The Miami Dolphins had their first public practice today and I was there, on a hot Friday morning, to take it all in. I was among the first persons through the gate and took a central front-row seat. The smell of football was in the air.
Lauren Tannehill tweeted “HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE LOVE OF MY LIFE!! #24.” My first thought was that my birthday is not until May as I fantasized that the tweet was solely for me. Then I thought, #24? Sean Smith? Then I realized that Ryan Tannehill was turning 24, today, as our Phins were making their entrance. Poetic. Ironically, he did not set foot on the field because he is the only unsigned Dolphin left.
I was not fortunate enough to be inside the bubble for the beginning of practice but word quickly spread that Matt Moore took the first snap and would be working with the first team. Shortly afterward, our Phins were running onto the field. The crowd erupted as expected.
My awesome front-row seat became a nightmare when camera men for HBO and the Dolphins stood right in front of me. I attempted to change seats quickly and saw as one member of the Dolfan Bandits arrived and incited the crowd. He came in yelling, “Get up! Believe in these guys! Don’t listen to the media!” His voodoo charm had battered mini-helmets belonging to the New York Jets, New England Patriots, and Buffalo Bills.
The Phins broke off onto each half of the field as I scrambled into tweeting position. Moore led the first team from the middle of the field to the north endzone as David Garrard used the southern half. One of the first things I noticed was Garrard connecting with Michael Egnew, who made a nice catch in traffic. Shortly after, Chad Johnson, made a reception, delivered by Moore and Pat Devlin came in for Garrard, and threw the day’s first interception. Johnson was intense, exchanging words with the defensive backs. I described him as “feisty” in a tweet. I’m not sure whether he was being playful or ultra-competitive.
At this point, my I-Pad stopped responding due to the heat. I had the dreaded “temperature” message on the screen. I moved to a more shaded area. The next portion of the practice consisted mainly of defensive drills as most of the offensive players left the main field. We also saw a little of Dan Carpenter, who was easily making 35-yard field-goals. It almost seemed like he was aiming at a camera man that was perched on top of a lift, behind the goal posts. A few times, the camera man had to deflect kicks to prevent damage to his large camera and, of course, we all cheered for that.
During a botched short field-goal attempt, Carpenter or the holder, attempted a pass to the end zone and Cameron Wake came up with what would have been an interception for a touchdown. If you haven’t seen Wake in person, he is a beast! He is built like a super-hero.
My computer came back as we returned to split scrimmages. Davone Bess made a contested 20-yard catch on a skinny post from Garrard. Bess showed good hands the entire practice. On the other side, Devlin hit Jeff Fuller for a 40-yard touchdown. Fuller showed a nice burst. Moore came back and completed another pass to Chad Johnson, who aggressively fought off would-be-tacklers. I believe Ochocinco can be this team’s leading receiver. He definitely looked the part today.
At this point, we saw some rushing. Reggie Bush and Lamar Miller looked quick and explosive, earning cheers from the crowd. When we returned to the passing, Moore threw an interception that Koa Misi would have taken to the house. On the other side, Miller, lined up in the slot, took a pass from Garrard and burst into the open. Miller is going to provide some long touchdowns this season.
As I wondered where Rishard Matthews and Les Brown were, they got into the action with receptions. B.J. Cunningham made a number of short receptions. Right before we went into full-field scrimmage mode, Marlon Moore made a long touchdown catch.
Les Brown made one of the first receptions in the full scrimmage and he looked quick and athletic. We knew he was a converted wide-receiver but he really looked like a hybrid today. Many fans were excited about him as I heard, “Did you see that Les Brown guy?” more than once.
One fan kept yelling “Roberto, this is your breakout year!” After the 37th time, this fan uttered those words, Roberto Wallace did something spectacular, getting behind the defense for a long touchdown.
Ochocinco made one of the last memorable catches of the session, fighting a defender for a ball. He looked intense and focused.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my training camp notes. Unfortunately, I am leaving South Florida this weekend so I’ll miss the next few practices. I know it’s only one day, but we waited all year for it!
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