- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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DAVIE, Fla. – The Miami Dolphins completed their first of three rookie minicamp practices Friday. This was the only session open to the media this weekend.
Here are several observations from practice:
Let's start with a bit of news: Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin was not present for the rookie practice. He was away due to a personal matter. Miami offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle primarily ran the practice. Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey took over the media duties after practice and said Philbin is expected to return on Saturday.
It was only one practice, but I like the look of Miami first-round pick Ja'Wuan James. He has big, long arms for a right tackle and looks in good shape. James didn't do much in team drills because the Dolphins wanted an extended look at rookie tryouts. But James has the inside track to become a rookie starter on Miami's offensive line. "I haven't played football in a long time," James said Friday. "We've been practicing to be track stars during this whole drafting process. So it was good going out there and competing."
It was an interesting day for Dolphins fourth-round pick Walt Aikens. The good news is Aikens has good size and got quality reps at cornerback. The bad news is Aikens did not finish his first practice open to the media and left the field early with trainers.
Miami fifth-round pick Jordan Tripp had a solid first practice. He played at middle linebacker Friday and looked comfortable calling signals and running the defense. This also is an indication Miami's coaches believe he can back up starting middle linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. "[It's] preparation allowing you to succeed when those opportunities are given," Tripp said. "Being out there and being in that position, that's one of the roles you take on. You're team trusts you and you have to do the best you can to help the team out the most."
Dolphins second-round pick Jarvis Landry showed much of what was advertised in his first practice. He made some nice catches and showed good hands. Landry also has good focus on the ball, watches it all the way in and has good catching fundamentals. Hickey has high hopes for Landry and believes he can play inside, outside and on special teams. Landry got some reps as a gunner on the punt team Friday, which is a position he also played early in his career at LSU.
This also was the first glimpse of the Dolphins' new offense under Lazor. The Dolphins used a lot of different looks and formations on the first day of rookie camp -- and it was probably just a small portion of the playbook. The route combos and some concepts are different from a year ago when the offense was run by former offensive coordinator Mike Sherman.
The Dolphins' rookies will take the field again on Saturday and Sunday, but those practices are not open to the media. Miami's next media availability is Tuesday during veteran organized team activities.