After going through two straight days of padded practices, the team took to the field today with just helmets and shorts. The main focus emphasized the two-minute drill both at the end of the half and games. Of the five practices that I’ve witnessed, today’s workout lacked the execution and had the most physical mistakes of any of the practices. I’m sure that the elements had a little bit to do with the sloppiness and some of the dropped passes on the offensive side of the football, but every team needs to go through a practice or two where they not only battle the opposition, but battle the elements and wet conditions.
Here’s some of the things I noticed at the fifth practice of Dolphins Training Camp:
1. Moving Pieces
This is probably the one position on this football team where we will need to give an update on which player is playing at what position every single practice. It’s a very fluid situation, especially after today’s practice. Shelley Smith took the majority of snaps at center, but with the injury to reserve center Sam Brenner, Nate Garner got a chance to fill in that role on both the first and second teams. The one part of the line that seems solidified for now is the left side, with Pro Bowler Branden Albert at tackle and veteran Daryn Colledge at guard. It’s my opinion that the Dolphins will line up that way on the left side in Week One against New England, but the right side seems to be more of a mystery. On the side opposite of Albert and Colledge, rookie Ja’Wuan James seems to be settling in nicely, but the big question marks remain at center and right guard. Dallas Thomas appears to have the inside track at the right guard position, but rookie Billy Turner seems to be pushing him for playing time.
2. Strength In Numbers
The focus in the secondary has been on the veteran starters, and it should be because they have been performing at a high level through five practices. But let’s not forget about some of the players that could play a significant role or at least expect to see some action in the defensive backfield. Let’s start at the safety position, and it might not be fair to consider Jimmy Wilson just a safety. Wilson’s versatility allows defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle to utilize Wilson’s aggressive mindset in several positions. I’m expecting a big year from Wilson because of not only the way he’s played, but his comfort and leadership is starting to show out on the field. Also, rookie defensive back Walt Aikens has shown position flexibility early in training camp by taking reps at the safety spot. Aikens’ frame and skill set allows him to cover ground quickly, and he seems to attack the football in the air very well.
On the outside, 2013 draft picks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis look like they’ve matured into players that will not be exposed like an average second year player. Both have taken reps with the first defense in an effort to spell starters Brent Grimes and Cortland Finnegan, but more importantly, to see if they can handle the spotlight if their number is called.
3. Off To A Good Start
With the absence of free agent signing Knowshon Moreno, Lamar Miller has handled the majority of the first team carries early in training camp. Miller is bigger and looks more decisive when running and catching the football in this offense. I believe this scheme will allow Lamar to showcase not only his speed, but his ability to catch the football in space, and create big play opportunities. This position gets cloudy after Miller because I’m not quite sure how Daniel Thomas and Mike Gillislee are being evaluated with Moreno on PUP. Both are getting enough chances for the coaches to make a decision, and the play of Damien Williams and Orleans Darkwa only complicates their decisions. The upcoming scrimmage on Saturday and the first preseason game should make the picture behind Miller come into focus.
News & Notes
- Center Sam Brenner was held out of practice with a lower body injury, but seemed to be walking around without any limitations.
- Wide receiver Mike Wallace didn’t participate in any team activities today, but did catch the football on the sideline as practice was taking place. He told reporters yesterday that he had a little bit of soreness in his hamstring.
- Quarterback Pat Devlin returned to practice today and seemed to be throwing the football without any limitations. It was unspecified why he sat out previously, but he looked effective in the latter part of practice running the hurry up offense.
- It rained for the first time during practice today, but it was just a typical weird South Florida sun shower that didn’t limit practice whatsoever.
- We had our first “disagreement” of camp on Wednesday, where it looked like more of a rugby scrum rather than a fight, and that’s probably a good thing for all involved. It appeared that offensive lineman David Arkin in the mix, along with the multiple aqua defensive jerseys. And by multiple, I mean 11.
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