The Miami Dolphins concluded their final minicamp of the offseason yesterday, with nothing scheduled between now and the start of training camp July 26. During this final day of practice, the focus was squarely on rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who worked out with the first team offense. This was Tannehill's first day working with the first team offense while the media was present, and reviews of the eighth overall draft choice were mixed.
Tannehill opened the practice by being sacked, continuing his tendency to hold the ball too long. It is not a surprising problem, as the rookie works to adapt to the speed of the NFL game. However, Tannehill also threw two touchdown passes, inclyding one on a 20-yard crossing route from Julius Pruitt.
Tannehill also threw two interceptions on the day, one on a jump ball in the endzone, and one on a poorly thrown ball to Reggie Bush. "Me and Reggie really weren't on the same page," Tannehill said after the practice. "But at the end of the day you can't turn it over as a quarterback. We're doing a two-minute drill and I take pride in those things. You want to practice like it's a game situation and you never want to turn it over in those situations."
Head coach Joe Philbin complimented Tannehill in his post practice remarks. "I thought he threw a couple real nice balls - one specifically where he threw a vertical ball down the middle of the field where I thought it had real good location and velocity on it," Philbin stated, speaking of the pass to Pruitt.
"I thought he made a couple good adjustments in the protection and recognition of the pressure," Philbin continued, "which direction it was coming from, getting the line and the backs squared away in terms of identification. I thought there were a lot of good things."
Tannehill does recognize where he needs to improve. "It's a faster game," Tannehill said. "Guys move around faster. Plays develop faster. It's just something you have to get comfortable with. That's something that comes with a little bit of time, seeing the reps. I feel like I'm getting adjusted to it. It's been a little bit of a process throughout the offseason, but I get more adjusted to it everyday."
The defense did not make it an easy day on any of the Miami quarterbacks, though. Matt Moore was intercepted twice during the two-minute drills, once by Jimmy Wilson, who grabbed a ball as rookie receiver Jeff Fuller bobbled it, and once by Anderon Russell, who snagged the final pass of the practice, and the Dolphins offseason.
Tannehill's pass to Bush was intercepted by Reshad Jones, who jumped Bush's out route.
"The defense took the ball away a bunch in the two minute drill, which is good for the defense, not good for the offense," Philbin said. "We can't throw an interception on two-minute drill."
But, the fault wasn't solely on the quarterbacks today. Philbin noted the "double catching" going on among the receivers. This is a continued theme for the Dolphins' receiving corps, who Philbin has noted previously, have dropped too many balls already this offseason.
The star of the day came on the offensive side of the ball, though, as Julius Pruitt caught three touchdown passes, one from each of the potential starting quarterbacks, Tannehill, Moore, and David Garrard.
Now, as the Dolphins move into a four week hiatus between the end of minicamp and the start of training camp, coach Philbin gave a little insight into what he, and the rest of the coaching staff, will be doing. "[T]omorrow we have a staff meeting at 9:30 in the morning and we're going to rank these 1-45 on each side of the ball. We're going to rank each position 1-12, or however many players there are at each position. We're going to do all that stuff and I would caution to say that we haven't been in pads yet and we are still learning, but we obviously have a body of work now to make some evaluations. How accurate we can be remains to be seen.
"We'll have better information with pads and games, but we certainly have a sense and we are going to do our diligence. It's going to be fun. We did that after the first minicamp when we had five practices with these guys. We ranked the whole team by positions and on special teams, and we'll do the same thing now. It's kind of the fun part, because it's interesting to see what guys have made progress and what guys have slipped a little bit, where we are strong personnel wise and where we may need a booster shot here and there. That's all part of the evaluation process. We'll study the tape here in a little bit with the players. We haven't let them go yet, because we are believers in practice and correction, practice and correction, so that's what we're doing today."
Philbin was asked about his concerns about the players having over a month between workouts with the team. "The players need some time away and need to reconnect with their families. But at the same time we anticipate that every player to report back. Every guy on the roster is going to have a card and we give them a packet when they leave the building today detailing when to report to training camp and what their weight is. They've signed it, and we've communicated it directly to them in one-on-one fashion, so we don't expect any surprises. Our intention is that these guys are serious, this is their profession and they want to be a member of the Dolphins, so we expect 90 guys to show up in great condition."
When the Dolphins do report back to the team facilities, HBO and NFL Films will be present, as the Hard Knocks crews begin work on this season's episodes. With the Dolphins being featured in this year's production, the quarterback competition will be front and center, and a lot of fun to watch. We'll see if Tannehill can adjust to the speed of the NFL game or if Moore can maintain his starting job from last season. And, of course, veteran free agent signing David Garrard could be the wild card in all of this, especially if he returns to his 2010 Pro Bowl form.
Add in receiver Chad Ochocinco and Hard Knocks just became must see TV. Now we just have to wait four-and-a-half weeks.
As we noted in last night's Phinsider Podcast, we have officially placed the Ryan Tannehill video into the lead among all of the "NFL Rookies in LA" interview videos, over 4,200 views, and about 100 views ahead of RG3. I'm going to continue to place the video at the end of the stories for a little while longer, and ask that you continue to watch, just so we can keep up the lead. Thanks everyone! Great job!