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DAVIE (CBSMiami) – As the Miami Dolphins worked into the third week of training camp, it seems some bubbling issues may have finally boiled over.
While tensions are always high during the month of August as players fight for starting jobs and roster spots, there was a different feel to Monday’s practice from the onset.
The first oddity came after another penalty by the Dolphins offensive line, a recurring theme since the start of camp.
First team left tackle Ja’Wuan James was the culprit and he was quickly sent off the field and instructed to run a lap around the sideline by an irate Jeremiah Washburn, Miami’s offensive line coach.
It was the culmination of a frustrating few weeks.
“Number one, these guys need to understand it’s not going to be tolerated,” said offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. “You’re not going to be here if that keeps happening. We have to clean it up. It needs to be this week that we need to be better with that. We don’t need to have any pre-snap penalties. We’re going to keep preaching it and there’s going to be consequences when it’s not happening or when it starts to happen.”
Shortly after James’ morning jog came the real fireworks.
First, there was a brief post-whistle shoving match that appeared to center around guard Ted Larsen and defensive tackle Davon Godchaux, and then defensive end Cameron Wake had words with running back Kalen Ballage after the rookie was tackled hard to the ground.
Moments later, defensive tackle Anthony Moten took running back Senorise Perry to the ground and all hell broke loose.
As that scuffle escalated, starting running back Kenyan Drake and backup defensive tackle Gabe Wright got extremely heated to the point where Drake tossed Wright’s helmet into a sideline tent normally occupied by the Dolphins on-field DJ.
Then as quickly as it all began, it was over and practice resumed normally.
“The guys are flying around today,” said associate head coach and special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi. “We had full pads on and it got a little physical out there. I think that’s just kind of chalk it up to training camp. This is the time of year.”
Players often will need to blow off steam during training camp, which is what makes preseason games such a welcomed sight; the opportunity to take out aggressions on people who aren’t your teammates.
“Everyone is getting tired of hitting each other in camp,” Loggains said. “That’s what happens in the NFL about this time every year [with] every team.”
Update: CBS4 News partner the Miami Herald is reporting that Wright was cut Monday evening.
Jakeem Grant Confident
After a breakout month of December last season, wideout Jakeem Grant is poised to take a big step forward in Miami’s offense.
The undersized, speedy receiver has been used primarily as a return specialist during his two years with the Dolphins.
Beginning with a strong showing against perhaps the NFL’s top team, Grant took off during four games last December, catching 10 passes for 188 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“I would say the Patriots game [is where it started],” Grant said. He had two catches for 42 yards and a score that day, nearly reeling in an additional long completion. “It was just showing that I was having confidence and knowing that I can make those big plays and I can help this team out in the passing game. That just sprung my confidence and made me bring down … stop trying to rush and make a play, and stop trying to do all this. Whenever you try to rush and do something, you end up messing up. So my biggest thing was let the big play come to you.”
To say Grant, at 5-foot-7, is still facing an uphill battle would be accurate for several reasons.
Miami added Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson during the offseason to a receiver room that already featured DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills and Grant, among others vying for a roster spot.
It’s likely that the Dolphins will carry five or six wide receivers, with Grant penciled in as the fifth man on that list.
One thing that that become clear to those around him is that Grant’s head is in the right place.
“I’m going to continue to come out here and practice and grind and grind with the confidence level extremely high, and I’m just going to continue to just go off of that,” he said. “Whatever I do in practice can turn over to the game. You never know. Continue to play with that confidence and just continue to go out there and work hard every single day.”
Tight End Derby
Much of the attention surrounding Miami’s tight ends, and rightly so, has gone to first round pick Mike Gesicki.
Generating most of the first team reps as camp as progressed, Gesicki seems to be trending towards a starting job come Week One.
Currently, the Dolphins list MarQueis Gray as the first team tight end.
Gesicki is fifth on the depth chart, though he did play with the starters during Thursday’s preseason opener against Tampa Bay.
The competition got even tighter this week as A.J. Derby was cleared to practice after missing the first two weeks of camp with a foot injury.
Derby joined the Dolphins late last season after being claimed off waivers from Denver.
“It feels good to be back,” Derby said. “Unfortunately, I was hurt a little bit, a little sore. I’m just happy to be back. I’m going to work to make up for the time I missed and just try to be out there and be the guy I can be.”
He was considered a favorite to start at tight end for Miami this season, but the combination of his injury and the impressive play by Gesicki during camp has seemingly shifted that thought process.
“I can’t really look into it,” Derby said. “I don’t make the call on who goes on the field. I just work to do the best I can and then I’m going to try to make plays when I’m in there.”
Derby is expected to make his preseason debut on Friday when the Dolphins visit the Carolina Panthers.