DAVIE (CBSMiami) – The practices may feature players without any pads on, but minicamps are still a big deal.
It’s the first mandatory on-field workout of the new season, with all players required to be in attendance.
The big story of Tuesday’s first minicamp practice had to do with the players who did not participate.
Left tackle Laremy Tunsil worked on the side along with center Mike Pouncey and defensive tackle Nick Williams.
Tunsil is nursing a mild leg injury but coaches are erring on the side of caution and keeping him off the field.
It’s been reported that Tunsil will sit out all three minicamp practices.
It’s worth noting that had this week been a game week, the second year lineman would be playing.
Pouncey may not take part in an actual practice until the regular season arrives, but training camp is also a possibility next month.
Ndamukong Suh was absent from the facility on Tuesday, excused by the team to deal with a family matter.
Head coach Adam Gase said that Suh will be back with the team on Wednesday.
A big topic on Tuesday surrounded running back Jay Ajayi and the big season that may be in front of him.
Ajayi has worked extremely hard during the offseason in order to improve the receiving side of his game.
Route running, pass catching and communication with his quarterback are just some of the ways he is working to get better.
Ajayi wants to be the best all-around running back in the NFL and is ready for a bigger workload, which Dolphins coaches have said is the goal.
In addition to head coach Adam Gase, several of Miami’s key players spoke to the media as Ajayi, Ryan Tannehill, Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, Andre Branch and Reshad Jones all came to the podium.
Here are the best quotes from Tuesday:
“[Ryan Tannehill has] gotten better throughout the entire offseason process. You can see he’s more comfortable with what we’re doing. He has a really good grasp of every little detail that we’re trying to fine tune. When you start being able to put your spin on how you see things and you have the ability to change plays at the line of scrimmage, when you feel really great with where you are in the offense, you have a lot of confidence to make those adjustments before the ball is actually snapped.”
“We’ve had some days where [Tannehill is] probably a little picky on when he misses a throw. He’s pretty hard on himself. It’s a good thing because he wants to be held as accountable as anybody else. He wants those guys to have extreme confidence that when they really run a great route and they create major separation, he’s putting them in a position to not only catch the ball but he wants to give them a ball where they can catch and continue their momentum and give them a chance to run after the catch. I think that’s a high priority for him always, is making sure that he’s throwing the best ball possible to give those guys a chance to run after catch.”
“I think every year it’s, once again, we’re starting over from every facet – offense, defense and special teams. We’re always going to kind of start fast. It’s easier to hit the brakes than it is to try to speed up. You always try to stay somewhat up-tempo. I think it helps the defense as well because it forces guys to make the calls and it keeps a great tempo for practice and guys moving around. There’s not a lot of standing around and that’s what you want. Today was a good deal for me just kind of standing back and watching and just seeing how fast some of the calls were coming in and how fast those guys were getting lined up and ready to play, and the calls were coming out and they were ready to go.”
“It’s slowed down for [Jay Ajayi] a lot from where we were last year at this time compared to where we are right now. The questions that he brings up to us are very detailed. They’re really beyond next-level questions. They’re almost kind of quarterback-ish questions for a running back. I love the way … His intrigue into every little detail of what’s going on at his position has been outstanding. He wants to be a guy that can be counted on first, second and third down. You can tell he does not want to come off the field. I know everybody gets concerned with the amount of carries and his physical style of running, and we’ll handle that as we go; but I love the mentality that he has right now of he wants to be a guy that is relied on as he’s our bell cow. At the same time, he’s our top third-down guy and red area and 2-minute guy. He wants to be the guy that no matter what the situation is, that we will have him in the game.”
“[Ajayi has] really spent a lot of time on [pass catching]. A lot of it is to his credit because he’s done it when he wasn’t around here. I’m going to say he must have spent a ton of time with his routes on his own and catching the ball. Whoever he was either … The guys he was working with, whether it was Ryan (Tannehill) or the other quarterbacks or if he was working with somebody else or working out somewhere else, he really must have spent a lot of time because he is on every little detail and way more comfortable catching the ball. He’s very hard on himself. Even if he slightly bobbles a ball, it’ll almost … You have to de-compress him a little bit because you don’t want him to be as angry as he gets because he’s striving for perfection so hard. We’ve been talking about, ‘Hey, when something like that happens, we’ve got to move on to the next play and we’ve got to clear the conscience and move on and learn from that experience.’ As we’ve gone through this, he’s done a better job of even that, of trying to make sure if he has a slight hiccup somewhere, ‘I’m moving on to the next thing.’
“There were some throws I was really happy with and some that I’d like to have back. I think that’s probably pretty standard for every practice throughout the whole year. There’s always something where you want the ball a little higher or a little lower, a little more outside, whatever it may be. So it’s something we’re constantly looking at. We’re looking at on tape. We’re giving ourselves grades on ball location and then trying to improve it.”
“Jay [Ajayi] put in time, starting back in March with us. We had the receivers out there. Jay came back in town. He was in California training for a while. He came back and was out there working with us. So I’ve seen him, I think take particular care in his routes and have an effort into each route. I see him run around and he’ll come back and talk to me ‘Hey, what did you think about here?’ If he doesn’t like the way he ran it, he’ll run another one. With running backs a lot of times, those things can get overlooked as far as the details of route running and being that weapon; but I think he wants to expand his role in this offense. We use our backs out of the backfield a lot. I think it’s a big weapon for us and he’s a guy that can do it. He catches the ball well. He understands concepts well and so it’s something that we look to get him the ball a lot this year out of the backfield.”
“I think as an offense we’ve got to stay on the field longer. I think we didn’t have enough plays as an offense and we’re trying to combat that in a number of different ways but ultimately it comes down to getting first downs. We’ve got to be able to get first downs, convert on third down and keep drives alive. Find a way. It’s not always going to be scheduled plays. You’re going to have to make plays on scramble drills. Receivers are going to have to catch and run. There are a lot of things that go into it but ultimately it comes down to putting yourself in third-and-manageable situations and then converting on those third-and-manageable when you get them. When you get third-and-6 or less – which we feel really confident if we get third-and-6 or less then we should be able to convert a high percentage of those – we have to make it happen. We have to do what it takes to make those plays and keep drives alive.”
“I think Jay’s second year, my second year in the offense, where we’re all more familiar in what we’re doing and how we’re attacking. I think he – like you just talked about – he is taking a step, as far as a receiver out of the backfield, where we were splitting him out wide. We saw him catch a pass today split out wide, down in the red zone, or he’s coming out of the backfield. Or even my check counts. Check downs can be huge plays where second-and-10, you call a pass, it gets covered up, you dump it down and now you’re in third-and-3 because he gets 7 yards. I think that’s one area where we look to improve upon. If we don’t like what we see down field, then get the ball to the back and let him make a play.”
“I think last year, we were trying to do the no-huddle, but we struggled with speed as far as getting up, communicating quickly and running the play. This year we’ve put a lot of emphasis on that, being able to communicate quickly, not over-communicate things, but communicate clearly and get up and go. I think from OTA 1 to now we’ve seen a big increase of that, and we look to continue that throughout training camp. Last year we kind of got away from the no huddle, like Week 4 or 5 right there. So hopefully we can keep that going throughout this year and put pressure on defenses in that way.”
“I think the chemistry [on offense is different]. Everybody knows their role. Everybody knows the position they’re going to be playing. Jay [Ajayi] came in last year, didn’t come with us the first game, he knows he’s the starting running back now. This is Ryan [Tannehill]’s fifth or sixth year. He’s a veteran guy now in this league. I see him taking charge a little bit more. DeVante [Parker] is healthy. ‘Juice’ has still been Jarvis [Landry]. The offense is looking good. Like I said, I think the chemistry is there now. Those guys know where they’re going to be and everybody knows their role.”
“It was hard for those guys to pick up the offense last year; but now, I think they feel comfortable and more reliable. They know where each other is going to be. Ryan is feeling a little bit better throwing the ball. He’s got weapons now with all of those guys on the offensive side of the ball. It should be fun and interesting.”
“I think we’ve been building chemistry [on defense] out here within spring ball and OTAs, different things like that. Nate [Allen] is a veteran safety. He’s played a lot of ball. He’s been around for a while and he knows football. I think it’ll come as long as we keep working out here on the practice field. I think the chemistry will be there.”
“I don’t think we’re worried about anything outside of this building. Everybody in this building knows what we’re working for and I think it’s bigger than the playoffs. As long as we continue to improve and work amongst ourselves, it doesn’t matter what anybody says outside of this building.”
“I think it’s hard to say [how much he has improved from year one to year two], being that he was down a lot last year; but ‘X’ [Xavien Howard] is a great player and he’s been locking guys down on defense. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do this season.”
“You’ll never hear me talk about stats. That’s not really a question I feel like answering.”
“[DeVante Parker is] healthy and he’s confident in that, and he’s playing hard and he’s just prepared. I feel like he’s talked to you guys. I think I saw a quote about him talking about just him not being injured and ready to go out there and show what he can do, and so just be prepared for that.”
“We tend to look at Jarvis [Landry] a lot of the times to see what he’s doing. The way that he plays, he leads by example, and so we’ve got some ‘rah, rah’ guys; but I mean we’ve got a young team and we’re always ready to go. We feel like we’re the underdog and so that’s part of our mindset.”
“The majority of the time, the leaders on the team are guys that are contributing. It happens that it’s not that way sometimes; but yes, most of our guys that are … All of our guys are out there making plays, so it just depends on who wants to step up and lead for that day, I guess.”
“[Charles Harris is] very explosive, and he wants to learn. That’s the biggest thing. He always ask questions. He’s not an ‘I know it all’ type of guy. He’s a kid that wants to learn and just keep getting better and wants the respect out of his brothers, and that’s what we are going to give him.”
“This is a new group, so we’re still developing [who the defensive leaders are]. We look amongst each other. It might be me one day, it could be Cam [Wake], it could be Reshad [Jones], it could be [Ndamukong] Suh. You never know who it’s going to be that day, because at the end of the day, everybody’s going to have a down day; but we pick each other up and we make sure that we’re all on top of our stuff.”
“I think this team just plays with a chip, at the end of the day. We just play with a chip on our shoulders and we compete with each other each and every day. We just want to make sure that we are the best that we can be. I think that’s the main part and no matter what, we know what we have in our locker room and we know we’ve just got to keep on going.”
“I would definitely say that the people they brought in definitely help. There are a bunch of long-term guys that have been in this league for a long time, playing at a high level. Then we have young guys that just bring it and want to be the best that they can be. That’s all you can ask.”
“There are some young guys out here that ask questions of what they should do, so that’s great. The earlier you get on it, the better. I wish I would’ve done it my rookie year. I might not have hit the wall so early. It’s great if you have a young guy that gets it; but it takes time. I know it definitely takes times because they have a ton of stuff going through their mind right now.”
“We come out wanting to play a little faster than we did last year. We’re getting a hang of the offense now. We’re just coming out playing faster than we did last year.”
“The things I learned from [Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills] is to just go out there and play and give it their all. That’s something I want to do and I just like being on the field with those guys. I like being out there with them, tired or whatever, just giving it our all.”
“I know what I can do when the ball is in my hands and when the ball is not in my hands. I’ve just got the ability.”
“I feel good about things right now. I am having a lot of fun on the field, interacting with those guys, talking smack to the defense whenever I can. It’s just fun. We both go back at it – back and forth at it. I just like being out there.”
“[I was] definitely working this offseason. Just being able to run better routes and being more detailed, that was a priority for me this offseason. [I] definitely feel a lot better than last year, and I’m still working. I’m still going out each day trying to get better, but I definitely feel like I’m a lot ways ahead this year than I was last year.”
“I know I can do it, personally. During college, I was a guy who was able to catch the ball out of the backfield and also run. I prided myself in being able to do everything and be on the field for the whole game. Getting into the NFL, I know it’s a lot different, but I still believe I have that skillset. It was really about developing it even more now at this level and trying to push myself to become elite. That’s really what I’ve been working on, knowing that I have the skillset and really putting the hammer to the nail and working tirelessly at it [so] I can go out there Sundays and really become that weapon that I want to be.”
“My rookie year I had a lot on my plate. For sure, I was just trying to figure out what I was doing, learning how to be a pro and everything. But right now, having a couple years under my belt, knowing what I want to be, I want to be the best. I strive for that. I know that to be considered the best at the running back position, you have to be a guy that can do it all. Last year, I was able to do a lot of great things on the ground, but I felt like something was missing in my game. I knew I could do it, so I just wanted to be able to come out and practice and continue to work at it, continue to show that I can do it and be consistent.”
“From the first year I was here as a rookie, I had some adversity being hurt and all types of stuff. It’s hard to get into the game, grasp it, get the knowledge of your playbook and all that. Then we get a new coach – all these different things. But now being in Year 3, having been able to have a good year like last year, I learned a lot of things. I feel like right now, I’m definitely a lot more comfortable on the field, a lot more composed. I do know little details out there that have been able to help me react faster, be quicker in my reads and also allowing me to be more confident on the field.”
“Last year, I felt good to be able to carry the ball. At the end of the year, I did get banged up in that Bills game, but at the same time, each week I was ready to go out there and do whatever needed to be done, however many carries that was. Knowing what we want to do this year and knowing myself and how I felt in some of the games where I was able to get into a rhythm and get over 20 carries, I feel like we were able to do well. In those games that I got to a certain amount of carries, I feel like that was when our offense was doing the best. We were getting a lot of plays on offense, we were scoring points and both sides of the ball were also doing well. If that’s the case, then I’ll be completely for it, and I’m ready for that. That’s what I’m preparing myself to do. We’ll see what happens this year as the season comes up. Each game plan each week, like you said, could be different; but I know for myself personally, I’ll be ready to carry the ball however many times I have to.”
“I feel like I’m a workhorse, and I get better as the game keeps going as I continue to be a part of the game. Yes, I feel like if I can get a certain amount of carries, then that’ll be good for our team as well.”