Dolphins’ Second Year Players Stand Out At Camp
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DAVIE (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins took the practice field on Monday for the first time since the team’s intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday at Sun Life Stadium.
After an encouraging performance from the Dolphins offense during the scrimmage, the unit seemed to take a step backwards on Monday.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill had perhaps his worst day of training camp, throwing three interceptions with two of them being returned for touchdowns.
To be fair, the offense was put in some difficult situations, such as being back up inside the 10-yard line, as Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin wants to make sure that the team is prepared for anything and everything that may happen on the field.
“I thought we got a lot of different situations at practice today,” Philbin said. “We did a backed up segment, we did segment at the end of the game where the defense has three time outs and the offense has to get a first down to somewhat end the game. So I thought we did some good. A lot of those situations that were positive. But, as you can probably tell, we got a lot of work to do.”
One player that really stood out on Monday was second year cornerback Will Davis.
The former third round draft pick was a standout during his first NFL training camp a year ago, but a toe injury he suffered during Miami’s final preseason game would end up limiting him to just five games and a total of 64 defensive snaps in 2013.
“For me, I still feel like this is definitely my rookie year,” Davis said following Monday’s practice. “You know, I still feel like a rookie. I know a lot of guys from 2013 [that] still feel like a rookie. So we’re coming in and we haven’t had all the playing time as a second-year guy.”
Healthy as ever, Davis has played well throughout camp and his hard work was rewarded on Monday when he intercepted Ryan Tannehill and returned it for a touchdown.
Davis also broke up several passes and deflected a few in the air as well. From start to finish, it was one of the better individual performances from a player so far during training camp. He was in the zone.
“It was one of those days where you came in and made a play earlier [in practice]. That always fuels you up. And then just, it seems like you’re reacting right and everything is just…going right.”
Another player from Davis’ draft class that stood out on Monday was running back Mike Gillislee.
Last season Gillislee was third on the tailback depth chart and saw very little game action behind Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas. He played in just three games, rushing for 21 yards on six carries.
The injury to Knowshon Moreno has given Gillislee more reps and the 23-year-old Florida native is making the most of them.
“It’s only a limited opportunity,” Gillislee explained on Monday. “So every time I touch the ball, every time I’m in there, it doesn’t matter what play I’m in there. I give it all I got”
He has shown a good burst of speed when getting to the outside and is also making people miss him which is something that, if he can do it during the preseason, will quickly get his coaches attention.
Another thing that Gillislee has improved on since last season is his blocking. This was an area that all Dolphins running backs struggled with last season and likely why they decided to sign Moreno who is an excellent pass blocker.
Gillislee showed off some of his new blocking skills on Monday and had some good blitz pick-ups as well. He recognizes that it’s an area that still needs work but he isn’t afraid of putting in the time to get better.
“I’m getting better, especially when we go against the linebackers, trying to get better at pass blocking to protect the quarterback.”
The Dolphins first preseason game is coming up on Friday when they travel up to Atlanta to face the Falcons.
It’ll be the first time in a long time that these players can line up and see an unfamiliar face in front of them. It’s something to be excited about as these games are the true gauge to see how far along the new offense has come and how prepared the defense can be.
One thing that the coaches will be paying close attention to is how the Dolphins run the ball behind the new-look offensive line. It will be a good opportunity for Gillislee and his fellow tailbacks to show where they’re at and how much progress has been made over the past several months.
It’s always good when your coach tells you exactly what he’s looking for, too.
“Good pad level when they’re running the football,” Philbin explained. “Some elusiveness, make you miss. I want to see some yards after contact. I want to see them step up with their shoulders square in pass protection. When they’re in the passing game I want them to be where they’re supposed to be, when they’re supposed to be there and catch the balls that we throw to them.”
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