DAVIE (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins walked onto a rain-soaked practice field to begin the final week of OTA workouts on Monday.
It was the seventh OTA practice held by the Dolphins, with three more coming in the next three days.
During past regimes practices have been moved into the practice bubble during rainstorms, but not under head coach Adam Gase.
He prefers to let his team practice in the bed weather as they are likely to run into some wet, slippery games at some point during the season and this way, they’re more prepared.
As has been the case every day during OTAs, the media was given time with several players and coaches.
Monday seemed to be rookie day as linebacker Raekwon McMillan, cornerback Condrea Tankersley and guard Isaac Asiata answered questions, as did head coach Adam Gase and associate head coach/special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi.
Here are the best quotes from each:
“Today was a good experience for us. [Defensive Coordinator] Matt [Burke] and myself talked about it once it started coming down pretty good of ‘we might not stay on the script here.’ We have some philosophies that we like to do when we do have these kind of situations come up. Play calling starts changing; the way we play defense starts changing. We both had to make those adjustments through practice so really the scripts kind of go out the window. You start calling it like a game.”
“It was really good to see the guys just never batting an eye. We had guys staying on their feet and we weren’t slipping and sliding all over the place. The grass held up well. It was good for us to go through.”
“[The defense has] done a really good job. The speed has been outstanding. The coverage has been tight. Any time we have pressure, our fits and where guys are supposed to go has been really good. It seems like they have a pretty good grasp of the playbook right now. We’re just hoping we’ll keep improving. We just don’t want to get stuck on ‘Hey, we feel pretty good.’ We have to keep finding ways to improve.”
Q- Is it a positive mental hurdle for QB Ryan Tannehill to clear with the slick field out there, with his knee?
A- “I think you guys are thinking about that a little more than we are or he is. He’s fine.”
“I personally love it because now it becomes a real game for us. We’ll see how our guys react to it and understand what we’re trying to do. We saw last year in the Arizona game, you have to keep your feet. The ball was popping up, popping all over the place. We were getting turnovers. We did a fairly good job of protecting the ball in that game and that’s probably what helped us win that thing. Just to get this experience of … Those balls today, it’s not like we got so many of them to where you’re constantly having a fresh ball. Those things were pretty water logged. I know [Equipment Manager] Joe [Cimino] was trying to change them out as much and as quickly – his staff is trying to get those things as dry as possible. But we kind of want that wet ball situation and to make it as hard as possible for our players.”
“[The rookies have] done a pretty good job. They’ve gotten a ton of reps. They’ve handled it well. I see those guys are very engaged in meetings. It says something about these guys that have either been drafted or found by the scouts as an undrafted free agent to where that emphasis of let’s make sure we’re getting the right kind of guys that can fit into our culture and understand what we’re looking for and listen to how we want to do our note taking, studying, in the meetings how our guys are learning. I thought what [General Manager] Chris [Grier] and the scouting staff has put together has really been beneficial for us this spring.”
“[The running backs are] a very, very tight group. That whole group, they’re happy for each other’s success. If one guy is not on the field, you never see a guy standing by himself upset he’s not in the game. They are always kind of in it for each other. It’s pretty cool to watch over this last year then heading into the spring, how much they pull for each other. I think we’ve started something good last year with our running game. Jay [Ajayi] has really done a great job of taking the lead with that group and becoming really our bell cow running back. Those other guys are all trying to figure out ‘Where do I fit in best for us?’ They’re all ready to go if something would happen and they had to be the next guy. I really like that group and love the way they’re working right now.”
“What we do every offseason is we look at a bunch of different situations. We really go back and look at all the reviewable plays. That’s one of the things that I’m charged with during the game – myself, [Assistant Special Teams Coach] Marwan Maalouf. We go back and look at all the reviewable plays from last year. That’s one example. All the plays we lost review or won review, we go back and look at all kind of stuff. We look at a bunch of different 2-minute situations. We go back and look at a bunch of ones we thought we might have played different. We go back and look at good timeouts, bad timeouts, a bunch of those different things. We spend a good part of the offseason looking at a whole bunch of things in terms of situational football. There’s a bunch of different special teams things that come up – as we all know – situationally. So yes, we spend a lot of time during the offseason doing that.”
“We try to play those [replay] reviews out as if we were live, in-game, because you don’t have that much time to make a decision. Ironically enough last year, we didn’t have a ton of reviewable plays [because] just the way the games transpired, and then we had two big ones in one game. We had like a drought for a long, long time where we didn’t have any. And then all of a sudden it was the Jets game where we had the Dion Sims non-touchdown turned touchdown, and then we reviewed the spot on the third down, made it a fourth down and they didn’t get it. It ended up being two huge plays. And then all of a sudden, we went into a drought again. You never know when they’re going to come up. So we try to practice those as if they’re live. We’ll put them on the big screen and say, ‘Right here, are you thinking review, not review? Challenge, not challenge?’ You try to practice as much as you can. It’s hard, because it’s hard to do it in practice. You can’t really practice reviewing a challenge in practice. With that as well – like we’re practicing right now – myself, I’ll watch the offensive and defensive plays and look at the sideline plays and the end zone plays, and you’re saying to yourself … You’re always trying to work yourself, because you have to practice it like anybody else. You’re saying to yourself as you’re watching it live, ‘Is that one I would’ve reviewed? Is that the spot I would’ve reviewed? Are his feet inbounds? Was it a catch through the end zone?’ All those different things that you can review. It requires a lot of film work and really trusting your instincts. Fortunately – knock on wood – we’ve been pretty good with it in the last couple years, and hopefully it continues.”
“I think it’s a reflection of everybody – winning those close games last year. We didn’t win it one way. It wasn’t like the offense won every game with a 2-minute drive. It wasn’t like the defense held them every … It was something different every week. It was us driving down the field against the Rams to beat them. It was Kiko Alonso intercepting a ball. It was Kenyan Drake running back a kick return. It was Andrew Franks making a field goal with time running (out) up in Buffalo, and then Jay Ajayi having a big run. We did it a different way, and it was different people every week. It wasn’t the same guy. That was the most impressive thing to me. I think that is a combination of coaching and playing. It wasn’t one person.”
“Miami rain is different than Utah rain, I’ll tell you that. That was a tsunami. That thing was crazy. I’ve never got rained on like that before. That was fun.”
“I’m just getting caught up to the speed. I mean it’s really, really fast paced. It’s kind of like when you go from high school to college and you’ve got to get adjusted to the college speed; but then now, like everybody’s fast. Everybody is the best at what they do and so it’s tenfold. Going into week three, just learning … I’m trying more to dissect the playbook. I’m trying to learn my assignments so that I don’t have to think, it becomes second nature and I can just go out there play football.”
“I’ve been asked to block [Ndamukong] Suh and he’s Suh for a reason. He has that, I guess that credential on him of being one of the best for a reason. I respect him for that. Every time I get to go against him I know I’m going against the best and that’s only going to make me better.”
“They’re just trying to have me play … learn all three spots [on the inner-offensive line]. For me at Utah, I played right [guard] and I played left, and I played a little tackle too. It’s been a while since I’ve played [right] guard. I like playing either side or wherever they want me to play at.”
“I feel still I haven’t earned anything. I don’t think I’ll earn anything until we’re into training camp and even then, for me, I feel like respect, especially from these veteran guys, especially on the O-line and the rest of the team, that’s everything to me – for me to earn their trust and the coaches trust. So I still feel like I have a long way to go and I just got to keep taking it one day at a time.”
“An NFL stadium is definitely different than an NCAA stadium, I know that much. When I went on the field for the first time, it was an overwhelming feeling. That stadium is beautiful. The Hard Rock Stadium is amazing. I look forward to playing games on Sunday in that stadium.”
“I’ve practiced in the rain before. I’m from South Georgia. It’s nothing new. One day it’s 95 [degrees], the next day it’s pouring down rain. It’s just fun to be outside doing what I love.”
“At Ohio State, we did a lot of the things that we do here, but [at Ohio State it was] less complex. Way less complex. In an NFL game, we go into all the different types of route combinations that the offense can give us and it’s an elite level of players. So you’ve got to change it up every now and then. But playing at the best of the best in college, it helped me out a lot. It helped me adjust to the speed of the game here. Just on the mental side, we did a lot of things at Ohio State that helped us transition to the NFL. Coming here, the only thing that’s going to help you get to where you want to be is reps and going out there and doing it, staying healthy, and going out there, doing it and being available and being coachable.”
“We come in and we learn every day about the game, physically, in this building. But for [Kiko Alonso and Lawrence Timmons], it’s about what they do off the field. Kiko and his diet, how he takes care of his body. He comes in … I asked him, I just pick his brain on what he does in the offseason – hot yoga, stretching every day, twice a day or something like that. He goes vegan every now and then. He watches what he eats and it’s the same thing with Lawrence. Somebody who has played for 10-plus years, you’ve got to look at how they take care of their body and how they’ve been able to sustain his level of play over a long period of time. Really, from them, it’s been just soaking in everything they do off the field.”
“My skill – I call it a skill – but coachability. A lot of players come up with a hot head and think they’re this and think they’re that. But being coachable, it’s a skill that not a lot of people have learned to sustain over their career. Once they think they’re a starter, they think they’ve got it. So being coachable goes out the window. Ever since I stepped foot on campus and at Ohio State all the way until my junior year when I left, I always went into the meetings with a notebook and pen and wrote down notes and been coachable, and the same thing when I got here. The transition into my rookie year, one of my goals was to be coachable. When I’m up, when I’m having a good time, when I’m getting picks in practice and when I’m messing up play after play, just be coachable.”
“It’s very difficult [transitioning from college to the NFL] but you know, we have vets who help us try to learn the process, try to learn the system. The coaches also do a great job of keeping us going and also being able to watch a lot of film and study so we’re not that far behind.”
“I just follow my vets and study the game so the next practice, I’m always prepared. I don’t go out there being lost. I’m always prepared. It’s just getting used to the speed of the game.”
“The only thing that was really overwhelming was just the speed, just adjusting to it. Every receiver you go against is really good. There’s no drop offs. You have to always be ready to bring your A-game every snap. So just being able to adjust every snap and give 100 percent every snap.”
“I’ve played some in the slot. Mainly man, basically wherever they need me to play. I’m an open book. But mainly if a receiver goes inside, I’ll match up with him.”
“We’re all out competing. I’m competing not only with the vets, but with myself as well. I always want to get better, so you’ve got to follow before you lead. I kind of just look at those guys as my leaders and one day they’ll be able to pass the baton to me.”
“I will never be equal. [Veterans] put in extra work. Those guys have been here way before me. I’m a rookie. I just have to learn. Can I play with them? Of course. I feel like I can play with anybody. But as for that standpoint, I feel like those guys will always have that step ahead of me. I mean [Byron Maxwell] won a Super Bowl. Some of them have won Super Bowls. Some of them have been here for six or seven years. I’m just getting here. I’m always willing to follow those guys lead.”