DAVIE (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins held their final practice session of training camp on Thursday at the teams practice facility in Davie.
The team spent the first part of the day inside the practice bubble as head coach Joe Philbin was working on preparing for Saturday’s preseason game in Tampa Bay.
“We devoted a lot of time in practice today to Tampa Bay and our preparation for the game,” Philbin said following practice. “The first three practices of the week were really focused on our own improvement, our own football team. But we’ve got our game plan in and guys are excited about playing. [Tampa Bay is] a good football team. They played well the other night. Their defense looked extremely good and we’re going to have to play well in Tampa.”
Saturday’s game should be a good test for the Dolphins to see how far they’ve come along since the beginning of training camp.
Between installing the new offense and tweaking the defense, there have been plenty of ups and downs throughout the first few weeks of the new season.
Following the Dolphins first preseason game against the Falcons, coaches had the team working on specific issues during the week that need to be resolved.
“Defensively, really the focus has been [on] tackling,” said Philbin. “We’ve spent a lot of time on that this week. We want to see out team tackle better and we want to get off the field better on third down.
“Offensively, it’s really consistency. Our first group only had one drive and it was a good drive, but they didn’t play a ton of football. So we’re going to get them on the field a little bit more and we’re looking to see consistent production out of our offense. Obviously we sputtered after that. We only scored, what three points the rest of the game? So we’ve got to be more productive and have more explosive plays on offense.”
One thing that will certainly help Miami in the explosive plays department is a healthy Mike Wallace.
Wallace sat out the Dolphins first preseason game with a hamstring injury but he expects to make his 2014 preseason debut on Saturday.
Thursday was a good day of practice for Wallace. He caught a couple touchdowns, one of which was an 80-yard bomb from Ryan Tannehill that Wallace caught over Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes.
New offensive coordinator Bill Lazor also had Wallace lining up in the slot as a big part of the new scheme involves moving the playmakers around before the snap.
Players have been raving about the new offense and Wallace is no exception.
“It’s great,” said Wallace on Thursday. “I get to work both sides of the field. You get to always create a mismatch. You could be anywhere, not just playing on both sides, but just playing in the slot sometimes and being able to run away from defenders. It’s fun. It’s exciting and, like I said, it gives you something to work at every single day.”
Another player who missed the first preseason game that’s hoping to play on Saturday is running back Knowshon Moreno.
Since returning from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, Moreno has not missed a practice. He participated in team drills for the first time this week and has looked much better than he did during organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp.
Moreno has had some nice runs this week and looked good when called upon to block and pick up blitzes. He’s getting closer and closer to being 100 percent healthy but it’s still unknown whether he’ll suit up on Saturday.
“I think in the running game he’s starting to look like kind of his old self,” Philbin said of Moreno. “I don’t know about the passing game quite yet, but I saw a glimpse or two where I think he was making a play or two over there. So we’re going to take a look at the tape and see where he’s at.”
There is no need to rush Moreno back before he is completely ready.
The regular season opener against New England is still over three weeks away. When asked about his progress, Moreno’s answer was very optimistic.
“Feel good, feel good,” Moreno said earlier this week. “I mean, still got to get into that football shape, but I feel really good out there. Cutting and doing the things I have to do.”
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