Tuesday featured just one practice down in Davie for the Dolphins. But that doesn't mean thre's nothing to talk about. With less than a week until the first preseason game, some of the position battles are beginning to heat up.
THOMAS WORKS WITH STARTERS
The second week of training camp began with Donald Thomas getting promoted to working with the second team at right guard despite missing most of the first week of camp. On Tuesday, Donald's rise continued as he spent most of the day taking the first-team reps, replacing Shawn Murphy. More importantly, he looked like he belonged there.
In his blog, Omar Kelly wrote that Thomas "looks like an absolute monster" out there and declares that "there's no competition if he's healthy." Of course, that's the million dollar question regarding Donald Thomas. Is he healthy right now and can he remain healthy throughout the course of a 16 game season?
If he can, then there's no reason why this offensive line can't become one of the NFL's best in 2009. It's made up of a bunch of maulers and should be a dominant run-blocking line. The question regarding Jake Long heading into the draft last year was if he could protect the passer (which he has answered with a resounding "yes") - not if he could run block. Nobody questioned that. Justin Smiley was having a terrific year last year before his injury. Vernon Carey proved to be one of the best right tackles in the league last year. And Jake Grove - if he can stay healthy - is a huge upgrade over Samson Satele as a run-blocker. If Thomas can get healthy and win the starting job by September - as he likely will - the Dolphins could potentially have an offensive line filled with young studs for years to come.
On Monday against the Jaguars, we should hopefully get a glimpse of that. In fact, this will be the unit I'm most interested in seeing. It's impossible to really judge an offensive line in practice. But Jacksonville's front is big and physical and will be a good test to gauge where this potentially exceptional offensive line is at right now.
PATRICK TURNER RETURNS TO FORM
Last week, everyone was raving about the performances of Patrick Turner in practice. However, in Saturday's scrimmage, Turner was held without a catch. On Monday, Turner remained relatively quiet - leaving some to wonder if he had hit the first of many "rookie walls." But Turner bounced back on Tuesday by making two 20+ yard receptions - one from Chad Pennington, the other from Chad Henne. The pass from CP to Turner was referred to by Armando Salguero as "the nicest pass play I've seen all camp" - out-jumping Sean Smith to make the catch. On the other reception, Turner beat Eric Green deep down the sideline.
The question for Turner heading into Monday's preseason game will be consistency. He has the ability to catch everything thrown his way. In fact, Omar Kelly wrote that he hasn't seen Turner drop many balls since camp began last week. But he's 6'5, 220 and will be facing smaller, but quicker, cornerbacks. Will he be able to get open consistently and provide the quarterback with some room to throw? The South Florida media has been surprised with how quickly Turner gets in and out of his breaks. But that must now translate to success in live game action.
PAT WHITE HAS ANOTHER UP AND DOWN DAY
It's been interesting to read about Pat White every day to see how he's progressing. Usually, rookies will go through good practices and bad practices. But White's been going through multiple ups and downs in single practice sessions. On Tuesday, for example, White bobbled a snap and failed to beat the buzzer during 7-on-7 drills (which results in a "sack"). However, he also made two "nice throws" to Davone Bess for completions despite good coverage from the corners (Vontae Davis on one pass, Sean Smith on the other).
The bobbled snaps shouldn't be much of a surprise, though. White spent his college years mostly in the shotgun formation. Luckily for White, he'll probably only get on the field during regular season games for certain "shotgun" situations - also known as the 'Wildcat.'
Some quick thoughts on Tuesday's activities:
- There's been a lot of references in these practice reports about some "exotic blitz packages" that the Dolphins are working on. Can't wait to see what these look like. But we'll likely have to wait until at least September.
- Jason Ferguson had a strong day. The PBP referred to him as "immovable" during line drills.
- John Nalbone has been improving. He was a major disappointment during OTAs this offseason. But the rookie has rarely dropped any passes in camp and was the standout tight end during Saturday's scrimmage. Joey Haynos - you're officially being put on notice. Don't sleep on the kid from Monmouth!
- After a solid day working with the starters on Monday, Sean Smith had some lapses on Tuesday - resulting in two long passes allowed by the rookie. On the other hand, Vontae Davis had a solid day - even intercepting a pass that would have been a pick six in a real game.
Wednesday will feature two practices - both open to the public. The first is at 9 am. The second is at 8 pm under the lights. Not a bad idea as the team prepare for Monday night's preseason opener.