The Miami Dolphins have been in training camp for 4 days and the early reviews are positive. For those of us Dolphins fans that haven’t made the trek to see training camp practices in person, have no fear because Hard Knocks starts a week from today. The Dolphins camp has featured a couple of injuries, a blitzkrieg pace, and a number of position battles.
The featured battle is for the starting QB position. David Garrard and Matt Moore have been taking turns competing with the Dolphins first team offense. At this point, Garrard seems to hold the advantage on Moore. Again, Matt Moore isn’t the greatest practice player, so this isn’t totally unexpected. The real test for both QBs will be when the exhibition season starts.
Joining the QB battle (albeit 2 days late) is Ryan Tannehill. Joe Philbin said on Monday that during Sunday’s practice, Tannehill looked very good and completed about 40 of 53 passes in competitive situations (meaning the defense was on the field). Tannehill looked solid again on Monday, but not quite as good as he did on Sunday. Overall, the Dolphins are very happy with Tannehill’s progress through 2 days of camp. It will be interesting to see when Tannehill gets his shot with the first team offense….and it could come as early as Wednesday at 8am (the next Dolphins practice).
Unlike when Tony ‘fist pump’ Sparano was in town, the Dolphins offensive line has been consistent. Jake Long (LT), Richie Incognito (LG), Mike Pouncey (C), Artis Hicks (RG), and Jonathan Martin (RT) have been mainstays. It will be interesting to see if Eric Steinbach makes a push for the RG position. Right now, he’s working with the second team at both LG and RG.
The Dolphins receivers have been up and down. According to beat reporters, Chad Johnson, Davone Bess, and Legadu Naanee have stood out the most. Among the rookies and young receivers, Jeff Fuller (Tannehill’s teammate at A&M), Julius Pruitt, and Roberto Wallace have been impressive. Missing from that list are Brian Hartline and Clyde Gates who are both nursing injuries. Hartline has a calf injury and Gates tweaked his hamstring on Sunday. While Hartline is almost guaranteed a roster spot, Gates could be in serious jeopardy if he doesn’t get back on the field quickly.
The Dolphins tight ends and receivers have been solid. Charles Clay has shown off his athletic ability and could be poised for a breakout season. Reggie Bush has been good and consistently stays after practice for extra work. Not too much has been said about Daniel Thomas, who could see his carries diminished because of the addition of Lamar Miller. Miller has been very impressive and consistently breaks nice runs in practice.
As for the defense, defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said he is very happy with where they are now. They aren’t a finished product, but he said the transition to the 4-3 has been ‘excellent’. Jamaal Westerman stood out on Monday, picking up 3 sacks on Dolphins QBs. Sean Smith and Vontae Davis have been solid, while Richard Marshall seems to have a firm grip on the nickel CB spot. As for the safeties, Rashad Jones is almost certainly one of the starters. Opposite him is where the competition lies. Chris Clemons was assumed to be the starter, but he is currently working his way back from an injury. That means Tyrone Culver and Jimmy Wilson are taking Clemons’ reps. Wilson is fearless, but needs to flash more to vault himself into the starting role.
The defensive line is the strongest part of the Dolphins defense. Paul Soliai and Randy Starks are beasts and are wreaking havoc on the Dolphins interior offensive line. Cameron Wake doesn’t shine in practice, but we know what he can do. Olivier Vernon has shown some ability, but gave us all a scare when he left practice for a brief time with an ankle injury.
Overall, the Dolphins seem to be on the right track….I hope it continues! The season is just over 1 month away. But before the Dolphins make that September 9th trip to Houston, there’s still a lot of work to be done and position battles to be won. The Dolphins are off today and return to practice tomorrow. We say they are ‘off’ because it’s likely that a number of players will be at the Dolphins facility, watching film and getting treatment for injuries.