Five things we learned at the Miami Dolphins OTA’s

The Miami Dolphins took to the field for day 2 of OTA's with Adam Gase and Ryan Tannehill working. - image courtesy of the Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins took to the field for day 2 of OTA's with Adam Gase and Ryan Tannehill working. - image courtesy of the Miami Dolphins /

The Miami Dolphins are wrapping up their first three-day OTA of the off-season and we really don’t need to wait until ends to get a grip on how it went.

Organized team activities are a series of “practice” sessions that are spread over the course of a month or so. The Miami Dolphins have held strength and conditioning sessions but those were not practices of any kind.

This weeks OTA’s are. The players line up in their helmets and they run the playbook, the routes, they cover, they do everything but make contact. In most cases these sessions mean little in regards to the season and how the season will go.

It does however give us a glimpse at what could be in store for a team looking for direction. Here are five takeaways from this weeks OTA’s that could shed some light on what Miami was trying to do this off-season.

Ryan Tannehill

The Dolphins trotted Tannehill out to the practice field without a knee brace for the first two days of the sessions. As he left the facility for the field a cameraman captured, what had to be at least somewhat staged, Tannehill’s return to the field.

Tannehill told media that he intends to wear the brace during the season. Perhaps he is trying to get a gauge on his physical limitations if there are any. Perhaps it is a mental jolt of confidence.

One thing did stand out however. Tannehill. His arm looked good and his passes looked crisp with good velocity and there was no question that he was the leader on the team. Like it or not, Tannehill is the guy and the Dolphins believe in him.

Danny Amendola

Say whatever you want about the “Patriot Way” but Bill Belichick is a perfectionist and Danny Amendola’s time with New England shows. Amendola, even in an OTA practice doesn’t handle mistakes well. He was visibly ticked off at himself and swearing at himself on the sidelines after a small mistake. Several local beat writers took to social media about it. None complained.

The fact that Amendola wants perfection or at least near perfection every time he is on the field is the exact quality leadership that the Dolphins have been looking for. Amendola holds himself to a higher standard and that standard better get adopted by the younger guys around him. This pick-up could pay off in spades if the other players see what his own expectations are. The fact he has rings on his fingers doesn’t hurt either.

Raekwon McMillan

One story that came out over the last two days is by far my favorite. Injured on the kick-off of the first pre-season game last year, McMillan missed his entire rookie season. Last year McMillan won the interior linebacker job during training camp. His loss was a blow to the defense.

Over the last two days, McMillan now healthy, has been calling out defensive coverages and took it a step further when he was seen moving Stephone Anthony around and showing him why he needed to be there due to the alignment of the offense.

It is impressive on two levels. One that McMillan recognizes the offensive formations enough to direct the defense and two, the fact that not playing one single down in the NFL has not tempered his ability to lead. McMillan is emerging as a bona-fide leader on defense and that is a big missing piece for the Dolphins.

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Offensive line

Dave Hyde pointed out in his column today that during OTA’s offensive lineman really do not get a lot of work. That is true considering they can’t physically block anyone and are not be rushed. So it’s line up, snap the ball, and set.

This year the Dolphins are doing something a little different in that they are working hard with the lineman to gain a cohesive balance. They are working on getting the line signals down and are hoping to develop a consistency that has lacked over the past decade.

While nothing is certain, the Dolphins should enter camp with a set of starters and solid rotational players. The key will be to keep the first unit together as much as possible to build that continuity. Too often in years past the Dolphins didn’t simply rotate their lineman they literally started each day with different ones at different positions.

That should not be the case this year with Ja’Wuan James, Daniel Kilgore, Josh Sitton, and Laremy Tunsil all expected to be starters from day one of training camp. The question will come in at right guard where Jesse Davis and Ted Larsen will compete.

Speed? But who is the fastest?

Jakeem Grant is one fast dude. Kenyan Drake is one fast dude. Albert Wilson is one fast dude. But who is the fastest? New addition Albert Wilson believes that he is the fastest. In fact, he boasted to the press that he would beat the other two in a foot race. Balls in their court now.

Why is this important is the real question to be asked. The Dolphins have been a team that goes through the motions. They lack identity and frankly they lack personality. Sure Jarvis Landry was emotional but did his energy carry over to other players around him?

To see a player challenge other players even if in fun, is something that the Dolphins need. They need players who have a positive personality.

Wilson may be new but it is becoming more clear that these new guys are not afraid to open their mouths. McMillan isn’t new but he really is. Amendola is new to the Dolphins and we didn’t even mention the impact of Josh Sitton on the offensive line.

Leadership has been lacking for a very long time and it appears that just maybe the Dolphins have some players on their roster that are leaders. That is a big thing to take away from three days of OTA’s and it carries a lot more relevance than simple performances.