Looking explosive and powerful, Miami Dolphins rookie running back Kalen Ballage busted through the line of scrimmage on a run during Saturday’s practice and outran everyone to the endzone for a 50-yard touchdown.
Never mind that this was practice. Nevermind that there was a question whether the defense may have taken him down at the line of scrimmage if allowed to tackle. A 50-yard touchdown run that left the defense gasping for breath, especially by a 6-foot-2, 229 pound guy, will catch the eyes of coaches, media and teammates.
Ballage is listed as the third running back, behind Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore, both of whom are expected to see the majority of the carries this season. But the rookie has impressed, both with his physical ability and the speed with which he’s picking up the playbook, and should contribute on special teams and spot duty in the backfield as the season wears on.
“We're trying to get him as many reps as we can so he can see as many things as possible,” says head coach Adam Gase. “We want to get him to the point where he can play as fast as possible. We don't want him overthinking things. We want to be able to use his skill set to the team's advantage and put him in great position. It really starts with his knowledge of the offense because at that position; there are a lot of moving parts. There are a lot of different spots you have to be at. There's a lot of different things you have to do because you're involved in all three phases of the offensive game. I think he is handling that pretty good.”
Strong praise from the boss is always a good thing this early in camp. But Ballage insists this is what he’s been his entire life, and doesn’t stop to pat himself on the back after a big play.
"No. I mean I've been playing football since I was in the third grade. I try to break a long run, give our team an opportunity to move the ball down the field. I … just try to get better every day."
The two most important tasks for Ballage, acclimating to life in the NFL and learning the playbook, can take up a lot of a player’s time. And Ballage is settling in to a routine that has him in bead early each night.
“I'm just getting used to it,” he says. “The schedule and everything - you're up from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. at night. You try to get home and go right to bed and do it all over again. I'm just getting down the routine.
“I'm learning the playbook right now. I think that's the most important thing. You have to be able to know what you're doing in the first place. I think that's the most important part."
And that’s not without its hiccups.
“Every once in a while we'll have a slight misstep here and there where his brain freezes up,” says Gase. “That's what happens with rookies sometimes. But we'll keep pushing him along.”
Ballage says he’s learning a lot from Gore, but not so much from anything he says, as Gore is a notably quiet guy. But Ballage watches how Gore carries himself in practice and leads by example, especially in the way the veteran takes care of his body. And while it’s anyone’s guess whether Ballage have a 14-year NFL career like Gore, he has one goal in mind whenever he steps on the field.
"I just want to win games. It doesn't matter if it's preseason, regular season, scrimmages. I want to beat the defense. That's just my mindset.”
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter: @EJFootball
Like father, like son.
In 1997 an undrafted free agent cornerback from the Mountain West (BYU) was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles, and impressed coaches enough to stick around for a three-year NFL career.
Twenty years later, Tim McTyer’s son, Torry, an undrafted cornerback out of UNLV, signed by the Miami Dolphins after the 2017 NFL draft, is making his mark in the NFL. More than just making his mark, actually, as he’s been turning heads in training camp and grabbing the attention of both coaches and teammates to the point that he’s been starting with the defensive first team in first few days of camp.
Torry McTyer, who plays about 15 pounds heavier than his dad at 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, got some valuable playing time at the end of last season. And although his stats don’t reflect it (one lone tackle in spot duty in seven games last season), he has gained confidence and built off that experience.
"It gave me a lot of confidence,” says McTyer. “Just being out there, getting some experience at corner, and just knowing that I can play with those guys. It gave me a lot of confidence."
Beginning with this year’s training camp. McTyer says he is "a lot more comfortable than I was last year. Just being one year in the scheme and just working out with some of the guys like Bobby McCain and all of the other guys, just feeding off them. I kind of study all of our guys. I started taking things from Bobby McCain. I take things from Xavien (Howard). I take things from Tony Lippett.”
While downplaying being selected to play with the first team on just the second day of camp ("No certain reaction. I just come out here and just compete every day"), McTyer does admit that coming in as an undrafted free agent certainly adds incentive to his play.
Does he have a chip on his shoulder?
"Always. I don't think that's something that I will lose. I'll always have a chip on my shoulder until I stop playing."
And that’s caught the attention of one of his defensive teammates who also knows a thing or two about making a name for himself.
"So far, Torry McTyer has been really strong,” says cornerback Bobby McCain, a fifth round draftee in 2015 who had a breakout year of his own last season. “He has come out really strong and had a few really good days. He showed his offseason workouts have really paid off for him."
And the guy who matters most in McTyer’s career right now, head coach Adam Gase, wants to make sure McTyer gets his chance to prove his worth to this team.
"I think he's had a good start to camp,” said Gase.. “For the way that we've operated over the last previous training camps and going into this one, I've told the defensive staff 'let's not wait around; if we feel like a guy is playing well, give him opportunities, especially with the first group.'
”They feel like he's played well enough to be put into that spot and compete with that first group."
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball
Day 3 of training camp saw the Miami Dolphins put a little more physicality into their practice, as the team wore shoulder pads for the first time this year. This meant that the offensive line could put a little more oomph into their blocks, and players didn't have to be quite as wary about hitting their teammates.
After all, despite all the rule changes that have been made, football is still a violent sport. There will be hitting.
So what were the three biggest storylines in Day 3 of training camp? Lets go through them now.
Cornerback competition broadening
The initial thought was that the cornerback battle would be between Tony Lippett and Cordrea Tankersley for the other starting slot next to Xavien Howard, but then a surprise contender jumped into the fray on Saturday.
Former undrafted free agent Torry McTyercaught the attention of the coaching staff and got an opportunity to play with the starting lineup, and did a fairly good job when thrust into that new role. Now, many people would see this development as an indictment on Lippett and Tankersley, but considering that those two players have actually been performing well themselves, this speaks more volumes about McTyer.
Needless to say, the competition has just gotten a lot more interesting.
Offense coming together
As I have stated on numerous occasions now - much to the chagrin of Dolphins fans everywhere, Miami is attempting to implement an very New England-like offense, one that focuses on proper route-running, timing and accuracy.
It would seem that things are finally starting to come together in that regard.
On two separate occasions on Saturday, Ryan Tannehill wound up and threw a pass towards the sideline that depended on intended target DeVante Parker to be there when the ball arrived, and both times he was. What makes this significant is the fact that Tannehill threw the ball before Parker even made the break on his route, which means if Parker had mistimed his route, it probably would have fallen incomplete.
That is how the Patriots offense functions. Timing, execution, these are vital, and Tom Brady himself once admitted that the system he's in has contributed greatly to his NFL success, and that it was by no means a product of his own greatness.
This is the exact type of offense the Dolphins are building, and it's coming together, which bodes very well for the upcoming regular season.
Running backs continue to impress
On another note about the offense, the running backs continued their early camp dominance, with Kenyan Drake, Frank Gore and Kalen Ballage all establishing what they could do in front of a large Saturday crowd.
Gore continues to defy his 35-year old body and run with the energy of a rookie fresh out of college, and Drake's elusiveness cannot be overstated. Together the two project to make a very potent combination. And the longer time goes on, the more it appears that Kalen Ballage will make an excellent addition to the stable of backs.
He's been a hard runner, and effective out of the backfield. All I haven't seem him do much of is block, and I've yet to see him do any sort of return work despite the appeal of him doing so. Apparently the coaches would rather let Jakeem Grant, Kenyan Drake and Danny Amendola duke it out for that role.
But if all Ballage contributes is 5-10 touches a game, it doesn't look like they'll go to waste. With any luck, the running backs doing so well is a sign of their talent and not the lack of ability on the defense to stop the run. In training camp, that's always a possibility.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
Day 2 of training camp has come and gone, and though there wasn't anything spectacular to report in the way of individual performances, that doesn't mean there's nothing to say.
The Miami Dolphins have been working nonstop on being a cohesive unit, with emphasis placed on professionalism, preparation and - in a nutshell - being where you're supposed to be, when you're supposed to be there. That is a phrase that has been tossed around a lot - by me - as of late, but only because it's the truth.
A lot can be said about competition bringing out the best in individual players, but there can also be an argument made that building chemistry and timing with one specific unit can go a long way towards the success of a team, it's the kind of thing that the New England Patriots have mastered and what the Dolphins are still trying to establish.
So what was the takeaway from Day 2 of training camp? Here are my three top storylines.
Rookie tight ends are being brought along slowly
Once again, the top tight ends were MarQueis Gray and A.J. Derby, with those two players even managing to make a couple of catches in practice this time. But it was today that I noticed something that I actually didn't realize the practice before.
While I was well aware of the fact that rookie tight ends Mike Gesicki and Durham Smythe were working with the third string unit, it hadn't actually occurred to me that not only was Gavin Escobar getting snaps with the second team, but so was Thomas Duarte.
What makes that so surprising is that Duarte had not done anything of note ever since being drafted in the seventh round of the 2016 NFL draft, and yet he's being promoted ahead of the rookie tight ends.
I would like to believe that the reason for this is because of Gase's desire for the rookies to earn their way up the depth chart, to show that they can consistently perform at a higher level than the more experienced players. Then, once they have shown enough, they will move to the next unit up.
Given it's only been two practices, it isn't too alarming that the rookies with such high promise haven't gotten to play with the starters yet, but it will be something to monitor moving forward.
Open competition at cornerback
While this isn't necessarily news, it is something to monitor nonetheless. During the first day of practice, it was Cordrea Tankersley who got the majority of the snaps with the first team, but it was Tony Lippett who got most of them during the second day.
This means that the third day of practice will likely have Tankersley starting most of the time again, as the Dolphins coaching staff tries to decide who will be the top guy starting alongside Xavien Howard. Though, if it were my call, I would have Howard competing for a starting job as well, as he did have some hiccups last season despite coming on strong at the tail end of the year.
Lippett is a playmaker, Tankersley is a tight coverage player. Depending on what defensive coordinator Matt Burke wants on the field at any given moment, they may rotate in games, which is just fine with me.
No competition on the offensive line
It's always been said that no one's job is guaranteed, but that doesn't seem to be the case on the offensive line this season, which is actually excellent news. This is the first time in a very long time that there isn't a massive question mark as to who deserves to start, which is further indication that this is the best offensive line that Ryan Tannehill has had in his entire career.
Now, this does not mean that there aren't question marks as to the overall quality of the line, particularly at the tackle positions. Both Laremy Tunsil and Ja'Wuan James have had struggles early on in training camp, though it should be noted that going against Robert Quinn (in his Wide 9 element) and Cameron Wake is no easy task.
If they can reach a point where they can avoid being beaten on every play and hold their own, this means they should be able to handle lesser defensive ends on other teams. As for the interior, with Daniel Kilgore, Jesse Davis and Josh Sitton, that's a solid group.
The offense needs an offensive line to function, and it will be very interesting to see what happens once the preseason rolls around.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
The sun rises on a new season of NFL football, and the Miami Dolphins are preparing for their first day of training camp a mere two weeks before their first preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Hard Rock Stadium.
Players who had their seasons cut short due to injury - Isaiah Ford, Tony Lippett, Raekwon McMillan, Ryan Tannehill - return to the football field to practice in front of a crowd thirsting for the return of Dolphins football (as well as water and Gatorade due to the heat, but there's a very enthusiastic vendor for that), and new faces are looking to make a good first impression for the fans who will hopefully one day be cheering their name.
On this first day, things go fairly smoothly.
The receivers run routes effectively, the running backs find holes that last season would not have existed, and young defensive players flash their skill to prove that their development has picked up right where it left off.
Yes, Dolphins training camp is indeed back ladies and gentlemen, and it is a glory to behold football again after such a long time.
It feels like 2017 is a distant memory, much to the relief of so many - myself included. Now, focus is placed on what will happen in 2018, with a revamped roster and the first fully healthy roster since 1997. So now the time has come to summarize the top three storylines from the first day of training camp.
Running back depth needs monitoring
In this case, the running back depth might actually be better than what we initially thought. As everyone knows, Kenyan Drake, Frank Gore and Kalen Ballage are going to be the three main running backs for the Miami Dolphins, but you never know when someone might go down, and that means there will be a need for someone to step up.
Early on, two names have emerged as players who might be worth keeping an eye on, in the same vein that Damien Williams and Orleans Darkwa were back in 2014. Brandon Radcliff and Buddy Howell.
Radcliff was brought on the team back in late November of 2017, and was extremely happy to sign with his hometown team's practice squad.
“I’m at home." he said back in November via the Palm Beach Post. "I’ve been playing football here since I was 5 years old. And my dream is to play in the NFL. And now I’m here at the biggest stage. In Miami. This is my home right here. I was always a Dolphins fan. A Marlins fans. A Panthers fan. Whatever South Florida, Florida, I’m a fan of.”
Radcliff got his first opportunity to show what he could do as he worked with the backup units in the first day of training camp, and he quickly grabbed attention as he took a handoff and exploded through the line of scrimmage for a nice gain.
Normally, that would not be a big deal since a lot of young players have one or two plays where they shine. But then Radcliff did something else special, as he showed phenomenal instincts in picking up a blitz from Jordan Lucas who was coming in from the secondary. Based on how he had to change course to catch Lucas, it seemed that Radcliff was originally going to do something else. He reacted to an incoming rusher and stopped him cold, giving the QB time to throw.
Buddy Howell, on the other hand, comes from FAU and was signed as an undrafted free agent out of FAU this offseason, and one would assume that his chances of making the roster are slim with the likes of the previously mentioned Radcliff, as well as more familiar face Senorise Perry still on the team.
But Howell ripped a nice run up the middle, taking advantage of the thin linebacker corps on the third team to show that he has something to offer. Whether that will transition or not when facing more stiff competition remains to be seen, but as of now, Howell might be someone to watch in later practices.
Injured players make triumphant return
To say that last season's training camp period was the "camp from Hell" would be an understatement like no other. Players were dropping like flies before the season even began, severely hindering the Dolphins' chances of returning to the playoffs after making it for the first time since 2008.
In 2017, Miami lost cornerback Tony Lippett to a season-ending Achilles injury, one that was unexpected to say the least as he merely landed after a jump.
They lost then-rookie linebacker Raekwon McMillan in a preseason game while he was in coverage on special teams, which now has made every fan wary of letting any player who isn't a fringe cut go after kicks and punts.
And, of course, they lost starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who decided to forgo reconstructive surgery and elected to let his body heal on its own, which we all believed had happened. Instead, Tannehill went back down scrambling away from a play in training camp, and Jay Cutler was signed just a few days later.
The rest is history.
Now these players have returned, and they are out to pick up right where they left off. McMillan has to work his way into the rotation, as Miami spent a lot of time with a nickel set in the first day of camp, and veteran Stephone Anthony had a lot of time in that package. However, there were times where McMillan got a chance to flank Kiko Alonso, and when all three were on the field at once, McMillan was in the middle, as expected.
Tony Lippett caught an errant Brock Osweiler pass that sailed over the head of Jakeem Grant for an interception, as he tries to ease his mind back into playing at full speed. It's been quite a process for him, and he'll have to work hard to earn back his starting job thanks to the emergence of Cordrea Tankersley, who was solid in coverage against Kenny Stills on Thursday, and deflected two passes.
As for Ryan Tannehill, he looked to be his old self again, though seemingly much more confident in himself than in years past. He made good connections on passes to Kenny Stills and Danny Amendola, building a rapport with them and showing what the offense can look like with the proper preparation.
These players were (and are) important to the team's success, and now that they're back, it will be fun to see what changes with their contributions.
Charity never tires
This may not be about football per say, but as we all know, the Miami Dolphins know no bounds when it comes to trying to make the country a better place for those in need.
Shortly after the end of practice, students from Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami Dade counties gathered together to receive Dolphins backpacks with school supplies inside. Over 450 backpacks were given away, and were provided by the Dolphins and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (N.O.B.L.E.) South Florida Chapter.
"It means a whole lot to me, because the kids, it puts a smile on their face." said South Florida Chapter President Major Tim Belcher. "And it means a lot to them, especially getting a bag with a Dolphins logo on there, and then they have supplies in there, they don't have to worry about their families having to go to the store ... we have it all out here, we have a lot of resources throughout our organizations."
And several players, exhausted from the hard day of practice and the heat, went out and volunteered to help hand out those backpacks instead of going home into the air conditioning like most people would.
Such is the dedication this franchise and its players have towards the community.
"Today was not an easy day," said Dolphins Senior Vice President of Communications and Community Affairs Jason Jenkins. "First day of camp, I know there was a lot of jitters going in, and also excitement for the new day, so to have these players, less than fifteen minutes after practice ends to come out all excited, no questions asked, coming out here and interacting with these kids, interacting with law enforcement, spending real quality time with them, it's just a testament to their character, testament to what the Miami Dolphins represent in this community."
The kids were excited, they were ecstatic, and they now have something to remember the experience by. This sort of community work will likely continue throughout camp, and this writer believes that it is this dedication to South Florida that has helped build the character of this team.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
The Miami Dolphins have had several NFL greats wear their colors over the course of the franchise's existence, and six more of those players were unveiled on Tuesday to be added to the team's prestigious Walk of Fame.
Safety Dick Anderson, wide receiver Mark Duper, and linebacker John Offerdahl were all present at the Wynwood Walls for the reveal, getting to share their thoughts on being chosen for the Walk of Fame. Also being added are defensive end Jason Taylor, wide receiver Mark Clayton, and left tackle Jon Giesler, who were unable to attend due to prior engagements.
The previous inductees to the Walk of Fame are:
Class of 2014 – Jeff Cross, Sam Madison, Tony Nathan and Ed Newman.
Class of 2013 – Kim Bokamper, O.J. McDuffie, Mercury Morris and Keith Sims.
Class of 2012 – Tim Bowens, A.J. Duhe, Manny Fernandez, Nat Moore, Earl Morrall and Don Strock.
Class of 2011 – Nick Buoniconti, Larry Csonka, Bob Griese, Jim Langer, Larry Little, Dan Marino, Joe Robbie, Don Shula, Dwight Stephenson and Paul Warfield.
Between the six 2018 inductees to the Walk of Fame, they combined for 22 Pro Bowl selections, seven first-team All Pro nods, seven AFC Championships and two Super Bowl titles, playing a grand total of 61 seasons, appearing in 828 games with 741 starts.
An impressive resume, to say the least.
But what's more impressive is the impact that these players have made off the field, not just on it. Continuing with the tradition of the Miami Dolphins doing everything they can to make South Florida a better place, the inductees are also being recognized for their contributions to the numerous causes the Dolphins are involved with.
"With the Miami Dolphins in the community, you see a lot of activities going on." said Mark Duper. "You'd be surprised how much the Dolphins deal in the community, which leads me to being in the community because Nat (Moore) ain't gonna stop. I mean, the phone just constantly rings all the time with something going on in the community ... which is great, I don't mind doing that."
With all that said, it would be remiss to simply dismiss the individual accomplishments of these players on the football field, as it is because of their success there that they have the platform they have.
And make no mistake, these players are not just community warriors, they have a veritable laundry list of achievements to their names.
Dick Anderson was a three-time Pro Bowl safety (1972-74) and played in 10 seasons (1968-77) for the Dolphins. One of the leaders on the No Name Defense, he was a first-team All-Pro selection on the 1972 undefeated team. In 1973, Anderson led the league in interceptions (8) and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year, assisting the Dolphins in winning their second straight Super Bowl. His 34 career interceptions are still second all-time in Dolphins history. Anderson was named to the Dolphins Honor Roll on Dec. 3, 2006, is a member of the NFL’s 1970s All-Decade Team and Dolphins’ 50th Season All-Time Team. Anderson was also enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
Mark Clayton was a five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver (1984-86, 1988, 1991) and played 10 seasons (1983-92) for the Dolphins. He saw action in 142 games with 127 starts during his Dolphins tenure and totaled 550 receptions for 8,643 yards (15.7 avg.) and 81 touchdowns. His 550 receptions and 81 receiving touchdowns are both franchise records that still stand today. Clayton set the NFL record (since eclipsed) with 18 receiving touchdowns in 1984. He also led the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 1988 (14). He was inducted into the Dolphins Honor Roll on Dec. 15, 2003 and is a member of the team’s 50th Season All-Time Team.
Mark Duper played 11 seasons with the Dolphins (1982-92) and was a three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver (1983-84, 1986). He totaled four 1,000-yard seasons (1983-84, 1986, 1991) and 22 100-yard efforts. He is the team’s all-time leader with 8,869 career receiving yards. His 511 receptions are second in team history while his 59 touchdown receptions are third. A downfield threat, Duper averaged 17.4 yards per reception throughout his career, the second-best mark in franchise annals and the sixth-highest in NFL history among receivers with 500-plus career catches. He was inducted into the Dolphins Honor Roll on Dec. 15, 2003 and is a member of the team’s 50th Season All-Time Team.
Jon Giesler played 10 NFL seasons (1979-88), all with the Dolphins. He played in 126 career games with 105 starts, all at left tackle. As the anchor of Miami’s offensive line, Giesler helped the Dolphins lead or tie for the league lead in fewest sacks allowed in each of his final seven seasons (1982-88). He helped Miami win two AFC Championships (1982 and 1984) and protected the blind side of Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino for the first six years of Marino’s career. He was the team’s 1987 nominee for the Ed Block Courage Award and was selected by fans to the organization’s silver anniversary team.
Jason Taylor is a six-time Pro Bowl defensive end/linebacker (2000, 2002, 2004-07), three-time first-team All-Pro honoree (2000, 2002, 2006) and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He played 13 seasons with the Dolphins (1997-2007, 2009, 2011) and is the franchise’s all-time leader in sacks (131). His 204 games played and 186 starts are second in team annals and he has the organization’s second-longest consecutive-games played streak when he appeared in 130 straight games from 1999 until 2007. Taylor was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2006, Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2007 and is a member of the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade Team. He was inducted into the Dolphins Honor Roll on Oct. 14, 2012 and is a member of the team’s 50th Season All-Time Team.
John Offerdahl was a five-time Pro Bowl selection (1986-90) and the 1986 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year after the Dolphins selected him in the second round (52nd overall) of the 1986 NFL Draft. Offerdahl earned first-team All-Pro honors in 1990. He was named to the Dolphins Honor Roll on Oct. 31, 2013 and is a member of the team’s 50th Season All-Time Team. Offerdahl was named the team’s Ed Block Courage Award nominee in 1993 and is a three-time recipient (1989-90, 1993) of the team’s Nat Moore Community Service Award.
These six players will be honored again at Alumni Weekend, which starts on November 30 with a golf tournament and culminates in a ceremony during the December 2 matchup at Hard Rock Stadium against the Buffalo Bills, with all proceeds from the events benefiting the education side of the Miami Dolphins Foundation.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
With training camp just around the corner, it's about that time to go through the roster and check to see where the main training camp battle will be. While some battles will be harder to fight than others, every single player on the roster, no matter how much of a long shot, will be giving it their all to prove they have what it takes to make the team.
As always with these types of things, we'll start with the quarterback position and work our way from there. Naturally, there's no battle for the starting job, as that is firmly in the hands of the returning Ryan Tannehill, who was playing the best football of his career the last time he saw the field.
This leaves a battle for the backup spot, and it's split between three veterans looking to show that they're more than just camp fodder.
Based on early reports from OTAs and mini-camp, David Fales seems to have taken an early lead in the race to become the Miami Dolphins primary backup behind Tannehill. Fales has drawn praise from head coach Adam Gase, who has history with Fales during his brief time in Chicago, and from his impressive performance in Week 17 of the 2017 season.
“I think after that last game, I was feeling good and then by bringing (Offensive Coordinator) Dowell (Loggains) in, he had been with him before." Gase said last month. "I think he saw the improvement that a lot of us were talking about. We felt like that was a good first step for us, and really we wanted to see how everything played out, because between free agency and the draft, you just never know how things are going to shake out."
In that game, Fales completed 29 out of 42 passes, for 265 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and according to teammates, Fales has already gotten off to a good start building chemistry with the skill players.
“He gets the ball out." said Dolphins tight end MarQueis Gray. "He’s doing a good job. His deep ball has been remarkable this offseason. Him and Jakeem (Grant) and (Mike) Gesicki, they’ve been hooking up a lot. They’ve been getting open a lot.”
Gase likes Fales because of the mental capacities he has, able to do multiple things at the line of scrimmage and keep things organized, which is something that the Miami Dolphins offense desperately needs if they are going to be able to run the full extent of their playbook.
The other two QBs on the roster will have their hands full trying to unseat him.
This brings us to the quarterback most likely to unseat Fales as the backup. Veteran Brock Osweiler was signed to a one-year deal worth a mere grand total of $880,000; this includes a $90,000 signing bonus and a total of $630,000 guaranteed.
For a quarterback who does have some semblance of a reputation and at least a little bit of starting experience, this minimum contract is an excellent deal for the Miami Dolphins. Should Osweiler fail to unseat Fales as the backup, Miami can easily cut ties with him after training camp for a negligible dent in the salary cap, or they can keep him on the bench in order to keep three QBs just in case the unthinkable happens.
Osweiler has 25 starts under his belt, and it wasn't that long ago that he was considered good enough to sign a four-year, $72 million dollar contract with the Houston Texans. That time just so happened to be when Gase was with the Denver Broncos, then something went horribly wrong once the two separated, and Osweiler found himself being paid to leave teams rather than lead them.
Now, Gase is bringing Osweiler back in to see if there's something to salvage, though the fact that the coaching staff having to work with him on the basics all over again is a serious red flag.
“We’re doing some things mechanically with him to kind of make everything consistent, which he’s doing a really good job,” quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree said last month. “I think he’s throwing the ball really well and he’s really fun to be around. It’s a good that we have right now, that we’re working with this offseason.”
Still, hearing that he's "doing well" does not really improve his overall chances of winning the backup job, especially if Fales is understanding the offense as well as it seems. Osweiler is also familiar with Gase's offense, but he'll have a hard time beating out Fales if he can't get accurate.
Lastly, we have Bryce Petty. Signed via a waiver claim shortly after his release, Petty is being viewed as the "camp arm" rather than an actual candidate to win the backup job. He's played only ten games in the three years he spent with the Jets, and he has no familiarity with the coaching staff to give him an edge, unlike the aforementioned Fales and Osweiler.
Perhaps the thing that Petty is most infamous for (at least in the memories of Dolphins fans) is that one game against Miami back in December of 2016 when he became the insides of a very bizarre sandwich, courtesy of Cameron Wake and the departured Ndamukong Suh.
Though there aren't high expectations for Petty from the outside looking in, the Miami Dolphins have made it a point to explain that Petty isn't just a camp arm, that he's here to compete for the job just like anyone else.
"Bryce is a guy that is extremely talented. He’s got talent." Dolphins offensive coordinator Dowall Loggains said last month. "We’ve got to coach him hard and get that stuff out of him. He’s got some things in his footwork and those things. We’re working really hard to get consistent and create more accuracy for him. It’s something we talked to him about is there’s not enough time in the offseason anymore.
"The rules, they are what they are. It used to be in January we start working with these guys and February, and they just grind quarterbacks. It’s hard now. Every Monday when he’s off and every Friday when he’s off and on the weekends, he needs to keep working on his drops and the consistency in his footwork, because if he gets that part of it all right, he has enough talent in his upper body to play.”
Petty will have to do some serious mental work if he plans to catch up to Osweiler and Fales, but the coaching staff has always stated that the best player will win the job. As training camp rolls around, if one of these quarterbacks ends up showing greater anticipation, accuracy and touch than the other, there's a distinct possibility that they could win the job.
Training camp will be here soon, so the answer will no doubt be revealed shortly.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
PhinManiacs Live returns as the crew discusses what to expect as training camp draws ever closer. Position battles, expectations and more are all on the block.
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