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Andy Cohen In The Morning will appear every Monday through Friday until the end of the season, except for the bye week. The column will be posted each day at 6 a.m.
By on July 31, 2014 at 5:55 am

140731_ACAMAndy Cohen In The Morning appears on dolphins.com every Monday through Friday, except for the bye week, until the end of the season. The column will be posted each day at 6 a.m. Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

Have a question for A.C.? Submit your questions to Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

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They go at it every day, every practice. It’s intense. It’s physical. It’s so important to the success of this team.  You can focus on so many things going on at Dolphins camp these days. But if you want a real treat, check out the Pro Bowl defensive end lining up against the rookie right tackle.

It’s quite a show.

On one side you’ve got Cameron Wake, as good a player as there is on this roster. Smart. Tough. Fast. Mean if he has to be. On the other side you’ve got Ja’Wuan James. The big No. 1 pick out of Tennessee. Physical. Relentless. Has been working with the starters since the day he arrived.

This is a story about one player who needs to get better in a hurry and another player who is doing his best to help him get there.

You could certainly understand it if Wake just coasted his way through training camp. I mean he’s got all those sacks, all those accomplishments, all those years of service that serves as undeniable proof of his immense talents. But coasting just isn’t in Wake’s DNA. It is full throttle all the time and that becomes much more important when the guy lining up on the other side needs a crash course in what pro football is all about.

So each day they line up against one another. And Wake brings it all, hoping that this practice time will get James ready for what he’s going to see on Sunday afternoons. One thing for sure: James isn’t going to see much better than Cam Wake.

It’s not surprising that Wake has gotten the better of it in the early going, at one point going three straight practices with a sack against James. But this will only help, only escalate the learning process for the big rookie.

“I owe it to my team to do everything I can to get him ready,” Wake said of James. “He’s going to be one of the anchors of our offensive line for a long time. He’s got a lot of talent. I’m just trying every day to bring that talent out of him.

It is late on a steamy morning and James just got through with two hours of close-up work against Wake. It’s tough work. Draining work. But James knows how important it is, and appreciates his teammate going all out on every play.

“I love it,” James said. “I need it. I want it. To go up in practice each day against such a great player, it’s got to help me, it’s got to make me ready for what’s ahead. Going up against him, it feels like a real game.”

James faced some talented pass rushers playing in the Southeastern Conference. But nobody quite like Wake. Nobody with that speed, that powerful burst, that ability to make you look bad in a heartbeat.

James remembers approaching Wake during OTAs. “I asked him to show me what he’s got,” James said. “I asked him to give me his best shot because that’s what I need to become a better player.”

Wake, of course, happily obliged. “I’m holding nothing back,” he says. “The gloves are off. I’m working him hard.

Ask James what makes Wake so special and he doesn’t know where to start. “Great hands. Great leverage. Great moves. He’s the fastest player I’ve ever gone up against. He’s got the complete package. He’s where I want to be someday.”

Joe Philbin loves to watch this intense man-to-man competition and couldn’t ask for a better role model than Wake. “What’s special about (Wake) is that he practices the way he plays,” Philbin said. “He brings it on every down with great energy. This is outstanding work for a player just coming into the league.”

So as the summer marches on, as the preseason games rapidly approach, Wake and James continue to go at it in the heat and the sweat of the Dolphins practice field. The wise veteran schooling the new kid on the block. If you’re out there sometime soon, focus your binoculars in their direction. It’s something you really don’t want to miss.

“He’s got a chance to be a special player,” Wake said of James.

And if anybody knows that, even at this early juncture, it’s got to be Cameron Wake.

(On Friday, AC in the AM opinions on the imposing challenge facing new offensive line coach John Benton.)

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Click here for more A.C. In The A.M. Columns.


Please Note:
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.
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By on July 28, 2014 at 5:55 am

140728_AC_AMAndy Cohen In The Morning appears on dolphins.com every Monday through Friday, except for the bye week, until the end of the season. The column will be posted each day at 6 a.m. Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

Have a question for A.C.? Submit your questions to Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

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Have you been out to Dolphins practice yet? No problem, if you haven’t. Come along with me and let’s check it out together. Just remember, bring plenty of sunscreen and cold water.

• It is about 7:45 a.m. and the players are slowly make their way from the locker room to the practice bubble for some stretching. Fans are already outside, lining the top of the stands to catch a glimpse of their favorite players. “Hey 29,” a fan yells down to second-year cornerback Will Davis. “I’ve got your back.” Davis looks up and smiles, a priceless moment for that fan.

It is 8 a.m. sharp and warm-ups begin inside the bubble. Nothing exciting for the next 30 minutes or so, but everything moves by like clockwork. This is Joe Philbin’s way. Be on time. Start on time. Finish on time. We are told not to move too close to the field. Nobody, least of all me, wants to get leveled by some 6-foot-4, 300-pound offensive lineman.

It is 8:30 now and precisely at that moment the players return to what now is a sweltering practice field. They break into groups, working on fundamentals and techniques. The fans are waiting to erupt. That will have to wait for later.

• The horn blows every few minutes and the players jog to their next assignment. Both fields are being used. Usually, there are four different groups doing something. Over there, the defensive linemen are working on a tipped ball drill. The Dolphins could certainly use a few more of those. On the other side, the defensive backs are knocking down soccer balls. Yes, soccer balls. World Cup fever is everywhere.

• Next there is a seven-on-seven drill. While the linemen work out on their own at a corner of the field, passes fill the air in seven-on-seven. A long pass to Mike Wallace is underthrow, batted away by cornerback Will Davis. The crowd moans. A few minutes later Ryan Tallenhill gets it right, hitting Wallace in perfect stride. The crowd erupts. This remains one of the big challenges of camp: Getting Tannehill and Wallace on the same proverbial page. “It’s coming,” Tannehill says later. “I can see it coming.”

• Placekicker Caleb Sturgis then gets his moment in the spotlight, attempting one field goal after another, first from one hash mark, then from the other. He seems to be drilling everything. There are no other placekickers in camp. But Sturgis is well aware that can change in a hurry.

• It is 9:30 now and the players return to the bubble for a five-minute water break. It is beyond hot by now and give the coaches credit for realizing that a break is necessary. The players jog back on to the field and a moment later, the horn blares and the drills resume.

• The last 45 minutes of practice consists of more position drills and another seven-on-seven session. Tannehill continues to hit a few then miss one. “Not the prettiest practice,” he would say later. “But it’s early in camp.” Brian Hartline makes a nice catch down the sideline. So does Charley Clay, who looks bigger and stronger, yet just as quick.

• At 10:15 on the dot, practice ends and the team huddles together. These next five-plus weeks are a long journey and this was only an early step. As they slowly walk toward the locker room, many players stop to do interviews. Brent Grimes stops for a second and – presto – he is surrounded by a mass of cameras and tape recorders. Everyone wants an interview. Everyone has a question to ask.

• Behind Grimes, along the practice field fence near the stands, fans are lined up for autographs. Many players oblige. This can last as long as 30 minutes. Joe Philbin almost always comes by. On this day, first-round pick Ja’Wuan James was getting a lot of attention. Nobody seems to mind that the temperature is now in the mid 90’s with no semblance of a breeze.

• This is family time too. Linebacker Jason Trusnik is sitting on the field, his two young children resting in his arms and his wife standing nearby. It would make a great family portrait. A few feet away Ryan Tannehill is talking to his wife Lauren Tannehill stops talking when he sees a young boy in a wheelchair close by. He poses for a picture. Signs an autograph. With due respect to Mike Wallace, this may have been Tannehill’s best connection of the day.

It is close to 11:30 a.m. now and the field is empty. Most of the fans have gone home. But many of them will be back the next morning when it all starts again. And, as always, just remember to bring plenty of sunscreen.

(On Tuesday, AC in the AM takes a close look at General Manager Dennis Hickey.)

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Click here for more A.C. In The A.M. Columns.


Please Note:
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.
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By on July 25, 2014 at 2:48 pm

140725_AC_AMAndy Cohen’s column on Dolphins.com appears at 6 a.m. every weekday from training camp through the season. Occasionally, like today, Andy will also provide some quick hits.). Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

Have a question for A.C.? Submit your questions to Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

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• It was 9:42 a.m. Friday when Ryan Tannehill faded back and hit Mike Wallace in full stride for a long pass play, the ball perfectly settling over Wallace’s right shoulder. Sure, it was only seven-on-seven drills. Sure it was only the first practice of the summer. Sure, there was an underthrown pass on a similar play earlier in practice. But you could tell by the way the crowd gasped that this is what they were waiting to see. “It’s all about timing,” Tannehill said. “That’s what I’ve got continue to work on.”

• A few minutes later, Tannehill admitted that there were too many mistakes in Friday’s practice. “We don’t expect to come out here and have the prettiest practice on Day One. We just need to keep making corrections.”

Cameron Wake isn’t going to take it easy in training camp, didn’t even take it easy on the first day. “The gloves are off,” he said. “I’m going to be giving it everything I’ve got every day.” Spoken like a true veteran.

• Smart move starting most of the training camp practices at 8 a.m. It’s still hot, at times brutally hot, but at least it’s dry.

• For those who have been screaming for more screen plays from this offense – yours truly included – this new-look attack is going to satisfy that appetite. And not just your normal screens. Expect a lot of middle screens and wide receiver screens as well.

Shelley Smith is getting the first shot to start at center in place of the injured Mike Pouncey. Has never played center before in a game on any level. But he is smart, tough and a quick learner. Seems like a good combination.

• Smith’s switch to center has opened up a spot on the line for recently-signed veteran guard Daryn Colledge. A nine-year veteran, Colledge is impressive to talk to and has the support of Joe Philbin, who coached him at Green Bay. “I’m here to play,” Colledge said. “This team is giving me a great opportunity.”

• Love how quickly the ball leaves the quarterback’s hands in this new-look offense.

• So Koa Misi is now entrenched, or so it seems, at inside linebacker. It’s early, but it appears to be a good fit. “I’m feeling more and more comfortable on the inside,” Misi said. “For me, it’s all about reading defenses from the inside out instead of the outside in.” The move could very well turn out to be the key to improvement in the rushing defense.

• Training camp reminds you there is still nothing quite like a wide-eyed kid getting an autograph from one of his favorite players.

• There always seems to be a play or two in practice that reminds me of how valuable it is having a back-up quarterback like Matt Moore.

• And finally, Dion Jordan is genuinely remorseful that he has been suspended for the first four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. “I’ve got to be more accountable for my actions,” he said. “I’ve got to grow up and accept this as an important lesson.” It seems like he already has.

(AC in the AM resumes on Monday morning).

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Click here for more A.C. In The A.M. Columns.


Please Note:
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.
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By on July 24, 2014 at 5:55 am

140620_AC_AMAndy Cohen In The Morning appears on dolphins.com every Monday through Friday, except for the bye week, until the end of the season. The column will be posted each day at 6 a.m. 

Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

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This is an important summer for the Miami Dolphins. There is no use sugarcoating it. Answers must come. Progress must be made. Holes must be filled. An entire football team must grow as one. It is a formidable task, yet it is clearly attainable. But there is no time to waste. Not with the stakes so high. Not with the New England Patriots coming to town on the first Sunday of September.

Training camp begins at 8 a.m. sharp on Friday. Yes, we can finally put the 2013 season behind us. The record is no longer 8-8. It is instead 0-0. The slate is clean; the challenges are clear. As Ryan Tannehill so aptly put it midway through the offseason: “This is a big year for me, a big year for this football team.”

And it starts with training camp, with a football team transitioning into a new-look offense, with an offensive line that could very well have five new starters against the Patriots, with a quarterback striving to reach another level and with enough new faces to make this as competitive a summer as we’ve seen in these parts in a long, long time.

People ask me all the time for a prediction on the 2014 Dolphins season. Is this the year they get back to the playoffs? Do they have enough important pieces in place to challenge for the AFC East title? Are far too many seasons of 7-9 and 8-8 records now a thing of the past?

I answer all the questions the same way: Let’s see what happens in training camp.

See, there is no way to predict what will transpire over the next six weeks. There are just too many unknowns, too many pieces that must come together.

Sure, I believe this is the most talent Joe Philbin has had in his three seasons here.

I believe that Ryan Tannehill will be a better quarterback with two full seasons on his resume. The question: How much better?

I believe the new offensive line has a significant upside, even while waiting for Mike Pouncey to return from hip surgery.

I believe that the defense has added some intriguing pieces and, with the switch of Koa Misi inside, should be more proficient against the run.

I believe that all the shifts and sets and formations and hurry-up mentality introduced by new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor will make a significant difference, especially for a player like Mike Wallace.

But it isn’t what I believe that matters at this precise moment; it is what we see. It is how this team progresses, whether it can stay healthy, whether the right chemistry is in place and whether Philbin and his staff have enough time in the day to put all of this together.

From a running back (Knowshon Moreno) trying to return from arthroscopic knee surgery to a veteran cornerback (Cortland Finnegan) trying to re-start his career to a pair of rookie linemen (Ja’Wuan James and Billy Turner) trying to crack the starting lineup, this training camp is filled with a smorgasbord of storylines and subplots. I’m as anxious as you are to see how they unfold.

With the Patriots first in line on this 16-game marathon, there is certainly a clear sense of urgency as camp begins. Put simply, if the Dolphins are going to win in September, they had better accomplish an awful lot in late July and August.

That’s the backdrop we take into Friday morning’s practice and all the practices that follow. Indeed, there is real reason for hope, but that hope is tempered by a plate that is overflowing with uncertainty.

Training Camp 2014 is finally here. It is time to get those answers.

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Click here for more A.C. In The A.M. Columns.


Please Note:
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.
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By on July 12, 2014 at 10:14 am

071114-WeekInReviewWe’re inching closer and closer to the start of training camp, as the Miami Dolphins announced this week that the team will get “Back to Football” on Friday July 25, in the first of 12 practices open to the public. In preparation for training camp, both Dolphins.com and TheFinsiders.com are producing series previewing each position group on the Dolphins, and even across the AFC East.

Let’s take a look back and recap the week that was for the Dolphins from July 7th through July 11th:

Monday, 7/7

Q & A with the QB

  • The Finsiders’ Greg Likens sat down with Ryan Tannehill for a quick five questions with the Dolphins quarterback. (More…)

Keep An Eye On Armon Binns

  • Dolphins.com’s Alain Poupart profiled one of the several Dolphins receivers fighting for a roster spot at the team’s most competitive position. (More…) 

Tuesday, 7/8

Futbol And Football

  • Alejandro Bedoya, a starting midfielder for the US Men’s National Team that just returned from Brazil, joined The Finsiders in studio to recap the team’s World Cup and to discuss his memories of the Dolphins, having been a lifelong fan of the team. (More…)

In The Trenches

  • Continuing Dolphins.com’s Training Camp Preview series, Alain Poupart looks at the most talked about position on the Miami Dolphins: the offensive line. (More…)

Across The AFC East

  • As part of a new series before training camp, The Finsiders are taking a look at position depth across the division. The first position they broke down on Tuesday? Running backs. (More…)

Wednesday, 7/9

Dolphins Announce Training Camp Schedule

  • The team announced the 2014 Training Camp schedule, as the first training camp practice will take place on Friday, July 25th with the players scheduled to take the field at 8 a.m. (More…)

Opening The Mailbag

  • Finsiders columnist Andy Cohen took questions from fans in his latest column. (More…)

Getting Defensive

  • Dolphins LB Koa Misi sat down with Greg Likens of The Finsiders for an in-depth interview about his transition from outside linebacker to middle linebacker heading into 2014. (More…)
  • Greg Likens talked with veteran defensive tackle Randy Starks to talk to him about what he expects from the Dolphins defense in 2014. (More…)

Thursday, 7/10

Depth At DB

  • Alain Poupart continued his training camp preview series with one of the deepest positions on the team with the defensive backs. (More…)

Discussing The Division

  • The Finsiders continue their AFC East positional breakdown series with the wide receiver position, looking at each of the receiving corps in the division. (More…)

Friday, 7/11

Thomas Eyes Sophomore Season

  • Guard Dallas Thomas has made great strides since the end of what became a frustrating rookie season. (More…)

Tight End Talk

  • In the third installment of The Finsiders AFC East Positional Breakdown series, Brian Coyle gives us a primer about tight ends around the division. (More…)

TOP VIDEOS OF THE WEEK

TOP PHOTO GALLERIES OF THE WEEK


Please Note:
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.
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By on July 9, 2014 at 5:55 am

1acam_FansAndy Cohen In The Morning will resume Monday through Friday when training camp begins. Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

Have a question for A.C.? Submit your questions to Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

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Q. With Mike Pouncey out, who starts at center in Week 1? @Texasphinman

AC: My best guess right now is Nate Garner because he is a veteran who has played there before. But it’s also possible, certainly with the recent signing of guard Daryn Colledge, that the Dolphins will shuffle things up and perhaps move another veteran like Shelley Smith into the starting center spot. Sam Brenner is certainly another possibility. This is what training camp is for and this will clearly be one of the main subplots of the summer.

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Q. Andy, what are you most looking forward to about training camp? @pauladols23

AC: Probably seeing the continued evolution of this new offense. We saw some intriguing signs during the offseason workouts, but training camp will take it to another level. I’ve got a feeling this will be the type of creative offensive attack I’ve been waiting to see for a long time. I’m especially interested to see how a player like Mike Wallace fits into this new offense.

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Q. Andy, with so many different areas of concern, isn’t it all as simple as the Dolphins will go as far as Ryan Tannehill takes them? @bobfinman1616

AC: A simple question gets a simple answer: Yes.

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Q. With a new offensive line, will the running game step up in 2014 and will it have an impact with this new system? @ brnnagle

AC: Balance on offense is among my greatest concerns heading into training camp. There are so many uncertainties beginning with the physical condition of free agent running back Knowshon Moreno and continuing with all the uncertainty on the offensive line. Will the running game step up? It has to step up for Tannehill to be productive. As for the new offense, it should do nothing but help the chances for an improved rushing attack.

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Q. Andy, what do you think of Joe Philbin? @wendyrodgers333

AC: I like Joe Philbin. He is a good decent man with an excellent work ethic and some creative ideas. But like every coach before him, he will be judged by his won-loss record. That’s simply the nature of the profession he has chosen and embraced.

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Q. Do you think the Dolphins still need to look for secondary depth? @fins4evr

AC: Actually I don’t. I am comfortable with the mixture of youth and experience they now have in the secondary. I like the depth and talent at cornerback and really expect breakout seasons from Jamar Taylor and Will Davis. I also think the addition of Louis Delmas at safety will be a significant upgrade. This, and the defensive line, are probably the two deepest areas of the team, even with the loss of Dion Jordan for the first four games.

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Q. Andy, the NFL has games on every Thursday night this season. Do you think we are heading to the time when there will be games every night of the week? @Pablos296

AC: You mean Tuesday night football? Really don’t think so. But given the NFL and its popularity, I suppose anything is possible.

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Q. What rookie outside of Ja’Wuan James will be starting in Week One? @Kilofoxtrot923

AC: I really believe, based on what I saw since he arrived, that wide receiver Jarvis Landry will be the slot receiver on opening day. He’s too talented to keep on the bench. I also wouldn’t be surprised if guard Billy Turner is starting, certainly considering the injury to Mike Pouncey and the desire to put the best five linemen on the field together.

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Q. Will Dion Jordan be a factor this year? If not, is he the biggest ‘Phin draft bust ever? @hippopotamiuses

AC: Way too early for that. But, yes, I expect him to still be a factor this year even though he will miss the first four games. While only time will tell if he was worth the third overall pick in the draft, there is definitely a big upside with this player, who simply made an unfortunate mistake.

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Q. When loaded at certain positions, why draft players there such as wide receiver and defensive end? @markshoe6

AC: Because you can never have too many good players at one position and, besides, depth is so important over a 16-game schedule. I would rather the Dolphins select a quality player in an area of strength than a lesser player in an area of need. That’s how you build the nucleus of a playoff team.

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Q. What can we expect from tight end Arthur Lynch this season? @Lacky_

AC: Really too early to tell, but he is certainly going to get plenty of chances to play as a rookie. After Charles Clay, there really is no clear favorite for playing time at tight end. Lynch clearly has the prototype size and has very good hands. Whether he can stretch the field remains an unknown.

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Q. Andy, Pouncey is out for three months, Moreno had arthroscopic knee surgery and Jordan gets suspended for four games. Is this team jinxed or what? @valrodgers222

AC: Check around the league. Every team has had its share of setbacks, some more than others. But you can’t make broad judgments based on three instances. Look at this way: Maybe all the bad luck is now out of the way. Wouldn’t that be nice?

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Click here for more A.C. In The A.M. Columns


Please Note:
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.
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By on June 25, 2014 at 5:55 am

1acam_FansAndy Cohen In The Morning will continue to run during the offseason, but only as events dictate. Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

Have a question for A.C.? Submit your questions to Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

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Q. What now with the loss of Mike Pouncey for three months? @barbwire16

AC: This one hurts. Sam Brenner is generally considered the backup, though I wouldn’t count out Nate Garner, the man for all positions. You also know that Dennis Hickey will explore all outside alternatives. Three months from the date of surgery is Sept. 23. If Pouncey stays with the three-month timetable, then he’ll be back for much of the season. Let’s hope he’s a quick healer.

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Q. Andy, I’ve been reading a lot of good things bout draft picks Ja’Wuan James and Jarvis Landry. How do you rate this pair? @miamiU12

AC: Both are going to be very good players for a long time. James is already penciled in as the starting right tackle and, barring something unforeseen, I don’t believe he will relinquish it in training camp. While stiff raw and inconsistent in some areas, the upside is huge and the maturity level is impressive. Landry is a playmaker who will give this offense a much-needed spark. His long-term potential is off-the-charts.

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Q. Andy, is this the year Ryan Tannehill takes his game to another level? @mariodolphin66

AC: : I sure hope so. If you are looking for indicators, I saw a few important ones in minicamp. Tannehill is clearly embracing his role as a leader on this team. He is taking charge of the offense, which is good to see. This year will tell us a lot. I remain cautiously optimistic that Tannehill can find that next level.

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Q. Which rookie could have the biggest impact this season? @JohnnnieJH

AC: Well, I’ve already mentioned how much I like Landry. But the most realistic answer to your question is first-round pick Ja’Wuan James. He has been working as the starting right tackle since he arrived and there’s no reason to believe that will change. James has all the tools to be a 10-year contributor on the line.

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Q. Every year we seem to read positive thoughts about the coming year. Is there any reason to believe that this year will end differently? @bigdaddydolphin

AC: Well, I can tell you this. This is the most talent and the deepest the Dolphins have been since Joe Philbin arrived. There are a lot of questions that still must be answered in a positive manner – who is going to play center? — but you have to be encouraged at this point, especially with a creative new offense that is designed to cause confusion. Still, as it always does, it all depends on Tannehill.

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Q. It looks like Knowshon Moreno never plays a down. What’s the alternative? @AJwoods82

AC: Slow down a little. We’re talking arthroscopic knee surgery here, not reconstructive knee surgery. There is no reason to believe that he won’t return sometime in training camp, plenty of time to get ready for the season.  He is still in the prime of his career and brings a versatile skill set the other backs don’t possess. If for some reason he doesn’t play? Then you are looking at the same backs as last season.

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Q. What is your take on the Koa Misi experiment at middle linebacker? @Marcorodgers333

AC: I think it has a real chance to be productive. Misi seems to be fitting well on the inside and he certainly has many of the tangibles you are looking for. But this is one of the big questions I was referring to earlier. Misi must produce, just as the other returning linebackers must produce. The rushing defense can’t struggle the way it did last season.

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Q. What’s the one thing you like the most about Bill Lazor’s offense? @wandamurph212

AC: I love how he is taking advantage of the various skill sets of each player. For instance, the days of Mike Wallace lining up at the same position each down seem to be over. You’ll see Wallace in motion. You’ll see Wallace in the slot. You’ll even see Wallace lined up in the backfield. I see the same for someone like Charles Clay. One thing for sure: This offense won’t be predictable.

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Q. Andy, at this point, what’s your greatest concern about this team? @mindydolfan21

AC: It’s probably the offensive line. The loss of Mike Pouncey for three months has to hurt. Regardless, the coaches need to settle on a starting OL as soon as possible for consistency sake. Then let them work and grow together. It’s tough going into a season with five new starters on the OL.

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Q. Are we going to get the type of pass rush we need this season? @Barkley999

AC: I feel good about the pass rush. Both Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon are in the prime of their careers and, based on what I saw in offseason workouts, they could both dominate once again. Then add a more fit Dion Jordan into the mix and you’ve got some intriguing possibilities. The DL may just be the deepest area of the team.

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Q. Can Jamar Taylor make a big enough leap in 2014 to challenge for a starting spot alongside Brent Grimes? @az_dolfan

AC: Most definitely. I see three candidates for that spot: Taylor, fellow second-year player Will Davis and free agent Cortland Finnegan. Taylor took most of the first-team snaps in minicamp and that certainly could be an indicator. The light switch has clearly gone on with Taylor. He has a legitimate shot to play a major role on this defense.

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Q. Andy, give it up. Is this the year we break out of the 7-9 and 8-8 blues? @mariagomez434

AC: OK, I will go out on a limb. The Dolphins will not finish with a 7-9 or 8-8 record. Other than that, we’ll have to wait to see how training camp unfolds before getting any more specific than that.

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Q. Andy, if you were an NFL player, how would you spend this next month before training camp? @rozziejr616

AC: Probably in a big hot tub with the playbook nearby.

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Click here for more A.C. In The A.M. Columns


Please Note:
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.
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By on June 23, 2014 at 5:55 am

140623_AC_AMAndy Cohen In The Morning will continue to run during the offseason, but only as events dictate

Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

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Of all the things I noticed during the Dolphins three-day minicamp that concluded last Thursday, perhaps what stood out most were a group of young players entering their second season. They are the Draft Class of 2013. And now, after many of them struggled to produce as rookies, it’s almost as if a massive light switch has been turned on.

Suddenly, they seem to get it.

“As a group, we have a chip on our shoulders,” said cornerback Will Davis. “We’re definitely ready to prove ourselves.”

Go down the list of the first five picks and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

• Defensive end Dion Jordan is now a healthy well-chiseled 250-pounds and has been practicing with a clear, defined purpose. His mind is as sure as his body. “Last year I was trying to play through some things,” he said. “This year I’m ready to show what I’m about. I never doubted my talent.” He’ll play a lot this season.

• Cornerback Jamar Taylor has been working with the first-team defense in minicamp after missing most of the 2013 season with an assortment of injuries. He is a different player. Confident. Aggressive. Poised to prove he was worth a second-round pick. You could see it in each minicamp practice.

• Guard Dallas Thomas was basically a non-contributor last season in an area that could have certainly used some help. This year, although early, he is lining up at starting left guard. “This is the best I’ve felt since college,” he says. “I really understand what’s going on.” And he’s showing it on the field.

• Cornerback Will Davis, similar to Taylor, seemed lost a good part of his rookie season. Now he is playing with a level of aggression and intensity that is being noticed by his coaches and teammates. I expect, like Taylor, for Davis to see significant playing time this season.

• Linebacker Jelani Jenkins was primarily a special teams player as a rookie, a pretty good one at that. But now he has a total feel for the defense. When Joe Philbin was asked Thursday which players caught his eye during the offseason workouts, Jenkins was one of the names he mentioned. That says plenty right there.

And I haven’t even mentioned tight end Dion Sims, running back Mike Gillislee, kicker Caleb Sturgis and safety Don Jones, all of whom contributed last season in varying degrees. What should we expect from them this year?

This jump in productivity from first year to second year players is something I’ve seen over and over through the years. That’s why when people asked me a year ago to evaluate the 2013 draft, I always responded: “Wait until next year and I’ll have a better gauge.”

Well, next year is here and indeed we are already finding out a lot more.

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Click here for more A.C. In The A.M. Columns.


Please Note:
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.
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By on June 20, 2014 at 5:56 am

140620_AC_AMAndy Cohen’s column on Dolphins.com appears at 6 a.m. every weekday from training camp through the season and when events warrant during the offseason. Occasionally, like today, Andy will provide some quick hits. Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

Have a question for A.C.? Submit your questions to Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

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Minicamp 2014 is now history and the players are off on their own for a little more than a month. The smart ones will balance time off with the urgency of continuing to get ready for what should be a highly competitive training camp.

Some post-minicamp observations:

• I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that this team has more talent and depth than the previous two under Joe Philbin. It will all come down, as I’ve said before, to piecing it all together. That will be the greatest challenge of training camp.

• Wide receiver may be the deepest area on the team. If this group stays healthy, I wouldn’t want to decide who stays and who goes.

• I continue to reside on the Jarvis Landry bandwagon and what his teammates are saying only strengthens my conviction. “He’s like a veteran out there,” said quarterback Matt Moore. “You watch him and you can’t believe some of the things he does, especially as a rookie.”

• With so many new and enticing storylines in camp, tight end Charles Clay is flying under the radar. But every once in a while he’ll make one of those catches that reminds you what a special player he has become.

• Granted, it’s still very early, but I’ve got a feeling Michael Egnew is going to turn a few heads this season.

• So far so good on the Koa Misi move to inside linebacker. When the pads come on in late July, we’ll know a lot more.

Enjoy the next month. Training camp will be here before you know it. And that’s when the real fun begins!

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Click here for more A.C. In The A.M. Columns


Please Note:
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.
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By on June 19, 2014 at 5:55 am

140619_AC_AMAndy Cohen In The Morning will continue to run during the offseason, but only as events dictate

Be sure to follow Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins

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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?

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Click here for more A.C. In The A.M. Columns.


Please Note:
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.
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