AFC East: training camp

Five Miami Dolphins on the bubble

August, 23, 2013
8/23/13
2:00
PM ET
MIAMI – The Miami Dolphins will play host to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Saturday night in the "dress rehearsal" game for both teams. The first round of cuts to 75 will be next Tuesday, and the final cut to 53 players is coming on Aug. 31.

This is a huge game for Miami's players who are on the verge of making the team or getting released. Here are five players who need a good performance Saturday night:

1. RB Jonas Gray

Analysis: It’s not often that a team keeps four running backs. But Gray is doing everything he can to make that a tough decision for Miami. Gray has been solid in training camp and preseason games. He even carved out a potential role as a short-yardage and goal-line option for the Dolphins this preseason, which he's done well. Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas are locks for the 53-man roster. Mike Gillislee also is a draft pick, so he also sticks. Gray is fighting a number's game, and needs to prove Saturday why it is worth keeping an extra tailback.

2. DT A.J. Francis

Analysis: Perhaps no Dolphins backup has come on stronger in the past week or 10 days than Francis. The light has come on for the raw defensive lineman. Francis put together two good weeks of practice, and had an impressive preseason game last Saturday against the Houston Texans. The problem is that the defensive line is the deepest area of the team. My latest Miami roster projection has nine defensive linemen, and Francis didn’t make the cut. Ideally, the Dolphins would like to keep Francis on the practice squad. But that would risk Miami losing him to another team. Saturday is a good chance for Francis to show why he deserves to be on a 53-man roster -- whether it is Miami's or someone else's roster.

3. Guard Lance Louis

Analysis: Louis has been in a rough spot in training camp. The four-year veteran is coming off ACL surgery. He missed valuable practice time, but also needed to come back early enough to show what he can do before roster cuts. Louis has plenty of starting experience, but he's still rusty and probably not 100 percent. Louis was my last offensive lineman to make the cut. Much of that was because other offensive linemen are injured. This is a big game for Louis to validate his standing.

4. WR Marvin McNutt

Analysis: McNutt is in a neck-and-neck roster battle with fellow receiver Chad Bumphis. McNutt started training camp fast, then Bumphis took the lead, but lately McNutt is back to making more plays in practice. McNutt also has the size Miami's coaching staff covets. He just needs to work on his consistency. Bumphis is a slot receiver who doesn't offer much versatility. But this battle is still up for grabs, and could come down to the final two preseason games.

5. FB Jorvorskie Lane

Analysis: Lane, last year’s starting fullback, has really seen his stock drop in training camp and the preseason. Miami's coaching staff has moved in the direction of versatility and position-flexibility on offense. Therefore, players like Charles Clay and Evan Rodriguez are getting more reps ahead of Lane, who is a pure fullback. If roster cuts were today, I would expect Rodriguez to get the nod over Lane. Rodriguez is a better athlete, receiver and can play special teams. Lane's chances are dwindling fast. He has two more preseason games to try to earn a roster spot.
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins completed their 2013 training camp Thursday, and one of the top players in camp was second-year defensive end Olivier Vernon.

The former third-round draft pick has been arguably Miami's most improved player throughout organized team activities, minicamps and training camp. Vernon beat out No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan for the starting job at defensive end, although Jordan has been hampered by an injured shoulder.

Vernon was a backup for the Dolphins last year and registered 3.5 sacks off the bench. This year he’s looking for more. I caught up with Vernon Thursday after the final practice of camp to get thoughts on his progress.

[+] EnlargeOlivier Vernon
Robert Mayer/USA TODAY SportsDefensive end Olivier Vernon (50) hopes to build on a solid rookie season.
James Walker: Olivier, you and left tackle Jonathan Martin have been going at it a lot in this camp. How much are you making each other better for the regular season?

Olivier Vernon: We’re making each other a whole lot better. We try to go against each other every time in practice. As far as pass-rush moves, with me using my hand techniques, I’ve learned so much [facing Martin]. I’ve grown so much from last year to now, it’s like a whole different person. I have him to thank for that. He helped me a lot, and being able to see him, he’s gotten so much better. It works hand and hand.

Walker: I was going to ask about your growth since your rookie year. Has the game slowed down for you in Year 2?

Vernon: Last year was a whole boatload I had to learn. It was kind of overwhelming. But I just tried to go out there and played my best. Now, this year I feel like I know most of the things that’s going on. So it’s much easier. You don’t have to worry about, “Do I have to do this? Do I have to do that?” It slows down for you mentally.

Walker: What’s it been like playing for Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle?

Vernon: He’s a real cool dude. He sets people in position to make plays. If you know your role and you’re good at your role and do your job, you’re going to make plays. Last year was a new coaching staff, so he couldn’t put everything in. We had to crawl before we [could] walk. So this year it should be more things added on defense-wise.

Walker: Miami’s defensive line has a lot of depth. What’s the ceiling for this group?

Vernon: It can be great. We got a special D-line group. We all try to make each other better, especially with competition. The sky is the limit I feel like for this D-line.

Walker: Any predictions for your alma mater this year: the University of Miami?

Vernon: For the U? I know they’re going to beat the Gators [laughs]. That's for one. But I feel like they’re going to be okay. They’re going to be alright. It all depends on what happens with this whole NCAA thing [investigation].

Live from Dolphins training camp

August, 15, 2013
8/15/13
7:30
AM ET
The Miami Dolphins will officially wrap up their 2013 training camp with an 8 a.m. ET practice on Thursday. It's been a fun and interesting camp for the Dolphins, who started earlier than most teams due to five preseason games.

I've been at Dolphins training camp from the start and also will be there for the finish. Check back for a full report on Miami's practice in the AFC East blog.

But if you can't wait that long and want instant analysis, feel free to follow me on Twitter for up-to-the-second updates and analysis from the Dolphins' practice.

Live from Dolphins training camp

August, 14, 2013
8/14/13
7:30
AM ET
After a day off on Tuesday, the Miami Dolphins are back to work in preparation for this weekend's preseason game against the Houston Texans.

The Dolphins will hold their second-to-last practice of training camp, and I will be there to take in all the action. Miami started early and will be one of the first teams to wrap up camp this week.

There will be a full practice report on the Dolphins later in the AFC East blog. But if you can’t wait that long and need immediate analysis from Miami’s practice, feel free to follow me on Twitter for live updates as they happen.
DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill admitted he's swamped with NFL training camp and hasn’t kept close tabs on his college alma mater. But Tannehill did take a couple minutes after practice Monday to discuss the recent controversy at Texas A&M involving former teammate Johnny Manziel.

The latest story involves an ESPN report that Manziel allegedly accepted money for autographs, which could lead to an NCAA investigation. Tannehill was the starting quarterback at Texas A&M before Manziel and has known the Heisman Trophy winner for a few years.

"I haven’t followed it too closely," Tannehill said of the controversy involving Manziel. “Obviously I see the headlines, but I think they’ll get to the bottom of it. Whatever happens, they’ll find the truth out.”

Manziel was a red-shirt freshman during Tannehill’s final year at Texas A&M. Manziel was recruited at the university to eventually fill the void Tannehill would leave behind. Tannehill left Texas A&M in 2012 and became the No. 8 overall pick for the Dolphins.

Manziel went on to win the Heisman Trophy as a freshman, his first year as a starter. But since then, Manziel hasn’t been able to stay out of the headlines and could face discipline as a sophomore.

“I wish him the best,” Tannehill said of Manziel. “He’s been great for (Texas) A&M. He had a heck of a year last year, and hopefully we get to see him on the field this year.”

Live from Dolphins training camp

August, 12, 2013
8/12/13
7:30
AM ET
The Miami Dolphins continue their week of preparation for their third preseason game. They will hold another training camp practice on Monday, and the AFC East blog will be there to take in all the action.

I will have a full report in the AFC East blog later today. But if Dolphins fans cannot wait that long, feel free to follow all the action on Twitter, where I will provide live updates and observations from practice.

The Dolphins will take on the Houston Texans on Saturday. Expect Miami’s starters to get more playing time this week. This should be the Dolphins’ stiffest test to date in the preseason.

Live from Miami Dolphins camp

August, 7, 2013
8/07/13
12:00
PM ET
After an uneven performance in last weekend's Hall of Fame Game, the Miami Dolphins are back on the practice field this week in preparation for their second preseason game. The AFC East blog will be in attendance for Miami's practice Wednesday and will bring you all the latest developments and reaction.

As usual, I will have a full practice report later this afternoon. But if Dolphins fans cannot wait that long, you can always follow me on Twitter for live updates from Miami camp as they happen.

The Dolphins will take the field for their second preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday.
The Miami Dolphins continued their trend of handing out big contract extensions this week. Miami signed starting safety Reshad Jones to a four-year, $30 million extension. Jones now is under contract through the 2017 season.

Miami spent more than $200 million in total contracts this offseason. However, Jones initially was not one of those players the team rewarded. After some early tension, which included Jones considering a holdout, general manager Jeff Ireland stayed true to his word and eventually took care of Jones.

“We’ve been working on this since OTAs [organized team activities],” Jones explained Tuesday. “They said they would get it done, and like I said they went out and got it done. So that’s a thanks to [owner] Stephen Ross, Jeff Ireland, Coach [Joe] Philbin and this whole organization for making this possible.”

Now that Jones is financially secure, he can fully turn his attention to football. Jones had a career year in 2012 when he recorded 94 tackles, 4 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles and a sack. He was one of Miami’s few playmakers on defense last season.

This year Jones, 25, is thinking big. He’s already one of the top young safeties in the NFL. But Jones’ goal this year is to be mentioned among the very best at his position.

“The sky is the limit,” Jones said Tuesday. “I think I went out last year and demonstrated that I’m one of the elite safeties in this game. I just want to be consistent, continue to keep doing what I’m doing and be a leader on this team.”

The Dolphins could certainly use another big year from Jones. For the first time in years, Miami enters the season with a lot of preseason hype and playoff expectations.

Jones came to Miami as a fifth-round pick in 2010. But he quickly established himself with the Dolphins and became a full-time starter one year later. Once Jones was put in the starting lineup, it was clear that he was a keeper.

It’s rare that a fifth-round pick becomes one of the highest-paid players at his position after just three seasons. But Jones proved himself on the field and the Dolphins are showing confidence that his stellar play will continue.

“It feels even better, knowing that I had to work for it,” Jones said of his road to the big extension. “When you have to work for whatever it is, I think it’s more rewarding. So it feels good knowing that I went out, proved myself and I earned it, it wasn’t just given to me.”

Live from Dolphins camp: Day 10

August, 1, 2013
8/01/13
1:00
PM ET
The Miami Dolphins are nearly halfway through their 2013 training camp. Miami will take the field Thursday in preparation for its first preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

The AFC East blog will be in attendance for another Dolphins session. On Wednesday, Dion Jordan, the No. 3 overall pick in April's draft, shined with two sacks during team drills. Who will stand out on Thursday?

We will have a full report this afternoon from Dolphins training camp. But if you can’t wait, feel free to follow my Twitter account for live updates from Miami’s practice as it happens.
You heard the collective groans from Miami Dolphins fans last week at training camp. Starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill got off to a slow start during the first three or four practices -- which started some premature panic in Miami.

Not since Hall of Famer Dan Marino have there been so much preseason expectations put on a Miami quarterback. Tannehill had a solid rookie season and won seven games in 2012 with few weapons. This year Tannehill has plenty of new toys, such as tight end Dustin Keller and receivers Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson. So when Tannehill was erratic and threw several interceptions in the first few days of camp, some began to wonder about the second-year quarterback.

However, Tannehill has hit his stride in the past week and has been much more efficient and accurate. Tannehill threw three touchdowns in Monday’s scrimmage at Sun Life Stadium. He also hasn't thrown in interception in more than a week.

Tannehill has built momentum heading into Miami's first preseason game this weekend against the Dallas Cowboys.

“I definitely think I am improving, and that’s what you want to do,” Tannehill said. “You want to come out here, improve every day, learn from your mistakes, don’t make the same mistake twice. I think, not only myself but the quarterbacks in general, we’re doing that.”

The Dolphins and Cowboys will be the first NFL teams to hit the field for the 2013 season in Canton, Ohio, for Sunday's Hall of Fame Game. The Dolphins have earned some preseason buzz after spending more than $200 million in free agency. Miami has playoff aspirations and wants to put on a good showing before a national audience.

Tannehill's limited reps will be watched closely. He may only play a couple series. But it is a chance for Tannehill to show the strides he's made in camp.

“I think it’s exciting,” Tannehill said. “Like I said, it’s a good thing for this team to be able to get an extra week of work in, get a lot of guys some reps, maybe that wouldn’t be able to get as many reps, if we only had four preseason games. I think it’s very crucial for our team to use this time wisely.”

Live from Dolphins training camp

July, 31, 2013
7/31/13
5:00
PM ET
After one day off, it’s officially game week for the Miami Dolphins as the team returns to training camp Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. ET. It’s time for Miami to prepare for its first game of the preseason against the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame Game, which will be held this Sunday.

The AFC East blog will be in attendance for Miami’s session. We will provide a full report later this evening on lineup updates and who performed well.

But if you can’t wait that long, feel free to follow me on Twitter for live updates from practice as they happen.
MIAMI -- The Miami Dolphins completed their annual scrimmage Monday night at Sun Life Stadium.

Here are several notes and observations:
  • The top two plays of the night go to Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill connecting with his tight ends. First, Tannehill made a nice 24-yard connection to fullback/tight end Charles Clay for a touchdown. Clay got open over the middle, caught the ball in stride and rumbled past safety Jimmy Wilson for the touchdown. Tannehill also connected with starting tight end Dustin Keller on the sideline for an impressive 14-yard touchdown reception. Tannehill had three touchdowns total on the night, with his third going to tailback Daniel Thomas on a swing pass.
  • Dan Carpenter was the only healthy kicker in the scrimmage and had a rough night. Rookie Caleb Sturgis sat out with a reported groin injury. Carpenter was 3-of-5 on his field goal attempts. He missed two 49-yard field goals wide left. Carpenter also had an extra point blocked, and you cannot win a lot of games that way. Carpenter already is in the hot seat for missing timely kicks last season. He certainly didn't help his case in this scrimmage by leaving seven points on the board.
  • The turnout was impressive, especially considering how much Dolphins fans have been bashed for not showing up to Sun Life Stadium. The announced crowd was 22,876. Afterward, coach Joe Philbin thanked the fans for showing up.
  • Dolphins starting receiver Brian Hartline was held out. He was dressed for the scrimmage during warmups but appeared to pull something and sat out the rest of the night. Fellow starting receiver Mike Wallace also didn't play.
  • Miami No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan got some quality reps. He registered a sack on backup quarterback Pat Devlin. Jordan also lined up against starting left tackle Jonathan Martin and ran by him to pressure quarterback Tannehill on another. It’s good progress for Miami’s top pick. Jordan has been brought along slowly by the Dolphins. Starting defensive end Olivier Vernon also had a strip sack against No. 2 quarterback Matt Moore in one of the top plays for the defense.
  • It was an up-and-down night for Dolphins rookie RB Mike Gillislee. He started fast in his first career appearance at Sun Life Stadium. Gillislee caught a screen pass for a first down and also made a couple nice runs outside. But Gillislee fumbled on a run up the middle late. It was a rookie mistake that won’t make the coaching staff happy.
  • Miami free-agent signing Philip Wheeler also made some nice plays. He had a big hit on receiver Marvin McNutt and also two pass defenses. Wheeler displayed the good mix of speed and physicality.

The Dolphins will shift their attention to the Hall of Fame game this weekend against the Dallas Cowboys. Miami will take Tuesday off and return to the practice field on Wednesday.
MIAMI -- The Miami Dolphins will hold their annual training camp scrimmage at Sun Life Stadium Monday at 7 p.m. ET. This is the first chance for the 2013 Dolphins to play under the lights in their home stadium.

Expect the intensity to be increased from practice. Miami will be going over real-game scenarios in this scrimmage in preparation for its first preseason game Aug. 4 against the Dallas Cowboys.

Here are five things to watch:

    [+] EnlargeMike Pouncey
    Robert Mayer/USA TODAY SportsThe Dolphins may experiment with the roster some by moving Mike Pouncey to right guard during training camp to offset injuries on the line.
  • Stability on offensive line: This has been the weakest unit so far in Miami's training camp. There were already concerns about this group entering the preseason. But starting guard John Jerry's injury has resulted in further instability. The Dolphins are trying out multiple combinations to fill in for Jerry’s absence. One combo actually included moving stud center Mike Pouncey to right guard, which I think is an awful idea and weakens the center position. Monday's scrimmage will be a good showcase to see if Miami's offensive line can figure things out.

  • Ryan Tannehill: As usual, all eyes at Sun Life Stadium will be on Miami’s starting quarterback. Tannehill started training camp slowly, but he’s really heated up in the past several days. Let's see if he can carry that momentum into this scrimmage and also into next Sunday's first preseason game against Dallas. Tannehill is developing an increasing rapport with his new targets: Mike Wallace, Brandon Gibson and Dustin Keller. Most importantly, he's taking care of the football. Tannehill hasn't thrown an interception in four straight practices.

  • Dion Jordan: Miami’s No. 3 overall pick got his first action in 11-on-11 drills Sunday, and he’s expected to play Monday night. The Dolphins have brought Jordan along slowly after his shoulder surgery in February. Jordan has showed strong flashes of athleticism and pass-rushing ability. His play in this scrimmage could dictate how soon Jordan will be ready to participate in preseason games.

  • Cornerback play: Miami was 27th against the pass last season but looks improved at cornerback. Brent Grimes has been one of the top performers in camp so far, and Dimitri Patterson and Richard Marshall have staged a good competition for the No. 2 corner slot. This is a good opportunity for players to begin carving out roles in the secondary, particularly for young corners like rookie Will Davis, R.J. Stanford and Nolan Carroll.

  • Running backs: There haven’t been a lot of big plays so far from the running backs. Some of that is due to Miami’s run defense, which is stout. Tailbacks Lamar Miller, Daniel Thomas and Mike Gillislee appear to be the top three options for the Dolphins at this stage. Miller, the starter, appears to be the best of the three. But there haven’t been a lot of running lanes. This is another byproduct of the Dolphins' instability on the offensive line. This unit is regularly getting hammered by Miami’s defensive line, which is very deep.

I will have a full report in the AFC East blog from Miami’s scrimmage late tonight. But if Dolphins fans cannot wait that long and want immediate analysis, follow my Twitter account for live updates and observations as they happen.
The Miami Dolphins suffered their first season-ending injury of training camp over weekend. Backup receiver Armon Binns landed awkwardly on his leg Sunday and suffered a torn ACL in his left knee.

Binns had a solid spring and made several plays during the first week of training camp. He was the early favorite for the No. 4 receiver job behind starters Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and slot receiver Brandon Gibson. Binns caught 24 passes for 277 yards and a touchdown during his split time last season with Miami and the Cincinnati Bengals.

With Binns out, the backup receiver positions are wide open. The Dolphins are expected to keep five or six receivers on their 53-man roster. Wallace, Hartline and Gibson are the only locks, leaving as many as three spots remaining.

Here are the early candidates:

No. 1: Marvin McNutt

Skinny: McNutt has made the most big plays of all the backup receivers in camp, including Binns. McNutt now has the inside track to become one of Miami's top reserves at receiver.

No. 2: Rishard Matthews

Skinny: Matthews surprised Miami last year as a seventh-round draft pick. But a recent camp injury will result in missed time and put him behind the rest of the group.

No. 3: Jeff Fuller

Skinny: Binns' injury opens up a golden opportunity for a player like Fuller. He has good size and is a former college teammate of Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. However, Fuller remains inconsistent in camp.

No. 4: Brian Tyms

Skinny: He's a raw talent who flashed in the spring but has disappeared so far in training camp. Unless he produces big in preseason games, Tyms could be a practice-squad option.

No. 5: Jasper Collins

Skinny: The Dolphins like his ability to return kicks. But Collins hasn't done much in training camp as a receiver. That's probably not enough to make the 53-man roster.

Other candidates: Kenny Stafford, Chad Bumphis, Andrell Smith.
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins are a full week into training camp, and I was in attendance for Day 7 to take in all the action.

Here are some notes and observations:
  • The stars of Sunday’s practice were Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake, who got a sack and blew up a running play behind the line of scrimmage in team drills, and backup quarterback Pat Devlin. Miami made a roster move to cut quarterback Aaron Corp. Therefore, Devlin got more reps and had his best practice of training camp. He threw touchdowns to receivers Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson. However, Devlin did throw a late interception to rookie cornerback Will Davis to end practice. Look for Devlin to play a lot in next week’s Hall of Fame Game.
  • Miami continued to experiment with its offensive line Sunday. Mike Pouncey was played at both center and right guard with the first team. Josh Samuda played center and left guard with the starters. Rookie guard Dallas Thomas got fewer reps with the starters.
  • Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill had his fourth straight day of practice without a turnover. Tannehill also threw a pair of touchdowns to receiver Brian Hartline and running back Marcus Thigpen in the corner of each end zone. After a slow start, Tannehill appears to have hit his stride in training camp.
  • Cornerback Dimitri Patterson worked with the first team for the second day in a row. Patterson has strung together three good practices in a row, and is ahead of Richard Marshall for the time being. Patterson has displayed good quickness and ball skills so far.
  • As we mentioned earlier, the Dolphins had their first fight of training camp. Defensive tackle Jared Odrick and Samuda got into a wrestling match after the whistle during 11-on-11 drills. They eventually patched things later in practice. You can read the full report of what happened here.
  • The Dolphins will play in Sun Life Stadium on Monday night for a team scrimmage. This will be a good opportunity for players to step up and impress the coaching staff.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider