DAVIE (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins got back to work on Tuesday, taking the field for week 2 of Organized Team Activities.
Much of the focus since last season ended has been on Miami’s defense and the efforts to improve the unit that struggled mightily for much of 2016.
The Dolphins gave up more yards last season than ever before in franchise history and despite having one of the more talented defensive lines in the NFL, were one of the worst teams against the run.
Last week Ndamukong Suh shouldered much of the blame for the defensive struggles, especially when it came to stopping the run.
On Tuesday four of Suh’s defensive teammates stepped in front of the microphone and one of them, fellow defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, also showed some harsh criticism of his own struggles defensively.
Other speakers on Tuesday were safeties Reshad Jones and Nate Allen, and cornerback Xavien Howard.
They spoke about the competition level among the cornerbacks, the veteran leadership of the safeties and the talent level on Miami’s defense.
Here are some of the best quotes from each:
“I think like every other defense in the National Football League, [you have to] stop the run first. We’ve got to be solid on the run and I think if we can handle that, everything else will be alright.”
“I always felt like I’m one of the best safeties in the league and I still feel that way. I just want to continue to do that and go out and prove it.”
“Tony Lippett is looking good this spring. He’s making some plays. T.J. [McDonald] is running around pretty well. He’s another safety that I think, when he gets back – or whatever his situation is – he’ll be able to help us also. Right now, I think Tony Lippett is playing pretty good.”
“It’s early to put any rankings or anything like that; but I do think we have a good group. We have a lot of good pieces in Nate Allen we added and T.J. [McDonald]. ‘X’ [Xavien Howard] is playing good and like I said, Tony Lippett is playing probably the best ball he’s been playing. I think we can be special. We’ve got the ball rolling in the right direction, we’ve just got to continue to put the work in and make it happen.”
“I think ‘Zay’ can be one of the top corners in this league. I think he still has a long way to go, but he’s progressing from last year until now. He’s learning different formations and how to handle different splits and things like that. I think he’ll be a tough guy to handle once he fully gets the whole thing and gets a couple more snaps.”
“Yes, I’ve grown up a lot. I’m ready for the new opportunity. I’m ready to help the team the way I need to. It’s my third year. I’ve been under the wing of [Ndamukong] Suh for a while and the rest of the guys in the room. I know what to do. I know how to get it done. I’m ready for the challenge.”
“I’ve got to step up. I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do. It’s a big year for me. The team is looking for me to do what I need to do, so that’s what I’m here to do. I’m just looking at myself in the mirror and what I need to do, and that’s be better. So that’s what I’m going to do.”
“Probably when I got benched last year for those few games. It just opened my eyes to ‘Hey, you’ve got to go in week-in and week-out and do what you need to do, otherwise, you’re going to be put on the bench and you’re not going to play.’”
“I have some weight to lose. I’ll try to get down to a better [weight]. I played at 336 [pounds] last year. I’m trying to get down to about 320 [pounds] and see where that takes me.” (How much do you weigh now?) “Right around 335 – somewhere in there.”
“(I’m a) second-round pick that hasn’t done what I’ve needed to do so far. It’s time to step up.”
“We’ve got a lot of guys playing good right now and making some plays. We’re just moving guys around. It’s hard to say really one thing that’s really surprised me. Nothing, nothing too out of the ordinary has happened.”
“You all know Reshad is … his play speaks for itself. He’s who he is for a reason and he’s the guy. He makes a lot of plays and he’s just a great playmaker. I can see it early and I’ve watched him through the years. As I’ve been other places, I’ve always watched him on tape. He stands out. He’s a prolific playmaker and he practices hard. He helps out the young guys in the classroom. We just kind of feed off each other. We’re still kind of picking each other’s brains and getting a feel for how each other moves and how each other thinks in certain situations. We’re just … like I said earlier, we’re going to make each other better.”
“This is what OTAs are for. I think we’re making good progress and it’s not just me and Reshad, it’s the entire DB group. This is the first time I’ve played with these guys and the first time a lot of us have played together. So everybody’s just kind of feeling each other out because once you get that chemistry in the back end, you can make it a beautiful thing.”
“I think I do a little bit of everything and that’s just, through the years, I’ve had to play in systems where I was a designated free safety and where I’ve had to play where I was a designated strong safety. So I feel like I, I can play both and wherever they need me to be, whether it’s down the box, in the post, in coverage, whatever they need me to do and … I don’t know. It’s hard to say. I feel like I do a little bit of everything.”
“This organization is definitely hungry and, like I said, we’ve got a good group of guys and we know what we’re working for and we’ve just taking it day by day, just building to what we’re trying to get to.”
“This is my second year in the system, so I’m used to the defense, and it’s clearing things up for me. Last year, due to injuries and stuff like that, I couldn’t really just get in and learn the system like that, due to the injuries. But me just watching film and stuff like that helped me a lot.”
“I’m still learning how to be an elite cornerback in this league. I’m watching film of other guys and stuff like that, seeing what they are good at – like Byron Maxwell and Tony Lippett – to see what they are good at and see what I can improve on in my game from theirs.”
“In the Big 12, it’s a spread league, so there is a lot of passing and stuff like that. They spread out the field and just throw the ball. So me getting into the league and stuff like that, I see a lot of different clustered looks and different formations that they do. I’ve just got to get used to it.”
“There’s a lot of competition [at the corner position]. We can do some nice things on that side of the ball. There’s competition all the way. That’s how we make each other better. Just us out there competing and going against each other and making each other better.”