The Dolphins spent nearly $100 million on wide receivers this offseason to help improve a passing attack that finished 26th in 2012. But a guy they’re only paying $480,000 in 2013 is making one of the biggest impressions at practice.
Third-year receiver Armon Binns consistently made plays during OTAs and is having himself a solid minicamp. He was on the receiving end of a perfectly placed Ryan Tannehill touchdown pass during today’s workout and was even seen stealing some of Brandon Gibson’s reps in the slot with the first-team.
And Gibson has had two consecutive productive days. No, Binns seeing time with the starting offense appears to be more of a testament to how well he’s played than an indictment on Gibson. A good problem to have for the Dolphins.
Tannehill picked twice in two-minute drill
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill appeared to be moving the offense up and down the field today, but threw two drive-killing interceptions towards the end of practice. Brent Grimes and De’Andre Presley each picked off Tannehill in the red zone, highlighting a poor day at the office for the second-year signal caller.
By all accounts, Tannehill appears much improved this offseason and a couple bad throws in June should be considered nothing more than a slight hiccup in his continued development.
Keller still sidelined
Dustin Keller, who sat out team drills yesterday with an undisclosed injury, missed today’s practice as well. It doesn’t appear Keller’s injury is anything serious, as the veteran tight end was seen hitting a tire with a sledge hammer over on the sideline.
Keller’s absence has provided a great opportunity for the likes of Charles Clay and Michael Egnew to make an impression. Clay – currently the number two tight end of the depth chart – failed to do so. He reportedly dropped as many as three passes during today’s session, including a would-be touchdown from Ryan Tannehill.
Clay has been a versatile player for the Dolphins, lining up at tight end, fullback, and H-back during his first two seasons. But he may not only be fighting to remain second on the depth chart, but on the roster this summer if practices like today’s become a trend.
Joining Keller on the sideline were cornerback Jamar Taylor (sports hernia) and right guard Lance Louis (knee). First-round pick Dion Jordan was the only player who wasn’t in attendance. Jordan continues to miss offseason work because of Oregon being on the quarters system and league rules prohibiting his involvement until he finishes classes.
Richard Marshall works as starting nickel
Cornerback Richard Marshall has been given reps as the first-team nickel during the first two days of minicamp. Marshall is also one of the starting boundary corners, so moving inside to cover the slot has opened up a spot opposite Brent Grimes.
Dimiti Patterson has filled Marshall’s void on the outside so far. I expect rookie second-round pick Jamar Taylor to compete with Patterson for that role once he’s healthy, if not with Marshall for his starting job.
Starks eased back into action
Defensive tackle Randy Starks did more standing than playing on his first day back after skipping OTAs. His workload was increased during today’s practice, though. Starks lined up with Kheeston Randall on the second-team, but saw reps with the starters alongside Jared Odrick in the nickel package.
Head Coach Joe Philbin said after practice that he still sees Odrick as a defensive end and a defensive tackle. So odds are, Odrick eventually moves back over to defensive end when Starks is deemed ready to contribute as a starter.
Again, that could change if first-round pick Dion Jordan or even Olivier Vernon, who has received first-team reps at defensive end all offseason, prove ready to contribute as every-down players.
Battle at kicker intensifying
It was rookie Caleb Sturgis’ turn to kick today for the Dolphins. Yesterday, incumbent starting kicker Dan Carpenter received those reps and missed a 45-yard field goal.
Sturgis impressed many in attendance with his leg strength, but failed to capitalize in the accuracy department, missing two 40-plus yard tries.
The Dolphins clearly favor the rookie in this competition. Dan Carpenter would make more money in 2013 alone than Sturgis is slated to make for the duration of his four-year contract. But Sturgis needs to earn the Dolphins trust before he wins the job.
Dolphins await Leach’s decision
The Dolphins met with free-agent fullback Vonta Leach early this morning. Leach has drawn interest from as many as six teams and is said to prefer a reunion with the Houston Texans.
The All-Pro fullback isn’t expected to make a decision on which team he ultimately joins until tomorrow. But as of now, Leach doesn’t have any more visits lined up.
The Dolphins hit the practice field for the final time of the offseason tomorrow morning.
Sources: ESPN’s AFC East blog, Miami Herald, Sun Sentinel, Palm Beach Post