The Dolphins are wrapping up their third week of OTA sessions with four straight days of workouts.
The weather in South Florida has been downright crappy this week but Adam Gase and the Dolphins are embracing it, using the practice time in the pouring rain to prepare for when those situations come during the season.
Meanwhile, the Panthers were back in the news this week as they prepare for the NHL’s Expansion Draft and to (hopefully) re-sign Jaromir Jagr for another season in Sunrise.
Some Heat and Marlins nuggets for you as well on this rainy Wednesday, June 7th:
OTA WEEK 3
After spending Monday in the rain and seeming to get a lot out of the work, the Dolphins moved into the practice bubble on Tuesday…probably due to all the lightning in the area.
The rain-soaked workout seemed to be a positive for everyone involved.
“Today was a good experience for us,” Gase said on Monday. “[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.”
Dolphins players seem more locked in than the norm for this time of year, which is great to see. They viewed the wet practice as another way to prepare for whatever the upcoming season will throw at them.
“It was really good to see the guys just never batting an eye,” Gase said. “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.”
It’s also worth noting that a couple of young cornerstones of Miami’s offense, running back Jay Ajayi and wide receiver DeVante Parker, have been praised by the coaching staff for being much-improved and in great shape.
Offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen went as far as to call Ajayi the unit’s most improved player, which is saying something considering Ajayi’s breakout Pro Bowl season last year.
“He may be the most improved guy out there this offseason,” Christensen said on Tuesday. “He has really been impressive. It’s really hard to believe that I’ve only been here a year – we’ve only been here a year – and to think back a year ago what things were and Jay Ajayi being one of them. We’re going, ‘We’re not sure if we’ve got a starting running back. We’re not sure if we have a Pro Bowler or if we have any.’ We weren’t sure. No one knew. He looks like a pro. He just looks like a pro. His body looks like a pro, how he carries himself, how he handles himself, how he works, how he practices – he’s a different guy from a year ago.”
Several of Miami’s 2017 draft picks are standing out for the right reasons so far during OTAs.
First round pick Charles Harris has been a force so far, constantly getting after the quarterback and causing havoc in the backfield.
As with everything this time of year, especially in the ‘trenches’ of the offensive and defensive lines, things must be taken with a grain of salt.
Still, it’s great to see the veterans working so well with the youngsters, sharing tips and advice to help them get better.
Linebacker Raekwon McMillan, cornerback Condrea Tankersley and guard Isaac Asiata are also showing well so far.
PANTHERS AND JAGR TALKING NEW CONTRACT
Since coming to Florida, Jaromir Jagr has been a great teammate for the youthful Panthers and a fan favorite for everyone else.
He’s attacked milestones like a heat-seeking missile, with the big one last season coming when he moved into second on the NHL’s all-time scoring list with his 1,888th point.
Jagr and the Panthers have been discussing another contract that would bring the 45-year-old back for his third full season in Sunrise.
While Jagr’s numbers dipped somewhat last season (16 goals, 30 assists, +2 rating) compared to the previous year (27 goals, 39 assists, +23), his normal linemates, Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau, both spent a decent amount of time injured and off the ice which certainly contributed to the downtick in scoring.
And still, 46 points for a 45-year-old is nothing to sneeze at. At all.
Just don’t expect anything to be signed until after the expansion draft, which is coming up two weeks from today on June 21st.
If the Panthers signed Jagr before then, he would be part of the group considered to eligible for the draft as he would be under contract.
Florida would then have to add an additional player to the unprotected list in order to keep Jagr locked in.
OTHER EXPANSION DRAFT NOTES
The Panthers will be able to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie OR any mix of eight skaters (forwards and defensemen) and one goalie from the draft.
Additionally, players with a no-movement clause must be protected unless they choose waive it.
Florida is expected to stick with the 7-3-1 setup, but that could change if they decide to protect a fourth defensemen.
Keith Yandle has a no-trade clause so he’ll be one of the three defensemen protected, as will Aaron Ekblad.
If they go with the 7-3-1 setup than that leaves one spot for Jason Demers and Alex Petrovic. Will Florida protect both or leave one available for the Vegas Golden Knights?
All first and second year players are exempt and do not need to be on the protected list, which protects Mike Matheson.
That also includes unsigned draft picks, although the 2017 NHL Draft isn’t until the weekend after the expansion draft (June 23-24).
HEAT AND MARLINS NOTES
— Earlier this week Dion Waiters indicated that he would be willing to give the Heat a hometown discount in order for the pending free agent to remain in Miami.
It’s not the first time since the Heat’s season ended that Waiters has made that kind of statement.
Waiters signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Heat last summer with a $3 million player option for next season. The 25-year-old has already said he will opt out and seek a new deal.
— The Marlins lost their hottest hitter, first baseman Justin Bour, to the 10-day DL with an ankle issue.
Bour has been tearing the cover off the ball for a good month now and leads the team in home runs with 16.
— Following an impressive 8-2 homestead, Miami has dropped the first two of their 7-game road trip.