4 p.m. update: Al Golden speaks to media for 1st time since UM firing; Dolphins cut QB; Nuggets from Dolphins' final offseason practice Thursday: Grant makes case; lineup news; rookie QB impresses Gase and much more
Quick 4 p.m. update: Al Golden, now the Detroit Lions' tight ends coach, spoke to the Detroit Free Press this week, the first time he has spoken publicly about his tenure at UM which ended with his dismissal last October. Here's what Golden -- who went 32-25 at UM --- told Dave Birkett:
• “I needed this right now. I was a head coach for 10 years. I just felt like – I felt like I was burnt out, and I needed this. It’s been great. I’m coaching offense. I’ve been rejuvenated. Just exposing myself every day to something new in the league....That sense of drain, of burnout, is long gone. This place has (rejuvenated me) and the players are a big part of it.”
• On his UM tenure: "At the end of the day, I took the job without knowing that there was an impending NCAA investigation and eight months into it, it blew up and it took its toll at the end of the day, and that’s it. I haven’t looked back since. I miss the players. I miss the people that were supportive of my family and I, the people that were friends. But other than that we’ve moved on and now I’m looking after a new group.”
• On moving to the NFL: “I think the biggest transition for me is not the individual drills or any of those things because I’ve been a part of it,” Golden said. “I think the transition for me has been the nomenclature and just being introduced to a new system, which until you know it inside and out, you should have a little edge about you. And that’s what I have right now. I have a little edge to learn every day and it’s been awesome.”
• He wouldn't rule out a return to college football someday. “I think I have too much experience and just because I started young as a head coach, sometimes people look at it like, ‘Well, he’s already been a head coach,’” Golden said. “But I’m not 57. I’m 46, so I started young as a head coach and I’ve got a world of experience and I think this is just the next chapter for me so we’ll see where it goes. It’s too early to start thinking about that, but I know I’m skilled in that aspect of it. I’ve been a defensive coordinator, I’ve been a special teams coordinator, I’ve coached five or six different positions and now I’m coaching on the offense in the NFL”
• The Dolphins cut quarterback Logan Thomas today, leaving them four quarterbacks for training camp: Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore, Brandon Doughty (see more on him below) and Zac Dysert. Thomas' accuracy was erratic during the offseason program, and frankly, no team needs five QBs in camp.
The Dolphins promoted Thomas from the practice squad to the 53 late last season, and Thomas said Mike Tannenbaum told him he would have a legitimate chance to battle for the backup job this year. But then Moore re-signed and the Dolphins drafted Doughty, whose accuracy has been superior to Thomas' in the offseason program.
The Dolphins paid $125,000 to keep Thomas late last season. He ended up never throwing a pass for the Dolphins.
• The Dolphins also released defensive tackle Charles Tuaau.
• Amid the doldrums and drudgery of June practices, 5-7 receiver Jakeem Grant has left an impression on teammates with his electrifying quickness and demonstrative personality. Called Mighty Mouse by some and Kevin Hart II by others (because of his light-hearted demeanor and facial resemblance to the comedian), Grant wants to prove he’s more than merely a returner, more than simply a gadget player.
If the sixth-round pick proves capable of being a No. 5 receiver, then there won’t necessarily be a need to keep a sixth (likely Griff Whalen or Matt Hazel). Grant has made a bunch of catches in offseason practices, while also receiving a lot of opportunities on returns.
His work this summer has convinced him that he can get open against NFL defensive backs.
“I’m matched up with safeties that aren’t used to my speed and already have that threat like, ‘Oh my God, this guy’s fast so I can’t let him beat me deep,’” Grant said. “That gives me an edge already and that’s already having them on their heels and having them scared that I’m going to beat them deep. And most of the time, I’m not even going deep. That’s the fun fact about being short. Having that speed and that agility over those guys and being able to open yourself up.”
And what about possibly being jammed at the line? Grant isn’t worried about that, either.
“Being a smaller receiver, we have the quickness over those guys,” he said. “Giving them the illusion I’m going somewhere I’m not. I’ve seen 6-foot receivers get jammed by smaller cornerbacks. If you have the technique down, there’s no way you can get jammed.”
But Grant can sometimes go too fast for his own good.
“Sometimes, it’s almost like we’ve got to slow him down,” coach Adam Gase said. “He’s so fast. He has got to learn to play at that speed, be able to cut, stop. You will see him slipping every once in a while. That’s when he’s going too fast.
“If we can just get him under control as far as how he understands that you pulling back a little bit is still faster than everybody else. Once he realizes that, he’s going to really make strides there and really have a great route tree. He has done a good job of picking everything up.”
Grant appreciates the opportunity to pick the brain of Wes Welker, a fellow Texas Tech alum who has been in a pseudo-coaching type role in practice over the past few weeks.
“Wes set the tone for shorter receivers like me,” Grant said. “Just getting advice from him as a receiver and punt returner is awesome. He’s coached me up on all those aspects.”
• Running back Kenyan Drake became the last Dolphins draft pick to sign a contract but sat out practice with what appeared to be a hamstring injury that he sustained during a punt block drill on Wednesday.
Drake, who has had at least seven documented injuries over the past five seasons, will be ready for the start of training camp, Gase said.
• Gase said the Dolphins have Laremy Tunsil working exclusively on the left side to make it easier for him. Tunsil remained behind Dallas Thomas at left guard all three days of the mandatory minicamp.
He appears Miami’s top option at left tackle if Branden Albert is injured (or if Albert is being rested, in the case of practice).
Thomas, meanwhile, has impressed coaches. “He did a good job [this offseason], kept getting better,” Gase said.
• Gase said seventh-round rookie quarterback Brandon Doughty “has made a lot of strides since he’s been here. He seems to find completions. When I look at a lot of our film for three weeks before this week, even when [he’s] wrong [in] where he was going, somehow he completes the football.
“He kind of has this knack -- He sees the open guy sometimes. You’re like, ‘Why did you throw it there?’ He’s like, ‘He was open.’ He has something about him in that capacity where he can find completions.”
• Jarvis Landry, Mario Williams and Jason Jones had excused absences on the last day of the mandatory minicamp.
• Gase, on his message for players as they begin a five-week vacation tonight: “You always just want them to be smart. A lot of guys in this profession forget who they are, who they represent, understand what kind of situation you’re putting yourself in. That’s the decision you have to make the next 5 weeks: what’s the most important thing in your life.”
Gase also wants them to stay conditioned, obviously: “We can’t have guys that don’t do anything [the next five weeks]. You can’t be grossly out of shape.”
• What has Gase learned about the leadership on this team?
“First thing I’ve learned is there’s more than a lot of people gave guys credit for. If you let guys’ personalities come out, you’re going to see more guys take that leadership role…
“We’ve had a lot of guys step in. If somebody gets out of line, they get straightened out real quick. Not a lot of things have gotten back to me, which is great. As a head coach, the less that gets brought to you where it’s things that are not football related, you are focused more on the important things.”
• Couple notes from the final practice: Isaiah Pead, elevated in Drake’s absence, showed good burst, on both runs and screen passes…With Cam Wake getting a lot of rest, Terrence Fede’s presence was felt as a pass rusher…. Andrew Franks had another good day, hitting from 52 and 51 yards and missing from 64….
We’ll have more Dolphins observations (plus other sports) in our next post.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz