August 16, 2015

Sunday morning injuries, Matthews column and MORE

The Miami Dolphins are practicing at 8 a.m. on a cloudy, threatening Sunday. Well, most of the people on the team are practicing.

Not practicing are Koa Misi (ankle), Will Davis (knee), Kenny Stills (calf), Christion Jones (hamstring), and Jordan Tripp (ankle) are not practicing this morning.

Apparently no longer on the team is offensive lineman Chris Martin, who The Herald's Adam Beasley is reporting has been cut.

With Stills continuing to miss practice, the opportunities continue to flow for Rishard Matthews.

As I write in my column today, the often troubled wide receiver has seen a dramatic turn of fortunes this training camp. He's also changed his view of doing things because of some growing up he's done.

Check it out. And come back later for the update. 

 

August 15, 2015

We may be seeing Joe Philbin at his best so far

Saturday was a different day for the Miami Dolphins at practice. It was so different that receiver Greg Jennings remarked to coach Joe Philbin how he'd never seen anything like it in his nine previous NFL seasons.

The Dolphins, you see, held a two-hour practice and did not have one 11 on 11 drill the entire time.

None.

What is typically the most competitive portion of practice was simply not on the menu today. Why?

Today was about correcting mistakes. Today was about addressing fundamentals. For a team that had 12 penalties in its preseason opener and basically played poorly for three quarters, Philbin wanted to address the issues here and now.

And while the change in practice regimen may seem mundane to untrained eyes, it is a shining example of how Philbin's approach this year is different.

"I've tried to be a little more succinct and less detail oriented with the team in terms of, 'We're meeting at 6:45 p.m., get on the bus at 6:50 p.m.'" Philbin said. "I've tried to give them the whys of why we're doing things. Today we didn't have any 11 on 11 work. I tried to give them the reasons. I said guys, 'We believe in fundamentals.' I never had a practice without a team period until I came here. I had Greg Jennings come up to me today and I guess they never did that the last two places he's been. I'm just trying to do whatever I can to put the team in a position to win."

Don't underestimate this, folks.

The Dolphins on paper are a pretty good team. Las Vegas has their over-under number at 9. The reason it might not be higher?

Well, consider this: A national pundit was at training camp recently as part of his tour of most NFL cities. I asked him what he thought of my team.

"They have the talent," he said. "We'll see if they have the coaching or they keep getting out-coached in important games."

True or not, like it or not, that is a question mark for this team: Coaching.

And so it is notable that the head coach is actively trying to be better.

"When I studied whatever got me here, some of the things I may have done reasonably well to put myself in position to get this job is I was able to build positive relationships with the people I coach, the people I worked with," Philbin said. "And early on, when you're a coordinator, you want to know everything that's going on. You want to know every blitz, every adjustment. You become a head coach, maybe early on, I wanted to have my hands in all that stuff. I wanted to know every minute detail of what the team did.

"And now, as it's going on, it's not like I'm not involved. But I want to be more involved with the players. I want to build that relationship with the players so they trust me and have confidence. I told them why I want to win a championship. Why I think they should have confidence. Every decision we make -- why we have no 11 on 11 today, why we're going early to Carolina -- is made to win a championship."

About that trip to Carolina next week. The Dolphins will spend two days practicing with and against the Panthers prior to their preseason game Saturday. Philbin tried to make that happen last year but the game against Atlanta, who agreed to such practices, was the opener and the coach wanted to do it the second game instead.

So he and Carolina coach Ron Rivera got together and figured out a suitable way for their teams to do this. Andy why?

The Dolphins play seven of their first nine games on the road. The coach wants his team used to be on the road.

"My past history in the NFL, we didn't do that, we stayed in," Philbin said. "One year we had a team come in. I just felt it would be good for our guys to compete. It would be good because we have to be semi road warriors early in the year with seven road games the first nine weeks, so I felt it would be good for us that way."

I've covered Philbin for four years now. This is pretty good thinking. 

 

Koa Misi, Kenny Stills still out [updated]

The Miami Dolphins are back on the practice field today. Well, most of them.

First, it is good news linebacker Koa Misi, who missed practice the last week with a calf injury, is scheduled to return to practice today.

[UPDATE: The added Misi to the injury report once practice began. He is not practicing].

The bad news is wide receiver Kenny Stills, who missed the past week of practice, continues to be out because of his calf injury.

Linebacker Jordan Tripp, who injured his ankle in Thursday preseason-opener, will not practice today. He won't be practicing for a while, I'm told.

Others not practicing today: Cornerback Bobby McCain (hamstring), receiver Christion Jones (hamstring) and OL Chris Martin (back).

Check back later for the post-practice update.

August 13, 2015

Miami Dolphins lose to Chicago Bears, 27-10

So you saw the headline and unless you know what happened, you're a little disappointed the Miami Dolphins were not representative in their first preseason game of the 2015 season.

Relax. The starters and, really, the second-team players did just fine. The Dolphins scored on their first offensive series and the starting defense did not give up a point. The reserves once we got past some of the second-team players?

Terrible as a group.

(More on all that in a second).

You should know that reserve linebacker and special teams contributor Jordan Tripp left the game in the first half with a right ankle injury. The injury doesn't look good in that Tripp left Soldier Field in a walking boot and with the assistance of crutches.

Fellow linebacker Chris McCain also left the game with an ankle injury but his doesn't seem serious. He walked off under his own power and did not require a boot or crutches. He was seen walking without significant discomfort on the sideline later in the evening.

So there's that. Tripp had an injury issue early last season, was having a good camp and may now have to deal with this setback.

It seems clear the Miami offense is in a much better place right now than it was a year ago at this time when the offensive coordinator was new, the players were not best suited to the system and multiple players wanted to get theirs.

Led by quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the Dolphins took the opening kickoff and marched 85 yards to a touchdown -- a 2-yard pass from Tannehill to Jarvis Landry. The Dolphins both ran and passed well against the Chicago starting defense.

Lamar Miller had a 27-yard run. Tannehill completed 6 of 7 passes for 56 yards with that TD and no interception. His quarterback rating for the evening was 139.6.

The only problem with that starting unit and the opening drive? Left tackle Jason Fox had a holding penalty. Right guard Billy Turner had a holding penalty in the red zone.

Turner, who played into the second quarter and even got some work in the third quarter, seemed to have a better night than he had a scrimmage last week or has had in practice against Ndamukong Suh. Yes, he still looked lost at times -- not blocking anyone at one point while both center Mike Pouncey and right tackle Ja'Wuan James handled their men one-on-one on one pass play.

But Turner didn't have any awful look-at-me-screw-up moments. He was otherwise anonymous, which is good for an offensive lineman.

Dallas Thomas had a similarly uneventful night. If somewhere Evan Mathis was rooting for a either Miami guard to implode, thus opening the door for him, it did not happen this night.

On defense, the starts fared well against Jay Cutler and company.

It became evident how much teams respect Suh when the Bears committed double teams to blocking him almost every play. That helped Cameron Wake get a one-on-one on one pass play and he turned it into a sack.

That sack, however, was nullified by offsetting penalties but the consequence Suh had on a play he was nowhere near was obvious.

The Dolphins had too many penalties as a team. They had 12 penalties for 80 yards.

Cornerback Bobby McCain had three of those penalties.

And defensive tackle Anthony Johnson was called for three neutral zone infractions.

Suh was called for one neutral zone infraction.

Unacceptable.

Johnson particularly seemed to have an off night. He was blocked on what turned into a 21-yard run right up the gut by the Bears.

It has been clear for a long time the Dolphins are going to go with two quarterback during the season, with probably a third quarterback on the practice squad.

The reason for this is Josh Freeman has simply not been good enough in practice to warrant a roster spot and has been running fourth-team behind McCleod Bethel-Thompson.

And when Bethel-Thompson took over for Moore this evening, the script seemed to be playing out as it had in practice. He's been slightly better than Freeman.

Bethel-Thompson had a QB rating above 100 early on. Then he imploded.

The threw two interceptions that sandwiched a Mike Gillislee fumble. He completed only five of 12 passes. It was a bad outing.

And then Freeman came in and, against third-team competition, fared not much better. He threw an interception while completing only 5 of 16 passes.

Both of Miami's lower tier quarterbacks had ratings of 21.9.

I would not be surprised if the Dolphins go shopping for another third-quarterback practice squad type because it was that bad.

 

 

Preseason-opener primer PLUS my AFC champion pick

It is game day. And although the Miami Dolphins are playing but a preseason-opener, I must say I have a good feeling about this year, so mine eyes are eager to see how this team looks as it comes together. (Mine eyes? Old English much?).

Look, if I had to pick a team to win the AFC, I would pick the Indianapolis Colts. They have the quarterback who may already be the best signal-caller in the conference in Andrew Luck and I like their mix of veteran and young talent. I also like that they come at you with speed on offense and the defense has added some solid girth such as former Dolphin Kendall Langford.

But the AFC East is wide open for the Dolphins and, indeed, I could argue they should win the division. They will, after all, have the best quarterback in the division the first four games of the season -- barring a change in status to Tom Brady, who is fighting a four-game suspension to start the season.

If Brady is out, it will be Jimmy Garoppolo at the helm for the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots.

Jimmy? Is this guy an adult?

The Buffalo Bills are currently on track to go with Matt Cassel as their starter because E.J. Manuel has struggled during training camp.

The New York Jets lost their quarterback for 6-10 weeks two days ago because a teammate punched Geno Smith. And soon you'll be reading stories about how pretty good Ryan Fitzpatrick has been in his career. Except Fitzpatrick has been with six teams in 11 NFL seasons and the Jets are his fourth stop the past four years.

You know what that makes him? A journeyman.

Yes, the Jets and Bills have outstanding defenses. Yes, the Patriots have defensive genius Bill Belichick. But the Dolphins should have a very fine defense as well if one believes this unit's makeup on paper.

(They better have a fine defense on the field too or, you know, defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle).

So I'm bullish on the Dolphins right now.

And tonight offers a first look at the 2015 team as coaches begin to piece this puzzle together.

Things to look for?

Yes, Billy Turner, who suddenly has emerged as a bigger question mark at right guard than the combination of Dallas Thomas and rookie Jamil Douglas at left guard, must perform. Look for him to get a longer look than most starters.

I want to see how the cornerbacks play. Zack Bowman, Bobby McCain and Tony Lippett have shown signs they are going to be on the team. You want all three on the team because they are all 5-11 or taller. And two other cornerbacks who will be on the team are 5-10 Brent Grimes and 5-9 Brice McCain. So the Dolphins need length in that cornerback room to deal with the likes of Brandon Marshall and Rob Gronkowski and Andre Johnson and Sammy Watkins and Dez Bryant and Pierre Garcon.

I know I didn't mention Will Davis. He is not guaranteed a roster spot. He needs to show durability and play more physical and consistent to make this team.

I want to see the linebackers. Koa Misi is not scheduled to play. But the Dolphins need to work Chris McCain at strongside linebacker to see if he is fully versed in his assignments. They need to see if their confidence in Kelvin Sheppard in the middle is coaches falling in love with a player in the offseason or whether the affair is actually merited. And because last year was eye-opening about how durability can be an issue at linebacker for Miami, the team needs good performances from Jordan Tripp, Spencer Paysinger and others.

The others are the young guys. Somebody from the following group needs to step up on special teams and then not blow assignments if he gets a chance on defense: Mike Hull, Neville Hewitt, Jeff Luc, Zach Vigil. I'd say those four are vying for one roster spot right now. That can change but only if they make it change.

The defensive line battle is proving interesting, although not at the head of the unit. We know Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon, Terrence Fede and Derrick Shelby will be on the team. That doesn't leave a lot of room for guys such as Kendall Montgomery, Enmanuel Dieke, and Ray Drew.

The defensive tackle competition is going to see a good player get cut unless the Dolphins keep five. Hard to do. Right now, Anthony Johnson and C.J. Mosley are fighting for that fourth roster spot. Johnson had the advantage early in camp and is younger and cheaper.

Mosley has turned it on in the last week and he's got more experience.

Don Jones, who has not been healthy all camp is in trouble at safety. Michael Thomas, Walt Aikens and Jordan Kovacs are having productive camps. Rookie Cedric Thompson shows promise. Can't win a job if you cannot compete. The interesting thing is whether the Dolphins are comfortable letting Thompson go on waivers and then re-signing him, this time to the practice squad. Either that or Kovacs is out. The preseason will determine.

On offense, everyone assumes the five wide receivers will be DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, Greg Jennings, Jarvis Landry and Rishard Matthews. Matthews has really helped himself on the field in the absence of both Parker and (lately) Stills.

But Michael Preston has also been impressive. Matt Hazel has been solid as well, although he seems like a practice squad possibility. The preseason will determine.

The Dolphins have two tight ends on the roster -- Jordan Cameron and Dion Sims. But does Gerell Robinson force the team to keep three? Are Jake Stoneburner, Arthur Lynch and Tim Semisch going to dazzle in games in ways they have not really done in practice?

Quarterbacks? It is going to be Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore. McCleod Bethel-Thompson will likely be cut and signed to the practice squad, assuming he doesn't have a terrible preseason or screws up otherwise. Josh Freeman is going to be cut, barring him becoming 2010 Josh Freeman -- and he's given no hints in practice that is about to happen.

These offensive linemen are on the team: Mike Pouncey, Branden Albert, Ja'Wuan James, Jason Fox, Jamil Douglas, Billy Turner, Dallas Thomas.

These guys have to hump to make it: Sam Brenner, Jacques McClendon, Chris Martin, J.D. Walton, Jeff Linkenbach, Michael Liedtke, and Aundrey Walker.

Right now, McClendon has the best chance of all the lower tier guys to make the team. He's been getting notable work with the first-team at right guard.

Running back: Lamar Miller and Damien Williams have done nothing to suggest they will not be the starting and second-string back this season. Williams is not explosive but he just does things right, including pass protection.

The Dolphins have taken a long, long look at LaMichael James this camp and that will likely continue against Chicago. Even on special teams. Jay Ajayi, something of a disappointment to this reporter because he hasn't been able to stay healthy, is probably on scholarship so he's not going to be cut.

Mike Gillislee and recent arrival Demitrious Bronson need to really wow because they start the evening at the back of the running back pack.

It all begins tonight at 8 p.m. eastern.

 

August 12, 2015

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross funds a new sport

It is a travel day for the Miami Dolphins and day off for me, but I thought you might be interested to know club owner Stephen Ross just spent $1 million to fund a new drone racing league.

(Must resist desire to mock).

(Must not be a smart-aleck).

According to the Wall Street Journal, the project is actually funded by RSE Ventures, a venture capital firm founded by Ross. The idea will use old factories and other interior spaces as courses for the drones that can hit up to 70 MPH.

Hey, folks laughed at Leo Seltzer and Damon Runyon when they dreamed up competitive roller derby and look what a resounding success that is, right?

The target audience, one supposes, is the same millennial who gets into robot fighting and virtual reality combat. I guess traditionalists such as myself would rather watch, well, cars race in Daytona and Indianapolis or horses race in Kentucky, Baltimore and Queens -- albeit not for very long. Traditionalists are not the target audience.

Ross, however, is anything but a traditionalist. He's a push the envelope kinda guy. If it is new, he wants to hear about it and be on the cutting edge.

And the Drone Racing League definitely is that.

 

August 11, 2015

Miami Dolphins Tuesday practice report and other things

Tuesday's practice, the last non-walk-thru prior to Thursday's preseason-opener at Chicago against the Bears, is over. Here's what's happening:

The best news of the day is that left tackle Branden Albert, recovering from reconstructive knee surgery, continues to progress toward actually practicing. He's been limited and done only light work as he's transitioned from the rehab stage of his recovery.

"It's going to be sooner or later," he said today. "I don't got an exact date but it's going to be soon."

Albert said "I'm working toward getting back ... we'll see in the next few weeks. Things are going right. I'm not hurting. I'm not swelling up. So things are going positive."

Look for Albert's practice work to increase as early as Saturday or Sunday after the Dolphins return from Chicago. He's not likely to work in team drills yet, but perhaps he'll get into some one-on-one work and other individual drills.

Man's got to get in the water sometime to find out if he can still swim.

It seems more and more likely Dallas Thomas and Billy Turner will be the starting guards against the Bears and regardless of whether he starts or not, Turner is bound to get a lot of work. Obviously Jamil Douglas, who shared snaps with Thomas at left guard, and Jacques McClendon, who took fewer first-team snaps at right guard, will also get a good look from coaches.

It is clear the Dolphins need Turner to step up and have a good night. Coach Joe Philbin said the team has been asking more consistency in both pass protection and run blocking from Turner. He's simply not there yet.

Thomas got a handful of snaps at left tackle today but don't read anything into that other than the Dolphins were preparing for an emergency should they suffer an injury to the starting and second-string left tackle. Football coaches prepare for all sorts of contingencies and Joe Philbin is no different.

On defense, one of the battles that has raged this training camp is at the boundary cornerback spot opposite Brent Grimes. More and more it is clear Jamar Taylor is pulling ahead there although no coach would say that publicly and Philbin has said the competition is wide open.

One reason Taylor got a vast majority of the first-team snaps at the spot today is Brice McCain clearly tweaked his groin during practice and stopped working. It is not anything serious, but I would not be surprised if the Dolphins simply keep McCain on the sideline Thursday night rather than risk him aggravating the injury and making it worse. (Remember Dmitri Patterson?)

Speaking of Taylor, he and receiver Rishard Matthews got into a bit of a scuffle during practice. A bit of a scuffle is defined as both players took serious swings on each other but merely connected to each other's helmet.

Louis Delmas intervened immediately and tried to break the two up before a pile of offensive and defensive players joined in.

"It was just a little jawing going back and forth, a little shoving and pushing," Taylor said. "It just turned into a little scuffle man. It's just part of camp. Definitely need to play somebody else. I know Rishard is too. We've been kind of going at it for the past couple of weeks. That's still my guy. I look forward to him making plays on Thursday, and so do I, look forward to making plays as well."

The Dolphins need both players to make plays this season as both seem more and more likely to be on the team -- Taylor as a starter and Matthews as a fourth or fifth receiver and special teams contributor.

(Matthews might be asked to do more if the health of other receivers doesn't hold up, as has happened in camp).

Matthews, obviously, would love to be given more opportunities because he recognizes this is a contract year for him. He will be a free agent after the season.

"It's very important for me," he said. "I need to just contribute a lot this year, whether it's special teams or wherever they want to put me. I want to contribute wherever, all over the field."

Matthews has gotten a good look so he cannot be upset about that and isn't. He'll start Thursday night if the Dolphins open in a three-wide set on offense. 

The special teams are often a sign of what coaches are really thinking about players further down the roster. Let's face it, a guy is not going to be on starting punt and kickoff teams if coaches don't project him on the roster.

And, yes, it is early so those projections can change. But at least you get a clue of which players are performing well enough that if the season began now, they'd be on the team. (Peanut gallery: But Mando, the season does not begin now).

Thank you, gallery. Once again, you are correct. Guess I won't tell you who is on first-team kick and punts then ...

Actually, yes I will.

The first-team kickoff team:

CB Jamar Taylor, WR Rishard Matthews, DE Terrence Fede, linebacker Chris McCain, linebacker Spencer Paysinger, safety Jordan Kovacs, linebacker Jordan Tripp, safety Walt Aikens, CB Zack Bowman, CB Bobby McCain, and of course the kicker.

Kickoff return:

Fede, Kovacs, Walt Aikens, Bowman, Paysinger, Tripp, Matthews, Anthony Johnson, Mike Gillislee, Tim Semisch, LaMichael James.

I'd say this is the lineup you'll see returning early Thursday but not necessarly vs. Washington in the season-opener. Gillislee's spot on the roster is tenuous. James is being given a chance to show what he can do as a returner but the Dolphins know Jarvis Landry can do the job quite well. And I don't know that Semisch spot on the roster is at all secure.

{I have to do more watching of the punt and punt return teams. Maybe Thursday night).

Speaking of special teams, Miami coaches gave players an opportunity to get this evening's walk-thru practice off. All that had to happen was rookie defensive tackle Jordan Phillips had to catch a punt.

It was an awkward end over end and Phillips had to run a dozen yards or so to track it. But he caught it, getting him a big round of cheers from teammates.

Tuesday pre-practice injury report

The Dolphins are heading out to practice for the last time before playing the Chicago Bears Thursday night in the Windy City.

Well, most of the Dolphins will be practicing.

Not practicing today are: Linebacker Koa Misi (calf), receiver Kenny Stills (calf), receiver Christion Jones (hamstring) and running back Jay Ajayi (hamstring) will not be practicing today.

Misi and Still are unlikely to play against the Bears in the preseason-opener at Chicago Thursday, as I reported Monday.

It doesn't look great for Ajayi, either.

Check back later for post-practice updates.

August 10, 2015

Miami Dolphins Monday afternoon practice report

The Miami Dolphins on Monday finished installing all their plays. That part of training camp has ended. From here on it will be about fine-tuning and preparing for opponents as players are expected to know what's in the playbooks iPads.

The Dolphins will begin preparing for Thursday's preseason-opener at Chicago against the Bears on Tuesday. (Yeah, there will be some light prep work for this game despite the fact most veterans will play no more than a quarter and probably less than that).

It is unlikely either linebacker Koa Misi (calf), or receiver Kenny Stills (calf) will play against the Bears. Neither has practiced since last week. Rookie running back Jay Ajayi (hamstring) also may be kept out of the game, although that decision is not yet made.

Monday's practice did not have the number of bombs from quarterback Ryan Tannehill that were on display Sunday. Sorry, just didn't happen.

Indeed, Tannehill didn't connect on his lone deep throw of the afternoon -- a close-but-no-cigar attempt to Rishard Matthews down the left sideline.

Matthews continued to nonetheless seize the opportunity given him in the absence of Stills. He took first-team snaps.

The right guard competition between Jacques McClendon and Billy Turner continued, with McClendon seemingly getting most of the first-team snaps early in practice and Turner getting them later in practice.

Me? I focused exclusively on McClendon in one helmet-to-helmet snap against Ndamukong Suh and it was unremarkable in that Suh did not beat the lineman, make him look silly, or make him cry. McClendon stood Suh up to a stalemate. (Hint: That's what you want from the offensive lineman).

So I can understand why the Dolphins are giving McClendon a good look now.

There may be some movement at the cornerback competition opposite Brent Grimes. That competition has been waged between third-year veteran Jamar Taylor and Brice McCain, who was acquired in free agency this offseason.

Although McCain was acquired ostensibly to play the slot cornerback position, his level of performance and professionalism and toughness has caused coaches to give him a chance to win the starting job outside. And he and Taylor have been sharing snaps outside.

But today all the snaps went almost exclusively to Taylor, suggesting he may have an advantage now and would be the starter outside in the first preseason game. McCain played mostly at slot, which was coaches expected him to do when he signed.

We'll see if the trend continues Tuesday. Regardless, the competition is not yet over.

Today was kicker Andrew Franks' best day in camp. He connected on four of five attempts, including from 49 yards and from 56 yards out. The 49-yard kick was so high it crossed along the top of the extended uprights and looked as if it could have been good from 59 yards out.

Both the long kicks were with the wind. The lone Franks kick came from 49 yards out.

Coach Joe Philbin said he left the scrimmage Friday night recognizing both kickers made their three attempts but unsatisfied by how both Franks and incumbent Caleb Sturgis kicked.

***Today's practice included the first scrap of training camp.

Ja'Wuan James and Kendall Montgomery got into a quick skirmish that soon subsided. This team needs a preseason game.

***Jordan Kovacs and Brent Grimes had interceptions on Monday.

***Philbin said veteran defensive tackle C.J. Mosley, unimpressive the first week or so of camp, has "come along the last couple of days."

Zach Thomas delivers a message to the 2015 Miami Dolphins

Zach Thomas was at Miami Dolphins camp Monday but he wasn't just here to watch from the sideline.

As has been his penchant for seizing on such opportunities, coach Joe Philbin asked Thomas to address the team. And the address turned into a moving, motivating message.

According to those who heard the speech, Thomas implored players to seize on their opportunities -- the ones they have in their hands right now as members of this Miami training camp -- with no regard for their status.

He pointed to John Denney and spoke of how 11 years ago when the long snapper was in his first training camp, he came basically out of nowhere to make the team.

Thomas, still so trim and muscular he looks like he could play, recalled how his former roommate and friend Larry Izzo came to camp as an undersized and little regarded undrafted free agent linebacker. And he recalled how Izzo practiced so well, prepared so much and played so well in his first preseason game that then-coach Jimmy Johnson put him on the team.

(Indeed, after that first preseason game in 1996, Jimmy Johnson sat in a meeting and played Izzo's highlights over and over. And then he told Izzo he should call his family because he was the first player that had just made the Dolphins that year. Johnson, thinking about it, then pointed to Dan Marino and said the quarterback was the second player to make that team).

"There were a lot of great points," Philbin said of the Thomas speech today. "The thing I took out of it is even though Zach played 13 years in the NFL, his message, a lot of it was time goes by quickly. Take advantage of every single opportunity you get as a player. And sometimes you get sacrifices to be great. It's not easy to be great and you have to have a plan, you have to have sacrifice.

"It was really an outstanding message."  

Misi, Stills, Ajayi still out for Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins are about to begin practicing this afternoon. Well, most of them.

Koa Misi (calf), Jay Ajayi (hamstring) and Kenny Stills (calf) are not working again today. Those are the big names.

Also missing today are Christion Jones (hamstring) and Shamiel Gary (shoulder) are also not going to practice.

Come back after practice for the update.

August 09, 2015

Sunday Miami Dolphins practice report here

It was raining Ryan Tannehill bombs at Sunday's training camp practice for the Miami Dolphins.

You read that right. Tannehill, the deep-ball accuracy challenged QB of the past three seasons, had perhaps his best practice day of this camp and best day I've ever seen him throwing the football deep.

Tannehill completed three deep passes in 11-on-11 team drills. He completed a 45 yarder to Lamar Miller, who was flanked out and beat Jelani Jenkins man-to-man. He completed a 45-yarder to Jarvis Landry as the wide receiver cut across the field and through the defensive zone. And he completed a deep 9-route to Rishard Matthews.

Tannehill then had three more deep completions in seven-on-seven work and, I know, it is only seven-on-seven. But do you have any idea how many incompletions on deep passes I've seen in seven-on-sevens the past couple of years?

Today was something of a revelation. It really was.

It was also a fine day for Matthews, who is getting a great opportunity as Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker continue to miss practice -- Stills with a calf injury and Parker as he rehabilitates from foot surgery.

Matthews must have had five catches today alone.

You know who else is starting to figure prominently in the passing game? Tight end Jordan Cameron.

Cameron had two TD catches in the scrimmage Friday night. He picked up where he left off, catching six passes in practice today, easily the most he's had in a practice this camp.

Not practicing Sunday were: Stills (calf), Koa Misi (calf), Jay Ajayi (hamstring), Shamiel Gary (shoulder), and Christion Jones (hamstring).

Dallas Thomas (shoulder) returned to practice after missing Friday night's scrimmage. Jason Fox, who was held out of Friday night's scrimmage, took all the first-team snaps at left tackle today as has been the habit.

The guard position is still an issue for the Dolphins. What else is new.

The team introduced a new variable into the competition, giving fourth-year player Jacques McClendon snaps at right guard with the first unit. Billy Turner still got a majority of those snaps, but McClendon is on the radar now.

Jamil Douglas took first team snaps at left guard as did Dallas Thomas and, I admittedly didn't count, it looked like Douglas got more.

The Dolphins ended this practice with a four-minute drill. They have to improve there and Sunday showed why.

The play-by-play with (mostly) the first team offense going versus the second-team defense:

4:06 1-10-20 ... Lamar Miller gains two yards.

3:18 2-8-22 ... Mike Gillislee gains 5 yards. 

2:54 3-3-27 ... Ryan Tannehill completes a 9 yard pass to Rishard Matthews on a quick slant. First down!

2:18  1-10-36 ... LaMichael James 1 yard gain

2:11  2-9-37 ... Tannehill play-fake left, rolls right, finds no one short, keeps and gains 7 yards.

1:52  3-2-44 ... Spread option handoff to James gains one yard. Time out defense.

1:42  4-1-44 ... Handoff to RB gains 0. Turn over on downs.

Not good enough.

Reshad Jones had the best hit of practice when he clocked Damien Williams at the line of scrimmage, knocking the running back into the coming week.

Damarr Aultman had a notable drop today. Must do better.

August 07, 2015

Miami Dolphins scrimmage roundup here

Ndamukong Suh got the big contract, came with the big reputation and after a couple of defensive series in the season's first scrimmage in front of 16,407 at Florida International University, fans were already chanting his name.

"Suuuuuuh!" the crowd said in unison.

Suh was dominant. He had one tackle of Lamar Miller 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage. He had what would have been a couple of sacks. He was probably going three-quarter speed but he dominated.

"I was talking to a lot of our linebackers and our defensive linmen,  even Olivier Vernon, and I was like, ‘We want to meet at the quarterback. we want to create plays off each other and have fun about it.'" Suh said. "At end of the day my job is to come out here and make plays, but at the same time create havoc for my other teammates to make plays. I’m excited, it’s very,very scratching the surface for me. I’ve still got a lot of work to do, going back to the drawing board, not tomorrow, but the following day, on Sunday."

The Dolphins are off Saturday. Billy Turner might use the time to brush up on his technique because, by his own admission, he's got work to do. Turner was charged, as he has been all camp, with blocking Suh.

It is a tough if not impossible assignment.

"To be honest, I like going against him because he's a great player and what-not and going against him every day you learn a lot," Turner said. "It eases your mind that he's the cream of the crop so Sunday's are going to be easier. But at the same time, I got things to work on.

"I think I did alright. Obviously I got things to work on, but I think everyone's got things to work on. As the scrimmage went on I got better and better."

Amazingly, Suh feels he has things to work on.

"I’ve got some things I’m not happy with that I had today," Suh said. "But at the end of the day, it’s about going out there and getting those first pieces of rust knocked off in the live series and then get prepared for chicago coming up soon."

The offensive line continues to be a focus of attention for the Dolphins. Starting left tackle Jason Fox did not play and coach Joe Philbin said the team is seeking more information on him, suggesting it is a medical issue.

A league source said he doesn't believe Fox is seriously injured. But obviously with starting left tackle Branden Albert not ready yet, the Dolphins resorted to playing Donald Hawkins with their first-team offense. The left tackle spot is dealing with a bit of uncertainty right now.

Interestingly, rookie Jamil Douglas seemed to have a productive evening at left guard. Dallas Thomas (shoulder) did not play.

Hawkins looked out of place. He had one pre-snap penalty and gave up one sack from my viewpoint.

The Dolphins got good work from backup running backs Damien Williams (11 rushes, 28 yards, 2 TDs) and LaMichael James (9-41). Rookie Jay Ajayi had only one rush for 12 yards. Starter Lamar Miller had not shot with Suh on the field. He rushed for 11 yards on two carries. 

This was a good night for Jordan Cameron who caught two TD passes -- one from 26 yards out and one from inside the 5 yard line.

The quarterbacks were hit and miss.

Ryan Tannehill was 11 of 17 for 101 yards with two TD and two INTs. The interceptions came from Bobby McCain (in the end zone) and Brent Grimes (covering Greg Jennings).

"I definitely feel offensively, we weren't as crisp as I'd like to be," Tannehill said. "We had too many mental mistakes. Obviously, I threw a couple of interceptions, which I don't want to happen. We learn from it and move on."

Matt Moore was 6 of 14 for 41 yards with one TD pass -- to Cameron.

 
 

 

 

  

Miami Dolphins scrimmage primer: Important night for couple of players

The Miami Dolphins will conduct a scrimmage at Florida International University tonight at approximately 7. You should keep up with the action in real-time by following me on twitter.

And two players I'm going to be closely watching are rookie running back Jay Ajayi and veteran defensive tackle C.J. Mosley. (Yes, yes, yes, I'll be watching the always issue-laden offensive line as well, so don't get your eyebrows in a wrinkle).

The reason I'll be watching Ajayi and Mosley is, frankly, I haven't seen much of what I expected from these two players so far.

Ajayi came to the Dolphins in the last draft with the promise of being a physical, hard-knocking, capable pass protector who offers a bigger alternative to what the Dolphins have on the roster.

But then training camp started.

And I haven't seen the 6-foot, 220-pound running back resemble anything like the battering ram I expected to see. He's not soft. But he's not John Riggins, either, at this point.

I also haven't seen him do great work in blitz pickup. He sometimes gets it right. He often does not.

In my eyes, second-team running back Damien Williams has been the most physical back in training camp so far. (LaMichael James has been the most elusive and quick. Lamar Miller has been the best combination of all the above).

Meanwhile, we know Williams can catch the football and pass protect.

So where does that leave Ajayi?

Well, he's on the team. Somewhere. His potential and draft status pretty much grandfathers him in somewhere. I don't think there's much doubt about that. But active on game days? A factor of any significance?

Not at this point.

The only way Ajayi changes that is to start showing he can run over some people, especially on short-yardage and goal line situations, and also can be a brick wall of sorts in pass protection. In other words, the man has got to get physical.

Training camp is not always the greatest venue for showing off  such a physical nature. They do not go full speed here. They do not tackle. They do not try to hurt each other.

The scrimmage may allow for a little more of that contact and the preseason that follows a little more still.

Ajayi has to use the increase in physical contact to distinguish himself. He's running third and often fourth team so far. That's not good enough, especially when the team will likely go to games with  only three running backs active.  

Mosley, 6-2 and 315 pounds, came to the Dolphins late in free agency, a veteran of 10 NFL seasons. He comes with experience. He comes as not only depth but physical, savvy depth. He's supposed to be a DT snaps eater -- meaning, he can eat up snaps and be a presence while folks like either Ndamukong Suh or Earl Mitchell get a breather.

Except he is languishing on the third team for the Dolphins the first two weeks of training camp. He hasn't stood out to me in the least -- against third-team offensive players. Against lower-tier players and camp bodies, Mosley should be dominating. He's not.

And because camp practices limit the amount of actual hitting done at the line of scrimmage, Mosley's physical nature hasn't shown up in any eye-popping way.

So has the physical nature not shown up because he doesn't have it anymore at age 32? Or has it been lacking because practices prohibit Mosley from showing his abilities?

This scrimmage will be the first opportunity, albeit limited, for Mosley to catch someone's attention. He has to do that in the next few weeks, including preseason games because a 10-year veteran on third team is a message that younger, cheaper players are winning the competition.

Coach Joe Philbin was asked Thursday if he expects Mosley to be on the team.

“We’ll see," he said. "We’ll see what happens."

That doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement to me.

August 06, 2015

The dirt why Evan Mathis is not a Miami Dolphin

When Evan Mathis was cut by the Philadelphia Eagles months ago, the first team to show interest in signing him was the Miami Dolphins.

That and the fact Mathis is the nephew of former Dolphins Pro Bowl nose tackle Bob Baumhower, who has lobbied the team (lightly) to sign his kin, the fact people close to owner Stephen Ross have advocated signing Mathis, and the fact Mathis is a more than solid player at a position the Dolphins have uncertainty has led to speculation that, you know, Mathis is bound for Miami.

But as of early this afternoon, Mathis is not headed for Miami. He is indeed unsure where he's going to play in 2015.

Why?

Well, this is the NFL. And the NFL is often driven by two factors: Money. And deadlines or desperation.

And the Mathis camp and Dolphins are far apart on the money issue while neither side feels any significant desperation or feels close to any looming deadline to do a deal.

When the Dolphins initially called Mathis (actually his agent Drew Rosenhaus) sources tell me the two spoke of parameters of where they would like to be in getting a deal signed.

The Dolphins were willing to do a deal similar to what they did a year ago with guard Daryn Colledge and center Samson Satele. In other words, the Dolphins are willing to pay an older stopgap player around $2-$3 million per season in a deal that doesn't tie them up for a second season although it might be a two-year deal.

Mathis, who was scheduled to earn $5.5 million from the Eagles in 2015, wants a deal that at least makes him back that money he was expecting. He wants to feel whole again.

And as the Dolphins are comfortable -- for now -- with the work rookie Jamil Douglas and third-year player Dallas Thomas have done in camp, they're not likely to move significantly right away. It would require one or both those players fading in camp or performing poorly in the preseason for the Dolphins to rethink their stance.

Mathis, meanwhile, is playing a waiting game. If any of 32 teams suffers a significant injury at guard or the performance of the guards teams have in camp collapse, then he becomes a likely signing closer to his desired contract number.

And while Mathis might give the Dolphins the courtesy of having them match whatever good deal he can get elsewhere, he is not waiting on Miami. Obviously, the Dolphins are holding Mathis off, knowing all this.

So that's where things are. A wide gulf exists. There are no exigent circumstances for either party to force one or the other to cave and do this now.

Give it time.

 

Pre-practice injury update for the Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins are ready to practice this morning  -- but not all of them.

Dallas Thomas (shoulder), Will Davis (knee), Koa Misi (calf) and Kenny Stills (calf) are not practicing due to their injuries. Thomas and Stills are missing consecutive days now.

Misi injured his calf during practice Wednesday. Davis has missed days prior to today due to the knee injury but did practice Wednesday and had an, ahem, not great day. He needs to get right.

Also not practicing for rest reasons: Greg Jennings and Louis Delmas.

[BLOG NOTE: Check back after practice for the latest.]

August 05, 2015

Wednesday practice wrapup and more (free)

On the day I wrote a column making the point that all the uncertainty the Miami Dolphins offensive line is no laughing matter, more focus was put on that unit.

Dallas Thomas, vying for the starting left guard job, did not practice today due to a shoulder injury. Jamil Douglas, also competing for the starting job, took the vast majority of first-team snaps at left guard but not all of them, according to coach Joe Philbin.

Meanwhile, the level at which Ndamukong Suh plays defensive tackle (over the right guard) shows him to be a more obvious mismatch versus first-team right guard Billy Turner with each passing day. Suh today blew up a couple of running plays to the point he was in the backfield as Ryan Tannehill was handing the ball off.

Suh also dominated on pass plays.

And neither side is really going full bore quite yet.

"We haven't done anything totally live yet," defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said. "But we're on point with what we're trying to do."

On the other side of the football the explanations for why so many plays get blown up are interesting.

Said Joe Philbin of the competition: "No one's earned anything yet."

Me: "We know."

"I feel safe," quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. "Everyone is competing. I'm not sure who is going to be in that [guard] spot but guys are competing and guys are facing one of the best, if not the best D-tackles in the league. It's not always going to be pretty no matter who is up there. I don't expect those guys to lock Suh down every single play."

That is fair. Will he expect them to lock down Kyle Williams? Muhammad Wilkerson? Jabaal Sheard? Sheldon Richardson, assuming he ever gets back on the field?

The point is the three other AFC East teams also have good talent on their defensive front. Oh, and Buffalo coach Rex Ryan and New York coach Todd Bowles are known for bringing a blitz or 15 every game. Also, New England's Bill Belichick is a solid defensive coach.

So it does not promise to get way easier for the Miami line.

-----

Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle spoke to the media today for the first time since training camp opened.

On what a player has to do to win the CB competition between Brice McCain and Jamar Taylor: "Be one of the top two corners. That's what he needs to do. Jamar is playing, I think, his best football since he's been here in camp. He's in a hotly contested battle with Brice McCain. Will Davis, we're pleased with the way he's coming."

Well, Davis had a couple of significant bad moments in practice today. Michael Preston beat him on a deep TD throw from Matt Moore. And Matt Hazel also beat him for a TD.

LB Koa Misi left practice midway through, escorted by trainers. The unknown reason for him walking off is not believed serious.

When Misi left, Chris McCain played strongside linebacker, Kelvin Sheppard played middle linebacker and Jelani Jenkins took the weakside linebacker spot with the first-team defense.

With Misi's durability a question coming off last season, the depth at linebacker is a question mark. But not to Coyle.

"I think it's still early to tell if there are any holes," he said. "I've been really impressed in our linebacking corps. I think we have a lot of depth in that group to be honest with you. Not a lot of flashy names but we have guys who have proven they're going to quality players."

----

Some highlights from practice:

***DL Terrence Fede is having a great camp against the backup offensive line. He had one sack and was close another couple of times.

***Rookie Tony Lippett had his first interception of training camp.

***The competition between receiver Jarvis Landry and cornerback Brice McCain continues to be the most heated in camp where both players are playing well and neither is dominating -- although some days Landry gets the better of the deal considering there is no pressure on the QB in 7 on 7 drills and one on one drills.

Landry caught a 60-yard TD pass from Ryan Tannehill today but he did not beat McCain. He beat Louis Delmas deep.

***Special teams coach Darren Rizzi said Caleb Sturgis, hurt at times last season, is "getting back to the guy I saw two years ago."

"He missed all training camp last year," Rizzi said. "I'm not sure he ever got back to his full self -- 100 percent. He obviously had a setback this year in OTAs. But I'm finally feeling he's getting back ..."

***The Dolphins are trying to develop a pool of potential returners -- Bobby McCain, Kenny Stills, Brent Grimes, others -- but Rizzi said Landry remains the frontrunner for both jobs.

"Right now you have to say he's the best at both," Rizzi said.

August 04, 2015

Lots to think about for Billy Turner and Miami Dolphins guards

There are two minutes left in the game, which in the NFL means the game is probably hanging in the balance. And now the offense must pass. And the defense knows it. And a first-year starting right guard must protect his franchise quarterback against Ndamukong Suh, of all people.

That was the situation the Miami Dolphins practiced on Tuesday.

That was the situation Billy Turner found himself in.

So what is he thinking before the snap of the ball?

"When you're in team pressure, you get up to the line, the first thing you're looking at is whether the guy in front of you is two-eye, head-up or three technique or four-eye," Turner said. "Then you got to listen to the center and figure out where the point is so you know what you're responsible for, whether the linebackers are blitzing and which ones are coming and which you're responsible for. You got to try to key into the linebacker rotation and safety rotation so that if there is a blitz, you figure out which side it comes from."

And when all this figuring and thinking and keying is straight in Turner's head, then he can get about the business of trying to stop Suh, who might come with a bull rush, or might use a speed rush, or might not even become his responsibility because he vacated the area on a line game.

Easy right?

And you wonder why the Dolphins young guards -- Turner, rookie Jamil Douglas, and Dallas Thomas -- have at times not looked so great in practice against an experienced defensive line.

By the way, those are my words. Dolphins coaches say the trio is doing just fine, all things considered. Bill Lazor, for example, said he's "excited about the competition" on the line.

"Dallas Thomas is a much-improved player," Lazor said. "Jamil Douglas has impressed as a rookie. Billy Turner has come a long, long way from where he was as a rookie last year."

That sounds good but when we have a handful of sacks in a practice that focuses on two-minute situations, that is not good. That is troubling.

To be fair, not all the pressure is a result of the guard play.

But my point is, as I wrote in my column today, that the Dolphins have plenty of offensive line questions. Three by my count on a unit that includes only five players. That's a lot of questions.

But the team could eliminate one question. There is a possible answer to at least one of those questions out there in free agency.

And the Dolphins, a team that has a history for troubling offensive line issues, so far remain steadfast in not moving to enlist that answer.

Read the column and you'll understand exactly what I mean.

Oh, yes, the answer involves a financial investment. That's life in the NFL.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins hope the game slows down for guys like Turner while their play speed picks up. Turner thinks that's kinda sorta happening.

"Yeah, since last year and even since we started camp it has slowed down," he said. "But the thing that's difficult is when you're in camp and you're installing play after play after play, and the defense is installing blitz after blitz after blitz each day, you get the same blitzes but then you have three or four new ones every day that you have to try to pick up. It will eventually slow down but it should be better when we get into the season and we game plan and we're only working three or four blitzes instead of 10 or 15 blitzes in practice."

We'll see.

Joe Philbin: No idea when Parker will practice

Two weeks ago, coach Joe Philbin sounded fairly confident wide receiver DeVante Parker would be ready to play in the regular-season opener, saying he just didn't know if the rookie would be available for 30 snaps or maybe 60 snaps. And while there is nothing to suggest Parker will not be ready by then, the timetable now suggests if he is ready, it might not be for a full load of work against the Washington Redskins.

Consider that Philbin was not nearly so convincing on Parker today:

"We're not sure exactly when he's going to get back," the coach said. "I don't know if he's going to practice, how much he's going to practice, if he's going to play in the preseason."

Also consider Parker has a lot of things to do before he's ready to play in a game. He has to start running. Then he needs to start cutting. Then he needs to start practicing at least lightly. Then he needs to actually be full-go in practice for a bit.

It's not until that is fully done that Parker can be ready to play some in a game. And that does not include any preseason work.

It might be three or four weeks before Parker gets through that entire regimen. The regular season begins Sept. 13.

-----

Today was not a great look for the offense in practice. Too many false start flags. (No excuse for presnap penalties). There was entirely too much pressure on the quarterbacks. And outside a wonderful 40-yard catch and run by running back Lamar Miller, there weren't a lot of highlights.

(Well, Dion Sims and Gerell Robinson both had really nice catches in the back corner of the end zone, getting both feet in despite good coverage).

The defense, meanwhile, was working on multiple blitzes today. And the pressure was there and Reshad Jones was doing work in the back end.

Jones popped tight Jordan Cameron on a seam pass to the end zone, knocking the ball loose. Koa Misi caught the ball after it bounced out of Cameron's hands for an interception.

Jones also knocked down Jarvis Landry when the wide receiver seemed to be getting too cute on a wide receiver screen, twisting and juking defenders he knew weren't tackling until Jones popped him.

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Injury news:

***Louis Delmas, who missed practice Saturday (last time Miami practiced), returned to practice today.

***Kenny Stills (calf) did not practice today.

***Branden Albert (knee) is still not practicing to any significant degree.

***Wide receiver LaRon Byrd (unknown injury) hurt himself early in practice and did not return.

-----

Notes:

Dallas Thomas, who has shared snaps with rookie Jamil Douglas at left guard, took the majority of left guard snaps with the starters today.

Douglas worked both at left guard and right guard with the second unit.

Billy Turner continued working at starting right guard.

Koa Misi, who has been working at both strongside and middle linebacker, spent most of his time today at middle linebacker.

Kicker Andrew Franks connected on five of seven kicks today, missing back-to-back kicks at one point but recovering with a 46- and 52-yard make to finish the day.

With neither Parker nor Kenny stills working, Rishard Matthews got a lot of first-team reps today. He had multiple catches but dropped a key pass in the two-minute drill.

 

August 02, 2015

Miami Dolphins training camp practice update (Sunday)

Remember Saturday when I wrote the offense is showing it might be slightly ahead of the defense -- a rarity this early in Miami Dolphins training camp?

Yeah, um, that changed Sunday.

The Dolphins defense got the better of practice this day even as the Ryan Tannehill-to-Jarvis Landry passing combination teamed up for four touchdown passes on the day in the various team drills. (More on that in a minute).

Otherwise, the defensive line crashed the offensive line from practically all angles when the first-team units competed against each other.

Olivier Vernon had a sack. Cameron Wake had a sack. The two defensive tackles beat the Miami interior, particularly the guards, more often than not. The defense also brought the blitz a couple of times and that ruined a couple of attempts at tight end screens.

In the secondary, Reshad Jones had what would have been a 98-yard interception return. That came against quarterback Ryan Tannehill. And one play later, when the second-team offensive matched up against the second-team defense, Will Davis intercepted Matt Moore.

"We're trying to be one of the better defenses in the red zone so that was huge," Jones said.

The shining star today was Landry, who is having a fine camp so far despite the fact he is in a dogfight with cornerback Brice McCain. The Landry vs. McCain battle is highly entertaining and perhaps the most physical and hard-fought competition of camp so far.

McCain, being given the opportunity to win a starting cornerback job, has been better than Jamar Taylor so far. And coaches have obviously noticed because he is taking a majority of the first-team snaps on the boundry despite the perception he was signed to be Miami's slot cornerback.

Not so, McCain said.

"Since I got here my whole goal was to start at corner," McCain said. "That's my goal."

McCain gets beat a lot by Landry when they're matched up one-on-one. But the truth it always seems to be a highly contested play and he always seems to be in great position to make the play. The difference so far is that Landry has shown great hands in holding onto balls that sometimes McCain tips or would slap away from a lesser player.

There are times, such as the long pass down the near sideline that McCain wins the battle and celebrates by requesting fans give him a round of applause.

It is a sign McCain loves the competition. It is a sign McCain has something of an advantage on Taylor for the cornerback starting job.

"If it was out here boring, I'd be miserable," McCain said. "I like it because when I'm down, the competition and him, it brings me up."

Teammates seem to like McCain. They definitely like his enthusiasm and physical play that shows signs of nastiness.

"He's a competitor. He's passionate about the game and he comes to work hard every day," Jones said of McCain.

Notes from today's practice:

***Louis Delmas, who had knee surgery last season, did not practice today. It seemed like a maintenance day for him.

***Davis had missed practice Saturday but obviously returned Sunday.

***Rookie Jamil Douglas continues to take more first-team snaps at left guard than Dallas Thomas. Although we are only in the second day of camp, I'd say Douglas is slightly ahead of Thomas in the competition for the starting job.

That is saying a lot considering Douglas is a rookie and Thomas is in his third year, is a year more experienced with the offense, and has game experience while Douglas has none.

Thomas had a false start Sunday.

***Left tackle Branden Albert was in pads and did some light work in individual drills but did nothing in team drills. Patience, folks. It's about managing him and bringing him back slowly.

***Kicker Caleb Sturgis connected on all his kicks today, including a 51 yards from the left hash. Interestingly, free agent punter Matt Darr did the holding much of the day. Brandon Fields is typically the holder.

***Fourth-string (you read that correctly) quarterback Josh Freeman didn't get many snaps in 11-on-11 drills, and none when the entire team is on one field. (Sometimes the team splits up and the four units all get work).

It is clear Freeman is a long, long shot to make this team not only because the Dolphins are likely to keep only two QBs, but because a third QB might be on practice squad and he's not eligible for that duty.

***The Dolphins spent the entire day working on red zone. The defense was good in the red zone (No. 3) a couple of seasons ago but sank dramatically last season. The offense was bottom third (No. 21) of the NFL in red zone TDs last year.  

Much work needed in this area, folks.

Some play-by-play:

Seven on seven from 45...

First down: Tannehill to Dion Sims incomplete. Sims drop.

Second down: Tannehill to Rishard Matthews for 18 yards. Kelvin Sheppard on defense.

Third down: Tannehill to Michael Preston incomplete. Preston drop.

11 on 11 from the 21...

Tannehill completes to Lamar Miller for 4 yards.

Tannehill avoids a sack and dumps off to Dion Sims on a tight end screen to the right. Sims drops the pass.

Tannehill spread option fake to the back, rolls right and connects with Jordan Cameron.

11 on 11 from the 24...

First down: Tannehill incomplete.

Second down: Tannehill to Lamar Miller for 6.

Third down: Tannehill to Jordan Cameron to the five yard line.

Fourth down: Quarterback draw losses two yards.