Attention on Deck! A Naval Officer, a Rookie and a Gentleman talk with Dolphin Media Members - Training Camp Briefing.
By: Jason Sarney
The Miami Dolphins continued training camp Friday in the sweltering South Florida sun at their Davie facility. With three weeks to go until the NFL regular season officially kicks-off, the Dolphins still have several questions that remain to be answered and a trio of new players met with the media to talk all things about camp so far. Leading things off was their newest young safety.
Rookie Brandon Jones was a 3rd round pick in this past April’s Draft, 70th overall out of Texas. As high a pick he was, this was the 6th selection of the Dolphins 2020 class, so it is easy for him to get lost in the shuffle of player additions. There was a quarterback, three offensive linemen, and a cornerback taken before him, so he is a Day 2 draftee as a team’s 6th addition on the selection weekend.
Think about that.
Jones excelled in coverage as a Longhorn and made his present felt in his NCAA career immediately as a true freshman. Jones is yet another player who can play two phases of the game, as he can be a viable special team player, having blocked several punts while at Texas.
Jones has the unenviable task of filling in the safety shoes of former Dolphins great, Reshad Jones, as this is an area of the field that Miami sorely needs to fins a steady and consistent player to complement and solidify their very strong and youthful secondary.
When asked about learning from veterans he said, "Oh yea, it's always good getting around vets, people who have been there a while. Picking their brain."
He adds, “it’s a learning experience for us….I am literally staying under the older guys wings.”
Jones is confident he will do his part to improve through practices and said, "I’m trying to learn and get better every single day."
His versatility is key in this defense, as Jones says he has been working all over the place in the secondary, preaching that coaches want flexibility and he is there to do what is needed to help the team and learn.
Perhaps the most intriguing and potentially brilliant pick happened in the 7th round in Navy’s Malcolm Perry. The option quarterback/running back/wide receiver had a phenomenal 2019 NCAA season. Perry rushed for 2,017 yards in Navy’s option offense, scored 21 touchdowns and threw for 1,084 yards with 7 scores. He finished as a Top-5 rusher in Division I.
He averaged 6.8 yards per rush in 2019, and 7.1 overall in his collegiate career. He even added 22 receptions in his four seasons gaining 470 yards and another three touchdowns. Perry could find work in one way or another in each of those areas in the NFL, as there could be great opportunity to utilize him as a Wildcat style QB as well as receiving and rushing situations.
He has been an early contender to be considered for slot work, especially with the opting out of veteran wide-outs Allen Hurns and Albert Wilson. Regardless of his running QB label at Navy, there has been a recent comparable to Julian Edelman of New England. Another college QB, who started his NFL career as a return man, but eventually became one of the league’s most dangerous slot receivers and overall go-to targets.
“I was extremely excited, any opportunity to touch the field at any position," Perry said on getting reps from the slot in practice.
Perry who as a structured work ethic thanks to his Naval background says, “attention to detail” and "the little things,” are his focus. He adds he is, "learning from my mistakes and getting better every day."
Regarding the absence of veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick not being at practice today he says, “as everybody likes to say in the NFL, any team organization, next man up.” He adds, "I feel like we had a very solid day of practice."
Perry was asked if ready for the press conference upon sitting down to the Zoom session and he respectfully said, "Yes, Ma'am,” to the team media representative. This is a young man who I doubt will ever be out-worked or out-classed. I would guess he has the respect of every single person on and off the field.
Kamu Grugier-Hill finished the session, who was signed in the off-season away from the Philadelphia Eagles. Yet another former Patriot who will be a linebacker and special teamer for the Dolphins.
Grugier-Hill was drafted by New England as the 208th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft out of Eastern Illinois. He won a Super Bowl with Philadelphia, ironically against his old Patriots teammates, and brings his experience and leadership to Miami.
He will be a depth linebacker but likely make most of his money on that special team’s unit where early on news had him taking reps as a gunner candidate in punt coverage. He can also do damage as a potential disruption in the opposing punting game, as he has gotten in on a blocked punt and even kicked off a few times in his career believe it or not.
Grugier-Hill says Brian Flores' defense is, "very different but I love it. It's a big reason why I am here." He goes on to say, “there are so many things we can do with this defense. It keeps people very diverse."
"It's very different, but I am getting used to it and I love it, Grugier-Hill said emphatically.
That flexibility is importance, with him being a former safety, Grugier-Hill says the importance of passing coverage skills is paramount in today’s league.
He said, “from my view of things, teams are passing the ball 40-50 times a game.” He went on to say, "I think there is a huge emphasis on passing downs."
Grugier-Hill told reporters, regarding fellow Hawaiian Tua Tagovailoa being a friendly face to remind him of home, "I love it, I can't even lie to you.” He adds, “It's awesome…We get to talk about how we grew up." He mentioned how they joke about their high schools are rivals.
They even have taken to making music together. Hopefully their offensive and defensive teammates will have the same harmony.
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