The Miami Dolphins broke minicamp yesterday, meaning they now have about five weeks until the team comes back together with the start of training camp. This is the one part of the year where there are no real football stories, with players and coaches often getting away for vacations. Private workouts will continue as players get ready for the season and camp, but this is also a time for players to give their bodies one last period of rest before starting the season.
All of that said, it does not mean we, as fans, will not continue to be looking for every piece of news, rumors, and speculation that we can find. Fans love football, and there is never enough news to cover this period. We will be looking at the roster from every possible direction, and we will be considering what free agents could the team consider signing before training camp arrives.
One of the ways to look at the roster will be in-depth looks at the different position battles that will be taking place during Miami’s training camp. We will break down the specifics throughout the next few weeks, building off some of the articles we have already been publishing, but today we take a quick look at some of the top battles heading into training camp.
This will become a three-man battle eventually, but right now, it appears to be a two-man rumble for the top spot on the depth chart opposite Byron Maxwell. Rookie Xavien Howard was penciled in as the top starter when the Dolphins selected him in the second round this year, but second-year cornerback Tony Lippett has thrust himself into that spot during the team’s offseason workout period, including Organized Team Activities and minicamp. The converted wide receiver is playing well and appears to be holding off the rookie for now. This battle will continue well into training camp, and will get more intense when Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, the second-year, seventh-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2015 who missed all of his rookie year recovering from a torn ACL and dislocated knee he sustained just before Oregon’s Rose Bowl appearance.
The cornerback position takes the top spot in our look at position battles, but battle 1B will be the guards. Miami has to figure out the top players to position between Ja’Wuan James and Mike Pouncey on the right and Pouncey and Branden Albert on the left. Dallas Thomas and Billy Turner have been working as the top options in the offseaosn workout programs, but will be challenged throughout training camp by first-round draft pick Laremy Tunsil (primarily as a left guard), Jermon Bushrod, Kraig Urbik, and Jamil Douglas. This could be a training-camp long battle as the Dolphins look to find the best two players to put into the interior of a re-tooled offensive line.
This may not be a true position battle in terms of trying to claim the top spot on the depth chart, but it will be an interesting one to watch this year. Jay Ajayi should be locked into the top spot, but he has to prove that he can be the top running back. Kenyan Drake, who appeared to strain a hamstring on the second day of the team’s three-day minicamp, will likely be the second-string running back, but could be challenged by Damien Williams, Daniel Thomas, and Isaiah Pead. Arian Foster is also still out there as a possible free agent signing, though Miami has reportedly backed off from him some, but the rumors continue to link the two parties.
Ndamukong Suh’s position as the top starter is obvious, but the position next to him is a battle between Jordan Phillips and Earl Mitchell. Both players will see plenty of playing time this year as the Dolphins rotate linemen to ensure they stay fresh throughout the game, but one of the two has to be the main guy and they will battle it out in training camp. Phillips appears to have the slight edge at this point, but it is definitely too close to call.