I've had several readers and twitter followers ask me about the Dolphins lack of tackling acumen in the preseason opener and, as they saw the Bengals run an Oklahoma drill on the premier episode of Hard Knocks, they asked me why the Dolphins aren't doing that.
It's a fair question because the Dolphins know they struggled tackling the ballcarrier in the preseason opener.
"I thought the tackling was poor, very bad," defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said Wednesday. "But it's not atypical of a lot of preseason games that I've been involved in for many, many years. I seem to recall many games where we've come right back and talked aobut how poor the tackling was."
The tackling was so bad against Dallas, the Dolphins yielded 170 rushing yards and five yards per carry. According to Coyle, 93 of those rushing yards came after a first opportunity to make a tackle failed.
"If we had made the tackle after the initial contact, we would have had a heck of a game," Coyle said. "But we didn't so I'm not making excuses."
Coyle believes the tackling issue are understandable early in the preseason.
"We've only had one true tackling experience and that was in the scrimmage the week before," he said. "So all of a sudden the speed of the game increases, the angles change a little bit and the backs are running harder than they do in practice when you're tagging them off. So we've got to be better and worked hard this week both days in practice, I don't know if you guys noticed, at doing a number of tackling drills. So during the course of the preseason I think you'll see the tackling improve. I do believe that's something we need to improve and hopefully we'll be much better at it this week."
As to the Oklahoma drill that the Bengals and other teams use, Coyle is familiar with it because he came from Cincy before joining the Dolphins.
"The Oklahoma drill is a one-shot deal," he said. "I was somewhere where it was a one-shot deal. We did it the first day of camp and everybody got one shot at it and we didn't do it again until the next training camp. There's not many teams that are going to feature that kind of contact at training camp.
"Now if it continues to be a problem, we're going to have to address it if it continues to be a problem but I don't believe it'll be a problem for us."
On to today's practice:
The Dolphins got great news in that WR Mike Wallace returned to full work for the first time since straining a groin nearly two weeks ago.
Wallace's presence was felt as Ryan Tannehill connected with the speedy receiver on a 40-yard bomb over the top of the defense and against Nolan Carroll's one-on-one coverage. The play was a TD.
One thing: I'm not sure I'd blame Carroll exclusively on the play. He had zero safety help over the top. Not a good look for the deep secondary.
Today was a much, much, much better day for Tannehill following his four-INT day on Tuesday. He only threw one interception -- to Dimitri Patterson -- and had three TD passes. So good recovery by the starting QB.
TE Michael Egnew had a very good practice. He caught three TD passes from various QBs and didn't have a drop. All his TDs were from inside the 10-yard line, suggesting a little toughness in a tight area.
Carroll, who was beaten for the deep TD, recovered with an interception of QB Pat Devlin. It was Devlin's first full practice since being knocked out of Sunday preseason opener. It wasn't necessarily a good day for him because he threw two interceptions -- to Carroll and Chris Clemons.
Practice was punctuated by a minor skirmish between the starting OL and second-team DL. Richie Incongnito and Mike Pouncey obviously had a disagreement with defensive tackle Tracy Roberts and although punches were thrown, no one seemed to be the worse for wear after the 30-second scrum.
Other highlights, lowlights, observations:
***Brian Hartline dropped two passes.
***Jared Odrick and Olivier Vernon, held out against Dallas, practiced and seemed to have no issues. They should play vs. Jacksonville on Friday.
***Lamar Miller, who left practice with an ankle injury of some sort, was back today with his right ankle heavily taped. He started working and stopped midway through and was limping noticeably. Then he returned to practice for a couple of periods and left again near the end.
When it came time for the final team drill period, Daniel Thomas took the work in Miller's place.
***Rookie Dallas Thomas, who played at left tackle in the preseason opener, is over at right tackle now. And he's still struggling. Cameron Wake abused him on one pass rush situation that made it seem as if no one was blocking Wake. Coach Joe Philbin said Thomas's problem versus the Cowboys is that the opposing DE continually got better hand position on him and thus had better leverage against Thomas. That usually translates to a lineman getting knocked back on his posterior as Thomas was.
***Jorvorskie Lane, fighting for a roster spot, did not practice today with an unreported leg injury. It doesn't seem serious but he's looked in a tight competition for a roster spot so he really cannot afford to miss much time ... John Jerry continues to rehab his knee on the side. He's in the third week of what is expected to be a four-week issue. One thing I'll say, he looks big.
[Update: TE Kyle Miller, who caught a TD pass vs. Dallas Sunday night, was not at practice today because he has an ankle injury. It is not considered serious but he isn't playing at Jacksonville.]