Miami Dolphins Open Mini Camp: What To Watch


May 21, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins defensive back Kelcie McCray (left) and cornerback Don Jones (right) during organized team activities at the Doctors Hospital Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins will be kicking off their first mini-camp session today. We will finally have the ability to see the team in action for more than one session.

That being said, here are some things to watch for over the next few days:

1. Will second-year QB Ryan Tannehill continue to progress?

Over the course of Miami’s OTA sessions, many were impressed with Tannehill’s command of the offense. The second-year quarterback looked calm, cool and collective in the pocket. Many were also impressed with his improvement upon taking care of the football. During his rookie season with the team, Tannehill struggled with turnovers (13 interceptions and 9 fumbles – 4 lost). All eyes will certainly be on the potential franchise quarterback.

2. Can the two veteran corners (Grimes and Marshall) fend off the young guns (Davis, Taylor, Carroll, Patterson, Stanford)?

It’s no secret that former Atlanta Falcon CB Brent Grimes was quite impressive during OTAs. Many sources actually stated that Grimes looks like his good old self after suffering a gruesome achilles injury last season. Miami’s “big” free agent last season, Richard Marshall, was also quite impressive lining up opposite Grimes on the first-string defense. Seeing strides from one of the rookies [Taylor or Davis] or a younger player [Patterson, Carroll, or Stanford] would really add some heat to this competition.

While I am certainly fine with Grimes and Marshall lining up as the team’s starting corner duo, I question who will capture the nickel role…While Jimmy Wilson has proved to be a serviceable player in the nickel spot, I would really like to see one of the younger players or someone a little better than Wilson capture that responsibility.

On a side note here, while many are pinning Dimitri Patterson as a cap casualty if he does not seize a starting role (one of the top three spots including the nickel spot), I am certainly not. Patterson is an interesting guy. While he has not really produced much over his NFL journey, he did play well for Miami last season after basically picking him up off the street (sorry Cleveland..). Basically what it comes down to is this: Patterson is battling with Nolan Carroll for a roster spot, in my opinion. You would be insane to think the team will not restructure Patterson’s contract if they decide to keep him. One of the two will be cut, and I am starting to think Carroll is the one on the outs.

3. What receiver will step up finally?

Obviously this does not include the top two receivers [Wallace, Hartline] and we could also exclude Gibson from the conversation. Many reports coming out of OTAs were suggesting that second-year receiver Rishard Matthews has looked quite impressive. I will definitely be watching Matthews. I like this kid and I think he has a future ahead of him for this team. Hell, he could potentially push Gibson for that slot position if he preforms well.

Armon Binns is another guy who has been receiving a lot of recognition lately for his OTA performances. Binns has intriguing size and ability, but has been inconsistent with his hands over his short tenure with Miami. If Binns can become more reliable, he may push for playing time this season.

Or will Jeff Fuller, Jasper Collins, Marvin McNutt, Courtney Gardner or Chad Bumphis emerge from the pack? Your guess is as good as mine. Many were impressed with Bumphis during the final week of OTAs. Then again, many were impressed with Courtney Gardner’s size and speed before he even took a step on the field. It’s a crap-shoot.

4. Randy Starks will show up, won’t he?

According to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, Starks will indeed be present during Miami’s mini-camp. Starks was absent during Miami’s OTAs attempting to receive a long-term contract.

While it is a good sign that Starks will be returning, a few questions arise:

  1. What kind of shape will the big man be in?
  2. What will Jared Odrick‘s role along the defensive line be, now?

This is definitely one of the bigger story lines of the week. Odrick has been filling in for Starks during his absence and has actually done an excellent job. So where exactly will Odrick fit in now? Will he slide back to the defensive end position and force second-year DE Olivier Vernon to take second-team reps? Or will he be used as a rotational sub? Keep an eye on this..

5. Will the OTA “standouts” continue to standout?

During OTAs we saw a few players who really stole the show. Corner Brent Grimes looked great in coverage showing why he was named to the Pro Bowl in 2010. QB Ryan Tannehill and WR Mike Wallace showed a good connection together. FS Chris Clemons was one of the vocal leaders on the defensive side of the football (Miami is in desperate need for a leader on defense after losing both MLB Karlos Dansby and OLB Kevin Burnett). RB Lamar Miller looked as fast as always and showed improvement in his pass blocking technique. RG John Jerry actually showed up UNDERWEIGHT! So, he deserves a doughnut. And TE Michael Egnew showed a vast amount of improvement. He knew what route to run and he actually could block. So that was a special moment there.

Will these standouts continue to standout or will we have some new players emerge? Will Tannehill find a better connection with a guy like a Brandon Gibson or an Armon Binns? Will a new TE emerge from the pack? Can we see more of Kelcie McCray out there? How will third-round pick Will Davis look after signing with the team yesterday? Will someone step up on the defense and become the vocal leader over the inconsistent Clemons? Hell, will Clemons finally become consistent at something?

So many questions…