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I’ve always liked minicamp. Not because of any significant revelations that come to the surface during this three-day sweat-a-thon, but more because it represents the final step of the offseason, which means training camp can’t be too far away.
So there they were, the 2014 Miami Dolphins, working out Wednesday morning – the second of three minicamp practices – on a warm, overcast mid-June day in South Florida. They were all there. The new free agents. The draft class. The undrafted rookies. And all those returning veterans who want so badly to rid themselves of the taste of an 8-8 season.
I see Joe Philbin standing there in the middle of the field, arms folded, calmly offering suggestions, his head darting back and forth. I see Ryan Tannehill looking at ease in this new fast-paced offense, clearly taking charge. I see Lamar Miller bursting through a hole and Mike Wallace finding a gear that most players can only envy.
Over there, in one end zone, the new-look offensive line is working with several coaches including new line coach John Benton. Everyone wants to know how they’re progressing. Everyone is disappointed when I tell them it’s really too early to know.
The pace is quick, the drills are highly-organized, as they usually are in Philbin-led practice sessions. Players sprint from one drill to another. The horn sounds and another drill begins. New offensive coordinator Bill Lazor is barking out plays to run. If he doesn’t like what he sees, he tells his players to do it again. And again if necessary.
A few minute later, Special teams coach Darren Rizzi shouts out “SPECIAL TEAMS! SPECIAL TEAMS!” And the players respond, quickly hustling to their designated areas.
This is what minicamp is like, a great introduction to what training camp is all about.
As these final three days of offseason practices concludes today, as we watch the massive offensive playbook come to life with all sorts of formations and shifts, as we hear the coaches preaching focus and fundamentals, what I see out there is a football team trying to merge many pieces together, a football team filled with numerous storylines and questions that can not be answered until the heat of August and the results of September.
Questions. Important questions. Defining questions. Questions that will undoubtedly define this football team and the season it has.
• Will this be the year that Ryan Tannehill takes a quantum leap in the world of NFL starting quarterbacks?
• With the possibility of four new starters, what’s the real upside of this offensive line and how long will it take to materialize?
• Is Knowshon Moreno the back that can bring balance to this offense?
• Will Dion Jordan show us he was worth the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 draft?
• How will the Koa Misi experiment play out? Can he successfully make the move to inside linebacker and give this rushing defense the consistency it lacked last season?
• Is there another remarkable comeback story on this roster, similar to what we saw from Brent Grimes a season ago? Cornerback Cortland Finnegan? Safety Louis Delmas? Those are two viable candidates.
• Which rookies will make the biggest impact and which ones will disappoint us?
The questions go on and on. Where does Charles Clay go from here? How many more double-digit sack seasons will Cameron Wake give us? Who’s going to win the third receiver spot? Who’s going to return kicks? What will this new offense really look like?
No, minicamp won’t provide the answers we’re looking for. It truthfully never does. But it does give us a sneak preview. It does afford us the opportunity to look into the eyes of these players, to listen to their words and to watch them go through all sorts of drills that are taped and dissected and then dissected some more.
“Every day,” Tannehill said, “we all feel more and more comfortable.”
And isn’t that really what minicamp is all about?
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.