The “OTA’s”, or “organized team activities, started today. It’s the first time the Miami Dolphins veterans and the teams rookies and free agents have taken the field together. OTA’s are voluntary and it appears that Marcus Thigpen may have decided to voluntarily skip the OTA’s. Head coach Joe Philbin refused to talk about his absence saying he would only field questions about who was on the field. The missing man brought the Dolphins to 89 players on the field. Thigpen reportedly has a back injury but it is still surprising that he wouldn’t at least show up.
Of those 89 WR’s Brian Hartline, Armon Binns, and Brandon Gibson all participated in some way. Binns is recovering from an ACL injury as is Brandon Gibson while Hartline recovers from a PCL. All three are hoping to get better quickly. With the additions the Dolphins have made to WR this off-season, specifically through the draft, Binns and Gibson could be trying to accelerate their progress in order to show they will be ready to play or to show another team they are ready to play.
Of all the players making their debut it was the return of Jason Taylor that has fans talking. Taylor joined the Dolphins coaching staff as a volunteer to help out the defensive lineman. Taylor has been seeking a role with the team for over a year now. He spends a considerable amount of time working through his Jason Taylor Foundation, but his real desire is to be find a job within the organization. Taylor’s experience should help players such as Olivier Vernon and Dion Jordan as well as savvy veterans like Cameron Wake.
Overall day one went down without incident although it’s been reported that Ryan Tannehill did not look good in his return to the practice field. He threw one INT in 11-11 drills and had two other would be picks dropped. It was CB Cortland Finnegan with the successful pick. Those worried about his transition to a much faster higher tempo offense will no doubt find more concern. OC Bill Lazor mentioned Tannehill’s need to get in and out of the huddle faster creating a higher tempo offense. That was something that was sorely lacking the last two seasons as the Dolphins were very slow out of the huddle. They were not much faster in the two minute drills either.
Lazor surely has his hands full at the moment. The good news is that it’s day one back from the season and everyone is going to be rusty. At least a little.
If the tempo to Miami’s offense is exciting, if it actually shows up on Sunday’s, then the almost 20 pound weight increase on DE/LB Dion Jordan should really turn heads. Jordan showed up to camp much bigger. He had spent a considerable amount of his off-season working out and it could payoff on game days. Jordan was fast off the snap last year but he lacked that explosive point of contact and admitted today that he felt at times too small. It’s good to see he recognized that in himself and took care of the issue.
It’s always important for teams to leave OTA’s feeling confident and good about what they are doing. It’s also good for fans to see change as well. Mike Wallace, last years goat receiver and multi-million dollar free agent is loving the new system and Joe Philbin specifically called him out today for putting in extra work. Wallace was the last player to leave the field today…something we heard nothing close to last year. Now all he has to do is get in sync which his QB.
The long awaited LB switch took place on day one with Koa Misi moving inside and Danelle Ellerbe moving outside. The Dolphins are hoping to get more out of a disappointing group last season. Whether the move sticks or not won’t likely be decided until the pads go on. There is no contact during OTA’s. In addition players can only practice for a limited time each day under rules of the CBA.
Prior to the start of the OTA’s, the Dolphins made a few personnel changes. The team waived defensive back Deion Belue and offensive linemen David Hurd and Michael Ola. They signed however, OL Samuel Longo of Cincinnati, DT Micajah Reynolds of Michigan State, and OL Michael Phillip of Oregon State. OTA’s will resume tomorrow and last another three days.