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Dolphins position battles 2018 update: TEs earning role, kickers even

NFL: Miami Dolphins-Minicamp Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins have (effectively) wrapped up their veteran minicamp for the 2018 offseason. They only have a four-day Organized Team Activity period left next week before they break until the start of training camp at the end of July. The Dolphins have a lot of depth at several positions on the roster, with players trying to earn key positions - and playing time - for the year.

Where do some of those position battles stand as the offseason training program heads into its final event? We update some of the battles this morning.

  • Tight ends (Rookies Mike Gesick and Durham Smythe vs. Veterans MarQueis Gray and A.J. Derby): “Number one, everything in this league is earned. You’ve got to earn it. You’ve got to go out there and do it. Coach Gase is a believer in working. You guys know him. He’s a grinder. He came up a unique, hard, long way and he believes that everyone should go that route. We’re expanding both their roles and figuring out what they do well. That’s a process in itself, especially when you get two new, young guys; but they’ve taken the stuff very quickly. They’re both really intelligent guys. They work at it. So, they’re coming along the way we want to. We’re just going to keep doing stuff with those guys, especially Mike. Mike is a little bit unique. Durham is a ‘Y’ and Mike G is more of a … We’ve got to find out exactly what he can and can’t do and what he can and can’t handle early. As the season goes and the offseason goes and training camp, his package will expand and his routes will expand as we found out what he can and can’t do.” — Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains
  • Wide receivers (Danny Amendola vs. Albert Wilson for slot playing time): “We’re so far away from that. I completely understand the question and it’s a great problem to have as a coach when we are deep at a position like we are there. Those guys are working really hard, competing. I’ve been really, really impressed with Albert Wilson and Danny Amendola. Their work ethic, they’re both very professional and very quarterback-friendly. The quarterbacks have a high trust level in both of them. The thing is we have … We’ll watch the tape, we’ll game plan, we’ll figure out who’s the best matchups that week. It could be we’re in 13 personnel to start the game or whatever, and both of those guys will get plenty of time.” —Loggains
  • Cornerbacks (Cordrea Tankersley vs. Tony Lippett vs. Bobby McCain for boundary cornerback opposite Xavien Howard): “I feel like we all have an even competition. We have competition all over the field. I go out with the ones, I go out there with twos. I definitely feel like we are getting even reps.” - Cornerback Cordrea Tankersley
  • Quarterbacks (Brock Osweiler vs. David Fales vs. Bryce Petty for backup role): “I don’t want to compare anyone right now. What Brock has is unbelievable command of the offense. He was in it. He got to learn from the best in the game – No. 18 (Peyton Manning) – and when you watch his huddle etiquette, his line of scrimmage procedure etiquette, he does an outstanding job there. Bryce is a guy that is extremely talented. He’s got talent. We’ve got to coach him hard and get that stuff out of him. He’s got some things in his footwork and those things. We’re working really hard to get consistent and create more accuracy for him. It’s something we talked to him about is there’s not enough time in the offseason anymore. The rules, they are what they are. It used to be in January we start working with these guys and February, and they just grind quarterbacks. It’s hard now. Every Monday when he’s off and every Friday when he’s off and on the weekends, he needs to keep working on his drops and the consistency in his footwork, because if he gets that part of it all right, he has enough talent in his upper body to play.

“David has been consistent. He’s played within the system. David is a guy that if you say, ‘Hey, this is a progression, but this is an alert. If you get it versus quarters, you can take it.’ He’s taking it. He’s going to be aggressive in the timing of plays. He did have the benefit of being here. The offense has been tweaked a little bit even since I was with (Head Coach) Adam (Gase) in Chicago in 2015 and when Fales was with us then. So he does have the advantage of being here last year and understanding those things. He’s playing at the highest level I have ever seen him play. It’s a credit to him, because he’s done a lot of stuff in the summer, in the offseason with the strength training stuff. He’s worked really hard to get stronger and be a more accurate passer with more power.” — Loggains

  • Wide receiver (DeVante Parker vs. DeVante Parker): “He was a guy coming out that we graded very high, in Chicago. I thought he was a good football player there. I’ve been really impressed since I got here with his work ethic. The guy spent a ton of time here in the offseason. We have a really good support staff. We’re very fortunate that way. We obviously weren’t allowed to spend a lot of time with him as a coaching staff, but he was in the building grinding and doing the things he needed to do. I’ve seen a very professional guy that’s trying to get better every day. The thing to him from us (is) we keep reminding him, ‘Keep stacking good days. Keep stacking them up. We’ll count them at the end. Just keep improving each day.’ We try to give him stuff to work on and he’s done that to best that he could right now.” — Loggains
  • Kicker (Rookies Jason Sanders vs. Greg Joseph): “No, it’s been about even. Greg missed a couple today on the one end with the left to right wind. (There are) a couple of things we’re working on. The other thing today is Greg, with the first group, I think with the first operation I think (he was) 5-for-6. So on the days you guys haven’t been here, I think both guys have been pretty much what you see is what you get. There’s a couple of things we’re working on with both guys. I’m kind of pleased with where they’re at. With rookie kickers, you’re going to obviously always have a little bit of stuff to work on. Both guys have a great demeanor and a great start so far. I’m happy with both.” — Special Teams Coordinator Darren Rizzi
  • Punt and Kick Returner: “We know what Jakeem is, for the most part. At this point, we’re trying to really get more of a stable of returners and see who those are going to be. I think if you look back yesterday during our punt period, we had some guys back there. Obviously (Danny) Amendola is back there, (Albert) Wilson is back there, Drew Morgan is back there. Those are guys that can really field punts. Kenyan Drake is a guy that can do it throughout his career. He’s got to improve a little bit still. On kickoff return, we’re still trying to fudge with this new rule a little bit. We worked on it today in a little bit more of an individual basis. We’re kind of trying to see what we’re going to do in the back end there. You have to have eight guys up now. There’s only three guys back and where you put those three guys is going to be a little bit … There’s going to be some schematics to it. There’s going to be some game-planning to it. There’s going to be some Xs and Os types of things. If you look back today at our kickoff return, we had a bunch of guys back there. Obviously (there are) new guys that haven’t been here, (like Albert) Wilson, (Kalen) Ballage. Obviously Senorise (Perry) has done it. He’s been here. So we’re looking at a bunch of different guys. Torry McTyer is a guy that did it last year in the preseason that’s been back there. We’re trying to kind of figure out how we’re going to do it, whether it’s one guy deep, two guys deep. I think we have, as you guys know that have been here and covered this team for a long time, I like to have as many options as possible. We’re just trying to get as many guys to work at it as we can this time of year. Then as we get closer to the preseason games and all of that, we’ll kind of try to narrow it down a little bit.” — Rizzi