The Miami Dolphins selected the sure-handed Jarvis Landry from LSU with their second round draft choice back in May. The newcomer joined a deep Dolphins receiving corps, a group that appears to already have their starters in place in Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, and Brandon Gibson. It is a tough situation for a player who should have a roster spot, but may not have a spot that leads to much playing time in 2014.
Through the team's Organized Team Activities and veteran minicamp, Landry has found himself working with the first team, and developing chemistry with quarterback Ryan Tannehill. "Just the reps, the reps that we've all been getting," Landry said of the way he and Tannehill are getting on the same page. "The way that the coaches set up the individual periods and the teaching periods also. That allows us to get that one-on-one talking from QB to receiver that allows us to have that chemistry, that when things go at full speed, we know exactly where we're going to be and where the placement of the ball is going to be."
The Dolphins seem to like everything Landry can bring to the offense, and have been working him inside as a slot receiver as well as spread out on the boundary. Like the other receivers, Landry has seen plenty of motion in the early portion of the Dolphins' prep for the season. Multiple reporters have commented on just how much pre-snap movement Miami will bring to the offense this year, a complete reversal of last year's tendency to lineup in position and run the play.
"I'll tell you what, you've got to be in shape for sure," Landry explained of what it takes to be prepared pre-snap. "I think we do a great job with conditioning. But there is never enough conditioning as far as when the game and emotions start getting involved. That can propel you forward. It's one of those things that we just have to keep working at to be an efficient offense."
Landry has been impressive throughout the team's workouts as he attempts to claim his game day role with the club. "He's a playmaker," Tannehill said of Landry. "Some of the strongest hands I've seen ever since I've been playing football. He's a guy that's going to catch the ball if it's in his area. I've seen him already make some tough one-handed catches in practice. So he stands out as far as his ball-catching ability and he seems like a guy, that once he gets the ball in his hands, he's going to do something with it. So it's going to be fun getting the ball to him."
"He's kind of an instinctive guy," head coach Joe Philbin added. "He has a good sense of coverage, good feel for it. He kind of can understand the soft spots in a zone. He's sneaky quick and sneaky fast. He plays the game fast, so there's not a lot of hesitation in his game. He's caught the ball very well so far."
Landry's toughest competition for playing time should come from Gibson, who is recovering from a torn ACL in his left knee, which he suffered just before Halloween last year. The veteran is expected to be ready by Week 1, though that would be early in the "9-12 months" rehab time expected for ACL tears.
"Well, he's making good progress," Philbin said last week of Gibson's return. "He got out there today and was competing out there today. He's another one of those receivers, I think, he's a very very technically route runner. I think he has very good awareness on the football field."
Landry is trying to take advantage of the limitation on Gibson to prove he has a role. During last week's "spring game" for the Dolphins, Landry saw plenty of passes coming his way from Tannehill. "It was good to get the ball flying around," Landry stated. "It was good to get the ball flying around. Obviously, in a no pad scrimmage, that's going to be the case. Just seeing how he was completing balls, not only to myself, but to other guys, to the backs, to the tight ends. (Michael) Egnew caught a couple of balls for us today on third down to help us extend drives to get points."
Now he just has to make sure he is ready to go when the team comes back together at training camp in July. "It's holding yourself accountable and knowing the things that you have to do that are required of you to play at a high level," Landry remarked about the time off and being ready for camp. "It's not taking a month off and then coming back and expecting to be ready. It's constant improvement and continuing to learn. But for me, I'll be here with Ryan (Tannehill), trying to get things going."