9 a.m. update: According to a close associate, the Dolphins are signing former Buccaneers cornerback Anthony Gaitor, an FIU grad who has played in 12 NFL games. Gaitor played in eight games for Tampa in 2011, four in 2012 (with two starts) but missed all of last season with a knee injury. He has 12 career tackles.
A former seventh-round pick in 2011, Gaitor played with Marcus Forston, Sean Spence, Jacory Harris and others at Miami Northwestern. He has experience covering slot receivers.
Chatter from the first day of Dolphins’ full-squad offseason practices:
### The pressure is heightened on the Dolphins’ 2012 and 2013 first-round draft picks, and coaching issues surround each.
For Dion Jordan, the question is whether coordinator Kevin Coyle and his staff can be creative enough to carve out more playing time amid their decision to keep him at defensive end behind Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon and not move him to linebacker.
For Ryan Tannehill, the issue is whether new coordinator Bill Lazor --- who said he is very “demanding” with quarterbacks – can extract from Tannehill what he and Eagles coach Chip Kelly squeezed out of Nick Foles (27 touchdowns, two picks last season). Foles was drafted 88th in 2012, 80 spots after Tannehill.
Tannehill struggled at times Tuesday, throwing an interception to Cortland Finnegan, overthrowing a deep ball to Mike Wallace and throwing two other passes nearly intercepted by Finnegan and Jamar Taylor.
“It’s been exciting but challenging, completely different system,” Tannehill said. “Lot of stuff we haven’t done before. There’s still a learning curve. It’s not going to come overnight. Receivers are running routes they haven’t run before. [Lazor] wants to run it fast. We’re going to huddle but once we break we want to put pressure on the defense.”
Lazor will push Tannehill hard.
I asked Lazor where Tannehill needs to improve. Lazor's reponse: “I want to see the ball coming out on time, his footwork telling him when it’s time to throw it. I want to see that he trusted us that this is how it all fits together. The quarterback has got to play at game speed every day in practice.
“The receivers will catch up to him. That’s the first thing we’re trying to do with Ryan…. If you see them back there holding the ball or patting the ball, you’ll know I’m not happy.”
Lazor said with quarterbacks: “You’ve got to make it very clear what you expect, not only what to do but how to do it. And No. 2, you’ve got to be very demanding. If you’re demanding but didn’t go a good job explaining how you want it done, then you’re a jerk who just yells all the time.
“If you do a great job teaching it but you don’t hold them to a real high standard, then their play is only going to reach a certain level and it’s going to stop. But if you can do a great job teaching that 'this is what I want done and exactly how I want it done’ and hold them to it every single day. Every guy has traits that can be improved, but if a quarterback is accurate and he’s decisive, you get a feel that you can work with him. You can mold him. You can push him.”
Though Zac Taylor is the QB coach in title, it will be fascinating to see what Lazor can get out of Tannehill.
As for Jordan, the third overall pick in 2013 played the fewest snaps of any defensive player drafted among the top 20 last April. Jordan said he was 260 last season and is now just over 265.
“I needed it,” he said. “I was too light to go against some of those offensive tackles. It wasn’t weight. It was mainly getting stronger. I’m trying to better myself in a lot of areas.”
Though Jordan’s defensive coordinator at Oregon believes he would be better suited to linebacker, Philbin said the staff has decided against that because “to develop him and those [pass-rushing] skills requires a time commitment. And if you’re always worried about pass drops and who you have in zone --- not that we haven’t used him in there” then there’s less time to focus on being a pass rusher.
### Jason Taylor, at practice on Monday, approached Philbin about working with the defensive linemen as a volunteer, and the Dolphins hope that will help Jordan.
“I think he’s going to be around a lot in OTAs,” Philbin said. “I don’t know if there could be a bigger mentor for our young players. He’s energetic and enthusiastic about helping out and contributing.”
Jordan, who has been compared physically to JT, is thrilled to have him around: "It’s wonderful. Just his presence alone I feel like it’s a benefit to this team because not only was he a great player, he’s a great person. He’s dropping a lot of knowledge. He’s going to be in there watching film and working with us out here, so I’m going to pick his brain.”
Nick Buoniconti addressed the team last week and Philbin said he has reached out to other former Dolphins.
### Philbin stopped short of saying Koa Misi’s move to middle linebacker is permanent but the Dolphins are intrigued by the possibility. With Misi in the middle, “we should be more stout,” Philip Wheeler said. “He’s obviously a bigger guy.”
And Dannell Ellerbe, who played middle linebacker last season, said, “I got to show more athleticism outside. In Baltimore, I played outside. Koa's athletic and fast enough to do it. We have to get him on the field more.”
The job carries a lot more responsibility for Misi, who will be responsible for barking out the calls if he stays in the middle.
By the way, Wheeler took all the first team snaps and said he expects to be the starter. (So far, there's no indication Jelani Jenkins is seriously challenging him.) Also, it was interesting that Misi and Wheeler --- and not Ellerbe --- were on the field in some traditional nickel packages.
### What did we see of Lazor’s offense Tuesday? Lots of: shotgun, screens, motion, dump offs to running backs, three-receiver sets (one with tight end Charles Clay lined up on the opposite side), two tight end sets, sets with either one back or two backs with each lining up next to the quarterback and a few read option plays and a receiver reverse.
The Dolphins huddled “most of the day,” but “there will be times we operate a different way,” Lazor said. “If No. 1 [top receiver] is one-on-one, we expect him to win and we expect to throw the football.”
### Mike Wallace loves the offense: “It’s fast. It’s going to be good. We catch a lot of people off guard. We got a lot of play action, a lot of shots. I feel like I know what’s going on. I feel a little more in control.”
Philbin likes how Wallace is doing a lot of work on his own. He was the last one to leave the field Monday. “He feels a lot more comfortable, better about being a Dolphin,” Philbin said. “Really like what he’s doing.”
### Lazor is a no-nonsense type and made clear Tuesday: “They’ve got to get the communication ironed out right away. We’ll make that point real fast to them.”
### Finnegan joined Brent Grimes as the first-team cornerbacks and said when he’s playing at his feisty best, “I’m a jerk. I think everyone will attest to that.”
### With Marcus Thigpen out with a back injury, Jarvis Landry, Brian Hartline, Brent Grimes and ex-Titans receiver Damian Williams worked as returners. Williams and Landry will be the primary competition for Thigpen when he returns…
Armon Binns caught a 70-yard bomb from Matt Moore, beating Taylor, and will push Williams and Rishard Matthews hard for the No. 5 receiver job. The Dolphins love Binns' size (6-3) and have issues with Matthews for reasons unrelated to performance…
Sam Brenner, getting work at backup center, struggled with snaps. Nate Garner played everywhere, as usual (backup left tackle and guard).
### Please see the last post for a lot of Heat notes from Tuesday night. We separated Heat into a separate post tonight for length reasons.
### Per ESPN, UM and USF are the two leaders for power forward Kamari Murphy, who is transferring from Oklahoma State after averaging 6.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks as a sophomore last season. UM lost out in its bid for three other transfers in the past month.
### The UM football team will try using 6-9 former UM basketball player Raphael Akpejiori as an offensive lineman. Akpejiori had been working as a tight end but has had trouble catching passes consistently, according to someone who observed him working with receivers coach Brennan Carroll during spring ball.
### Though it makes sense for Andrew Heaney, MLB’s top left-handed pitching prospect, to take struggling Randy Wolf’s rotation spot eventually this summer, the Marlins would be at risk of making Heaney eligible for free agency after 2019, instead of 2020, if they call him up now instead of mid-to-late June. (That's also the difference with him becoming arbitration eligible after 2016 instead of 2017, unless he's sent back to the minors.)
Heaney threw six scoreless innings, allowed one hit and struck out seven for Triple A New Orleans tonight.
Also, the Marlins have some wiggle room with Wolf because his $1 million salary won’t become guaranteed until late June.... Apparently not having seen his work with the Marlins, the Reds reportedly agreed to terms with Carlos Marmol.
### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz... And again, please see the last post for Heat chatter (including interesting Stan Van Gundy comments) heading into Game 5 Wednesday.