When NFL teams hold Offseason Training Activities (OTAs), the vast majority of people know not to read too much into it. Often, this is the first time teams are all together on a field and it’s very early in the process of getting everyone ready for the start of the season. For the Miami Dolphins, that’s no different.
This is a time for coaches to see if the things they have taught in the classroom are translating onto the field. It’s a time to see how much one has improved from last year to this year. It’s a time to see how the rookies perform against the veterans and it’s also a time for coaches to start laying the foundation to the starting units for the upcoming season.
On the first day of OTAs for the Dolphins, we got a small glimpse of what the coaches are thinking. With that in mind, there is still a long way to go and a lot of things can change between now and the start of the 2015 NFL season. Thus, the starting units the Dolphins rolled out might not necessarily be the same in a few weeks.
On the offensive line, Dallas Thomas started at left guard with Billy Turner starting at right guard. Many are assuming that Turner will easily win the job while Thomas will have to battle to keep his spot in the starting lineup. Thomas has had plenty of opportunities so this is the year where he either has to prove himself or accept the fact that he will be a backup in Miami.
“They’re obviously both very talented; they deserve first crack at that spot,” offensive line coach John Benton told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. “But it’s very clear to both of them that nothing is set. They’re all in competition.”
In the wide receiver unit, Kenny Stills and Greg Jennings lined up on the outside with Jarvis Landry in the slot. DeVante Parker also took snaps on the outside and won the vast majority of his match-ups against Brent Grimes. Disgruntled receiver Rishard Matthews was also present and got repetitions throughout the practice session. This is one unit where we are expecting quite a bit of change to happen leading up to the season, with Parker likely finding his way to the top of the depth chart once he proves he can produce on a consistent basis.
Moving to the defensive side of the ball at the linebacker position, we saw Jelani Jenkins and Chris McCain line up on the outside with Koa Misi in the middle.
“I feel very comfortable at the SAM position; coaches see I’m a lot more comfortable and put their trust in me,” McCain told Jackson. “I’m progressing really well. I’m long and lanky and pretty physical. I give it my all every play. I believe they can tell I’ve been trying to get the starting job.”
At the cornerback position, Jamar Taylor lined up opposite Brent Grimes with Brice McCain in the nickel position. The second cornerback position is Taylor’s job to lose and if he can stay healthy, he should have no problem locking it down heading into Week One of the 2015 NFL Season.
“I liked the way he went out and competed, first and foremost,” Joe Philbin said of Taylor. “From a technical standpoint, fundamentally there were some really good shots of him doing things exactly the way we’ve been coaching in a variety of different coverages.”
We’ll see how the team lines up on the second day of OTAs but keep in mind that no serious and in-depth analysis should be done during these upcoming sessions. It’s simply a way to get everyone on the same page and to make sure everything is translating onto the field.
This story was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs