It's finally here Dolphins fans, the 2015 training camp is finally open and we've gotten to witness - some indirectly through Twitter - the team's first official practice. Naturally there was some rust to be shaken off but overall it appeared to be a very productive morning.
There were a lot of things that stood out in my mind about what I saw during the team's first practice, and here are the top three things that really got my attention.
Chris McCain still the frontrunner to earn the starting SLB spot
A report came out last night by Adam Caplan of ESPN that the Miami Dolphins were likely going to try and move linebacker Koa Misi back outside to replace Chris McCain, and put linebacker Kelvin Sheppard in the middle instead...well, as I watched the first day of training camp unfold, I found that report would turn out to be true.
For like five plays.
Perhaps that's a bit of an exaggeration, but the vast majority of the practice had Jelani Jenkins, Koa Misi and Chris McCain as the first-team linebackers, which left Sheppard in the middle on the second-team defense with Jordan Tripp and Spencer Paysinger flanking him.
There were a few instances where Sheppard was in the middle with Misi on the outside, but the majority of the practice had the lineup I expected. In the one instance I noticed McCain on the second-team, he leaped up and deflected a Matt Moore pass at the line of scrimmage.
If for some reason the Dolphins coaching staff still decides that McCain won't start, then I would really begin to question what's going on that they wouldn't let him play. It became abundantly clear today that even if the staff decides McCain isn't good enough to crack the starting lineup, he's way too good to play against the second-teamers.
Jamil Douglas beginning to push Dallas Thomas out of his spot
It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone by now, but the Miami Dolphins have decided to rotate theie offensive linemen to see who functions best in what position. At right guard the rotations are between Billy Turner and veteran Jeff Linkenbach. But at left guard, the optimism level is much lower. The two players competing for that spot are Dallas Thomas and Jamil Douglas.
When the day started, Dallas Thomas was the one starting, but as the day went on, the rotation started shifting more towards the rookie Douglas, and there was one point where running back Lamar Miller got off a great run behind him.
To Thomas' credit, he did manage to hold back All-Pro Ndamukong Suh on one snap that actually got my attention, and Suh wasn't actually as dominant as I expected him to be. But there is a reason for this in my opinion. The pads will not be on until Saturday, and so the true hitting still hasn't started yet.
Tomorrow's practice will likely see Thomas as the starter all over again, but if today was any indication, then as camp goes on, we will start to notice Douglas getting more and more first-team snaps as he shows exactly what it is he's made of, and what Thomas isn't.
Michael Preston could possibly be a camp standout
There's always one player who you don't expect to standout but they do anyway. A few years back, the player was wide receiver Legedu Naanee. He fell on his face when the games started so the fans got a bad taste in their mouths. Last year it was both Damie(a)n Williams. The one with an "e" obviously made the team, the one with an "a" SHOULD have made the team.
This season, it appears that the surprise standout is going to be former Titans wide receiver Michael Preston, who stands at 6'5" and in just one day of camp has gotten the attention of both the fans and the media, as he caught two deep passes today, one as he dove to the ground to reach for it.
But remember when I mentioned Legedu Naanee? He too was being hyped as a great player in training camp, and as previously mentioned, he fell on his face when the games started counting. Since then, people have been incredibly skeptical of any dark horse players who make a showing in training camp.
Preston is likely fighting with the likes of Rishard Matthews and Matt Hazel for the fifth wide receiver spot, as the first four are already locked up by Kenny Stills, Greg Jennings, Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker. If anyone has a chance to move those two out of the way, it appears it'll be Preston, as Tommy Streeter and LaRon Byrd both had unspectacular days.
Don't dismiss Preston just because he's performing well in camp when no one expected him to, there just might be something there that we'll get to see that'll give us another big target in the redzone, and heaven knows you can never have too many of those.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
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