Pro Bowl defensive tackle Randy Starks joined his teammates for the first time this offseason as the Dolphins opened up mandatory minicamp this morning.
Starks had been absent from the team’s entire offseason training program, including OTA practice sessions, as he protested being slapped with the franchise tag.
Being subject to a $66,000 fine for missing minicamp was a motivating factor behind Starks’ return. But add competition from Jared Odrick as a reason why Starks needs to put his contract status behind him and simply focus on playing football at a high level again.
Despite having Starks back on the practice field, the Dolphins still employed a starting defensive line featuring Olivier Vernon, Jared Odrick, Paul Soliai, and Cameron Wake. Odrick stayed put inside at tackle while Starks wasn’t given any reps during team drills.
Are the Dolphins sending Starks a message? Or is he simply being worked back into action slowly? I tend to side with the latter, although Joe Philbin and his staff certainly can’t be thrilled about Starks skipping OTAs.
The Dolphins are paying Starks $8.45 million to play under the tag this season. That’s one reason to believe his starting job isn’t in serious jeopardy.
Moving Jared Odrick back to defensive end on early downs, then rotating him inside with Starks on passing situations still makes the most sense for the Dolphins.
Unless of course, first-round pick Dion Jordan proves ready to be an every-down starter right out of the gate. In which case, Miami may not have a choice but to unleash him opposite Cameron Wake while Starks, Odrick, and Soliai share reps on the interior.
Dustin Keller held out of team drills
Newly acquired tight end Dustin Keller was held out of team drills on the first day of minicamp. According to reports, Keller was limited due to an undisclosed injury.
It doesn’t appear that it’s anything serious, though, and Keller missing reps could be purely precautionary. Regardless, a great opportunity for young tight ends like Michael Egnew and Dion Sims to soak up reps and impress the coaches.
Brandon Gibson looks more comfortable in slot
ESPN’s AFC East blogger James Walker had high praise for Dolphins’ receiver Brandon Gibson today. Gibson hasn’t made many plays this offseason as he attempts to learn the nuances of playing the slot.
Some even say he’s been outplayed by receivers who are further down the depth chart. Gibson had a good showing today, though, looking more comfortable in his new position.
Brian Tyms turns some heads
The Dolphins’ roster fringe receivers have seemingly taken turns impressing this offseason. Armon Binns and Rishard Matthews were the stars of OTAs.
On the first day of minicamp, Brian Tyms was the standout receiver. The 6’3”, 210 pound Tyms reportedly made a few acrobatic catches that impressed media members in attendance. Competition for the team’s final two or three spots at the position should be intense all summer.
Time to write Brent Grimes and Richard Marshall down in pen at first-team corner?
The Sun Sentinel’s Omar Kelly seems to think so, tweeting as much this morning.
I still think second-round pick Jamar Taylor will have an opportunity to compete with Marshall. But make no mistake about it, these are valuable reps Taylor has been missing this offseason as he recovers from sports hernia surgery.
Defense forces turnovers
Reshad Jones, Chris Clemons, Don Jones, and Philip Wheeler all came down with interceptions during this morning’s workout. That news will undoubtedly be taken two polar opposite ways by extreme Dolphins fans. Optimistically, hooray for the defense. Pessimistically, the sky is falling on O.
Carpenter tries to save his job
It looks like the Dolphins are letting their competing kickers rotate days during minicamp. It was Dan Carpenter’s turn today, who didn’t help his cause by botching a 45-yard attempt.
He did make up for it on the next snap, splitting the uprights from the same distance, but as you all know, there are no second chances on Sundays.
Fifth-round pick Caleb Sturgis will likely get those reps in tomorrow’s practice.
The Dolphins will be back on the practice field tomorrow morning for their second of three practice sessions open to the media.
Sources: MiamiDolphins.com, Sun Sentinel, ESPN AFC East Blog, Miami Herald, Palm Beach Post