As the Miami Dolphins enter their first ‘day off’ of training camp, some interesting story lines are beginning to take place on both sides of the ball. The new coaching regime is clearly mixing things up to get an idea of how all of the pieces of this team are going to fit together. One day a player may be working with the first team, the next the second. None of that is set in stone through 4 days of practice, but some players are helping their status, while others are hurting it.
Speaking of hurting, Brian Hartline has yet to set foot on the practice field. He is still nursing a calf injury that has kept him from practicing so far. Joining him today was second year wideout Clyde Gates, who sat out with a sore hamstring. Both receivers missed valuable time in what was expected to be one of the most competitive position battles of training camp. On the defensive side of the ball, Chris Clemons returned to practice after missing the previous two days. While he was out, second year man Jimmie Wilson took his spot on the first team, and did so again today.
Ryan Tannehill also made his second appearance today, and continued to show improvement compared to how performed in the spring. His decision making is faster, but still struggles while facing the blitz. It’s clear to everyone at camp that he has the physical talent, it will just be a matter of time before the speed of the game slows down for him. Once that happens, we will get a chance to see if Miami has finally landed a franchise quarterback.
Jamaal Westerman has been impressive once he put pads on. He is clearly going to give Koa Misi a run for the starting spot. He has been in the backfield on a regular basis in practice, but his coverage skills are still a mystery. Someone else making some noise on the defensive side of the ball has been Jared Odrick. He too has made several ‘sacks’ though quarterbacks are not allowed to be hit. If these two can keep this up, Cameron Wake may have see less double teams this season.
Along the wide receiver front, Julius Pruitt continues to draw rave reviews. Players on the team are even giving him props. Once you draw the approval from your teammates, you have a good chance to see the field a lot. Chad Johnson seems to be the best receiver the Dolphins have on the field. Legedu Naanee and Devone Bess seem to have their spots as well. The most impressive rookie has been Jeff Fuller, but he has still performed like a rookie. Marlon Moore, and Roberto Wallace have also been mentioned quite a bit. With Hartline nursing an injury, it’s hard not to wonder how his injury is effecting his opportunity to be a starter. During the offseason, he was considered a lock to make the starting lineup, not I can’t help but wonder if that’s in jeopardy. Another player I’m worried about is Clyde Gates. He sat out today, and hasn’t really been mentioned much, his roster spot is in jeopardy.
Along the O-Line, it seems that right tackle is Jonathan Martin’s to lose. The RG spot seems open, and there is a possibility that Richie Incognito could be put there if someone out performs him at LG. Jake Long has been a beast, and so has Mike Pouncey. Artis Hicks has the early edge to become the final piece, but he will have competition from newly signed Eric Steinbach.
I can’t wait to see Hard Knocks. These position battles are compelling, and seeing them take place on TV is going to be way better than reading about them. Chad Johnson is a complete character, and I can’t wait to see how he is compared to how he was during Hard Knocks in 2009 when he was in Cincinnati.
The Dolphins will enjoy a day off tomorrow, at least physically. The players will have plenty of study time going on tomorrow. Once practice resumes Wednesday, don’t be surprised to see Ryan Tannehill leading the 1st teamers. It will be his first in pads (but that doesn’t matter because QB’s don’t get touched), but I think it’s his turn to have a chance with the 1′s. Matt Moore and David Garrard have both had the opportunity twice each to lead the 1′s, now it’s Tannehill’s turn. We shall see!