The Dolphins first practice of 2014 is in the books.
Some quickie observations:
Ryan Tannehill and Mike Wallace have a long way to go on their deep ball connections. Still. The duo combined for one completion deep down the left sideline midway through practice during seven on seven drills. But there were two other instances when Tannehill underthrew on deep passes -- one to Wallace who was wide open behind Will Davis and once when Damien Williams was open deep.
The starting offensive line today was RT Ja'Wuan James, RG Dallas Thomas, C Shelley Smith, LG Daryn Colledge and LT Branden Albert. James gave up multiple sacks in both one-on-one drills and in team drills. But ... Remember the pads were not fully on, he was matched against Cam Wake, and the kid is a rookie.
Colledge had a fine moment in one-on-one drills against Earl Mitchell. Stoned him at the line of scrimmage.
It must be said that the quarterback-center exchanges need cleaning up. There were two fumbled exchanges between Tannehill and Smith. Second-team center Sam Brenner ground-balled one shotgun snap, and Tannehill bobbled another exchange.
Mike Pouncey, the starting center once he returns from his hip surgery, said he "ahead of schedule" on his rehabilitation. But, as you know, he will miss the start of the season and he may miss up to seven games, as I've reported.
Speaking to the media today, general manager Dennis Hickey said every player passed his conditioning test. Derrick Shelby was limited in practice after having arthroscopic knee surgery this offseason. A source said he'll be fine. Coach Joe Pilbin told me earlier this week the Dolphins had 99.1 percent attendance in their voluntary offseason programs and OTAs. So that obviously paid dividends.
Brandon Gibson, who missed much of last year after tearing a patellar tendon, practiced today. He didn't seem limited but, again, the club was not in pads. It may be that once the pads go on the Dolphins don't throw Gibson into contact drills immediately.
Interesting scene after practice: The one player owner Stephen Ross made a point of meeting and talking to was Jarvis Landry. And then Ross mentioned Landry as a big addition during his press conference. Perhaps the owner has been told by coaches to keep an eye on the rookie.
What did I see from Bill Lazor's offense today? Lots of screens, especially bubble screens to receivers, lot of passes in the flat to the TE (Michael Egnew caught two and dropped one) and lots of quick throws. I saw the read option, including using Tannehill on the keeper.
I did not hear Go and Go-Go at practice today.
Dion Jordan, who will be suspended four games in the regular season, got some first-team snaps in practice today. No, he's not the starter. That's Wake and Olivier Vernon. But Vernon got a break here and there and Jordan got the reps. Vernon, by the way, had at least one sack today.
Second-year CB Jamar Taylor, who was beaten on the deep completion from Ryan Tannehill to Mike Wallace, recovered nicely later in practice. He had a nice pass defensed and near interception on a Matt Moore pass.
The Dolphins are working Nate Garner as their backup LT. Obviously, if Albert goes down, the Dolphins may shift rookie Ja'Wuan James to LT and play Garner at RT. But ... if there is any point this season Garner has to play LT in a game, that is bad news. Garner is a fine swing player. He is a solid G and a serviceable RT. He is not, repeat, not a LT.
Speaking to the media today, owner Stephen Ross said plans for the upgrade to Sun Life Stadium are being drawn up and construction on the facility will begin after the season. He said by the 2015 season there will be new seating (a new bowl) at the facility. The new scoreboards and the roof will go in for the 2016 season. Ross said Sun Life "will be tantamount to a new stadium" when construction is complete.
Ross was asked if coach Joe Philbin has to make the playoffs this year to keep his job. He demured. "I'm expecting Joe Philbin to be here for a long time," he said, "but every year you want to see improvement."