Tuesday’s practice at the Doctors Hospital Training Facility featured the team in full pads in the boiling South Florida afternoon heat ahead of their preseason clash with the Dallas Cowboys this Saturday at Sun Life Stadium. Today was more of a typical regular season midweek practice. The team went through typical scouting periods, and also worked on specific game situations, with a primary focus on 2nd and 3rd and long situations.
Here’s what I took away from Tuesday’s practice:
1. Tannehill Goes Deep
Much of the focus this offseason was on how starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill could improve his completion percentage on passes down the field. Throughout training camp, it seemed to me that this aspect of his game was steadily improving and today was arguable his best day to date. Tahnneill has formed a comfort zone in this offense, and his timing with the entire receiving unit is starting to get me excited for the regular season.
Twice today, Tannehill found his receivers over the top of the defense for big plays and the throws were effortless. The first pass found WR Rishard Matthews on a go route down the far sideline and then Damian Williams was on the end of a the second deep ball. Williams pulled off a nifty double move on a seam route, and the third year quarterback hit in in perfect stride. Ryan also welcomed back starting TE Charles Clay to full participation in practice, finding him down the seam for a huge completion, and it looked like Clay was playing without limitation.
2. Potter Applying Pressure
I usually don’t talk about the kicking game on my takeaways because it’s usually one aspect of the team that is solid and free of injury. Second year placekicker Caleb Sturgis has been hurting over the last two week with a groin injury and that has brought some attention to the position, and newcomer John Potter could be in a position to take advantage. Potter was solid in the game against Tampa Bay hitting a 51-yard field goal, as well as one from 48 yards out, and hadn’t missed in two days in practice until today, where he struck the upright on a 51 yard kick. He was three for four on the day, hitting from 41, 44, and 47. While this isn’t exactly a kicking competition just yet, Sturgis’ injury give Potter an opportunity to prove himself. Sturgis still has a few days to rest his leg, but this could be a thing to watch very closely over the next two weeks.
3. Another Position Of Interest
Staying with the special teams theme, another position that is wide open right now is in the return game. Just like the situation with Sturgis, returner Marcus Thigpen is sidelined with a thigh injury at the moment, and a couple of capable returners are filling in nicely during his absence. During the first preseason game against Atlanta, rookie Jarvis Landry made the most of his opportunity taking a punt back 54 yards and it looked natural, even though it was his 1st attempt as a pro. Also, wide receiver Damian Williams is starting to look more comfortable returning kicks at practice, and these two players are well ahead of Thigpen on the wide receiver depth chart. It’s important for Thigpen to get healthy and get back on the field as soon as possible. The longer he is sidelined, the slimmer his chances of making the final roster may become.
News & Notes
- Rookie safety Walt Aikens left practice during the early portion of Tuesday’s workout in the bubble. The injury appeared to occur on his left hand during a mock tackling drill. Aikens later reappeared during practice outside in street clothes.
- Players returning to practice included center Sam Brenner and defensive tackle Micajah Reynolds.
- Players that did not participate in today’s practice were: K Caleb Sturgis (groin), CB Jalil Brown (thigh), WR/KR Marcus Thigpen (thigh), RB Mike Gillislee (hamstring), DE Terrence Fede (knee), and DT AJ Francis (knee)
- Center Mike Pouncey continues to rehab his surgically repaired hip (labrum) on the side, working with the Dolphins training staff.
- Rookie cornerback Kevin Fogg was around the football all afternoon, snagging two interceptions during today’s practice.
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