The Miami Dolphins kicked off OTAs this morning on the practice field in Davie. The final phase of the team’s offseason training program has now begun as the countdown to training camp is only two months away. Let’s delve right into the action of this morning’s workout.
Attendance will be a major theme during these “voluntary” workouts. After Reshad Jones made headlines yesterday by threatening to sit out OTAs, it was reported earlier this morning that he would show up after the Dolphins promised to begin negotiations for a multi-year contract extension sometime soon.
Sure enough, Jones was present and practicing with his teammates. “I’m not really focused on that” Jones said regarding his contract. “I know if I continue to do what I’m doing, work my butt off, everything will work itself out.”
The same cannot be said for Randy Starks, who did not practice as he continues to protest being placed with the franchise tag. Like Jones, Starks wants a long-term deal. Starks is expected to attend the team’s mandatory minicamp next month, however, as well as training camp in July.
Perhaps the biggest news from an attendance standpoint was the absence of second-round pick Jamar Taylor. The rookie cornerback did not participate in this morning’s workout. While players are not subject to fines for missing OTAs, it would be highly beneficial to Taylor’s chances of seriously competing for a starting job to utilize every opportunity to impress the coaching staff. But we’ll wait to hear if there was a legitimate excuse for Taylor’s absence before we speculate any further. (Update: Taylor reportedly underwent a hernia procedure recently and will be out for probably three weeks or so. He’ll likely miss the rest of OTAs but there is hope he can return in time for the team’s mandatory minicamp in June.)
First-round pick Dion Jordan wasn’t on the practice field either. NFL rules prohibit Jordan from participating in any of the Dolphins’ OTAs because he doesn’t graduate from Oregon until next month.
Offensive guards Lance Louis, who is still recovering from a torn ACL, and rookie Dallas Thomas, who is rehabbing from shoulder surgery, did not practice this morning. Louis has a legitimate chance to unseat John Jerry at first-team right guard while Thomas projects more as a versatile backup in his first season.
Lamar Miller predictably received most of the work with the starters at running back. Daniel Thomas served as the number two followed by Marcus Thigpen. Rookie Mike Gillislee figures to enter the picture at some point but needs to work his way up the depth chart first.
John Jerry obviously was the starting right guard with Lance Louis still rehabbing.
At tight end, Michael Egnew surprisingly received some reps with the first-team alongside Dustin Keller in the Dolphins’ two-tight end sets. Egnew was in over his head as a rookie and was generally perceived as soft both physically and mentally. But he’s been working extremely hard this offseason to shake that stigma and now appears to have a legitimate shot of competing for a roster spot this summer.
At cornerback, Brent Grimes and Richard Marshall made up the first-team cornerback duo. No surprises there. Grimes reportedly had a solid practice, batting down several passes. If Grimes can return to the form that earned him Pro Bowl honors in 2010, Miami’s secondary will be much improved this season.
So much for Jimmy Wilson moving to safety exclusively. Wilson spent time working as the first-team nickel corner in addition to playing safety on the second team.
With Randy Starks sitting out OTAs, Jared Odrick moved inside to defensive tackle. Second-year defensive end Olivier Vernon filled Odrick’s void on the edge. The Dolphins looked to improve the pass rush this offseason by drafting Dion Jordan, but Vernon’s development could go a long way in producing more pressure in 2013.
Ryan Tannehill had a few new shiny toys to play with at this morning’s practice. But he hooked with an old face during 11-on-11’s for the offense’s only touchdown. Brian Hartline reportedly got open behind the safeties when Tannehill hit him with a beautiful deep ball that would have gone for six. The offense got a little sloppy when it started raining for the final portion of practice, though.
Philip Wheeler impressed in his first practice as a Dolphin, reportedly looking athletic and smooth in coverage. And as mentioned above, starting cornerback Brent Grimes was athletic and fast, and made several plays on the football. According to several reports, tight end Dustin Keller made a great first impression as well.
New uniform numbers
The numbers each free-agent pickup will wear this season became apparent when the players were donning their new digs at practice this morning. The newcomers’ jersey numbers as well as several number changes from returning players are listed as follows:
WR Brandon Gibson- #10
WR Mike Wallace- #11
CB Brent Grimes- #21
LB Philip Wheeler- #52
LB Dannell Ellerbe- #59
OG Lance Louis- #61
OT Tyson Clabo- #77
TE Dustin Keller- #81
WR Marvin McNutt- #87
DT Vaughn Martin- #90
WR Jeff Fuller- #14 (previously 83)
WR Rishard Matthews- #18 (86)
CB De’Andre Presley- #23 (21)
CB Dimitri Patterson- #24 (32)
RB Jonas Gray- #32 (46)
LB Jonathan Freeny- #56 (59)
TE Kyle Miller- #86 (87)
The Dolphins will hit the practice field again tomorrow and Thursday, but neither session will be open to the media.
Sources: Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel, The Finsiders, ESPN, MiamiDolphins.com