The Miami Dolphins wrapped up their OTA and mini-camp work and will not meet again until training camp. Looking back on the practice sessions still leaves questions.
These are some of my own Dolphins opinions and views from other reporters such as Omar Kelly, James Walker, Barry Jackson and others who were there giving a live breakdown as it happened as well as a report on it soon after.
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The cornerback battle
Early on it was mostly Tony lippett getting all the accolades. He was a fifth round draft pick (No. 156 overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins as a cornerback. Lippett had to make the conversion from a college wide receiver to a professional cornerback to earn his spot on the team, although he did play some as a cornerback in college. Lippett was part of a mix and match patch job opposite Brent Grimes last season as the defense faltered later in the season. He did well enough late that season to earn a chance to compete this time around for the starting job opposite Byron Maxwell who also got a lot of praise for his own play.
Enter Xavien Howard, a second round pick of the 2016 NFL draft after giving up a fourth round pick (selection No. 107) to the Baltimore Ravens to move up from 42 to the 38 spot. Early reports on Howard were eerily quite, so much so that I have tried to see if college school restrictions had prevented his participation, this does not seem to be the case. A few things to speculate here, he was held back some by the staff or he was a late bloomer. Because he did draw a lot of accolades late as did Tony lippett early, the battle will be continued going into training camp.
The offensive line
This is a mixed bag, early reports were mostly good but at the same time some twitter reports from the training sessions were not (see Omar Kelly’s twitter time line). Laremy Tunsil has stated as the mini camp closed “Everything needs to get better,” “Everything needs to be in one motion. I still need to work every day at the position.” Tunsil had been splitting time at left guard and left tackle, while Dallas Thomas was still working out at left guard and fared no worse. The unit as a whole allowed many would be sacks and rushes losing the overall battle to the defense, some chemistry may be need to build a continuity among the new players.
The dexterity of the running backs
The scheme of new head coach Adam Gase’s offense which he will call plays for starting out, is said to be reliant on running backs to be an all around package running the ball, catching it and blocking. It does not appear from any reports that any of the backs brought in recently have coveted all these skills. While Gase did praise Jay Ajayi early on there are some questions on his catching abilities. This might be a point of focus to have all the running backs up to speed on this during the training camp.
A few things that are becoming apparent to me are the inexperience at cornerback and running back. While there is still cap space to bring in other players, it is also good for the team to build through the draft and promote from within. Provided you don’t have to overspend via a bidding war to keep said players. There have to be workarounds at times and having a good front office comes in handy.