DAVIE (CBSMiami) – The aqua and orange of the Miami Dolphins was back on the team’s practice field on Tuesday.
The Dolphins opened their Organized Team Activities, or OTAs, at their practice facility in Davie.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill took the field, working his way back from a season-ending knee injury that took place during last year’s training camp.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Tannehill will be participating with out any limitations as Miami begins their 10 days of OTA workouts.
Tannehill, 30, has suffered two major knee injuries in the past two years.
He missed the end of the Dolphins playoff-bound 2016 season after spraining the ACL and MCL in his left knee during a December win over Arizona.
Tannehill avoided surgery and entered 2017 training camp with plenty of confidence after his breakout season the year before, but a non-contact injury to that same left knee in early August proved to be a knockout blow.
A torn ACL and corresponding surgery ended Tannehill’s 2017 campaign before it ever began.
That sent Miami down a road that saw them sign Jay Cutler out of retirement and finish a season that began full of promise with a disappointing 6-10 record.
Now, Cutler is gone, as are Jay Ajayi, Jarvis Landry, Ndamukong Suh and Mike Pouncey.
Make no mistake, Miami will have a new look in 2018.
They went with older veterans in some areas, such as running back Frank Gore and wide receiver Danny Amendola, but are counting on unproven rookies elsewhere.
11th overall pick Minkah Fitzpatrick was viewed by some as the most talented defensive player in the 2018 NFL Draft. The safety out of Alabama will be eased into action but big things are expected of the playmaking specialist who should help the Dolphins covering opposing tight ends.
Also on defense, a couple of young linebackers could really boost a unit that has struggled mightily in recent years.
2017 second round pick Raekwon McMillan was poised to be a starter last season before his rookie year ended while covering the first kickoff of the preseason.
McMillan will be watched closely during the offseason and training camp, but hopes are that he can reclaim his role as starting middle linebacker.
Additionally, 2018 third round selection Jerome Baker could flank McMillan on the outside if he impresses during the summer. The speedy linebacker should help in coverage and is a solid tackler.
He showed up to Miami’s rookie camp ready to work and has carried that over into OTAs.
“It’s been a blessing,” Baker said. “It’s fun. The weather is good, the people are amazing. It’s definitely been a fun first few weeks here.
“I just really wanna study the playbook, get all the in’s and out’s. Just do what I do, whatever the coaches ask me I’ll do to the best of my abilities.”
Miami gave up more receptions to tight ends (94) than any other team last season, with quarterbacks completing a ridiculous 70 percent of their passes that targeted tight ends.
Fitzpatrick, McMillan and Baker are all players who can significantly help the Dolphins defense in that area.
While Baker and the others may be new to the Dolphins, they’re all aware of how big a deal it is to have Tannehill back on the field.
“He went out there and just slung it around, it was great to see him back,” Baker said of Tannehill. “I’m excited, it’s definitely gonna be a good year.”
Another rookie that could have an immediate impact is tight end Mike Gesicki. He was taken in the 2nd round out of Penn State and while he isn’t known for his blocking, that’s not why the Dolphins drafted him.
Production from the tight end position has been a big problem for Miami but they now have an extremely athletic pass-catcher with a massive vertical leap (41.5 inches at the NFL Scouting Combine).
Miami will continue their first batch of OTAs through Thursday, May 24. They will be back on the field from May 29-31 and then conclude the OTA schedule from June 4-7.
The Dolphins will then hold a mandatory minicamp from June 12-14.