Official Team Activities and Mini-Camp are now a thing of the past for the Miami Dolphins as we look forward to Training Camp in mid-July. These practices have been beneficial for not only the rookies to get acclimated to the pace and speed of the NFL, but also for the nucleus of new and veteran players adjusting to what this staff will demand of them in 2013.
Multiple players looked ready to meet the challenge that lies ahead and here are some of the guys that made an impression on me over the last month:
1) Ryan Tannehill - It’s a good sign for the Dolphins when your second-year quarterback leads by example and looks poised to lead this franchise. Tannehill’s ability to throw the football with accuracy and timing looked sharp in the majority of the workouts, and his understanding of the offense has helped his effectiveness. He didn’t show any signs of needing time to develop with new weapons Mike Wallace, Brandon Gibson and Dustin Keller. His rapport with Brian Hartline looked solid and I sensed a calm confidence in his overall demeanor. This team isn’t going to have success unless Tannehill continues to improve and OTA’s and Mini-Camp proved to me that he’s poised to lead this team to victories in 2013.
2) Rishard Matthews - Matthews is another young player that continues to impress me based on his style of play and consistency. He attacks the football over the middle in tight spaces and has the ability to line up anywhere in the offensive formation. Rishard is a hands catcher, and his strength is his ability to keep the defender on his hip while catching the football away from his body. He makes the defender have to fight through his back to make a play on the football, something that is very difficult to do as a defensive back. This battle for the fourth and fifth wide receiver position shouldn’t be decided until late in the preseason. Players like Armon Binns, Brian Tyms, and Marvin McNutt all have the ability to play in this league and this competition should turn this unit into a position of strength.
3) Brent Grimes - First of all, I would like to be the first one to say thank you to the Atlanta Falcons! Thank you for allowing Jeff Ireland to acquire a player that should make an immediate impact and address the area of concern for this defense. This defense has been in need of a play-making cornerback that can play the football in the air. Someone that can not only get his hands on the football, but create turnovers and look to score! Grimes looks like he fits the billing perfectly and seems to have healed completely from his Achilles injury from Week One of last season. He possesses the quick twitch movements and speed to shut down the alpha wide out and the savvy to know when to take a calculated risk.
4) Nolan Carroll – Cornerback is a position that needs to have multiple players step up there game this season. Carroll is one of those players that looked more comfortable and confident in the secondary. His tenacity and technique has improved under defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle and Nolan should get plenty of action in the upcoming preseason schedule. Coaches like players that are competitors and Carroll plays with both intelligence and toughness.
5) Kyle Miller – The tight end position is one crowded area and it’s going to take training camp and preseason games to clearly evaluate the players behind Dustin Keller and Charles Clay. One of the bright spots of the offseason to me was the play of Kyle Miller. Miller was consistently open down the middle of the field and catches the football like a wide receiver. He has a big frame that can be utilized at the line of scrimmage but also the athletic ability to run routes down the field. Miller will probably start camp behind Keller, Clay and rookie Dion Sims, so his job will be to separate from second-year player Michael Egnew. This position will be one of importance come September and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman will need different body types to perform multiple duties in this offense.
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