The news first: Rookie running back Jay Ajayi left the field a little early this morning holding his right arm after an apparent shoulder injury.
It did not look serious but one cannot predict if that is indeed the case based on simply seeing his reaction and the urgency with which he walked. He was holding his elbow and trying to rotate the arm to loosen it up.
[Update: Ajayi tweeted he was merely suffering cramps and the arm is fine.]
LT Branden Albert did not practice despite not being on the physically unable to perform list. Albert actually seemed to be limping when he walked out of the practice bubble before the team went on the field.
During practice on the field, Albert emerged from the team facility with a brace on his surgically repaired right knee. He just did conditioning off to the side.
As for practice: The rotation at the linebacker position continued with Koa Misi spending most of the practice at strong side linebacker while Kelvin Sheppard was at middle linebacker. Chris McCain, who worked at starting strong side linebacker the first day of camp, worked mostly with the second team at strong side today.
And it is apparent the coaches have four players and want to get the best three on the field. Jelani Jenkins is a virtual lock at weakside linebacker.
Interestingly, this is happening as Misi was growing into the middle linebacker spot he played last year.
"If I was to say which one I'm more comfortable at right now, I'd say middle," Misi said after practice. "But it just takes a couple of reps to get comfortable outside again."
That does not suggest this is a controversy or issue. At least not as long as Misi gets ample time prior to the start of the regular season to work at the spot coaches eventually will have him playing.
"I told the coaches put me wherever you need to put me. I'll play whatever position," Misi said. "It is going to take a couple of reps to get used to playing SAM again. But I told them, wherever you need me to play I'll play.
"As long as you get those reps at the position you're going to be playing, you're good. But nothing is set in stone right now and we're going to keep playing everywhere until the coaches put us somewhere."
This is obviously a good opportunity for Sheppard, who was picked up off waivers from Indianapolis. He spent much of the year trying to catch up but he feels comfortable now.
"I'm just here, honestly whatever my role is at the end of all this, to impact this team," Sheppard said. "Last year I was kind of getting my feet wet, coming in late. I took advantage of the offseason program and I'm taking the opportunity my teammates and coaches have given me and hopefully I put it on the field."
Asked if he expect to start at MLB, Sheppard said, "I do expect that of myself."
The guard situation: Rookie Jamil Douglas and Dallas Thomas split the first-team snaps at left guard. The competition will get an infusion on Saturday when the Dolphins don pads for the first time this training camp.
When the hitting begins, coaches will be able to better determine the starting linemen from the reserves.
If you're wondering what about Evan Mathis, the truth is a source tells me the club and the player's representation have had no serious contract talks on the matter. It simply is not time for that at this stage, according to sources.
Mathis wants the best opportunity and contract (read money) he can get. The Dolphins want to give Douglas, Thomas and Billy Turner the chance to show their abilities in practice and perhaps the preseason before making any move.
And the fact Mathis wants good money and the Dolphins aren't desperate at this stage has kept the sides apart.
Yes, the Dolphins are very aware Mathis is available. Executive Vice President Mike Tannenbaum today joked the team was signing Mathis when he was seen talking to agent Drew Rosenhaus.
It is a joke. They're not negotiating anything at this stage.
It is a waiting game.
Onto some practice highlights:
Wide receiver Michael Preston continues to show an ability to get deep at 6-5 and 220 pounds. He caught a deep sideline pass from Ryan Tannehill today.
The Miami defensive backs were inconsistent today...tight end Jordan Cameron scorched Michael Thomas on a seam pass that covered over 50 yards. Thomas had another tough moment in coverage earlier...Alabama WR Christion Jones showed his breakaway speed when he caught a slant and turned a 15-yard pass into a long TD when he made it to the sideline and then beat the angle from the safety...WR Tyler McDonald had a drop on a slant, although the ball was thrown just slightly behind him.
Jason Fox, working as the first-team left tackle in Albert's absence, had a very nice day. He took on Olivier Vernon one-on-one a number of times in team drills and won the matchup. He seems to be smoother than I remember.
The Dolphins are rotating kicking days. One day Brandon Fields punts and Caleb Sturgis kicks. The next day, Matt Darr punts and Andrew Franks kicks. Today it was Darr and Franks.
Franks missed three of his 10 kicks today as he competes with Sturgis.
Darr, who has pop in his leg, was booming a couple of punts. But he struggles with consistency. He also had a couple of punts that were long but had poor hang time and he had another punt that was neither long nor high.