The final practice before the Dolphins first preseason game against the Chicago Bears is now in the books, and today had a certain amount of excitement to it that the last few practices didn’t have. The hitting wasn’t all that special despite the return of the full pads, but a different kind of hitting did steal the show.
Cornerback Jamar Taylor and wide receiver Rishard Matthews got in each other’s faces today. But it wasn’t just a mere scuffle, it was full blown, knockdown drag-out with fists flying and players trying to drag them off of each other. Looks like the heat finally broke them.
But it wasn’t all bad news, there were some things to be encouraged about for sure. Here’s what I saw in today’s practice that caught my attention.
Branden Albert moving well in drills
I reported something similar yesterday regarding Albert and his progress, but I feel it bears repeating since Albert went out there in full pads and actually participated in drills with the first team linemen. He was wearing the bulky knee brace again, but he was moving much better and he even managed to jog a little bit while first going out.
The jogging in itself is significant because up until this point, Albert had been walking slowly everywhere he went. Now he’s making some excellent progress and it seems that at the very least, Albert will be okay to start in week 3 against the Buffalo Bills, if not week one when the Dolphins go to Washington to face off against the Redskins.
Billy Turner making progress at right guard
Yep, the spotlight is on Turner again. It kinda has to be given that he's really the biggest question mark on the team right now, right along with every other player who's currently fighting for the starting job at right guard. Turner's evaluations are particularly difficult because of who it is he's facing: Ndamukong Suh.
Yes, I've said it many times before, but truthfully, as one of the biggest question marks on the team, I have to keep watching him closely. But today I have some more proof that Turner should be given the benefit of the doubt until he faces alternative competition, something that when I saw it happen I had to chuckle and shake my head a little.
During an 11 on 11 drill, Ndamukong Suh charged forward and wound up going up against Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey instead of Turner...and Pouncey was moved out of Suh's way like he was an open door. It took maybe one second for Suh to maneuver Pouncey away and give him a clear shot at quarterback Ryan Tannehill, and Pouncey looked worse on that play than Billy Turner did all day long.
So again, Suh is an unfair matchup for a kid who is practically a rookie due to a turf toe injury last year, and the fact that Suh makes even Pouncey look foolish is proof of that. Before I make any final decisions on Turner or any of the other offensive linemen, I want to see what they do against a different team. Turner had mixed results, today, in my mind, that's a win.
Dolphins will take a day off to fly to Chicago and face the Bears
No this isn't a cop-out, there simply wasn't that much to look at today that hasn't been stated already AND doesn't need restating. Tannehill is doing well with the exception of an interception he threw doing a hurry-up 11 on 11 drill, LaMichael James is still doing well and the corners are still rotating.
Brice McCain apparently got a groin injury but reports are it's nothing serious, so he'll probably play against the Bears. The defensive line is doing what they do best, and Chris McCain is still learning how to deal with playing in coverage.
All this stuff is fine but now it's time for things to jump up to another level. We went from shells to pads, and now it's time to get back to some real football as the Dolphins will take a day off tomorrow to travel to Chicago so they can face off against the Chicago Bears.
The starters will likely play only the first quarter at most, but I expect the offensive linemen to get extra snaps since they're the ones who really need the extra practice. Prepare yourself everyone, Dolphins football is back at last.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
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