After taking a well-deserved break yesterday, the Miami Dolphins returned to practice and spent the majority of the time doing individual drills as well as team drills. Once again, the rotations continued and the 1st team linebackers were Chris McCain, Koa Misi and Jelani Jenkins. But that's to be expected.
We did get to see a certain amount of action today. The Dolphins did some 7 on 7 and 11 on 11 two-minute drills, and the 1st team managed to score a touchdown. Problem is, we can't say that this practice was very good for evaluations since the team was only in shoulder pads and shorts today. But there were some things that caught my attention, and here's what they were.
Jamar Taylor seems to finally be getting it
Up until today, Jamar Taylor's performance in training camp could best be described as average. There were times when he did good, and then there were times when he was just plain bad. Today, the third-year corner took steps in the right direction as he broke up a few passes and had tight coverage on his receivers the majority of the day.
The former Boise State standout has been held back the past two years by injuries, and as a result the young corner has quite a learning curve to overcome. Veteran corner Brice McCain has been breathing down his neck all camp as he's been rotating with Taylor between the boundary and slot.
Taylor almost had an interception today, and he broke up several passes that would have otherwise been completed. If he continues this level of play as camp goes on, he should emerge as the starter on the boundary which would free up Brice McCain to play in the slot, as is his specialty.
Walt Aikens becoming quite a force in the secondary
When the Dolphins drafted Aikens in the fourth round of the 2014 draft, it was under the assumption that he would be playing cornerback like he did at Liberty. But it didn't take long for the team to realize that Aikens didn't have the turning capability to play corner in the NFL, so they switched him to safety, and since then, he's steadily improved.
Today was the first day that Aikens really stood out in my eyes. Just like Jamar Taylor, he broke up several passes and seemed to play at a speed higher than the rest of the players on the second team. He also showed that he isn't afraid to get physical no matter the circumstances, as he laid the wood on a few of his teammates after a catch was made.
Currently, the free safety position is being held by veteran Louis Delmas, and he and Reshad Jones have been an excellent duo in the secondary. But in a year's time, maybe even later on this season should Delmas get hurt, I have a feeling that Aikens will be showing what he's truly capable of.
Evan Mathis may still be on the Dolphins radar
This doesn't have anything to do with the practice itself, but it's still relevant as reports were being made and speculation ran rampant as the offensive line fell flat on its face all over again. There's also that speculation due to the fact that Jamil Douglas took snaps at right guard today, which some are interpreting as a test to see if Douglas can play on the right if Mathis shows up.
The same issues still exist regarding the possible signing of the veteran guard. He's been to the Pro Bowl several times, he's a perfect fit for the Dolphins zone-blocking scheme, he would easily take care of the Dolphins guard woes on the left side of the line...but he's just too expensive.
The argument could be made that if the Dolphins are serious about the "win now" mentality that they're trying to portray, then signing Mathis should be nonnegotiable as Mathis would immediately solidify the offensive line and allow for Ryan Tannehill to finally have some good protection that isn't by accident.
But signing Mathis would force the Dolphins to lose a lot of talented players next season, which translates to mortgaging the future for the sake of the present. Is it worth it? It all depends on your point of view. Reports are out that the Dolphins are still discussing signing Mathis with his agent Drew Rosenhaus, so until the Pro Bowler signs somewhere, the speculation will continue.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
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