The Dolphins will have seven practices over 11 days, beginning today, before adjourning for summer vacation. Five of those seven, including today’s, are open to the media. We’ll post some observations later, but first, highlights from Adam Gase’s and Vance Joseph’s sessions with reporters a little while ago:
• Gase said prefers three-down backs to specialists, and that appears likely to affect how he uses his backs: "Any time you're playing that spot in this offense, you have to be able to do it all. It's not a one-trick pony type of offense. You have to be able to protect. You have to be able to run the ball. You have to be able to catch. So we really don't believe in 'Hey, you're just a first and second down back.' I don't know what that means. We look for guys that can stay on the field all three downs because we're not looking to sub personnel. We want guys that can be in great shape, stay out there and then, if we need to switch somebody out because we're having a long drive, then so be it. But really, whoever the guy is that we're starting with in the series, that's the guy I want to finish."
• Wes Welker was at Dolphins practice today, but Gase said he is not being signed to the roster. “We’re a good outlet for him; lives five minutes away,” Gase said, noting he has a lot of good information to share.
• Gase’s impressions of Vance Joseph: “High energy. It’s a tough scheme to go against every day. Those guys are being held accountable for sure. You look at the energy and effort these guys are playing with… It’s impressive.”
• Is saying this defense is an attack defense an over-simplification or does that sum it up? “That sums it up.”
• On Jermon Bushrod, who returned from shoulder surgery to do team work today: “This is were we are hoping it would end up, to get it going at the end of OTAs and minicamp. We want to be smart, not have any setbacks with him. Every day will be how do you feel the next day. When you have a guy that can play multiple positions…. is critical.”
• On looking at a bunch of potential guards with the first team (front-runner Laremy Tunsil, Bushrod, Dallas Thomas, Billy Turner, Kraig Urbik, Jamil Douglas): “There’s a different rotation everyday. The [offensive line coaches] have an idea of what we’ve run. They see so and so hasn’t had this run or this protection before. So they script it out. You can evaluate the pass protection” more than run blocking without pads.
• On keeping out DeVante Parker with undisclosed issue for the second consecutive practice: (He was running some today). “We’re probably being a little over-protective. Typical of this time of year, you want to make sure they’re healthy enough so not setting back. As long as he can train this summer, that’s the most important thing for us.”
• On rookie corner Xavien Howard: “The guys he’s going against are pretty good. To stick with a lot of these [receivers] has been impressive. The thing you love about this kid is he’s constantly working. Lippett and him are just battling. It’s like ‘who’s going to be the guy?’”
• On Byron Maxwell and Gase trash-talking with each other, Gase said: “We want him to have that swagger. We want him to have that confidence. It gets me going before practice. Today, he came at me hard. It was good.”
• On Xavien Howard: “He’s showed us that he has great movement skills. Ball skills. Great lateral quickness. Long arms. Big shoulders. He is built like a safety but has corner skills. Obviously, being a rookie he knows nothing about playing the position at this level. His footwork is really good. His eye-progression needs some work. Talent wise, he’s what we thought he was going to be.”
• On competition at corner: He said Byron Maxwell, as expected, is likely to start at one cornerback spot. “We’ve got Tony Lippett and Howard competing for the left side. Obviously, Bobby McCain is involved. To be a great secondary, we need three or four that can play.”
• On evaluating defensive line without pads: “You can see the front-four guys as far as quickness and burst and the skill set. For an offensive lineman, it’s tough blocking Mario Williams with no pads.”
• On this group of pass rushers: “We’ve got great potential, with Mario, Cam and Suh. They have a history of being great pass rushers on paper. Until we do it, nothing is solid.”
• On adjusting from defensive backs coach to defensive coordinator: “Now I float from spot to spot. It’s always to find small points you want to perfect.”
• Bobby McCain is the front runner at slot corner (my words, not Joseph’s). Joseph said Jordan Lucas and Tyler Patmon are also playing in the slot.
• And what about Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, who was cleared for practice two weeks ago but was working on the side today? “We’re taking it slow with him,” Joseph said. “He had a serious, serious [knee] injury [before the January 2015 Rose Bowl for Oregon]. We’re hoping to get him to camp so we can give him more attention. But right now, we're feeding him some reps slowly, so we can get him back in the groove of playing football."
• Joseph gave an interesting answer when asked about Ndamukong Suh returning for voluntary workouts the past few weeks, after missing earlier sessions: "It means a lot, because ... My philosophy with this is this: It's obviously voluntary. It is voluntary workouts. But it's also voluntary to be good. If guys want to be good on defense, they're going to be in town, they're going to be here working. I get it. It's part of the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement). But if you want to be good on defense - you want to be a good player - you're here. That's how I look at it."
• On Reshad Jones not being here because he’s upset about his contract: "It doesn't hold us back. Obviously, again, that's a contract matter. That's not my area. But it won't hold us back, because when guys aren't here, I treat them as (if) they're injured for the week. I don't even think about it, really. I move on with guys who're here. The guys who are here, that's who we're coaching. That's who we're going to go forward with until he shows up."
• Joseph said he has given no thought to what position Dion Jordan will play if he's reinstated, with defensive end and linebacker the two options. A decision from Roger Goodell is expected before Aug. 1.
• On why Chris McCain was moved from linebacker to defensive end: “He’s a taller outside pass-rusher. It fits better for him to be an end in this scheme than an outside guy.”
• On Cam Wake, returning from last October’s ruptured Achilles: “He’s looked good, looked explosive. He looks great.”
• Quick injury note: Besides Parker and Ekpre-Olomu, also working on the side were Neville Hewitt, Jake Stoneburner and AJ Cruz. Jones (contract), Mario Williams (personal matter) and Thomas Duarte (in school at UCLA) weren't present.