The final day of Dolphins training camp (where fans are allowed to attend that is) in now in the books. Once again there were no pads as the Dolphins appear to be saving all of the really heavy work for when they fly up to Spartanburg for their dual practices against the Carolina Panthers.
Luckily there was no rain to interfere and so I got an excellent look at what happened this last day of camp, and needless to say, I was quite pleased to see that several players made something of a breakthrough in this last public practice. What was it I saw? Well, here we go.
Several players are close to returning from injury
This seems like a general statement but considering all that I saw, I felt it would be more appropriate to put it all under one umbrella rather than talk about each player with their own individual segments. We've all been closely monitoring the status of several Dolphins players who've been hurt and have been kept up out of practice, and today, several players made huge strides.
For the first time since August 2nd, wide receiver Kenny Stills participated fully in practice, and he seems to have picked up right where he left off as he was running quick, smooth and effective routes. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill even went out of his way to explain that Stills runs as smooth a route as he's ever seen. High praise.
Also returning to practice was wide receiver Christion Jones, who has been used primarily as a returner but hasn't really made a case for himself to remain on the roster.
As for the players making progress, there were several. Linebacker Jordan Tripp's walk is looking much better than it did the day before, leading me to believe that his injury wasn't as severe as we first speculated. It should still be sometime before he's back on the practice field, but at least he won't be out for a long time.
Left tackle Branden Albert made another huge step in his progress today, as he took a few snaps during 11 on 11s with the second team offense. Granted, he had a hard time stopping second-year defensive end Terrence Fede (who has been shining brightly all camp), but the simple fact that he took on some snaps is already huge, and this is the biggest step Albert has made all offseason long.
Also on a minor note, rookie wide receiver DeVante Parker was seen jogging slowly around the field, marking the first time Parker has gone beyond walking since he had his foot surgery. It may not seem like a big deal, but like with Albert, every little bit helps.
The only player who seems to be having an issue getting back on the field is linebacker Koa Misi, who hasn't practiced for quite some time. He seems to be ok, but perhaps the Dolphins are attempting to protect the veteran linebacker as he is one of their best linebackers and he will be needed when the season begins.
Linebacker Zach Vigil getting more time with the first team
Yesterday I reported that the Dolphins were having a mix and match day. Seemingly random players were getting a chance to show what they could do when promoted to the first team, and some of them even did. But it seems that only one player who got that privilege yesterday actually earned the right to return to the first-team defense: Undrafted free agent Zach Vigil.
By now it's been made abundantly clear that Vigil is the best of the four undrafted free agent linebackers the Dolphins signed this offseason. He's always around the ball and against the Chicago Bears, Vigil accumulated 5 tackles and one sack, an impressive number for a player who went undrafted.
Vigil has been a lot better than anyone expected, but then again, there's always at least one surprise to come out of training camp that no one saw coming. Last season it was running back Damien Williams, and this year it appears to be Vigil. Hopefully, Vigil will be able to contribute significantly in 2015.
Next practices will be in Spartanburg
Today was the last time that fans could attend a training camp practice, and it's been a great ride this year...the thing is, it isn't quite over yet for all of you loyal followers of PhinManiacs. I will be flying to Spartanburg, South Carolina to watch the joint practices between the Miami Dolphins and the Carolina Panthers.
The Dolphins will be able to get a different look and a much fresher look after spending all this time practicing against each other. They won't be doing any live tackling there, but it will give a unique opportunity that they haven't had before while in head coach Joe Philbin's regime.
Make sure you stay tuned right here for all the latest in training camp updates, starting at 8:00 A.M. EST.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
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