The Miami Dolphins are once again doing the organized team activities thing this week, with the team hitting the practice field in front of the media today. And, with the media there, we have on-the-field Dolphins news, once again.
Obviously, the big news of the day came after practice with head coach Joe Philbin's announcement that the Dolphins would be the featured team in this year's Hard Knock production from HBO and NFL Films. The series, which follows a team throughout their training camp, will air the first Miami episode on August 7 at 10pm EDT.
As for before that announcement, everyone's eyes were once again on the quarterbacks. However, the quarterback battle for Tuesday would only feature Matt Moore, Pat Devlin, and rookie Ryan Tannehill; veteran free agent signee David Garrard was home in Jacksonville after his house was damaged by Tropical Storm Beryl over the weekend.
Moore clearly held the lead over the other two quarterbacks, taking the majority of the first team snaps, and using them to move the offense. Meanwhile, rookie Tannehill took the first team snaps that Garrard had taken during last week's media-open practice, and looked shaky doing it. While he has looked better in other practices, yesterday, Tannehill forced some bad passes and was intercepted twice, including one pass that should have been a 90-yard touchdown for Reshad Jones. Tannehill did have one noteable completion on a sideline thrown to Marlon Moore. Otherwise, the rookie stayed with slant and over the middle passes most of the day.
Meanwhile, other players have started to get themselves noticed as well. Rookie running back Lamar Miller has had moments where the team's decision to trade up in the fourth round to select the University of Miami alumnus has looked great. Yesterday, Miller took a a screen pass from Devlin, and demonstrated the speed he was known for with the Hurricanes, finding the endzone at the end of the play. Miller, and sophomore rusher Daniel Thomas, took advantage of starter Reggie Bush's absence from the voluntary workouts, to show some of their talent with the first team.
Another player making his presence felt, and looking to be a weapon this year, is sophomore H-back Charles Clay. Clay continually finds openings in the defense, and is becoming a favorite target for Matt Moore. He should be featured in the offense more this year than he was last year.
It was not all good, however. Rookie wide receiver B.J. Cunningham seems to have taken over the role Brandon Marshall, who was traded to the Chicago Bears this offseason, had last year - pass dropper. He is going to have to clean up his catching ability this summer if he wants to claim a roster spot in one of the most congested areas of the Miami depth chart.
The Dolphins had multiple players unable to practice today, instead working on rehab drills on the side of the practice. These included cornerback Vontae Davis, guard Ray Feinga, running back Jerome Messam, and running back Jonas Gray. Davis has an unknown injury, but did assure the media he would be ready in time for training camp in August.
As for the defense, the star of the day was Reshad Jones. The safety picked off three passes, scoring on two of them, although he was also beat twice on the day - both allowing touchdowns. Jones has been reinforcing his roles as a ball-hawk, but also confirms that he can be beat as he tries to make the big play. Meanwhile, sophomore Jimmy Wilson, who is converting from cornerback to safety this year, received praise from his head coach. Philbin said of Wilson, "Good acceleration, good instincts."
The team continues to place Jones and Chris Clemons as the starting safeties, with Tyrone Culver and Wilson coming in as the second team guys. The Dolphins are looking to use a scheme with two free safety positions this year, allowing all the safeties on the roster to be interchangeable.
Up front, the defensive line has Jared Odrick starting opposite Cameron Wake as the defensive ends. The team could be looking to use Odrick as the starting defensive end, but then move him inside on passing situations to make room for rookie Olivier Vernon. Of Vernon, Wake said, "He's definitely got a motor, and that's something you can't teach,
Of how the quarterbacks look, Wake game the most honest answer a defensive end could provide. "I hate those guys," the team's leading pass rusher answered.
Wake also spoke about the team's new pass rush. "Those tackles in this league are in trouble. We're coming for the head," Wake said.
The Dolphins' next practice open to the media is on June 11.