The fourth day of the Dolphins training camp is in the books, and today was the second day the team wore full pads and was able to hit each other. Today, I tried to focus more on the trench play and in doing so I noticed some interesting information.
There were some players who didn't perform as well, and there were some players who came out of left field and make their first real appearance of the whole camp. Here's what stood out to me today.
Jordan Phillips has shown a flash of what he could be
Ever since the Miami Dolphins spent a second-round draft pick on the massive defensive tackle out of Oklahoma, there has been a split in the fanbase regarding the future of the rookie. Some have said that he will eventually develop into a superstar defensive tackle, and others have stated that there is no evidence that Phillips will be anything but a space eater. Clogging thinggs up for both teams.
It has been reported that All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has gone out of his way to take Phillips under his wing and try to turn him into an effective player. Today, results of that training apparently came to the surface as Phillips got to play with the first-team defense and managed to make some nice progress.
During 11 on 11s, Phillips went up against guard Jamil Douglas and managed to push him into the quarterback and force a would-be sack. And in individual drills, Phillips actually managed to get off a good hit on Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey and put him on the ground.
Phillips weighs in at 6'5" and 329 pounds, and is famously known for his ability to a backflip. The main knocks on him are his lack of relevant film in college and his sometimes low motor. As the day went on, Phillips seemed to wear down, but he was still effective against his competition.
The young man was excited to put the pads on, and now we know why. Phillips has shown power that no one really expected, but his stamina is still in question. If Phillips continues to impress like this, then he will likely be able to lock down the backup spot at defensive tackle.
Billy Turner beginning to improve at guard
All we've ever heard about the offensive lineman out of North Dakota State is how much potential and upside he has. We know his preferred style of blocking: he enjoys using his strength and is a mauler in the running game. It's his footwork and hand technique that are suspect. But today, despite the overall struggles of the line, Turner showed me what he could potentially do.
One must bear in mind when evaluating these offensive linemen: the level of competition will not always be this high. Going up against the likes of Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon and of course Ndamukong Suh are just about as difficult a challenge as you can throw at a young line, and today they struggled as a unit.
However, Turner did catch my attention a couple of times today. Particularly when he wound up going against Cameron Wake and the young guard forced the star pass-rusher to a standstill. As for Suh, Turner couldn't stop him one-on-one, but when paired up with Mike Pouncey they were able to keep Suh away for Tannehill.
Turner wasn't perfect, but I can't single him out since everyone on the line fell on their face today, even James and Pouncey had their struggles every once in a while. But today I was encouraged by Turner's performance, as it showed that he does have the strength and skill required of him. It just needs to continue to be developed.
Branden Albert was back in pads today
Perhaps the most important part of this whole day was the fact that Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert actually put on the pads today and was able to participate in some light individual drills. Up until this point, Albert hadn't gotten to participate in much of anything, and his usual limp was a lot worse than people would've liked seeing.
But today things changed. Coming out of the facility to head to the practice bubble, I witnessed Albert in full pads and walking without a brace, and his limp was not nearly as noticeable as it had been the past few days. He joined his fellow offensive linemen in light individual drills, and kept himself out of any drills that involved hitting.
Albert finished the day early, but the simple fact that Albert dressed at all is major encouragement for the Miami Dolphins and their fans. I now have hope once again that Albert will indeed be ready to go when week one comes around, and the Dolphins will be able to hide their weaknesses at guard.
Tomorrow, the Dolphins will have a day off to recover from their fatigue, and on Tuesday they will come back and be ready to continue practicing. And I will be there watching them. Stay tuned.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
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