Jeff Ireland can be a sweet talker.
A cloud threatened to block the South Florida sun, as it appeared second-year safety Reshad Jones may hold out due to his unhappiness over the front office’s silence regarding a new contract for the fifth-rounder. But according to the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero, the Dolphins GM was able to convince Jones to show up for OTAs with the promise of fresh negotiations at some point in the future. Ireland was able to convince Jones’ camp he’s listening without immediately caving. It’s a fine line to walk – and an important one, as Jones’ emerging talent will be critical in cementing the Dolphins’ defensive backfield.
Michael Egnew may have gotten the message.
Of all the stories on last summer’s “Hard Knocks,” Egnew’s was perhaps the hardest to watch. A regular whipping boy for the coaching staff, Egnew was lost throughout training camp and didn’t even appear in a game until Dec. 23 of last year – unacceptable for a third-rounder. With the signing of Dustin Keller (see below), Egnew was put on notice that his very roster spot may be in jeopardy. He seemed to respond at the OTA’s, showing a more aggressive streak in drills and more separation in practice.
Dustin Keller could become become Ryan Tannehill’s new BFF.
The Dolphins sought to upgrade all facets of their passing game, including tight end. And they seem to have found a solid upgrade in Keller, with whom the Miami sophomore QB connected often during OTA’s. Provided Keller stays healthy, he could have a breakout season.
Mike Wallace may not be Miami’s most important free-agent pickup.
That honor may go to former Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes. Not only did he look to have recovered nicely from an Achilles tear, but he showed off the playmaking ability that had him ranked as one of the league’s most talented corners prior to his injury. If his game-day performances are in line with his OTA showing, Grimes could be in for a nice payday at the end of his one-year deal with the Dolphins.
The Dolphins will seek to stretch the field this season.
Unlike last season’s training camp, in which the field was split horizontally to increase reps, this season’s OTAs utilized a field split from goal post to goal post. The goal? To more thoroughly implement a downfield passing game. Mike Wallace is already bragging on the strength of Ryan Tannehill’s arm, so look for the long-ball to be emphasized this year.
This is Joe Philbin’s team.
One of the abiding images of the Dolphins’ appearance on HBO’s Hard Knocks was head coach Joe Philbin picking up debris at the team’s practice facility. While it garnered some chuckles at the time, Philbin’s attention to detail is becoming integrated into Miami’s DNA. A new sign at team headquarters is emblazoned with the new logo and the phrase “Learn to play like champs,” and indeed, it seems like the Dolphins are learning to play better football. Several OTA trends seemed to back this up, including a report of less drops by Dolphin receivers.
Miami won’t miss Reggie Bush’s production.
That’s not to say the erstwhile Dolphins running back won’t be missed, period. His work ethic and preparation were admirable and a fine example. But the Dolphins have moved on, and the running game looks to be in good hands. Second-year running back Lamar Miller seems poised for a breakout season, and the rest of the depth chart looks promising, including rookie Mike Gillislee, who showed encouraging flashes during OTAs.
The offensive line is still a question mark.
The Dolphins are talking a good game about their front five, and they look to have some workable pieces – even with the departure of Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long, including recent addition Ryan Clabo. But these being OTAs, the pads haven’t come on yet, and we won’t have anything close to a clear picture of the state of the offensive line until they do.
The linebacker makeover could boost the defense.
Miami went younger at linebacker by importing Dannell Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler from the Ravens and Raiders, respectively. Ellerbee, in particular, seems ready for the challenge of elevating the unit’s play. He has been vocal about being a defensive leader, and without the shadow of retired legend Ray Lewis, Ellerbe could thrive in the south Florida sun. Meanwhile, the lone holdover from last season, Koa Misi, seems to have elevated his play during OTAs.
Ryan Tannehill is in charge of the offense.
With a promising year under his belt, the Miami quarterback seemed much more in command of the playbook during OTAs. And he’s incorporating new elements from the addition of wideout weaponry to a special emphasis on red zone offense. His teammates seem impressed, particularly the shiniest of his new toys, Mike Wallace, who has compared Tannehill’s tools favorably with those of his former QB, Ben Roethlisberger.