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2 posts from August 26, 2013

August 26, 2013

Philbin thinks Thomas played well

I left this afternoon's Joe Philbin press conference scratching my head. (No, not because I'm infested with lice). I was curious because in discussing how players performed against Tampa Bay for the first time since studying the tape, the coach said he liked the way the running backs played.

"I think they played well," Philbin said of Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas. "I thought both of them. Lamar had one of his better days in pass protection. His awareness was excellent. I thought Daniel Thomas had a good game as well. Lamar had a couple of cleaner run opportunities but I thought they both played well."


Daniel Thomas played well? Really?

Thomas, vying with Miller for the starting running back job, basically delivered an unimpressive performance that should have knocked him from the competition. He rushed for 3 yards on seven carries. He caught two passes for 12 yards. Two of his seven carries lost yardage, including a 3 yard loss on first-and-goal.

He didn't break a tackle. He didn't turn a bad play into a positive play. He didn't seem to do anything that suggested the Dolphins running back job is in good hands.

And so that's playing well?

Now, I understand the Dolphins also grade pass protection and picking the right hole or running lane and all that. But this is a results-oriented business, the NFL. And 3 yards on seven carries does not sound like good results to me.

And yet, after a game that strongly suggests Miller is Miami's starting running back and Thomas needs to get better to be the backup, that's not how Philbin is thinking.  

Asked if he's settled on a starting running back yet, the coach also did not give the job to Miller.

"Not necessarily," he answered.

Now, I'm not a dumb guy. (OK, maybe I'm not a smart guy but give me that I'm not dumb. Work with me). So maybe, just maybe, the coach gave this answer for some psychological reason or unknown agenda.

Maybe Philbin wants to put the idea out there that Thomas played well and is still competing for the job to motivate Miller and keep him from feeling comfortable. Or maybe the Dolphins wouldn't mind getting rid of Thomas and want to talk him up to improve his value.

But this would be so unPhilbinlike that it sounds improbable to me. The coach may not say much, but he rarely blows smoke.

So I'm stumped.

The coach, meanwhile, had other areas about Saturday's so-called dress-rehearsal that he was happy about:

"I thought our guys played hard. I thought we had a good opening possession," he said. "Obviously, we want to score a touchdown. We got ourselves off the field. We missed a tackle on the opening possession that could have gotten us off the field earlier, but we made a stop. We had a negative yardage play on third down that forced them to punt. We know we had special teams give-aways in the first quarter but I thought we came out ready to play. Our play speed was good overall."

No cuts yet, Jordan still not practicing

Unlike many other NFL teams, the Dolphins have still not trimmed to the mandated 75-player roster limit this afternoon. They must do so by 4 p.m. Tuesday.

The club is at practice this afternoon and there is good news and bad news on that front.

Most importantly, rookie first-round pick Dion Jordan is not practicing -- still. He's missed the past three weeks of practice and because he is not working today is thus not going to play Thursday night against New Orleans in the preseason finale.

The bottom line is the Dolphins only have two practice days this week. As Jordan is already missing one, constituting 50 percent of the practice week, there is basically no chance he's going to play Thursday.

And this is a domino-effect situation. The longer he goes without practicing, the less likely he is to be on the field for the regular-season opener Sept. 8. If you remember, I reported last week the team is very concerned Jordan would miss the opener. Following that, Jordan told reporters he "would not be surprised" if he missed the opener.

It certainly is looking that way.

On the plus side, Nate Garner is back to practice as I reported last week he would be. And reserve left tackle Will Yeatman, who missed the last week of practice with an unknown issue, is back at work today as well. Both are practicing.

Yeatman's return is good timing as left tackle Jeff Adams missed drills today. He had a compression sleeve on his left leg.

Rookie cornerback Will Davis also was not present for today's practice for a reason not yet known to me.