Day 4 is missing not because of an oversight, but because I was unable to attend due to some personal obligations, but I returned for Day 5 of training camp, and it was a cold and wet morning, quite the contrast from the blistering heat of the first few days.
Though it certainly wasn't an unwelcome one.
As for the Miami Dolphins, they wore their full pads for the first time this camp (they'd only been wearing shoulder pads up until now), and at last the team was able to start tackling like a football team is supposed to.
So of course, with an added dimension to training camp, there are a few new storylines that need to be addressed. Let's get started.
Vincent Taylor flashing with the pads on
Generally when you have a fifth round pick, you don't expect him to do much right from the get-go, but when it comes to defensive tackle Vincent Taylor, he may be shattering that mold. Taylor has shown excellent strength at the defensive tackle position, and is making a strong case that he should be the team's third defensive tackle on the depth chart.
There have been concerns about the depth at defensive tackle behind Ndamukong Suh and Jordan Phillips, as the team parted ways with veteran Earl Mitchell in the offseason in order to save cap space. There are other options still on the open market (one Paul Soliai comes to mind), but if Taylor can prove he has what it takes, that would take a lot of pressure off the rotation.
If he continues to flash in practices, making tackles and manhandling offensive linemen (Isaac Asiata in particular has had a lot of trouble blocking him), then he may see an opportunity to be rotated in with the starters, and that's when we'll really get a chance to see what he can do.
Damien Williams running with a chip on his shoulder
It's been well-documented this offseason that Jarvis Landry isn't the only Dolphins player who wanted a new contract. Running back Damien Williams - who signed his restricted free agent tender back in early May - was pushing for a new contract but ultimately didn't get it, and now he's running like a man on a mission.
Obviously, every NFL player wants to be paid, and in a market where running backs are literally a dime a dozen (a concept that Steelers star RB Le'Veon Bell is trying to remedy), getting paid requires a lot of effort.
Today, Williams pushed and shoved his way into the training camp highlight reel, even running in for a touchdown during a scrimmage play, and it's possible that he even started a scuffle that eventually evolved into a bench-clearing brouhaha as players piled on top of each other.
It hasn't been confirmed who started the fight, but Williams was the ball-carrier on the play in question and he'd been giving perhaps a little more effort than usual, perhaps irritating his teammates on the defense. While it bodes well for the 2017 season that Williams is running like he has something to prove, it will put pressure on the front office as it means that they have a big decision to make.
Drew Morgan getting the Griff Whalen treatment
There's always at least one white wide receiver that seems to stand out in training camp. Sounds racist, I know, but in truth there's no other way to put it. This year's camp superstar is undrafted free agent Drew Morgan out of Arkansas.
Last year, veteran receiver Griff Whalen was the one flashing in practice and showing that he had what it takes to be on an NFL roster, but ultimately he was released before the start of the 2016 season. He now resides in Baltimore where the Ravens are dealing with their own issues.
Morgan impressed during OTAs and mini-camp, and now he's continuing his rise up the depth chart as he got starter reps with Ryan Tannehill as his QB while Jarvis Landry stood on the sidelines. There has been no indication that Landry was hurt, so this may have simply been a case where coach Adam Gase wanted to see Morgan with the ones.
Morgan took up the opportunity with gusto, and made a quick catch from a scrambling Ryan Tannehill, then he dove into the endzone for a touchdown, showing that he could handle the job. But he still has a long way to go before he makes the 53-man roster, especially with actual draft picks Leonte Carroo and Jakeem Grant still competing.
Morgan could be the new Griff Whalen for the year, shining in camp but not making the team, or he could beat out one of the incumbents, which is very possible with Adam Gase controlling the roster. He'll just need to keep giving it all he's got.
The rain definitely had an effect on practice this morning. The normally solid Kenyan Drake dropped two punts in practice, and he also got tackled by the grass on a handoff. Although Drake wasn't the only one who had struggles with the weather, as wind swirled and hindered return attempts.
Coach Adam Gase eventually let the players go inside the practice bubble to get out of the weather, but not before they got a healthy dose of what it would be like to play in less than stellar conditions, which can only hope the team in the long run.
Jay Ajayi bounced off tackles like his usual self, including one instance where he was able to break a tackle by linebacker Lawrence Timmons, who was brought in specifically to help stop the run. But now Ajayi possibly has a concussion after being hit hard by safety T.J. McDonald, so it may be wise to keep Ajayi off the practice field for a while.
Raekwon McMillan again spent his time in the base defense as the middle linebacker, which may indicate that the decision as to who would be the "captain" of the defense has been made. While Timmons and Kiko Alonso are the two nickel linebackers, McMillan seems to be getting all the reps at MIKE in the base. So it appears Miami has their middle linebacker.
Isaac Asiata has been struggling to show what made him such a desired prospect in this draft. As previously mentioned, Vincent Taylor has been giving Asiata a real challenge, and the former Utah standout was demoted to playing on the third team this morning. If he intends to get back into his previous position, he needs to step up soon.
Practice will resume on Wednesday, and I will be there to analyze and tweet everything as it happens. Stay tuned for more.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
There was a lot of talk regarding the trades between the Miami Dolphins and the Jacksonville Jaguars earlier this offseason; it ultimately led to the acquisition of tight end Julius Thomas who failed to return to his star form while he was in Jacksonville, prompting many to believe he would more like his Denver-self with Adam Gase as his coach in Miami.
So far, in training camp, Thomas has failed to live up to those lofty expectations, as his use in scrimmages has been minimal, with quarterback Ryan Tannehill favoring the likes of DeVante Parker, Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills.
But unlike the fans who are watching and waiting to hear that Thomas and QB Ryan Tannehill have built up a strong rapport in practice, head coach Adam Gase isn't the least bit concerned over the fact that Thomas isn't getting many targets.
"The thing about him is he’s been in this long enough, but especially in this offense, he kind of understands about just keep doing what I’m supposed to do and going out there and working in individual." Gase said. "His big focus is always going to be getting good in the run game because he knows that’s going to be something that’s bigger than what we did in Denver and the chemistry between those two guys in the passing game, I feel like is pretty good, and those two have confidence in it."
As for Thomas himself, he has the same confidence in Gase that Gase seems to have in him, which - as it's been said before - is the reason Thomas wanted to come to Miami and play for his old offensive coordinator.
“The offense has changed a little bit, but it’s the same terminology." he said. "‘Goose’ (Adam Gase) is always going to be the same guy. That’s the beauty of playing for him. That’s why so many guys appreciate him and want to play for him. That’s what made me want to come back here and play for a guy that I respect and the way he relates to players. He’s humble. He doesn’t have that aura of ‘I’m this head coach.’ He just comes to you and he talks to you and lets you know what’s expected and he holds you to that. That’s always been appreciated.”
All nicknames aside, it's clear that despite the lack of targets for Thomas in practice, everyone seems to still be on the same page. Gase gave the most likely reason for the lack of targets, and it's simply the fact that Tannehill has been aiming elsewhere during his practice reps.
And that's perfectly okay.
There will be more opportunities for Thomas to get some catches in, he caught a nice lob from Tannehill near the sidelines just on Monday in fact. The key to the Adam Gase offense is to spread the ball around, and if that means Thomas doesn't get as many targets as some think he should, then Gase is clearly okay with that.
And so should the fans.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
Day 3 marked the first day of camp where the team put on the pads and started really hitting each other, meaning the trenches were going to get a lot of attention, and that's exactly what happened.
Offensive and defensive linemen were able to get their hands on each other for real and try to show what they could do in front of a coaching staff who is still looking for a solid answer when it comes to line depth on both sides of the ball.
It also meant that players could get more serious when it came to tackling and getting physical with each other, and while there were a few moments where it looked like things might get ugly, they quickly defused and Day 3 closed without any skirmishes.
Much to the dismay of some.
But in any case, there was a lot more exciting stuff happening with the pads on, and here's just a quick recap of what I feel were the most important storylines of the day.
Mike Pouncey returned to practice
Of all the things I expected to see once the pads came on, Mike Pouncey wearing full gear along with the rest of his teammates wasn't one of those things. Nevertheless, the former Pro Bowl center did put on his gear and not only stretched with his teammates, but he also participated in individual drills with them for the first time since camp opened.
Granted, these first drills were only the warmup drills, but that's a step forward considering that there were questions whether Pouncey would even play again. He suffered no setback, didn't have to walk off the field mid-drill, and he looked like he was moving just fine.
All according to Adam Gase's master plan.
Once practice really got going, Pouncey went off to do his own thing, and the starting center rotation during scrimmages consisted only of Kraig Urbik, Jake Brendel and Anthony Steen, meaning Pouncey either still hasn't reached the point where he's ready for game-action, or Gase is refusing to risk losing Pouncey to a practice run.
Seeing Pouncey work with his teammates is an encouraging sign, and I will continue to monitor the situation as camp continues.
Today was not a good day for the Dolphins quarterbacks, but it was a great day for the Miami defense, as they came away with a total of three interceptions in scrimmages, two against Ryan Tannehill and one against Matt Moore.
The first interception of the day came when Ryan Tannehill had a pass tipped by second-year corner Xavien Howard tipped a pass into the air, and veteran linebacker Lawrence Timmons ran in and made the interception. Then Moore came in and got his pass intended for Leonte Carroo intercepted by veteran Alterraun Verner, who jumped the route and would have returned it for a touchdown.
Finally, Tannehill's second interception came - once again - courtesy of Kiko Alonso, who was able to read his eyes and see where he wanted to go with the ball (Parker), he stepped in front and made the catch for his second Tannehill interception in as many days.
While this will inevitably lead to folks panicking about the ability of the offense (fans were incredibly discouraged by the lack of deep balls on Saturday), this is merely a fact of training camp. Units go up against each other and one will do better than the other at different times.
Saturday was a total win for the defense. The key is for the offense to bounce back.
While there was certainly more excitement to be sure, there really wasn't any one player who stood out more than the other. Here are the smaller storylines of the day.
Torry McTyer - the MVP of the team's first day of training camp - had a couple of hits during scrimmages Saturday, but he hasn't really stood out since his two interception performance. As a gunner on special teams, there was at least one instance where he was completely walled by defenders, and special teams is where fringe players earn their roster spot. If McTyer wants to make the team, he'll have to do it there.
Isaac Asiata had a rough day during his first padded practice, as fellow rookie Vincent Taylor defeated him several times during drills and scrimmages, and he wasn't the only one either, as other defenders were able to bring him down. Asiata clearly needs time to develop, so for the time being, don't expect anyone other than Ted Larsen and Jermon Bushrod to be the starters on the offensive line.
Rookie CB Cordrea Tankersley returned to practice and was properly hydrated this time around, but the heat continues to be a hindrance...or maybe it's just preparing the players for what's to come. But while it's good for the players to get used to the heat, paramedics were forced to cart off an elderly woman from the stands who apparently couldn't take the extreme heat. Hopefully, the players stay hydrated - Tankersley learned that lesson the hard way.
Jets fans decided to invade the Dolphins training camp, and the fans - along with mascot T.D. - made sure to give them a very "warm" reception, as chants of "J-E-T-S SUCK SUCK SUCK" rang through the stands. One has to wonder why they would try something like that, but to each their own I suppose. If they want to dive into the lion's den (or the dolphin's pod), that's their choice.
Sunday will be a day off for me, for personal reasons. But I'll be back to give updates again on Monday, so make sure to follow me on Twitter for all the play-by-play then.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
For months now, one question has been on the lips of Dolphins fans since the team invested money and draft picks into upgrading the linebacker corps: Who will be the team's starting middle linebacker?
Assumptions were made that it would most likely be newly signed veteran Lawrence Timmons, who spent the last decade as a key piece of the Pittsburgh Steelers LB unit and is known for his ability to stop the run, which is what teams generally look for in middle linebackers.
Not to mention, the pressure and responsibility of being the captain of the defense - which is generally relegated to the middle linebacker - would be thrust upon whoever is given the role for Miami, further leading people to believe either Timmons or Alonso would be given the first looks.
But on Day 2 of training camp, the Miami Dolphins spent some time in scrimmages in the base defense, and the chosen middle linebacker was rookie Raekwon McMillan.
“I’m comfortable at Mike but we’ve been switching out and doing a lot of things out here." McMillan said on Friday. "But I’m very comfortable out there at Mike.”
McMillan was a middle linebacker at Ohio State, which McMillan stated was the best program in the nation, which means he does have some experience calling plays from that position.
“Yes. I call the plays." he said. "I get the huddle call for the guys and get everything lined up. But then from there, everybody makes their own checks and calls too.”
Naturally, the idea of a rookie getting the first look at the most important linebacker spot ahead of two seasoned veterans who have experience in an NFL defense would raise some eyebrows, but as usual, head coach Adam Gase merely shrugged it off, viewing it as a non-issue.
“That’s why we drafted him. He’s really smart." Gase said. "That’s the least of my worries. He does a good job of being vocal. He’s very clear. He knows what he’s doing. He’s going to make mistakes because that’s part of it; but a lot of the things are still done by Kiko (Alonso). It’s not as big of a deal as a lot of people think.”
It's been stated several times that the linebacker position would be a fluid one, with players switching in and out at different positions as time goes on. Perhaps it means nothing in the long run, or perhaps it shows that the coaching staff trusts McMillan enough to let him take charge and be a starter, especially with the loss of Koa Misi for the season (and possibly forever).
But one thing that Gase said can't be disputed: This is what McMillan was drafted for, and the young Ohio State standout will no doubt get more opportunities to prove himself worthy to be a starter as training camp and the preseason progresses.
And McMillan is ready for the challenge.
it’s definitely a goal of mine; but it’s a long-term goal." McMillan said. "What I have to focus on is getting better tomorrow and focusing on what I did wrong today so I can get better tomorrow.”
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
After the second day of training camp, two things are clear: One, the canopy is a lifesaver because without that shade, I would probably catch fire from how blistering hot it is. Two, we desperately need to see the team in pads, because the offense and the defense are trading places being good and it's both intriguing and frustrating.
Thankfully, Day 3 of camp will see the Miami Dolphins wearing full pads at last, which means all bets are off and hitting can commence, that's what ultimately separates the men from the boys, and we'll get a real look at what the team has in them.
In the meantime, there were a few things of note for Day 2, and here they are.
Raekwon McMillan getting initial looks in the middle
Day 1 of camp saw the defense in the nickel defense almost exclusively during scrimmages, but that changed during Day 2, as the defense spent some time with three linebackers on the field, which brings back the question everyone was asking since the team made the investment in the new linebackers:
Which of the three inside linebackers would actually be inside?
Veterans Lawrence Timmons and Kiko Alonso are inside linebackers by trade, and rookie Raekwon McMillan is also best suited as a middle linebacker, but there can only be one inside linebacker, and all we ever heard was that everyone was interchangeable and there would be plenty of switching around.
Yeah, now who's the starting middle linebacker?
Day 2 gave us - at the very least - an initial answer, as it was McMillan who spent all of the snaps with the first-team defense in the middle, with Alonso and Timmons flanking him on either side during the times when the base defense was lined up.
I have no doubt that both Alonso and Timmons will get their turn to play in the middle during future practices, but it's interesting to see that McMillan got that time in the middle before either of them, calling out plays and being the captain if the defense.
Defensive line breaking through
This is precisely the reason why I have a mighty need to see the team with their full pads. While the offense did have their moments to shine (Ryan Tannehill had another excellent look-off touchdown today), the defensive line appeared to dominate for a majority of the scrimmages.
Cameron Wake, William Hayes, Julius Warmsley, even a guy named Joby Saint-Fleur all had would-be sacks today, and there were more players who didn't necessarily get sacks, but were providing ample amounts of pressure, such as Terrence Fede, who is fighting for a roster spot this offseason.
I was asked a lot about Charles Harris, and ultimately I didn't see much from him. However, that's more a result of the fact that my eyes can't be everywhere at once, and without the pads everything should be taken with a grain of salt. Tomorrow the pads will go on, and we'll see if the defensive line continues to dominate.
Ultimately, there wasn't anything super special to report from the second day at camp, there were however, several smaller storylines that I'll go through right now.
The heat was devastating at camp this morning. I saw one tweet that indicated that the heat index was at 107 degrees fahrenheit, and it definitely felt like it. Mind you, I was in the shade (most of the time), so the players got the full brunt of the South Florida sun. Rookie cornerback Cordrea Tankersley actually went inside the facility mid-practice to get rehydrated, and there will likely be more instances of this happening as camp continues.
In a similar vein, there was a slight scare when in the middle of a scrimmage play, tight end Julius Thomas pulled up short and walked away, forcing Anthony Fasano to take his place. Immediately the speculation regarding his health began, but during the next session, Thomas returned and remained in until the end of practice.
Jakeem Grant had some struggles fielding punts near the tail end of practice today, although one was because his teammate, wide receiver Francis Owusu, was about to run him over. Grant is in the running for the team's fifth wide receiver position, and as he continues to be included in practicing trick plays, it's obvious Gase wants to use his unique speed and athleticism. But he has to start focusing on catching the ball first.
DeVante Parker continued to prove that all the talk of a more motivated player wasn't just talk, as his speed and explosion look better than ever before. Hopefully, this shows itself in-game.
The pads come on Saturday, and things will start getting serious. I'm looking forward to it.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
Training camp 2017 is officially here, and the stands were almost immediately filled with Dolphins fans who were excited to see their team back on the field after an incredibly long offseason. Some even came from as far as Pennsylvania to see the playoff team practice in front of the public for the first time in 2017, and just based on the results of the first day, no one was disappointed.
As is always the case with training camp, there was some bad to go along with the good, but that's always how it goes when the same team's offense and defense goes up against each other. While the pads didn't come on just yet, there was plenty to take away from the team's first day of training camp as they prepare to not only repeat, but also improve upon, last season's playoff berth.
DeVante Parker looks like a new receiver
Up until late last season, DeVante Parker looked like he was on the fast track to being yet another Miami Dolphins first round bust, and one could argue that if Joe Philbin was still the team's head coach, he already would be.
But Adam Gase is the team's coach now, and he got onto Parker last season and gave him a desperately needed wakeup call that forced him to look in the mirror and reexamine his life. As a result, Parker stepped up his game on the practice field and at home, taking care of his body and making sure he acts like a professional athlete.
The result - so far - is Parker looks faster, stronger and sharper than he ever has in a Miami Dolphins uniform, and he put on an impressive show in the team's first practice, catching two touchdowns from quarterback Ryan Tannehill in scrimmages, the first of which was a 32-yard leaping catch that he pulled down from the air and landed with both feet in the endzone.
There's been plenty of speculation that Parker would have a breakout season in 2017, and the coaches have praised his new work ethic. After this first day of training camp, it looks like it's all true and Parker will be a serious threat that teams will need to prepare for.
Torry McTyer the first young player to emerge from the crowd
There's always at least one player who stands out in camp that no one expected, but I wasn't expecting it to happen on day one of training camp. Nevertheless, in just the first day, one undrafted rookie has already put himself in the spotlight above his fellow fringe players: former UNLV Rebels cornerback Torry McTyer.
McTyer was someone I didn't even know was on the team until this first day of camp, but I definitely know who he is now. McTyer - as a part of the third team defense - made two interceptions against Brandon Doughty, who had a pretty rough day as he had not only the interceptions, but he also had a pass deflected at the line of scrimmage.
But this is about McTyer and his stellar day. For some background, McTyer was known for being a hard-hitting corner in college, and he was a starter for the Rebels for two consecutive seasons. During his career at UNLV, he accumulated a total of 138 tackles, four interceptions and 24 pass deflections.
Granted, McTyer still has a long way to go before he moves ahead of other more established players on the roster, such as Lafayette Pitts or Jordan Lucas, but if he continues to shine the way he did on Thursday, then McTyer could very well make a strong case that he should get consideration before either of his constituents.
Ryan Tannehill starting off strong
And now it's time for Ryan Tannehill updates, the part of the report where Luis comes out and gives updates on Ryan Tannehill. Did he do good, did he do bad, are the Dolphins primed for a Super Bowl run, or should Matt Moore be the starter?
That's always the discussion among the louder portions of the fan base. Those who make up the silent majority, however, acknowledge Tannehill for what he is. A good quarterback who has the potential to be great when he has all the pieces around him that he needs.
On the first day of training camp, Tannehill - brace and all, went out and had a strong first outing. His footwork looked good (which is impressive since it usually doesn't), he was running well, and his accuracy was solid. As previously mentioned, he hit Parker on a deep ball touchdown that the receiver leaped up and caught, which if that happens in games, will do wonders for Tannehill's confidence in his weapons.
There was also one play that was particularly impressive and caught my attention: on the 10-yard line, Tannehill was able to fool the defense by staring down his receivers on the left side of the field, only to suddenly swivel his head right and hit Kenny Stills in the back of endzone as he cut across. No hesitation, he forced the defense to think he was going left and got Stills open. Touchdown.
Admittedly, there were a few moments where he stared down a receiver too long, and of course his daily pass deflected at the line of scrimmage (a habit that unfortunately hasn't been shaken off yet), but all in all, Tannehill had himself an excellent first day in camp. But, consistency is the name of the game. We've known for a long time Tannehill has greatness in him, the question is can he tap into it regularly? That is what needs to be watched for.
He didn't make my top stories list, but Jakeem Grant is starting off strong after the fan base started giving him the cold shoulder due to too many dropped balls, the speedy wide receiver focused and caught all of the footballs punted to him that I could see, and he also caught a slant across the middle of the field from Matt Moore and ran it in for a touchdown, roasting rookie Cordrea Tankersley who was in coverage.
Tony Lippett continues his development at cornerback, as he read Tannehill's eyes in redzone drills and deflected a pass in the endzone, while Bobby McCain continues to be the default starter at slot corner ahead of recently signed veteran Alterraun Verner - who signed a one-year deal at the veteran miminum of $900,000. This depth chart status could change of course.
With most of the time spent in the nickel, Raekwon McMillan was placed with the second team defense alongside Neville Hewitt, while veterans Kiko Alonso and Lawrence Timmons manned the first team spots. So it's still unknown who would man the middle linebacker position in the base defense.
Laremy Tunsil faced off against both Andre Branch and Charles Harris in scrimmages, and though the pads weren't on, it seemed that Tunsil did a fair enough job holding back Branch. Though the one time I got a good look at Harris against Tunsil, the pass got off before a real battle could be had.
More will be coming tomorrow morning, and we can only hope that there will be more surprises to be had. Training camp is the true hype starter, and it just got underway. Let the excitement build.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
The Miami Dolphins position previews keep on coming.
The tight end group will see a lot of activity this season, as it’s a well-known fact that head coach Adam Gase loves to utilize the position. Whether it’s sending a guy down the middle to split the seams of the defense, using pre-snap movement to tip the defense’s hand, or even throwing long downfield passes, Gase isn’t shy about using the big guys if there is a matchup to be exploited.
The one concern with this group is a marked lack of depth behind the two expected starters. The team will likely be actively watching cuts from other teams during the preseason, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them add another veteran for injury insurance at this position.
Here is who the Dolphins have in camp right now, and who should see the most work this fall.
Some will point to Thomas’s success in Denver in 2013-14 and attribute it to having Peyton Manning at quarterback. And while the difference between even an aging Manning and Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles is significant, Thomas also had some unfortunate injury issues in his time with Jacksonville, and attributes not being a good fit in the Jaguars system as reasons he never realized the potential he displayed while in Denver.
But that potential is still there, and there is no doubt that Adam Gase knows what he sees in Thomas, who had career years while working in Denver under Gase (the Broncos offensive coordinator at the time).
Gase will spread the ball around to a myriad of pass-catchers this season, so don’t expect to see 12 touchdowns (as Thomas averaged in Denver), but a healthy, 6-foot-5 Thomas is a hard guy to cover, and he gives the Dolphins an added dimension that they lacked last season. He is expected to be the top target when the Dolphins are in the red zone.
Fasano returns to the team he played for from 2008-2012, and is expected to fill in the role previously filled by Dion Sims, who departed to Chicago via free agency this offseason.
Fasano lacks the downfield speed of Sims, but is an old-school player who makes up for it with brutal blocking ability and a knack for finding soft spots in the defense.
As a former favorite target for Ryan Tannehill during the QB's rookie season, Fasano should complement Julius Thomas very well in two-tight-end sets, and will improve the line-blocking in short yardage situations.
Gray saw some spot duty on the field last year, and performed admirably when called upon, making 14 catches for 174 yards as well as showing surprising potential as a blocker.
He was signed to a two-year extension at the end of last season, so the Dolphins obviously like what they’ve seen so far from the fifth-year converted tight end (Gray actually worked out with the quarterbacks group at the 2013 NFL combine).
As the most experienced of the remaining tight ends on the roster, Gray will likely be the backup to begin the season unless the team signs another veteran at the position (which given the lack of depth, is a distinct possibility).
Duarte was a seventh round pick in 2016, and as expected of a late-round pick, he spent the majority of last season on the practice squad. As a former part-time wide receiver at UCLA, Duarte’s forte is as a weapon, and he’ll have to make some big strides in blocking this year if he wants to make the active roster as a balanced tight end.
Obviously the Dolphins see potential, as they’ve kept him in camp. Without much depth at the position, Duarte will be given even chance to prove himself in camp this year. But barring injury, Duarte isn’t expected to make much of an impact.
The only other tight end listed on the current Dolphins roster is Chris Pantale, who - although he comes from the same 2013 draft as MarQueis Gray - has only seen action in one NFL season, in 2014 with the New York Jets.
A tall target at 6-foot-5, he will have to really turn some heads in camp to be viewed as anything more than a camp body with little chance of making the active roster.
There aren't a lot of tight ends currently fighting for spots, but that just means there's less margin for error for the fringe players. It will be interesting to see if anyone can shine enough to get Gase to give a fourth roster spot to a tight end.
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter: @EJFootball
As we move through our Miami Dolphins training camp preview, we take a look at defensive tackle. A position, even with one of the best in the game in Ndamukong Suh, that had its struggles last year specifically against the run.
The Dolphins drafted a couple of hopefuls for the interior of the line this year but did nothing, so far, to replace the experience of Earl Mitchell who was cut due to cap space. The current interior of the line behind Jordan Phillips and Suh have a combined total of 12 career tackles in a position that continually requires rotation.
On the other hand, the Dolphins have an entire training camp to size up what they have and make any moves they deem necessary. With that said, let’s look at who they’ll be evaluating this August.
As he enters his 8th season in the league he has proven to be nearly unstoppable in the middle. Also, one of the most dependable at his position, starting 80 straight regular season games and has only missed two games his entire career. Opponents must gameplan for him and around him.
He takes double teams on a continuous basis and if not, he makes them pay. His dominance in the middle allows guys like Cameron Wake and Andre Branch to face many one-on-one situations. A true ‘pick your poison’ scenario.
In short, he’s one of the best to play the position and is likely headed for Canton one day. A true plug and play athlete. After a season where he made a career-high in tackles with 72, Suh is set to have yet another dominant season.
Jordan Phillips has played in 31 of 32 games during his first two seasons, starting in 15 of them with 11 of those starts in 2016. He has 27 total tackles and 2.5 sacks for his career. Questions about his motor have followed him since his college days at Oklahoma.
He seems to have shaken most of that and gained the confidence of the Dolphins coaching staff. Unless camp provides another option he will man the other tackle spot next to Suh. Questions remain as to whether he can be an effective run stuffer. He’s shown some pretty good moves as a pass-rusher, mostly with a quick first step off the snap and a pretty lethal bull rush.
His play will be watched by the coaching staff and Dolphins fans alike during training camp to ensure he is worthy of that starting spot. If not, look for Miami to grab a vet free agent or two and move Phillips back into a rotational spot at DT.
As we move through the rest of the interior defensive line we find less familiar names. Godchaux was one of three 5th round picks for the Miami Dolphins in 2017 and one of two defensive tackle selections.He has some work to do as far as getting to NFL strength (18 bench reps at combine), but has the size to work in the middle.
He missed all but one game his senior year of high school but still came onto a competitive LSU team making 10 starts as a true freshman. In college, he showed a propensity to get behind the line of scrimmage and make plays. He will be battling many other players for a roster spot and then hopefully playing time in the defensive tackle rotation.
Taylor was the Miami Dolphins 6th round selection in 2017 and the second of two defensive tackles they drafted. At 6-foot-3 and 304 pounds, he possesses the size and strength (26 reps on the bench during the combine) to play the position in the NFL. His strengths in college were his upper body strength and his explosion off the line at the snap.
He will need to focus on more consistent technique at the NFL level. In college, the scouting report referenced his ability to get pushed out too easily due to“staying too upright” and lack of ability to “gain ground laterally.”
He seems a little less ready, on paper, to compete at this level than Godchaux but training camp provides all players with equal opportunity. With such a crucial position for the Dolphins based off last year’s run stopping performance (ranked 30th overall), we must hope that both these draftees show the Dolphins coaching staff and brass enough to stick around and develop.
Remember those 12 total combined career tackles I mentioned previously? Well Nick Williams has them all. As he enters his 4th season and 2nd with the Miami Dolphins he hasn’t shown much more than a bottom of the 53-man roster contribution.
He’s played in 26 games in his three seasons but ten of those last year (five with Kansas City and five with the Miami Dolphins). He has never started a game.
He will battle just to stay on the roster and if cut it will likely be because they signed a veteran to bolster the line considering the lack of experience the Miami Dolphins currently have behind the two anointed starters.
Okoye took a rare path to the NFL. He was a track and field athlete and is currently the British record holder in the discus event. Most of his ‘football’ experience came as a rugby player in the U.K.
Undrafted, this is his 6th team since entering the league in 2013 in San Francisco. He has not recorded any tackles and has mostly bounced from practice squad to practice squad.
But it’s his size and strength that keep teams giving him opportunity to develop. Will Miami finally be the place he shows he can play this game? It would benefit the Dolphins if that comes to be true. For now, he will simply fight for a roster spot. A situation he has likely become used to.
It remains to be seen whether the Dolphins will look for a veteran option to add to the defensive tackle rotation, but as it stands, the team will be keeping a close eye on all this young talent to see if anyone stands out.
This story was written by Ron Canniff. Follow him on Twitter: @FinsBroadcaster
Continuing our Miami Dolphins training camp preview, the next position group we’ll look at is the linebackers, an area of considerable concern last year, and one that was addressed early in this year’s draft.
Much is still in flux with this group. While there is very little question which three players will start at linebacker, it remains to be seen who mans the inside and outside spots.
But there is no doubt the Dolphins will sport much more versatility in the second level of their defense this season, and defensive coordinator Matt Burke has stated that guys could be shifting places throughout the season, if not during the games themselves, depending on matchups and situations.
Standing at 6-foot-3 and 239 pounds, Alonso is the undisputed leader of this position group, at least to begin the season. As noted above, defensive coordinator Matt Burke will not be shy about moving players around to find an advantage against every scenario they may face during games.
After a rosy start as a rookie with Buffalo, followed by a disappointing two years where he was misused in Philadelphia, Alonso was exceptional for the Dolphins last season, leading the team in tackles (115), and picking off two passes, one that was returned for a walkoff touchdown against San Diego (and the infamous Conor McGregor strut in celebration).
Alonso will likely start in the middle to begin the season, but is certainly capable of shifting to the outside when needed. He should again be one of the top tacklers on the team this year.
Dolphins fans are hyped to see what this rookie can do this year. Projected by some to be a first round draft pick, the team and fans alike were ecstatic to see McMillan fall to them in the second round of the NFL draft.
Standing at 6-foot-3 and 243 pounds, McMillan was primarily a middle linebacker in college, and was named a defensive captain and led the team in tackles after contributing as a true freshman to the Buckeyes national championship in 2014.
With McMillan, the Dolphins have three players capable of playing any of the three linebacker positions, and McMillan is already on record as saying he’s willing to play any of them. The expectation is that Alonso will start the season manning the middle, but depending upon McMillan’s progress, the two could become interchangeable as the season goes on.
Entering his 11th year in the league, Timmons is the true graybeard of the linebacker corps, but nonetheless expected to man one of the outside positions, although it wouldn’t be unheard of to see him in the MIKE spot with McMillan and Alonso manning the outside spots.
Timmons experience and leadership (McMillan has already turned to him for help with diet and training) provide a much needed presence on and off the field. The first draft pick of the Mike Tomlin era in Pittsburgh, Timmons was very productive in 2016, and the Steelers wanted to keep him in town, but simply couldn’t afford to keep him, choosing to go with more youth at the position.
Timmons brings versatility, having performed admirably in everything he was asked to do in Pittsburgh, from stuffing the run to covering tight ends to blitzing.
At one point projected to be the starting outside linebacker, Misi had recurring neck issues that shelved him early last season. And with the selection of Raekwon McMillan in the draft, Misi’s future was up in the air until he took a pay cut to remain with the team.
As a stalwart run defender, a fully-healthy Misi could be a valuable rotating piece in the linebacker corps this season, but his spot on the roster isn’t fully guaranteed as he’ll need to fend off the younger players that are nipping at his heels. Expect the team to manage his playing time, but he should still be a solid contributor this season.
Hewitt came to the team in the midst of what was expected to be a rebuild of the linebacker ranks in 2014, along with undrafted free agents Zach Vigil (now with Washington) and Mike Hull. Hewitt has been the best of the bunch, playing in every game of his career so far, and serving as a spot starter in seven games.
The majority of his contributions are expected to come on special teams, barring injuries to players in front of him, but Hewitt provides much-needed depth and is expected to contribute in a continuing limited role. A noticeable lack of depth past the top six linebackers likely means Hewitt will continue to see consistent playing time again this year.
As an undrafted free agent linebacker, the best way to earn a ticket to the roster is by excelling on special teams, and that’s exactly what Hull has done. Players and coaches have raved at various times over Hull’s tenacity, and head coach Adam Gase loved his natural instincts and ability to get to the right spot during plays.
A rotational player who has been shuffled between the active roster and practice squads over the last two years, Hull will likely find solid footing on special teams again this season, and can be called upon to contribute a needs/injures require.
Lacy was signed by the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2013, but was cut in the preseason. He sat out that year and then signed with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League. He made an immediate impact there, and rose from special teams ace to starting linebacker, playing in every game over the 2014-16 seasons.
Lacy earned workouts with several NFL teams after the 2016 CFL season, and eventually chase to sign with Miami in January. Although he comes with a lot of experience, he’ll have an adjustment from the wider fields of the CFL to the limited space on NFL playing fields.
But if his talent translates to the NFL game, he has the most potential of this fringe group to unseat one of the players ahead of him on the depth chart. Being too risky to expose to other team’s practice squads, Lacy could well have a spot on the 53-man roster at the beginning of the season, but as is always the case with fringe players, he’ll need to re-prove himself on special teams to secure that spot.
Allen comes from a small college, but the Dolphins showed interest in him prior to the NFL draft, and they like his size and speed. He likely has a decent chance at best of finding a roster spot among the players in this group, although barring injuries to the players in front of him, he’ll likely spend the majority of the season as a practice squad player. If he proves himself on special teams, he could see spot duty on game day rosters.
Barrow is a former 5th round draft pick of the Denver Broncos, where he played in all 16 games of that season, with one start. He was plucked off the practice squad by the Chicago Bears prior to the 2015 season, where he then played in all 16 games for the Bears, but had minimal impact.
He suffered a foot injury prior to the 2016 season and was then waived at the end of the year. His best shot with the Dolphins will come on special teams and as a practice squad player.
Reilly spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons with the New York Jets, playing mostly special teams. He was signed by Miami in 2016, appearing in two games with two tackles.
He’ll serve as a training camp body with an outside chance to stick as a practice squad player.
Watts is a 4th year player who has spent time with the Minnesota Vikings in 2014 and 2015. He has appeared in just nine games in his career with eight total tackles.
A fringe player who would have to make great strides to secure a practice squad spot with the Dolphins.
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter: @EJFootball
It won't be long now, training camp is almost here and the excitement continues to build, let's continue our training camp preview by going into the running backs of the Miami Dolphins going into 2017.
This position is perhaps one of the most talented spots on the team, touting versatility and explosiveness for every situation. No matter what role is required, there's a running back on the team who can handle it. Without further ado, let's get started.
There's an old saying in the Bible that says that he who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted. Both scenarios took place last season for Jay Ajayi, as he presumed that he would be handed the starting running back job on a silver platter in 2016, no questions asked.
But an Adam Gase led football team does not hand out starting jobs to anyone, not even the team's most talented running back. So, in order to send a message to the British-born running back, Gase decided to make Jay Ajayi a healthy scratch for the team's Week 1 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks, forcing him to stay home in Miami while his team flew to Seattle without him.
Ajayi was humbled, and then he was exalted.
Once he got his head back on straight, Ajayi was put into the rotation, and eventually became the full-time starter - thanks in part to the sudden retirement of veteran Arian Foster, and it didn't take long for Ajayi to make his mark on the NFL.
It's already been well-documented at this point, Ajayi ran for 200+ yards in two straight games, back to back against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Buffalo Bills, and then he repeated that performance during the rematch against the Bills several weeks later.
He's fast, he breaks tackles, and there's no signs of that horrible degenerative knee issue that caused him to fall all the way into the fifth round back in 2015. Now that he's proven himself, the Dolphins will likely make him a major focal point of the offense in 2017, which will open things up for Ryan Tannehill and the other skill positions.
Ajayi isn't the only talented running back on the roster. Kenyan Drake, who is coming into his second year in the league out of Alabama, is another talented player with a very high ceiling.
Besides his worth as a returner, Drake is able to change directions on a dime and turn corners with the best of them, as showcased when he ran the opposite direction of the intended play and sped away from the entirety of the Bills defense for a touchdown. That was one of two touchdowns he would score rushing the ball in 2016, as he averaged 5.4 yards a carry, getting a total of 179 yards on only 33 attempts.
He's also an excellent weapon in the passing game, as he's shown that he can make catches out of the backfield and add another wrinkle in the offense that will keep defenses on their toes. Adam Gase wants to get more out of Drake in his second season, and given his enthusiasm for experimenting with weapons, one can only imagine what he has in mind.
With a skill set reminiscent of Reggie Bush and his development in the NFL only just beginning, it's safe to say - as long as he stays healthy - Drake's future is bright.
Damien Williams has had a very up and down career with the Miami Dolphins so far. In his rookie season, he averaged only 3.4 yards a carry, then in 2015, he "increased" it to 3.7 yards a carry, and then last season, he hit a career low as he rushed for only 3.3 yards a carry.
So if the whole point of a running back is to run the football, and Williams can't seem to find a way to do so consistently, why is he still considered an important cog in the Miami offense? Simply put, Williams is the Swiss army knife of the Miami Dolphins running back corps.
While his rushing history has been poor, Williams is the best blocking running back on the team's roster, and he has proven to be an incredibly versatile weapon in the passing game. In 2016, Williams caught 23 passes for a total of 249 yards and three touchdowns.
There was a brief moment where it seemed Williams wouldn't return to the team, as he took a visit as a restricted free agent to the New England Patriots, but after not receiving an offer, Williams chose to sign his tender and will make a guaranteed $1,797,000 in 2017. His performance this season will likely have an effect on whether the Dolphins decide to give him a multi-year deal in 2018, until then, he'll compete with Kenyan Drake for backup time.
Now we start getting into the projected fringe running backs on the roster, starting with former Jacksonville Jaguars seventh round draft pick Storm Johnson.
Weighing in at 6 feet and 216 pounds, Johnson was projected by many to go in the fourth or fifth rounds of the 2014 NFL draft, but despite the potential he was sporting pre-draft, he's only played in a total of six games, all for the Jaguars before he spent training camp in 2016 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and then he signed on with the Dolphins practice squad on November 8th.
Johnson is likely practice squad fodder at this point, with his most impressive highlight in the NFL being a 20-yard run in a 17-9 loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers back in 2014. Although with coach Gase's preference for using running backs in his offense, he may have a chance.
A former 2014 undrafted free agent out of Louisville, Perry was signed by the Bears and played in all 16 games as a special teams contributor, and then in 2015 he was placed on injured reserve before the start of the season with a foot injury.
But he did get some time to workout with the team before that injury, and 2015 happens to be the year that Adam Gase spent as the offensive coordinator in Chicago, which would explain Perry's presence on the roster now.
Though he wasn't quite as hyped up as Johnson, the previous connection with Gase might give him an edge in training camp, but he'll have stiff competition from Johnson and the next rusher to be mentioned.
De'Veon Smith went undrafted in 2017, and the Dolphins decided to bring him in and see what he was capable of in a Miami uniform.
Smith became a regular starter for Michigan in 2015, leading the team with 753 rushing yards and six touchdowns, as well as 19 catches for 159 yards and one touchdown. Then in 2016, he set a college career high in rushing yards with 846 and rushing touchdowns with 10, earning an honorable mention All-Big Ten notice.
Though Smith won't be outrunning the NFL's speedier corners anytime soon, he is a strong back who refuses to stop running until the whistle blows, meaning he could be useful on third and short plays or goal line situations.
With all these talented running backs on the roster, it will be interesting to watch and see who shines the most in training camp once the pads come on.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
As the dog days of summer wind down, and with training camp still weeks away for the Miami Dolphins, rumors continue to swirl about wide receiver Jarvis Landry’s contract situation.
Landry is entering the fourth and final year of his rookie contract, a deal worth just under $3.5 million dollars through the 2017 season. With his prorated signing bonus, he’s scheduled to make about $1.1 million this season. And that’s a vastly underpaid salary for a two-time Pro Bowl receiver who tied the NFL record for most catches in the first three years of his career (288).
That will certainly change soon, as the team will do what they need to do in order to keep Landry employed with the team. Landry is under contract through the upcoming season, so the team is under no outward obligation to renegotiate or extend his contract until it expires. But as with most teams, the Dolphins have made it clear that they intend to work in good faith with Landry in getting an extension or new contract done.
Proof of how the Dolphins now work with contracts came in March, when the team renegotiated with safety Reshad Jones, who played out his contract before receiving a 5-year, $60 million deal. There is no reason to doubt that the Dolphins will offer Landry a fair deal sometime between now and next spring, although another option would be to place the franchise tag in Landy, which would guarantee his salary to be the average of the top five wide receivers in the league.
But Landry isn’t too concerned.
“I am comfortable in my situation,” he says. “For me, I love the game so much, and this is absurd to say this, but you shouldn’t be paid to do what you love. I love the game that much. Obviously I have people to take care of. I have a mom and a family. But at the same time I love the game so much, (money) doesn’t even matter to me right now.”
One thing Landry is intent about is not letting any contract negotiations interfere with his focus on the upcoming season. His agent told the Miami Herald that Landry will not negotiate a new contract once the season has begun.
And when Landry was asked about those comments this week, he confirmed that is still the case.
“That’s accurate,” said Landry. “I just want to focus. I believe Miami is where I want to be. Miami is the place where I call home … I want to give my all, mentally, physically, emotionally during the season. So once the season starts, I just want to put all of that behind me and win a Super Bowl.”
Landry also indicated that it wouldn’t bother him if the team did decide to place the franchise tag on him. As his early comment above shows, money doesn’t drive him as much as his performance as a player.
Head coach Adam Gase also chimed in this last spring on the subject, giving a clear indication of how the team now approaches the roster and keeping their best players.
“There is a big picture that not everybody really looks at sometimes,” said Gase. “And we have to do a good job of making sure that we do what we need to do in the right order, the right way.
“I think we’re always going to do the right thing and work to keep our guys within our organization.”
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball
Training camp is the best part of the offseason, it's the part where actual football is so close you can taste it, and it gives an excellent preview and sneak peek into what the team you root for will be able to do once the season starts. But until then, there's really nothing to do but examine the roster on paper.
And so we shall.
We'll go position by position until we run out, but by then training camp will literally be just around the corner, and I'll start my usual routine of giving daily updates as the team goes through their practices. Make sure to follow me @LuisDSung on Twitter for those updates.
But enough about that, let's get started with the preview, and we're starting where the majority of the free world spends 99.9% of the time focusing on: the quarterback position.
The time for questioning Ryan Tannehill's future as the Miami Dolphins starting quarterback should be over, but naturally, this is still not the case for some fans of the team.
Since the arguments defending Tannehill and explaining why he's been given a hard time in his first five seasons as an NFL quarterback have been stated ad nauseum over the past several weeks, I won't bore everyone with the story. What I will say is that they are valid and all but one sign points to Tannehill having his best season ever in 2017.
In his first season with Adam Gase as his head coach, Tannehill set career-highs in completion percentage (67.1), yards per attempt (7.7), and of course that ever so popular statistic: passer rating (93.5). He also could have potentially reached greater numbers in total yards, but his season-ending knee injury limited him to only 13 games.
But the uncertainty regarding Tannehill's durability after the knee injury is essentially the only red flag that's left for the 28-year old QB. He's proven to be able to throw the deep ball effectively, reaching an astonishing 61% completion percentage on throws that traveled more than 20 yards in the air, which was second to only the Raiders' Derek Carr in 2016.
So what should be expected from Tannehill in 2017? Well, with any luck, his numbers will go up due to simply playing all 16 games, and with the return of his best weapons along with a few new ones, the sky's the limit for the former Texas A&M alumnus. He was playing some of his best football under Gase before he got hurt, and it's now time for him to pick up where he left off.
Is it even possible to talk about Matt Moore without bringing up the constant outcries by those few remaining Tannehill detractors who insist that the former 2011 team MVP would be a much better option as the starting quarterback than Tannehill?
Well the answer is yes, but I did it anyway, so now it's out of the way regardless.
Moore is entering his 11th season in the NFL, and will be 33 come August 9th. After Tannehill went down with his knee injury, it was Moore who got the call to hold down the fort, and he did an excellent job, helping the Dolphins finish the season 2-1 in his three starts, and racking up eight touchdowns as opposed to three interceptions.
He's a gunslinger and one of the best backups in the NFL, and after his performance last season filling in for Tannehill, there's no more questioning his worth to the Dolphins. He is and likely will be the backup in Miami for the foreseeable future, and Moore has even stated that he is perfectly content with that role.
Next we have Brandon Doughty, who was drafted in the seventh round of the 2016 NFL draft as head coach Adam Gase's "pet project," similarly to the way Joe Philbin treated Pat Devlin for many years during his tenure as the Dolphins head coach.
As a former star at Western Kentucky, Doughty showed potential in camp and in the preseason, gaining praise from coach Gase for being able to find completions where even he didn't see any. However, he wasn't able to gain enough trust in his rookie season to gain an active roster spot after the loss of Ryan Tannehill, as the team instead signed free agent T.J. Yates to backup Matt Moore.
Now though, Doughty is more seasoned and will have another chance to prove himself in camp and the preseason. Though it's unlikely he'll be able to overtake Moore as the team's primary backup after Moore's 2017 performance, anything is possible, and Doughty's accuracy and instincts could earn him a spot on the active roster, and certainly a practice squad slot if nothing else.
David Fales fills out the final spot on the roster as the team's fourth quarterback and is likely nothing more than a training camp arm.
Though he does have a connection with Adam Gase going for him, as he played under him in Chicago while Gase was the acting offensive coordinator. That likely won't go very far for him though, as he doesn't have a particularly impressive resume.
He'll likely be a scout team arm in camp and might be able to push Doughty for a third-string spot, but there won't be much to see from Fales.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
On Saturday morning, the Miami Dolphins held their fourth annual Heads Up Football Mom's Clinic inside the practice bubble at their headquarters in Davie, reaching a record-high participation of 300 total parents who came to learn more about football safety and nutrition for their youth athletes.
“We are here educating families. Having both decision makers is a work in progress to a better and safer game. One thing we are trying to do is inform these parents, who then can make sure that their kids are playing safe and tackling properly and training them more on what signs to see,” Dolphins Manager of Youth Programs & former Dolphins tight end Troy Drayton said. “This event has grown a lot, when you think about when we first started we had about 75-80 people and now we are 300 people strong. We are getting into the roots of change, and for us that is what we want to do. One of our pillars of Youth Programs is health and safety and aligning with USA Football and its initiatives is an important element for us.”
The reason the number of participants skyrocketed from last year to this year is - despite the name of the clinic - fathers were allowed to join in and learn along with the mothers, who stated that they were glad to come and learn more about how to keep their kids safe while they play the sport they love.
"Coming here today and seeing all of the people here, truly there is no other sport [like football]," said team mom Susan Harrington, who has three of her own boys. "It's really informative, I took notes on the whole concussion thing, the fact that South Florida allows us - you can go to the Children's Hospital and get that free EKG or the impact testing, I'm definitely going to do that."
The reason this event is so significant is because of all the distrust the average parent has towards the sport of football. With news about a player getting a concussion on almost a daily basis, no parent is exactly thrilled about the prospect of their son or daughter suffering from even the slightest brain damage if it can be avoided.
This is why Youth Football leagues are so invested in this clinic, and a large majority of the participants in this year's event came from the Miami Extreme Youth Football League, with President Richard Raphael leading the charge in getting them the education they need to prepare and protect their young athletes.
"With all the attacks against football, we get parents that come out and learn about football, that way it keeps the game alive." Raphael said. "Our goal is to protect the game of football, and I think, what better way by starting from the bottom and teaching the parents about football, so that way they know the basic fundamentals and that way they know that it's safe to play football.
Perhaps the most important lesson that was taken from the event was how to properly fit helmets and protective padding, which was taught by equipment manager Joe Cimino with help from Dolphins kicker Andrew Franks, who was more than happy to offer his head for a helmet fitting.
"Understanding from a coaching standpoint, the safety aspects of how to make the sport itself safer is really big, I think that's huge." said Franks. "For me, I had a couple concussions in my high school career that could've been prevented probably ... setting these standards early is really important for youth football in general."
After the verbal lessons were completed, the parents got to get physical with the help of Dolphins alumni Troy Drayton, Twan Russell, Donald Brown, Ed Perry, Lorenzo Hampton and Chris Conlin.
Education is the key to progression in all facets of life, and the sport of football is no exception. With so many misconceptions about the sport floating around amidst news of injuries and concussions, it's no wonder parents are so against their children playing football.
But as more and more parents start to make an effort to learn more about the details of the sport, and with the help of events like this clinic there to guide them, there's a real chance that football will start to become brighter in the eyes of families everywhere.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
Header Image Credit: Miami Dolphins
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