The Miami Dolphins may not have had the practice they, or we, wanted when they took the field for the first time in training camp yesterday. The offense was sloppy throughout the day, especially along the rebuilt offensive line, but for the first day of camp, with a new offensive scheme and five new starting offensive linemen, it was not nearly as bad as it could have been.
The main thing to remember is, it was only one day. It was one early training camp practice. The team does not take the field for their first meaningful game for another six weeks.
That's plenty of time to get what appears to be a starting offensive line of Branden Albert, Daryn Colledge, Shelley Smith, Dallas Thomas, and Ja'Wuan James ready for the year. That's enough time to get Smith and quarterback Ryan Tannehill on the same page when it comes to center-quarterback exchanges.
"It's always a work in progress," Smith explained about the exchanges with Tannehill. "You're always trying to get better and you know and leave some building blocks down today or keep building on them through camp and get ready for the season."
"I'm willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win," he added. "I just want to win games and contribute."
Yesterday's practice was not all bad. There were actually several highlights, including a nice deep pass from Tannehill to wide receiver Mike Wallace and some good use of the screen pass and seam routes.
"I just said everybody take a deep breath, calm down and let's play," Tannehill explained when asked after practice about the first few plays, and what he said in the huddle. "The first play, I think we had the ball on the ground, and then after that, we had a good set. I think we had three more good plays, an out to the left and a couple of run plays. I think everyone just needed to take a deep breath and kind of relax a little bit, a little juiced up, a lot of excitement in the air. But it's still football, you still have to take a deep breath and play."
There was also a play with a ridiculous pirouette from Jarvis Landry that spun Walt Aikens and showed why Miami selected the LSU receiver in the second round of this year's NFL Draft.
"He seems to be kind of an instinctive football player," Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said of Landry after practice. "He picks things up well. I think he reads coverages quickly and accurately and he has a knack of finding a way to get open. So far he's displayed very good hands. He's off to a very good start."
"The fact is he's very diverse, he's very well coached," wide receiver Brian Hartline added of the rookie Landry. "His intellect is like a third-year player, which is expected. It's the NFL, you're supposed to communicate at a high level, and he does. He executes as a high level. To have him as part of our group, he definitely makes the group stronger."
The offense played better the second half of the practice, but the defense clearly won the workout, coming out strong and continuing that way throughout the day. As a team, the defense would have recorded several sacks on Tannehill as well as some nice pass breakups. Safety Louis Delmas seemed to be everywhere during the day, while new middle linebacker Koa Misi seemed to hold his own on the day.
While it was one practice in July, the talk on the day did not shy away from what the team hopes is an end to the franchise's streak of non-winning seasons. "We want to play deep into January and February and that's our goal at this point," Tannehill explained. "Go out, win the division and then play the playoffs from there. There is a big season ahead of us and I think anything less than that is not up to our standards."
The Dolphins are back on the field for their second practice this morning at 8am ET.