The Dolphins practiced in front of the South Florida media this morning for the second time since OTAs began.
These offseason workouts are a great way to glean some first impressions of the new-look squad. But it’s important not to make any concrete judgments about the team until we see them play real football. You know, the sport where players wear pads and are allowed to hit each other.
It was a rainy day in Davie, forcing the team inside the practice bubble. Let’s recap all of the happenings from the workout:
Mike Wallace absent
It’s always a bit worrisome when a $60 million new toy goes missing. Mike Wallace was a no-show at practice this morning, which caused a bit of a stir among the Twittersphere. But panicking Dolphins fans were relieved to find out Wallace was attending to a family emergency, not out with an injury or simply skipping a “voluntary” workout.
Armon Binns replaced Wallace with the first team at receiver, lining up across from Brian Hartline as Brandon Gibson continues to play the slot.
As expected, Randy Starks did not participate again. Starks continues to sit out all voluntary team functions as he awaits a contract extension. Jared Odrick played defensive tackle in his place while Olivier Vernon filled Odrick’s void at defensive end.
Dallas Thomas (shoulder), Jamar Taylor (sports hernia), and Lance Louis (knee) all missed the session as well. All three are expected to be ready for training camp, though. First-round pick Dion Jordan continues to be prohibited from practicing as he finishes classes at Oregon.
Defense wins the day
From all accounts, the Dolphins defense got the best of the offense today. Ryan Tannehill threw a would-be pick six to Koa Misi during red zone work and another pass that should have been intercepted by Philip Wheeler after a deflection at the line of scrimmage.
It sounds like Tannehill did save face, though, throwing touchdown passes to the likes of Rishard Matthews, Brian Hartline, Armon Binns, and Charles Clay in 7-on-7’s and team drills.
Rishard Matthews, Kelcie McCray, and Michael Egnew impress
Rishard Matthews was probably the MVP of today’s practice. The second-year receiver caught three touchdown passes, including a diving catch in the end zone from Ryan Tannehill. So far it appears Matthews has a leg up on his competition and will likely win the team’s fourth or fifth receiver spot if his strong play continues in training camp.
Kelcie McCray, who missed all of his rookie season on injured reserve, looked good this morning, picking off a pass and breaking up another on the goal line. McCray could push Chris Clemons for the starting job at free safety. But we’ll have to see an awful lot more out of him when camp and the preseason arrive before that happens.
Meanwhile, tight end Michael Egnew, a labeled third-round bust after an awful showing in the 2012 preseason, turned some heads for the second consecutive week. After getting first-team reps last week, Egnew caught a touchdown pass this morning.
Egnew is off to a good start this summer, but let’s hold off on getting too excited until we see him impress when the pads come on. Lacking toughness and not being able to block were two of the biggest knocks against Egnew last year. We won’t find out if he’s shaken those stigmas until training camp.
Position battle update
Brent Grimes and Richard Marshall continued to serve as the first-team cornerback pairing. Jamar Taylor should figure into the competition when he’s fully recovered from sports hernia surgery. Lamar Miller also continued to be the starting tailback. So really nothing has changed in a week.
Chad Pennington helping out
There was a familiar face on the sideline today. Former Dolphins’ quarterback Chad Pennington was seen sporting the aqua and orange; not as a player but as a coach. Pennington is reportedly helping consult the team’s quarterbacks this week.
Pennington was one of the smartest quarterbacks in football when he was still a player, so his transition to coaching is no surprise and has long been expected. But it doesn’t appear, at least not yet, that he’ll be a permanent addition to the coaching staff.
Sources: Miami Herald, Sun Sentinel, ESPN AFC East Blog