Finally we can begin evaluating these players for real. With today's camp, the pads came on for the first time and we finally got a decent look at what we can expect when the Dolphins start playing in the regular season. There were some good things, and there were some not so good things, but there was definitely a lot of stuff that caught my attention quickly.
Before I continue, I want to make the disclaimer that I will not be making any further references to the fact that the players are rotating positions as the days go on, as that will be happening all throughout camp. Today, Misi was in the middle with Chris McCain at SLB. Tomorrow, I expect Sheppard to be in the middle and Misi at SLB.
Should this pattern change, I will then make that an official part of my report, as it indicates that a favorite is getting closer to being chosen. Now then, let's get into exactly what caught my eye.
Jamil Douglas is clearly the best guard on the team
Despite how presumptuous it sounds, I think after one day of watching these guards, I feel I can safely say that Douglas is not only a hopeful to win the job, but he will win the job. The rotations have continued all throughout camp so far, and Douglas and his competitor Dallas Thomas have been the ones battling it out at left guard.
With the pads off, there was no way to know for sure exactly what we could expect from anyone on the offensive line. Now, Douglas has quickly emerged as the favorite. Today, the defensive line crashed through the offensive line over and over again, and the only ones who were able to at the very least hold their own, were Mike Pouncey, and Jamil Douglas.
Thomas on the other hand got pushed around by basically everyone he faced. Defensive tackle Earl Mitchell was able to push him back into the pocket several times as the day went on, and there was even one instance where rookie Jordan Phillips put a swim move on him and just got the guard out of his way.
Douglas has not been perfect, but Thomas has - once again - failed to show any indication that he's anything other than a backup at best. Douglas is no Evan Mathis, but I am starting to be convinced that he will be more than sufficient at left guard should the Dolphins decide to stand pat with what they have. I look forward to seeing what happens next.
LaMichael James pushing for the backup running back slot
I've been saying for quite some time that I really liked what running back Damien Williams brought to the team. He has excellent catching ability, he never gives up on any play, and when he finds a hole he goes for it. But naysayers of Williams have tried to tell me that it wouldn't be long before rookie Jay Ajayi took over that spot.
But since camp opened up, Ajayi has actually been thoroughly unimpressive, and he appears to only be slightly above Mike Gillislee on the running back depth chart. Instead, the surprising player has been former San Francisco 49ers running back LaMichael James.
James has shown excellent speed and agility, as well as an affinity for making catches out of the backfield. He hasn't made as any plays as Williams has so far in my opinion, but James' performances so far should keep the former undrafted free agent on his toes.
Adding to James' potential is the fact that he is quite an adept kick and punt returner, something that I'm sure the Dolphins would love to have someone other than wide receiver Jarvis Landry doing due to the potential for injury. Not only would James be an excellent substitute, he would actually be an upgrade. If Williams wants to keep his spot, he'll have to fight James off for it.
Greg Jennings proving his worth
It seems so ironic that the Dolphins and Vikings essentially traded wide receivers this past offseason. Back in 2013, the Dolphins signed Mike Wallace to a big money contract, and the Vikings signed Jennings to a big money contract as a consolation prize. And for the most part, neither deal reached their full potential due to them not fitting their appointed roles.
This past offseason we traded Mike Wallace to the Vikings, and the Vikings took on Wallace's huge contract and released Greg Jennings to make room for him. Jennings then chose to sign with Miami at a huge discount, and already it looks like the indirect trade is working out for Miami.
Jennings has already managed to show what made him such a valuable asset in Green Bay. He's an incredible route runner with great hands that has already proven to be a valuable commodity for Ryan Tannehill and the offense. Jennings has managed to shake loose any defender he's gone up against at least once, and that includes Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes.
Jennings hasn't been spectacular per say, he's made a few good catches and caught the eyes of fans with them. But what catches my eye is the sheer consistency with which he does his job. There's never a moment where he's caught not giving it all he's got, there's never a moment where he runs a route lazily or gives up on a play. People could accuse Wallace of that, it's clear to me now there's no accusing Jennings of that, and that's been a big help for this offense.
Tomorrow the pads are back on, let's see who stands out tomorrow.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
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