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Focus On Defensive Backfield, Offensive Line As Dolphins Begin Week 2 Of OTAs

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins will take the field on Tuesday for the beginning of their second week of Organized Team Activities.

So far the Dolphins have had three OTA practices that were held last week.

Only one of the three workouts was open to the media and longtime Sun-Sentinel Dolphins beat writer Omar Kelly joined the Joe Rose Show on 560 WQAM to talk about what he saw and what to expect this week.

One thing that Kelly noticed was the play of Miami’s defense, and was quick to point out a potential breakout star in the secondary.

“The first OTA we saw a few pick six’s and Xavien Howard looked great,” Kelly said. “He was probably my favorite player to watch.”

Howard was selected in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft by Miami but injuries cut his season in half.

He started in each of the eight games he played and hopes are high that he will take a big step forward in 2017.

Another player that Miami is expecting to play a major role on the defense is free agent linebacker pickup Lawrence Timmons.

The veteran was very productive during his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dolphins brought him in to help solidify a position that was in need of immediate improvement.

A big part of Timmons’ appeal to Miami is his ability to play any of the three linebacker positions.

“I played every position in Pittsburgh so I’m used to being interchangeable. I’m like a fixer,” Timmons said last week. “I feel like I can cover, stop the run. I can blitz the passer. So, just go from there.”

Throughout the offseason Miami’s coaching staff has said the plan was to cross-train the linebackers so they can play anywhere on the field in any situation.

After one week of OTAs it seems they’re doing exactly that.

“Timmons was doing everything,” Kelly said. “It’s going to take me a minute to figure out how they are going to use him.”

It’s likely going take head coach Adam Gase and defensive coordinator Matt Burke a little while to figure it out as well.

But it’s a good problem to have.

Regarding Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, there hasn’t been much concern coming from either Adam Gase or the quarterback himself about his left knee following last December’s season-ending injury.

“There were a couple instances where he was limping away from the action, but it was a showcase for them to see he was healthy. He says it’s not an issue,” Kelly said. “Gase went out of his way to make sure we knew nobody is thinking about it.”

The more we get to see out of Tannehill, the easier it will be to move past the first serious injury of his career.

“I would love to see this week Ryan throw on the run, show me he is still the same athlete as before,” Kelly said.

Staying on the injury front, nobody was surprised when center Mike Pouncey did not participate in on-field workouts.

Pouncey is recovering from hip surgery and after offseason fears that the Pro Bowler’s career may be over, Dolphins trainers are taking a very cautious approach while hoping that he can play this season.

“They’ve had a plan, they don’t intend for him to participate or practice,” Kelly said. “He might not even do much in training camp.”

Last season was the first year in recent memory that Miami’s offensive line wasn’t one of the worst in the league, and the results with Tannehill and the offense were as clear as day.

Its best games were the few that Pouncey was on the field and the Dolphins line will need its anchor if they want to build on last season’s success.

“If he’s not going to be a part of that offensive line I have no confidence in that offense,” Kelly said.

Miami added depth, signing veteran Ted Larsen and drafting Isaac Asiata in the fifth round, to a versatile group that includes Jermon Bushrod, Kraig Urbik and Anthony Steen.

Larsen, Urbik and Steen can play each of the three interior line positions. Urbik and Steen played both guard and center for Miami at some point last season.

Assuming Pouncey is good to go for Week 1, it will be Bushrod, Urbik, Steen, Larsen and Asiata competing for the two guard spots.

 

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