MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins will begin their Organized Team Activities today in Davie.
It will be the first time that rookies and veterans will be on the field together.
Coaches will get a much better idea of who is coming into the new season improved and ready to go, and who is not.
On Monday, Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post joined the Hochman and Crowder Show on 560 WQAM to preview Miami’s OTAs and give an idea of what to watch out for.
An area that everyone will be watching closely is the defense.
The unit struggled mightily as last season progressed and there was a concentrated effort during the offseason to improve the unit.
“I think Bobby McCain and Tony Lippet are fighting for roster spots,” Schad noted, bringing attention to the fact that Adam Gase has no problem cutting loose former Dolphins draft picks.
Miami big turnaround last season following an abysmal 1-4 start was the release of offensive linemen Dallas Thomas and Billy Turner, a pair of third round picks taken in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
The defense isn’t the only thing that will be closely watched though.
“I think the biggest thing we will be watching for is Ryan Tannehills knee,” he said.
Yup. That is correct.
From all indications given by members of the Dolphins coaching staff, Tannehill is good to go and doesn’t appear to be any worse for the ware following his season-ending knee injury suffered last December.
A healthy and thriving Tannehill will be essential to Miami building on its 10-win 2016.
Schad on DeVante Parker- “Some guys just never figure out to stay healthy. It’s a skill, it’s not just luck. You’ve got to take care of yourself. The Dolphins think DeVante Parker has figured that out. He has the talent to lead the team in receiving yards and touchdowns.”
This is true. Parker has always had the size and raw talent to be a special receiver in the NFL but he struggled to figure out how to get there. Now he’s living on a proper schedule, working with a nutritionist and making sure to get plenty of rest. The coaching staff has been raving about Parker and he could be poised for a big-time breakout season.
Schad on Miami’s offseason moves- “You know what you’ve got, you like it and you keep it. They added a pass-rusher and a thumper. You draft a young linebacker and a corner. I’m a little concerned that they didn’t add more to the offensive line with the guard and center position.”
Miami’s big offseason moves were extending the contracts of Kiko Alonso, Kenny Stills, Reshad Jones, Cameron Wake and Andre Branch while adding new players such as linebacker Lawrence Timmons, defensive tackle William Hayes, tight end Julius Thomas, safety Nate Allen and suspended safety T.J. McDonald, who will miss the first eight games of the season but is a young and ascending NFL talent.
They also spent most of their draft picks on defensive players and could get quality minutes from first round pick Charles Harris (defensive end), second round pick Raekwon McMillan (linebacker) and third round pick Cordrea Tankersley (cornerback). On offense, fifth round pick Isaac Asiata (guard) could also contribute right away as he will compete for a starting job.
As for the interior of the offensive line, it’s troubling that there doesn’t appear to be a big insurance policy if center Mike Pouncey goes down with another injury.
Miami’s coaching staff likes the idea of cross-training players at certain positions, so inside linebackers can play on the outside and in this case, guards can slide over and play center if needed.
Look for interior lineman Anthony Steen, Kraig Urbik and Ted Larsen to compete for the backup center spot. Those three will also battle with Jermon Bushrod and Asiata for the starting guard spots.
Listen to Joe Schad’s full interview on 560 WQAM’s Hochman and Crowder Show by clicking below: