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2 posts from May 20, 2013

May 20, 2013

Reshad Jones not at offseason session today

Safety Reshad Jones, the Dolphins most productive and promising defensive back, did not attend Monday's offseason conditioning session according to a team source.

The club spent much of the morning trying to locate Jones, who until Monday had near perfect attendance in the offseason program. The Dolphins start their first set of OTA days Tuesday and will continue on Wednesday and Thursday with on-field drills. The work Monday was closed to the media but the club is scheduled to open the OTA workout Tuesday.

All offseason conditioning and OTA activities are voluntary and players are not subject to fines for missing them.

The reason for Jones' absence is not completely known to the team's front office and coaches but there has been speculation among some teammates that Jones is unsatisfied with the progress -- or more accurately, the lack of progress -- in talks to extend his contract.

It is known Jones' representative and the Dolphins have had intermitent discussions about a new contract for Jones but those have obviously not been fruitful to the point of getting an extension done.

Jones was unavailable for comment. Agent Joel Segal, who represents Jones, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Whether Jones plans to attend the OTA sessions Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday is unclear. Missing those would be a more clear and obvious sign that Jones is unhappy.

[Update: A source close to Jones tells me he is not planning to show up for OTAs Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday unless contract talks begin.]

This season, Jones is scheduled to be in the final year of his rookie contract which he signed as a fifth-round draft pick out of the University of Georgia in 2010. But Jones has largely outperformed that deal, starting 28 games the past two seasons. On a team looking for defensive playmakers, Jones has been second only to defensive end Cameron Wake in that department.

Aside from leading the team with four interceptions last year, Jones also forced two fumbles, recovered two fumbles, had one sack and three quarterback hits. Jones was also third on the team with 74 solo tackles.

Jones is scheduled to make $1.323 million this season, according to figures filed with the NFL Players Association. That would make him the team's lowest-paid starting defensive back and among the club's lowest paid starters -- depending on which players win starting jobs in training camp.

The Dolphins have had other players show their displeasure by staying away from the offseason program recently. Defensive tackle Randy Starks, Miami's franchise player, skipped the early portion of this year's offseason program. Last year, Wake skipped part of the offseason program as well as he was looking for a contract extension because he was enterring the final year of his first deal with Miami.

The Dolphins eventually rewarded Wake with a five-year, $34.53 million deal last May.

This offseason the Dolphins have spent $91 million in guaranteed money and approximately $204 million overall on new contracts.

Dolphins hold first OTA practice Tuesday

This week the 2013 Dolphins will begin the final phase of their offseason training regimen with the first of 10 organized team activity days more commonly known as OTA days.

Call this Phase Three of the offseason for all 32 NFL teams and it consists 10 practices and a mandatory minicamp over the next four weeks. Teams may conduct a total of 10 days of OTA. They typically break those down in sets of three or four consecutive days.

For the Dolphins the first OTA segment is Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The club also has segments scheduled for May 29-31, and June 3-6. The club's mandatory minicamp is scheduled for June 11-13.

No live contact is permitted during OTAs, but 7-on-7 and 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills are permissible.

So what is important to watch out for? There are multiple things that are important to teams and coaches this time of year. They are:

1. Attendance. Atlhough OTAs are not mandatory, teams like to make sure to stress to players that it is in everyone's best interest to attend. It's good for the team. It's good for players. Most everyone does attend, even injured players as they work on regaining their form. But ...

It must be pointed out that OTA days are usually when you see drama if there's going to be any between a player and a team. Players unhappy with their contract status sometimes skip these sessions to get a team's attention. Last year, defensive end Cameron Wake did not attend as he wanted a new contract extension.

It is possible defensive tackle Randy Starks, who has skipped significant parts of the team's offseason program because he wants a new long-term deal could skip the OTAs as well.

2. Injuries. The worst news for any player is getting injured. It's bad news any time of the year. OTA sessions are no different considering there's no contact allowed and the fact training camp is coming in a couple of months. An OTA session in which no one is injured is a solid OTA days regardless of what else happens.

3. Chemistry. This is the time to start building. The Dolphins, you must recall, have two dozen new players that are likely going to be on the roster. Among that group, we're talking maybe 8 or 9 new starters. So how do these important players fit into or change the culture? How does the locker room react to the additions? How does the lockerroom react to departures such as that of Reggie Bush, Davone Bess and Jake Long and Karlos Dansby? All those men were leaders on the 2012 Dolphins. This is the time of year new leadership starts to be cast.

4. Speed. The Dolphins have not been an exceptionally fast team in past years. Plodding is more like it. They at times seemed to be playing in sand, they were so slow. The OTAs coming up will be a good time to gauge if the speed of the team has improved. Remember, players will not be in full pads. If this is going to be a quicker, faster team, it better show quite obviously starting now because it's not likely to suddenly show up in full gear later on. And as players such as Mike Wallace bring a speed dimension unseen on a Dolphins practice field in a while, now is a good time for teammates on both sides of the ball to adjust to that kind of speed. 

Tuesday is open to the media. Wednesday and Thursday is closed to the media and the public.

The Dolphins will typically make only one OTA day open to the media per session.