Miami (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins are two weeks into training camp. Here are three players who have emerged as pleasant surprises.
WR Jakeem Grant: While it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Grant, who dropped some passes and punts over the first week, he’s really emerging in week two.
Grant’s best practice as a Dolphin happened this Tuesday. Tuesday happened to be Jay Cutler’s first practice in a Miami uniform. Grant caught an impressive deep pass from Cutler for a touchdown in one-on-one drills. He also caught a deep touchdown from Brandon Doughty during 11-on-11’s.
Grant, who struggled with route running during his rookie season in 2016, has been much sharper in those fundamentals so far. Plus, Grant has worked extensively on the outside rather than in the slot.
After Tuesday’s practice, head coach Adam Gase discussed what Grant has done to impress him.
“I think he just feels comfortable. He understands what he’s supposed to do. He doesn’t have to worry about all these different options you have inside. That’s why the slot is a lot harder than a lot of people realize. You’re working off the DB a lot and trying to figure out leverages and what you’re supposed to do to be on the same page as the quarterback. I think putting him out there on the outside lets him use his strength – his quickness off the ball, his vertical speed. When he makes a cut, he creates separation. If you get the ball in his hands and there’s open space, it’s a dangerous situation for the defense. I just see a guy that’s very focused. He wants to do right. He’s really been good in the meetings. He’s trying to be one of those guys that does things as perfect as he can. It’s been good so far.”
DT Davon Godchaux: Here’s a rookie doing everything he can to earn a starting job. While Ndamukong Suh has one defensive tackle spot locked up, the other spot is very much up for grabs.
When training camp started, it was widely assumed that third year man Jordan Phillips was the penciled in starter next to Suh. Over the past several practices, Godchaux has been taking first team reps over Phillips.
Part of this could be the coaching staff trying to motivate Phillips, but there’s no doubt Godchaux has been impressive and disruptive in team drills.
The fifth round pick out of LSU has the attention of his head coach. Here’s what Adam Gase had to say about Godchaux after Saturday’s scrimmage at Hard Rock Stadium.
“A competitor playing as hard as you want a guy to play,” said Gase, when asked what he sees in Godchaux. “He gets after it every day and never slows down. (He’s a) one speed guy. I like what he’s doing, like the way he’s playing. He keeps getting better. I think he’s doing a great job. He’s picking (Ndamukong) Suh’s brain nonstop. I think he’s doing a good job of showing him the ropes for a young guy with a veteran player showing a young guy. I like the way he’s developing.”
LB Raekwon McMillan: The rookie out of Ohio State gets the nod for the starting lineup in Miami’s first official depth chart.
McMillan is certainly not as big a surprise as Grant or Godchaux, but he deserves credit for living up to his lofty expectations.
Not only has McMillan looked poised and comfortable on the practice field, he’s doing the work in the meeting room by picking the brains of his coaches and veterans. He spent some quality time with Dolphins legend Zach Thomas after Tuesday’s practice. Fostering relationships like that will take him a long way.
Here’s what defensive coordinator Matt Burke had to say about McMillan last Friday.
“He’s done a good job. What we wanted him to do in terms of taking charge of the huddle leading the group. That position has to make a lot of calls and where he’s been playing so he’s done a good job and the same thing, so we’re trying to get him work with that first group and against better competition and see how he responds. He’s been good so far.”
The Dolphins play their preseason opener Thursday night, 7pm against the Atlanta Falcons. Watch it on CBS 4 and hear it on 560 WQAM.