training camp) – “I hate to … Really both. I’m thinking that mentally I’m not going to be really worried about anything. He’s showed me that he can handle what we’re doing and he’s ready to go. It’s going to be about how fast the rest of the guys can hang with him and we’re looking to make some great strides in this camp. It’s going to be competitive just because I feel like our defense is a tough defense to go against – that attacking style – and the way our corners play, the way the DBs play and then how that front rushes. It should be a good battle between offense and defense.”

(On how much he worries about chemistry with QB Ryan Tannehill and his receivers) – “The good thing about it is we’re starting over. We’ve got this camp and hopefully we’ll stay as healthy as we can all through camp so we can develop that chemistry. The good part was I felt that Kenny (Stills) staying healthy the entire spring and same thing with Jarvis (Landry), I felt like there was something there. I really thought that Kenny came on there during the back half of the OTAs and minicamp and is one of those guys where he feels really comfortable and hopefully he can carry that over to training camp. The longer we can keep DeVante (Parker) out there and keep developing the timing with the routes and just hooking it up. I feel like there is a little natural chemistry out there (with Parker and Tannehill). Even the one day (Parker) shows up (to practice), he catches three or four balls and I’m not really sure… it was just kind of like street ball almost. So I feel like there’s just something there naturally between those two.”

(On adjusting to having a young team and how it compares to other young teams he has coached) – “It’s pretty young. I’d say maybe Denver (Broncos) in 2011 might have been as close to as young. That was like the (Tim) Tebow, Von Miller, all those guys were really young.  That was probably the youngest team that I was around. For the most part, this is probably one of the younger ones that I’ve been a part of. The good thing is we’re not going to have a lot of guys sitting out of practice because of age. That’s the good part.”

(On how good of a grasp Ryan Tannehill has on the offensive scheme) – “I have no concerns. He has picked it up as well as I’ve expected and I’m sure he has been working hard the last five weeks to make sure that there is nothing he doesn’t know.”

(On how much the offense has been installed) – “The biggest part about what we do to get a lot of the terms in front of them and then it just becomes an adjustment from here.  Everything is week to week. Once we get going in camp, we will kind of get an install going and then we’ll start game planning against the defense.  The more (Defensive Coordinator) Vance (Joseph) starts tinkering with what they do, I will only do like three or four installs and then it just becomes a daily … like ‘Hey, this is what they got us with last time and here is how we’re going to beat this,’ and we will start just changing it up.”

(On the contact in training camp and how he balances the evaluation of assignments and the physical part of blocking in the trenches) – “For us on the assignments, I feel good after watching all of the spring stuff.  I felt like our line on the offensive side and the defensive side both… You feel good about the assignments as far as going into camp. Now with the physical part added, is the constant contact going to throw you off as far as… Now are you trying too hard to go out and smoke a guy and now you don’t do your job correctly? It’s a long evaluation. That’s why you have all of these practices. You just got to keep paying attention and figure out who are the guys that can handle the physical part plus the mental part.”

(On the depth at cornerback without CB Xavien Howard to start camp) – It is what it is right now.  He (Howard) is not going to be there and it gives a bunch of guys a chance to step up and see who wants to try to make this team. We will see how it turns out. I’m interested to see how it plays out.  I think it’s great for Tony (Lippett). It’s more reps for him and it’s going to be more reps for somebody else that gets a chance to step into that role.

(On CB Tony Lippett’s development this spring) – I thought he did a good job. (Defensive Coordinator) Vance (Joseph) and I were talking about it the other day. As the spring went on, we saw him getting more comfortable and he did a good job. He had a couple of picks there towards the back half. It seemed like he did a good job of even when the ball was popped up in the air, he gets his hands on it. He does a good job of making sure that he comes down with the ball when he does get his hands on it. We are seeing improvement – the fact that he is long and can get at the line of scrimmage and press. We just need guys to be able to hang in there for a short period of time. That’s why I love our pass rush, because that thing is coming.”

(On if CB Xavien Howard’s absence affects where CB Bobby McCain will play) – “No, we are not going to mess with what Bobby (McCain) is doing. We need Bobby to keep working on his craft right now and I’m sure he will get plenty of time to work on anything outside; but we want him to focus on his roll of staying inside and developing that craft.”

(On the depth of players behind CB Bobby McCain) – “We are just going to keep working on it. We are going to keep throwing different guys in there. I know there are a lot of guys that are itching to try to compete at that position so we are going to try as many guys as we can. Obviously in this division, there are some guys that can play the slot and we need some guys that can handle it so we are going to keep trying to find out who is the best guy in there. I felt like Bobby (McCain) did a great job and he got better as the spring went along I know our offense is similar to some of the teams we play in our division and he has seen a lot of those routes that he is going to see in the season and he did a good job of covering (them). Obviously the guy that he is going against every day in practice is pretty good. ”

(On RB Arian Foster’s reps) – “The good thing with signing a guy like this late, is that he has been around football long enough that he knows and understands the football scheme, it’s just the terminology. He just has to make that switch in his brain, which I have no doubt he will be able to do. He is a very smart guy. It’s going to be about what are the smart reps to get with him. How many more times do we need to see Arian Foster run outside zone? I mean he has done it pretty good over his career. I want to see maybe certain things that he hasn’t done a whole bunch of. Or how do we use him in certain areas in the passing game so we can get him some experience there?  We will just be smart with how we do it because we have a decent size group of running backs and we need to get all of those guys reps.”

(On RB Kenyan Drake’s health) – He is good. He should be good. Obviously we are going to find out here in the next couple of days; but as far as I know, when he left here after rehabbing, he was in good shape.  We will see after the conditioning test and after our guys look at him where he is at.”

(On how physical he wants the players to be when pads are on) – “Time will tell. I’m interested to see it myself.  If I look historically at each individual guy, I feel good about it.  But it’s about everybody being on the same page and being able to practice correctly and understanding what type of expectations we have as how physical we want to be.”

Injury to land Xavien Howard on PUP

Rookie cornerback Xavien Howard will miss the start of Miami Dolphins training camp on Friday as he recovers from surgery to repair minor damage to a knee, a source tells The Miami Herald.

Howard, the team's second-round pick in the last draft, suffered the injury on the final day of mandatory minicamp in June. He is expected to be ready to begin practicing later in the preseason. He will be placed on the preseason physically unable to perform list initially until he is healthy enough to pass a physical and begin on-field work.

The injury, which is not considered serious, is nonetheless a setback because Howard is expected to compete for the starting job at cornerback.

This means second-year veteran Tony Lippett, who worked with the first team defense much of the offseason, will be the starting cornerback opposite Byron Maxwell at the start of camp and will obviously have a significant advantage in the competition for the position as Howard misses time.

[Update: Dolphins coach Adam Gase told reporters today the surgery was an arthroscopy and Howard "should be" ready for the regular-season opener.]

The 2016 Miami Dolphins: No one should feel entitled

The Miami Dolphins were 6-10 in 2015.

Let me repeat that. 6-10. They were last in the AFC East. They were 1-5 in their six division games. They were not what anyone expected or wanted.

And so as we head into this 2016 season with hope and a new coach, who I believe deserves your respect and a fair amount of time to prove his worth, I say we have to keep things in perspective.

I say we have to tell the Dolphins they are entitled to our attention.

And nothing more.

Why?

Because this team should not feel entitled on any front beyond that. FDR and modern day socialists would hate me, but no entitlements for the Dolphins. None. Zero.

Work for it.

Earn it.

Prove it.

But no entitlements.

This team has not earned our confidence yet. This team hasn't earned the respect of any other NFL team yet. This team hasn't earned anything yet.

You know why?

It hasn't done anything yet. It hasn't won anything yet.

You know why I feel this way? Because the Dolphins are going to open their 2016 training camp on Friday and they will feel this way. Players who report later this week will get the message from the coaching staff that they haven't earned squat.

The earning begins Friday morning with the first practice. That's the message I'm hearing coaches will deliver.

And this applies to the team as a whole. And to players individually.

First round draft pick Laremy Tunsil, for example, has earned nothing. He was the apple of the personnel department's eyes on draft day. The coaching staff loves his potential and possibilities. And he will be the team's starting left guard when the regular season begins if things go according to plans.

But between now and the start of that regular season, Tunsil is going to have to sweat and bleed and hurt and prove he is the best left guard on the team. He is going to have to earn his place. It will not be handed to him. He has not been anointed by anyone. In fact, coaches are going to try to make it a little tougher on him on purpose so there is no question when he starts.

So work for it, rookie.

Work!

Pro Bowl safety Reshad Jones spent much of the offseason wanting a pay raise. He was uncomfortable that he has only moderate security beyond this year and if he gets injured this year he really has very little security. And I get it. He has a point. 

But the Dolphins, who love Jones, have told him in no uncertain terms that if he wants a big raise, he has to go earn it. He has to play so well as to get that defense in the Top 10 or Top 5 and get the team in the playoffs.

At least get them over .500.

Because no matter how good, safeties on 6-10 teams don't usually get a big pay increase two years before their contract expires.

That's the message. 

Arian Foster has been a bona fide Pro Bowl running back in the past and thinks he can be again. Well, prove it, sir. You are new to this team and this town. What happened in Houston stays in Houston. This team isn't about what happened in Houston. Time to make it work in Miami.

Mike Pouncey has been the leader of the Dolphins offensive line for 2-3 years now. But, um, this is a new year. This is a new line -- perhaps the best the Dolphins have had in a long time. Don't talk about leading this line. Be about leading this offensive line.

Ryan Tannehill, everyone has an opinion about you. Some think you're pretty good because you've thrown for 15,460 yards your first four seasons and that's a stone's throw from Peyton Manning (16,418) and Dan Marino (16,177).

But yards notwithstanding that doesn't put you in the same company as Manning and Marino. And you won't be in their company, no matter how many times you visit with them, until you get a team in the playoffs.

Indeed, Ryan Tannehill, get a team over .500.

Win. Do it.

Then people will stop looking at you sideways.

I don't know anyone on the Dolphins who can walk around feeling like they are entitled. The coaches haven't won a game together. The players haven't been to the playoffs together. The franchise is in one of its longest postseason droughts ever.

So if ever a team should embrace hard work and a lunch-pail approach to training camp, it is these Miami Dolphins.

By the way, anyone who believes this isn't the case or shouldn't be the case should speak to new coach Adam Gase. Someone recently asked him how it feels to have arrived as a hotshot 38-year-old NFL head coach.

"I haven't won anything yet," he said.

The 2016 Miami Dolphins.

No one feeling entitled.