After four Miami Dolphin training camp practices, critics and fans alike have already raised opinions about various positions on the field, so its time to collect some of what’s being said.
To begin, it’s clear that the best offseason acquisition thus far has been cornerback Brent Grimes. The rave reviews on Grimes — who is coming off an Achilles injury that sidelined him for all but one game last season with the Atlanta Falcons — continue to come in.
The Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero wrote that Grimes “looked great in practice” and that is just the beginning of what people have been saying about him.
Even the players are noticing. Fullback/tight end Charles Clay told the Sun Sentinel, “Every day Brent Grimes does something where we’re like, ‘that guy is a freak athletically.’ He has the Quarterbacks saying, ‘I’m not going to throw at that guy.’”
Grimes also reportedly keeps a football in his hands at all times during practice. He stretches with it, he holds it in between drills, and he finds a way to get to it when he’s on the field.
Another player that people, unsurprisingly, have an opinion of is wide receiver Mike Wallace. While some are already criticizing Wallace’s production after three (excuse me, four real practices) in training camp, others are taking a more reasonable approach to the pro bowler and giving him time. It should also be noted that Grimes is often the one responsible for covering Wallace and Tannehill has learned not to throw his way.
Whether or not you think Wallace will be the stud the Dolphins paid for on day one of free agency, one thing is certain — the six foot wide receiver is under the microscope in Miami and will be until he and quarterback Ryan Tannehill find chemistry and produce on the field.
Speaking of Tannehill, he’s shaking the rust of the offseason off and is just starting to find his rhythm in camp. Well, that’s what critics are saying at least. Remember people, he wasn’t even supposed to start last year — let alone start all 16 games. It’s also been reported that he continues to find wide receiver Brian Hartline — as the two worked together for all of last season.
Newcomer slot receiver Brandon Gibson has also been added to the wide out list and the Sun Sentinel’s Chris Perkins wrote, “The best wide receiver in Dolphins training camp so far hasn’t been Mike Wallace, the high-dollar speedster from Pittsburgh. Rather it’s been Brandon Gibson, the medium-price slot receiver from St. Louis.”
Of course there’s mention of Wallace because he’s the one being watched, but its good for Dolfans to hear they have a new slot guy to root for after Miami traded away Davone Bess to the Browns in the offseason.
Sticking with skill positions, word around camp is that Tannehill has found comfort with his new tight end Dustin Keller. (Still not used to writing Dustin Keller is a Miami Dolphin, but we’ll get there). Keller, a safety net of sorts, is the first real offensive threat the Dolphins have had at tight end for a while and just another one of Tannehill’s new weapons.
Next up we have the biggest question mark going into camp this year — the offensive line. The departure of left tackle Jake Long is no longer news and neither is Jonathan Martin trying to fill his hole, but since we’re a full four days in there must be some sort of update.
James Walker, ESPN’s AFC East blogger, has been at Dolphins camp this week and reported today, “Miami’s starting offensive line has been inconsistent.” Obviously center Mike Pouncey isn’t an issue and neither is pro bowler guard Richie Incognito, but the rest of the line is an unknown. Miami brought in a lot of new faces this offseason, so new players playing together creates inconsistency and a lack of chemistry. So four days into camp it’s no surprise that there are some “questions about the rest of the unit,” as Walker wrote.
The less exciting, but just as important, kicking battle is well underway between veteran Dan Carpenter and rookie fifth round pick Caleb Sturgis. Early reports from the Sun Sentinel’s Omar Kelly say that Carpenter is in the lead, but his contract is significantly heftier than his rookie counterpart’s. This season Carpenter is due around $2.68 million in the final year of his contract, while Sturgis is making $405,000 in his first year of his rookie deal.
As for the defensive side of things, early reports have been positive saying Miami has focused on forcing turnovers more than ever. The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson wrote, “Coach Joe Philbin said every defensive personnel move this offseason was made with two thoughts in mind: Produce more turnovers and allow fewer big plays.”
Kelly wrote that the defensive line dominated the first few days creating pressure and forcing several interceptions. That being said reports began to look more positive for the offensive line after the fourth day of practice.
That’s all for now, and remember four days everyone. Four real practice days. Phinsup!