The practice was a bit more sluggish than Thursday, but the team did provide some exciting plays on both sides of the football. After practice Head Coach Joe Philbin explained that the team has now moved past the three-day acclamation period, meaning tomorrow will be the first padded practice of training camp.
Here are some of the takeaways from today’s workout:
1) Experimentation At Linebacker – During the entire offseason, Defensive Coordinator Kevin Coyle stated that he would like to trim or simplify some of the schemes that his defense will implement this season. Coyle also feels like the talent at the linebacker position gives this team position flexibility and that was evident today. Kelvin Sheppard moved into the middle linebacker position for the majority of the snaps and that meant Koa Misi shifted outside joining Jelani Jenkins. This group is talented and the key for this coaching staff is to examine what combination gives the Dolphins the best chance to execute. The first true test will be tomorrow when the hitting starts. I believe that how they lined up today gives this team the flexibility to move Chris McCain into more of a pass rushing option.
2) Competition On The Corner – Another position that the coaching staff is monitoring is cornerback opposite Brent Grimes. So far it’s been a mixed bag of deep balls and inconsistent play by Jamar Taylor and Will Davis. I know it’s only two practices but it must be disturbing to many that multiple deep passes have been completed over those two players’ heads. The sleeper in this group could be Brice McCain, who saw extensive work at the position, moving Taylor inside to play the nickle position. Just as I stated above, there’s plenty of time to evaluate all three players but both Taylor and Davis must gain the trust of the coaches immediately, or risk falling behind in their chase for the starting role.
3) Byrdseye View – Yesterday it was Michael Preston that took center stage out of the young core of wide receivers,. Today, LaRon Byrd made himself known. Byrd, much like Preston, has an uphill battle to make an impression throughout training camp and the preseason. Byrd was on the receiving end of multiple big plays down the field and used his large frame and reach to snag three deep balls. Two of those receptions came from back-up quarterback Matt Moore and the first on from starter Ryan Tannehill. Both Byrd and Preston have the size and ability to push for more snaps and have the ability to create explosive plays down the field. That is a dynamic that Head Coach Joe Philbin is looking for out of his offense in 2015.
Other Notes From Today’s Practice:
– Quarterback Ryan Tannehill again looked in command of the passing offense, making quick decisions and spreading it around to multiple receivers.
– The offensive line continued the rotation at both guard positions today. I’m very anxious to see rookie guard Jamil Douglas in pads tomorrow and monitor how the reps are distributed.
– The kicking duties today were shifted from Caleb Sturgis to rookie Andrew Franks, and he didn’t disappoint. Franks made all four of his competitive kicks today form 39,42,44 and 46 yards out.
– Linebacker Chris McCain had a very good day rushing the quarterbacks, using his length and quick first step to get around the edge of the pass protection. McCain has the ability to play multiple roles in this defense and his versatility will only strengthen that group.
– Offensive tackle Branden Albert didn’t participate in the team drills today, but did get some individual field work done on the outside grass fields. His progress during training camp is definitely something to monitor throughout camp and vital to the overall success of this offensive line.