DAVIE (CBSMiami) – Fans were lined up first thing Friday morning to see their favorite Miami Dolphins players for the first time since last December. The first training camp practice of the season was open to the public and around 1,000 fans were in attendance at the teams practice facility in Davie.
Dolphins’ rookies Ja’Wuan James and Jarvis Landry received their first taste of Dol-fan Nation on Friday, as did free agent signings Louis Delmas, Cortland Finnegan and Knowshon Moreno.
Moreno was placed on the PUP list by the Dolphins on Thursday so he was unable to participate in practice but he stayed on the sidelines and was closely observing what the offense was working on. He’s expected to start practicing sometime in the next week.
As was the case throughout organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamps, the Dolphins offense looked good but sputtered at times. One of the first plays during 11-on-11 drills was a botched exchange between Ryan Tannehill and Lamar Miller, possibly showing some of the nerves that come with the first day of camp.
“Today wasn’t our best practice,” said Tannehill. “Some first day struggles but we [also] had some good things. We had some good routes run out there, some good catches…so there’s stuff to build off of.
“Obviously we have to clean up the ugly stuff but I’m confident we can do that quickly.”
The ugly stuff includes the aforementioned bad exchange, when backup center Sam Brenner snapped the ball over Matt Moore’s head and some dropped passes and incorrect routes from the receivers.
There were still plenty of good moments that came from the offense. Tannehill hit Mike Wallace about 40-yards down the left sideline during seven-on-seven drills but an earlier attempt on the right sideline from the same distance was underthrown.
Rookie receiver Jarvis Landry looked very quick and made a couple nice moves with the ball. He plays much bigger than his five-foot eleven size would indicate but it still remains to be seen if the quickness he showed on Friday will translate to when the team starts working in full pads.
There will be plenty of opportunities for Landry to excel inside of offensive coordinator Bill Lazor’s new scheme and it hasn’t taken long for the rookie to see the benefits of playing inside of an offense like this.
“I love it,” smiled Landry. “[Lazor] is a great coach. He challenges us every day not only physically but mentally which helps us improve every day.”
Aside from his coach, Landry also had some nice things to say about his quarterback, noting that Tannehill has become a leader both on and off the field.
“He’s a good guy,” said Landry of Tannehill. “He’s just being the leader that we need, pushing us and challenging us also in the meeting rooms to come out here and physically do it.”
Landry comes in as part of a draft class that could be one of the better ones in recent Dolphins history.
First round pick Ja’Wuan James has worked as the starting right tackle since first putting on a Dolphins jersey. His play on the field indicates that new general manager Dennis Hickey made the right choice in selecting him with the 19th overall pick.
Between the draft and in free agency, Hickey has done a good job in addressing the Dolphins most pressing needs from a season ago. The first item on that list was unquestionably the offensive line, and after brining in Lazor to add some flavor to a very bland offense there wasn’t much else that needed changing on that side of the ball.
Miami has one of the better receiving corps in the league and that includes their up-and-coming tight end Charles Clay. Hickey realizes that with Lazor at the helm, the only thing that now needs to happen is the natural progression of Tannehill.
Coming into his third season in the league, Tannehill should be well acclimated to life in the NFL and have no problems being prepared for whatever may come his way. He has shown signs that he can become a franchise quarterback but this is the year to prove that he can consistently be a top-level passer.
“Usually quarterbacks in the third year really take the next step,” said Hickey. “And that’s what we’re expecting. Ryan’s spending a lot of time this offseason working on all aspects of his game. You really saw growth in there.
“We’re really excited about his 2014 season.”
Expectations for the upcoming Dolphins season aren’t very high outside of Davie, but that doesn’t mean anything to Tannehill or his teammates.
The players and coaches are well aware of how differently things would seem if they hadn’t lost their final two games last season and missed the playoffs. Still, they know that the team Hickey has put together for this season should be much improved on the one from a season ago.
That being the case, they all know that the sky is the limit for how far this team can go, and nobody knows it better than Tannehill.
“We wanna play deep into January and February,” said Tannehill. “That’s our goal at this point, to go out and win the division and play in the playoffs. There’s a big season ahead of us and I think anything less than that is not up to our standards.”