Miami Dolphins: Cameron Wake

DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins (1-0) continue their preparation for Sunday’s matchup against the Buffalo Bills (1-0).

Here are some notes and observations from Wednesday's portion of practice open to the media:
  • Miami rookie linebacker Chris McCain was not present for his second straight practice for an unspecified reason. Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin wouldn’t explain McCain’s absence on Tuesday, but the team will be required to list McCain on the injury report Wednesday evening. McCain made an impact in Sunday's win over the New England Patriots with a blocked punt and a sack. But his status is unknown for Week 2.
  • The Dolphins also were without defensive tackle Randy Starks, who was in a boot and did not participate in the portion of practice open to the media. Starks did practice on Tuesday. Miami defensive end Terrence Fede, linebacker Jordan Tripp, guard Billy Turner and center Mike Pouncey did not participate in the media viewing portion of practice.
  • There is some good news for the Dolphins on the injury front. Miami starting linebacker Philip Wheeler practiced for the second straight day. He was a late scratch last week due to a thumb injury. But his chances appear optimistic against Buffalo.
  • Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake earned AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for his performance against the Patriots. Wake recorded two sacks and two forced fumbles on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Wake also won the award last season for his Week 9 performance in a win against the Cincinnati Bengals.
DAVIE, Fla. -- The talk of the NFL this week is the recent video obtained by TMZ showing former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice striking his then-fiancée and current wife, Janay Rice.

On Tuesday, the Miami Dolphins' locker room was open for the first time since the video was released.

"Obviously, it's unfortunate," Dolphins defensive end and locker-room leader Cameron Wake said. "You never want anything like that to happen. I still haven't seen the video. I heard some guys talking about it. From what I've heard, it was pretty disturbing."

Dolphins defensive tackle Earl Mitchell called it an "ugly" situation. Several other Dolphins players didn't want to comment on Rice on Tuesday.

Tthe NFL has been heavily criticized for its handling of this domestic incident. The league all but admitted it botched Rice's two-game suspension and updated its player policy on domestic abuse. Also, the NFL suspended Rice indefinitely once TMZ released the recent footage.

"I'm in full support of the policy that the NFL has implemented," Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said Tuesday of the updated rules, which include a six-game suspension for the first offense. "I think it's the right thing to do."

The Dolphins dealt with their share of controversy with last season's bullying scandal. Similar to bullying, domestic abuse is an important, hot-button issue in our society.

"Obviously, you don't want anything like that to happen, not only on your own team, but anywhere in the league," Wake said. "My thoughts are with everybody who's involved."

Miami Dolphins Stock Watch

September, 9, 2014
Sep 9
1:10
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The Miami Dolphins got their season off to an impressive start with Sunday's 33-20 victory over the New England Patriots.

Here is a look at whose stock is rising in Miami:

Rising

Moreno
1. Knowshon Moreno, running back: Moreno is paying early dividends as a key free-agent signing for Miami. He rushed for 134 yards and a touchdown in Miami's win. Moreno didn't start the game. But his physical style set a tone for the offense once Moreno got in rhythm. As I mentioned recently, if Moreno isn't starting next week, something isn't right. Moreno has proven he should get a bulk of the carries over Lamar Miller, who is better in a backup role.

2. Bill Lazor, offensive coordinator: Lazor did not have an easy assignment in his first NFL game as a coordinator. His job was to outsmart Bill Belichick and New England's defense, while also keeping future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady off the field. Lazor did just that in his debut and racked up 33 points against New England. His run-pass balance proved to be too much for the Patriots. The Dolphins only scored more than 30 points once all last season. Lazor aced his first test.

Wake
3. Cameron Wake, defensive end: Miami's Pro Bowl defensive end came up with two huge sacks against Brady that also caused fumbles. Wake, 32, continues to thrive and appears to be headed to another double-digit sack season if he stays healthy. Miami's defensive line in general played well and dominated New England's offense line. Wake often creates mismatches against opposing right tackles.

4. Dolphins' offensive line: Few knew what to expect from Miami's rebuilt offensive line that boasted five new starters. But the Dolphins dominated the Patriots in the trenches, rushing for 191 yards. Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill was hit several times but only sacked once. Miami's offensive line is expected to get better soon when Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey returns from hip surgery. But so far, this group put together a winning performance.

5. AFC East division: We are making a special exception in this week's Dolphins Stock Watch. The AFC East deserves kudos for a fast start in Week 1. The Dolphins, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets all picked up victories. It's also safe to assume the Patriots aren't going anywhere. The division has been criticized in recent years -- and rightfully so -- for not being competitive. Early signs point to the AFC East being a much tougher division in 2014.

Rapid Reaction: Miami Dolphins

September, 7, 2014
Sep 7
4:19
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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- A few thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' 33-20 win at Sun Life Stadium:

What it means: The Dolphins picked up a gritty and important win against the New England Patriots to open the regular season. Miami trailed 20-10 in the first half but took over in the third and fourth quarters with 23 unanswered points. Beating the reigning AFC East champions and picking up a division victory adds to the importance of the victory. Miami didn't get much respect in the national media this offseason. This win over New England, a team many feel is one of the best in the NFL, certainly puts the rest of the league on notice that Miami should be taken seriously.

Stock Watch: Miami defensive end Cameron Wake's stock is on the upswing. Wake continually pressured Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and registered two sacks and fumbles against Brady in the second half. In contrast, the Dolphins' linebacker position is on the downturn. Starters Koa Misi (ankle) and Dannell Ellerbe (hip) were injured in the first half and didn't return. Philip Wheeler also missed the game with a thumb injury. Miami’s linebacker position was a major question mark even when everyone was healthy.

Unexpected rookie: The Dolphins got an unexpected contribution from undrafted rookie linebacker Chris McCain. He made a pair of big plays that helped the Dolphins. McCain blocked a punt following New England’s first drive on offense, which led to Miami’s first touchdown. McCain also had a sack on Brady near the end of the third quarter.

Game ball: Miami running back Knowshon Moreno provided a spark off the bench with 134 rushing yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. Moreno should soon overtake Miami starting tailback Lamar Miller, who fumbled Sunday and struggled at times, for a starting job.

What's next: The Dolphins will have another important division game in Week 2, when they travel to play the Buffalo Bills, who have had the Dolphins' number as of late. Buffalo swept Miami in two games last season.

Morning take: Cam Wake's quest

September, 1, 2014
Sep 1
8:00
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Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Monday from around the web:
  • Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post writes Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake wants to make his first playoff appearance.
  • Morning take: Wake has been one of Miami's best players of the past five years. But team success has not followed. Will this year be different?


  • Chris Perkins of the Sun Sentinel writes Dolphins general manager is happy with the roster but not satisfied.
  • Morning take: Hickey’s first year has gone well so far. But the true test will be during the regular season.


  • Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald writes the Dolphins are hopeful Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey returns soon.
  • Morning take: Pouncey is doing well in rehab and was taken off the physically unable to perform list. Week 4 seems like a reasonable goal.


  • Here is the full practice squad, according to the team site.
  • Morning take: There are some familiar faces with quarterback Seth Lobato, center Sam Brenner and others. Someone may get a call up later this season and must stay ready.

Miami Dolphins Stock Watch

August, 26, 2014
Aug 26
12:00
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The Miami Dolphins are approaching their final preseason game of 2014 Thursday against the St. Louis Rams.

Here is a look at whose stock is rising and falling this week in Miami:

Rising

1. Knowshon Moreno, running back: Moreno had an impressive debut in last week’s 25-20 win over the Dallas Cowboys. Moreno rushed for 64 yards on 10 carries (6.4 yard average). He showed good vision, patience and strength to finish runs. Moreno has officially put his name in the conversation to be Miami’s starting running back in Week 1 against the New England Patriots despite missing much of training camp and the preseason.

Wake
2. Cameron Wake, defensive end: Wake was in regular-season form with a pair of sacks on Dallas starting quarterback Tony Romo. Wake had his way with Cowboys starting right tackle Doug Free, who had trouble keeping Wake out of the backfield Saturday night. Wake is expecting another double-digit sack season in 2014.

3. Shelley Smith, right guard: Smith didn’t dominate in his first start with the Dolphins. But he made several good blocks, and that might have been enough to secure the starting right guard position in Miami’s offense for the season opener. The Dolphins showed they have the capability to run the ball with Smith in the lineup. Moreno gained most of his yards running on the right side behind Smith and rookie right tackle Ja'Wuan James.

Falling

1. Dolphins special teams: What happened to Miami’s special teams Saturday? The group completely fell apart against the Cowboys, and it’s hard to determine if it was a one-game lapse or if multiple issues are on the horizon. The Dolphins gave up big kickoff returns, fumbled a punt return and gave up a blocked punt that was called back due to a Dallas penalty. To add to the bad day, Dolphins kicker John Potter also injured his hip and couldn’t finish the game. Miami’s third phase did not put on a winning performance. Special teams coach Darren Rizzi has a lot of work to do before the regular season.

2. First-team offense: The Dolphins have to score more than three points in six drives. There is simply no excuse. Miami’s starters put up plenty of yards but couldn’t convert it into points. The Dolphins had missed opportunities and careless turnovers, such as a fumble by tight end Dion Sims and quarterback Ryan Tannehill's interceptions into double coverage. Miami will have issues winning consistently this season if they consistently make these kinds of mistakes.

3. Dallas Thomas, right guard: With Smith’s ascension, Thomas’ stock drops and his chance of retaining his starting job does too. Thomas was rotated in with the first-team offense against Dallas and didn’t have a strong performance. He also struggled mightily against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second preseason game. Thomas needed to play above and beyond to get back in the starting conversation, and that simply didn't happen.

Observation Deck: Miami Dolphins

August, 23, 2014
Aug 23
10:20
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MIAMI -- Until Saturday night, the Miami Dolphins were left to wonder what their running game looks like at full strength under new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. Miami had gone without Knowshon Moreno, a key free-agent pickup, the entire preseason due to knee surgery.

But Moreno made an impressive 2014 debut in Saturday's 25-20 win over the Dallas Cowboys. Moreno rushed for 64 yards on 10 carries (good for a 6.4-yard average) in his Dolphins debut. Moreno ran strong between the tackles and added a new dimension to the Dolphins' offense. He showed good vision, burst through the hole, and wasn't afraid to punish defenders at the end of runs.

Moreno is competing with incumbent starter Lamar Miller (34 rushing yards) and perhaps closed the distance with this preseason performance. Miami hopes Moreno's output Saturday is a taste of things to come in the regular season.

Here are some other thoughts on the Dolphins' third preseason game:
  • It was a mixed bag from Miami starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who completed 13-of-21 passes for 119 yards and one interception in the dress rehearsal game. The third-year quarterback did a decent job of moving the Dolphins' offense down the field, but sloppy play kept points off the board. Tannehill threw his interception into double coverage while Miami was driving down the field in the third quarter on his final throw of the night. Tannehill also completed a pass to tight end Dion Sims, who fumbled the ball in the first half to stall another drive.
  • The Dolphins’ starting defense held up well against a talented and dangerous Cowboys’ offense. Miami held Dallas’ offense to just six points in the first half when starters were on the field. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo looked befuddled at times by Miami’s defense. Romo was 10-of-18 passing for 87 yards in the game and was sacked three times. Dolphins starting defensive ends Cameron Wake (two sacks) and Olivier Vernon (one sack) got to Romo.
  • In addition to Moreno, Dolphins starting tight end Charles Clay also made his 2014 debut. Clay tweaked his knee during Miami's team scrimmage earlier this month and missed the first two preseason games. Clay played in the first quarter and recorded one reception for 18 yards.
  • The Dolphins still have a lot of work to do on special teams. Dallas reeled off big returns Saturday, including a 50-yard kickoff return from Cowboys receiver Dwayne Harris in the first quarter. Miami rookie receiver Jarvis Landry also fumbled a punt return that he later recovered. The Dolphins also had a punt blocked, but it was called back due to a Dallas penalty. On top of that, Miami kicker John Potter also injured his hip in the first half and didn't finish the game. Punter Brandon Fields performed kickoffs in the second half. It was a rough night for Dolphins special teams coach Darren Rizzi, who certainly has a lot to talk about with his group next week.
  • Miami starting middle linebacker Koa Misi was a late scratch Saturday night with a shoulder injury. He practiced during the week but was held out against Dallas. The Dolphins started backup linebacker Jason Trusnik in place of Misi. Dolphins kick returner Marcus Thigpen, kicker Caleb Sturgis and running backs Daniel Thomas and Mike Gillislee were also among the key players who didn’t suit up for Miami Saturday night.
MIAMI -- The Miami Dolphins still have unanswered questions as they prepare for Saturday's second preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

However, Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin was ready to make a fairly bold statement on Friday.

"We have the best roster that we've had in the three years I've been here," Philbin told Dolphins fans confidently at the team's annual luncheon in downtown Miami.

Expectations are as high as they've ever been in Philbin's tenure. The Dolphins went 7-9 and 8-8 in Philbin's first two seasons. The feeling around the team is Miami must improve and make the playoffs this year to avoid potential repercussions from owner Stephen Ross.

Philbin's statement Friday makes it clear that there are no excuses. The Dolphins have talent at a lot of positions. However, it will be up to the coaching staff to maximize the talent, which has been an issue during Miami's five-year playoff drought.

The Dolphins received good fan support during their annual luncheon. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, receiver Brian Hartline and defensive linemen Cameron Wake and Randy Starks spoke at the event. There was even a session where Philbin showed off some not-so-great dance moves, which were funny and unexpected.

Philbin and players also urged fans to support the team at Sun Life Stadium, which has been an issue. According to Dolphins president Tom Garfinkel, ticket sales are up about 15 percent compared to this time last year.

“It means everything to know that we have the backing,” Dolphins rookie receiver Jarvis Landry said Friday. “It means everything to know that all our hard work doesn’t go unnoticed as a team. We’re trying to accomplish something here in Miami and bring back a championship.”

Dolphins Camp Report: Day 14

August, 12, 2014
Aug 12
3:40
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DAVIE, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Miami Dolphins training camp:
  • Dolphins starting cornerback Cortland Finnegan returned to practice after missing the past two days. Finnegan hinted on social media that he had a death in the family. However, Finnegan did not want to get into specifics on Tuesday. On the field, Finnegan was back on the first team and also played in the slot on the nickel defense. The Dolphins rotated cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis on the outside once Finnegan moved inside.
  • Miami is making a concerted effort to get new quarterback Brady Quinn acclimated to the offense. Dolphins quarterbacks coach Zach Taylor and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor spent plenty of time in practice giving Quinn personal instruction. The Dolphins signed Quinn on Monday to compete with Matt Moore for the No. 2 quarterback job. Depending on how Quinn develops, he could make his Dolphins debut Saturday in the second preseason game.
  • The play of the day goes to Dolphins safety Reshad Jones. He was demoted to the second team this week after violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing substances. But Jones isn’t going in the tank. He made an impressive, diving interception against Moore in team drills. Jones won't be available for the first four games of the regular season. Jimmy Wilson was promoted to the first team.
  • Miami’s defense did well with blitz packages in team drills. The Dolphins got sacks by cornerbacks Finnegan and Taylor on nickel blitzes, and Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake also beat rookie right tackle Ja’Wuan James off the edge to cause a fumble by starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Miami’s pass protection looked solid in the preseason opener last week against the Atlanta Falcons. But the Dolphins’ offense struggled at times protecting the quarterback on Tuesday.
  • After three consecutive practices, the Dolphins will have their first day off this week on Wednesday. Miami will return to the field on Thursday in preparation for its second preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Dolphins Camp Report: Day 7

August, 1, 2014
Aug 1
1:00
PM ET
DAVIE, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Miami Dolphins training camp:
  • It was a semi-light day at Dolphins camp. Miami has its annual team scrimmage at Sun Life Stadium on Saturday. Therefore, Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin gave many of his veterans a light day of work. Veterans such as defensive end Cameron Wake, cornerback Brent Grimes, left tackle Branden Albert, guard Daryn Colledge and safety Louis Delmas dressed but did not take part in team drills and most individual drills. Friday wrapped a physical week of practice where the Dolphins had three sessions in full pads.
  • Dolphins backup receiver Rishard Matthews continued his solid week with another strong practice on Friday. Matthews made a series of nice catches in team and one-on-one drills. Matthews received increased reps after Mike Wallace rested this week with a hamstring injury. Matthews is on the roster bubble this summer because the Dolphins are very deep at that position. Matthews is battling with veteran Brandon Gibson and rookie second-round pick Jarvis Landry for the slot-receiver position.
  • This was the first practice out of several where the Dolphins didn’t have issues with the snap. Since Tuesday, Miami centers Nate Garner, David Arkin and Shelley Smith all had botched snaps throughout the week. Friday’s practice was clean in that regard. Also, backup center Nate Garner returned to practice from an ankle injury. However, he did not participate in team drills.
  • More on the injury front, quarterback Matt Moore hurt his shoulder this week and will miss multiple practices. He will not play in Saturday’s scrimmage. The same goes for rookie receiver Matt Hazel (concussion) and linebacker Tariq Edwards (knee).
  • Here is the Dolphins’ weekend schedule: Miami will hold its annual scrimmage Saturday at 9:30 a.m. ET at Sun Life Stadium. Then, the Dolphins will take the day off Sunday. Their first preseason game is Aug. 8 against the Atlanta Falcons.
DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins rookie right tackle Ja'Wuan James has reason to cringe before every training camp practice. His daily assignment: Try to keep Dolphins Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake off quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

It's a brutal assignment for any offensive tackle. But that is especially the case for James, who is going through his first NFL training camp as Miami's No. 19 overall pick this past May. The Dolphins are putting James to the test right away by plugging him into the starting lineup and having him face Wake in every practice.

Wake, as expected, is winning most of those early battles. But James and the Dolphins see the long-term benefits to the rookie's early struggles against Wake.

"I love it because I’m a competitor," James said of his battles with the veteran defensive end. “He’s a great player and he’s going to get me better. As long as I keep going as hard as I can against him, these constant reps we have, it’s going to get me ready for what I’m going to see in the season.”

Things got particularly one-sided on Saturday. Wake batted a pass and got past James to sack Tannehill in one team session. Later that practice, Wake blew up James with a bull rush in one-on-one drills to complete a tough day for the rookie. Wake also beat James for another Tannehill sack on Sunday.

The goal is to get James as ready as possible for opposing defensive ends he will face in the regular season.

“He practices hard,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said of Wake. “I think the one thing I really appreciate about Cam Wake is -- obviously you want the performance and production on game day -- but he does a great job in practice.”

Wake is 32-years old, which is a full decade older than James (22). Wake has three Pro Bowls on his résumé and one of the top pass-rushers in the AFC.

It shows good leadership on Wake’s behalf to give James a strong look in practice daily and pull the rookie to the side afterwards to provide occasional words of wisdom.

“After practice he’ll be like, ‘Hey, I’ve got your hands up here, you need to do this here,’” James said of Wake. “Or I’ll ask him something. But he does a good job of schooling me, trying to teach me the right thing. But when it’s in between the lines we’re going at it.”
DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake has three Pro Bowls on his resume and gaudy sack numbers. He's earned team MVP honors in Miami, as well as a pair of Defensive Player of the Year awards during his stint in the CFL.

But there is one thing the 32-year-old Wake is still chasing in his accomplished football career: a postseason appearance. Wake has never played a down in the NFL playoffs during his five-year NFL career. He arrived from the CFL to Miami in 2009, one year after the Dolphins last made the postseason. Since then, Miami has a record of 35-45 with zero winning seasons.

[+] EnlargeCameron Wake
AP PhotoThe Dolphins' Cameron Wake has notched 23.5 sacks in the past two seasons.
Wake doesn't want to be remembered as one of Miami's greatest players never to reach the postseason. As players get older, they get wiser and more reflective. Wake said he recently talked to his younger Dolphins teammates about urgency this year and having a win-now mentality.

"I’ve been here with great teams, great players, and I haven’t been to the playoffs once," Wake said disappointingly. “So I’m trying to profess how hard it is to win in this league. It takes so much -- that extra rep, that extra bench press, whatever it may be -- to make that happen.

“For me, as you know, it’s the thing that’s eluded me so far in my career. I’m trying to do everything I can personally and for the team to make that happen this year.”

Wake’s urgency was on display Saturday on the practice field. On a hot July practice, Wake had a strong day against Dolphins rookie right tackle Ja'Waun James.

Wake plowed through James in one-on-one drills and recorded a batted ball and a sack in team drills. Wake was a handful all practice for the rookie at a point in his career when Wake doesn't have to prove himself.

“He practices hard,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said. “I think the one thing I really appreciate about Cam Wake is -- obviously you want the performance and production on game day – but he does a great job in practice.”

The Dolphins need another big season from Wake. This is a big year for many in the organization, and Miami needs a healthy and productive Wake to wreak havoc on quarterbacks and provide leadership on defense.

Wake plays a physically demanding position, but part of his success is due to good nutrition. Wake stays in optimum shape and closely monitors his diet. That’s partially led to Wake recording 23.5 sacks the past two seasons after the age of 30.

“I’ve never looked at a number,” Wake explained. “I never said I want to play 10 years. Is that 10 years from school, because I’ve been out of school 10 years? So it’s hard to put that number out there.

“I just want to play for as long as I can, be successful and help whatever team, whatever situation I’m in win. How many more years is that? Who knows?”
The Miami Dolphins have several question marks heading into the 2014 season. Fortunately for them, the defensive line is not one of them.

Vernon
Vernon
Miami has steadily built a strong collection of talent on the defensive line the past few years, via the draft and free agency. The Dolphins have one of the NFL’s deepest groups of defensive ends with Pro Bowler Cameron Wake, 2013 sack leader Olivier Vernon, valuable backup Derrick Shelby and former first-round pick Dion Jordan, who is suspended four games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Miami also has a strong rotation of defensive tackles with Randy Starks, Jared Odrick and free-agent pickup Earl Mitchell.

The Dolphins must rely on this deep group for production as well as leadership this season.

“All of us defensive linemen talked to each other, and we pretty much know what we have to do, especially when it comes to game-time situations,” Vernon said recently. “When it comes down to it, the D-line is the heart and soul of the defense. If we’re not doing what we have to do, then things start falling apart. So that’s one thing we’re trying to focus on now going into the season.”

Vernon was Miami’s biggest breakout star last season. The 2012 third-round pick made a significant jump in Year 2 from a rookie backup to leading the Dolphins with 11.5 sacks. He followed up by having a strong offseason and looks primed for another solid year.

Wake, Starks and Odrick have been consistent producers for Miami. Mitchell signed a four-year, $16 million contract this offseason after the Dolphins lost Paul Soliai in free agency. The defensive line, on paper, should be one of Miami’s strengths.

“I would say just wait for the pads to come on,” Vernon explained. “I know what kind of group we have, but I’m not going to just talk about it. I’m not the type of person [that] I don’t want to show what we have. I think all of us on the D-line will show what we have.”

Miami’s defense faces a new challenge this year in training camp. The Dolphins are implementing a new offense under first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. Miami aims to use an up-tempo style with a lot of motion and formations to confuse and dictate to the defense. The Dolphins’ defense will see plenty of these elements in training camp, which starts on Friday.

“They’re doing a lot of things I’ve never seen before,” Vernon said. “They’re moving fast. [Quarterback Ryan] Tannehill is taking control and he’s showing his leadership ability, and a lot of guys are impressive.”

Miami Dolphins' projected roster

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
11:00
AM ET
Examining the Miami Dolphins’ roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)


The only question here is whether Devlin can hold off undrafted rookie Brock Jensen for the No. 3 quarterback job. Neither quarterback stood out in the offseason, but Devlin has the slight edge because of experience.

RUNNING BACKS (3)

The Dolphins would like to have someone step up and challenge Thomas. Undrafted rookie Damien Williams from Oklahoma could be a sleeper to watch. But it's too premature to put Williams on the 53-man roster over the veteran Thomas before the pads come on.

RECEIVERS (6)

This is a deep group with a lot of competition. Williams will be pushed for the final spot by Armon Binns and rookie Matt Hazel, who is practice-squad-eligible.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

New Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor uses some two-tight-end sets. So there might be room for a fourth player such as Dion Sims. But we are sticking with three for now.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)
Pouncey’s hip injury puts a major dent in this much-maligned group to start the season. Miami will have five new starters in Week 1.

DEFENSIVE LINE (8)

This is the strongest area of the team. The Dolphins can come at opponents in waves in the trenches.

LINEBACKERS (7)

This group must improve its play from 2013. The Misi experiment at middle linebacker is particularly important to watch.

CORNERBACKS (6)

This is a solid mix of youth and experience. As long as second-year players Taylor and Davis come of age and Finnegan stays healthy, the depth will be improved from a year ago.

SAFETIES (4)

This group is all about position flexibility. All four players must be able to play back in coverage and closer to the line of scrimmage in defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle’s scheme.

SPECIALISTS (3)

This trio will remain the same for the second straight year.
DAVIE, Fla. -- To a man, there is still doubt within the Miami Dolphins' locker room that the high-profile scandal involving former offensive linemen Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito was a result of poor leadership. The NFL's investigation detailed in the Ted Wells report only furthered that national view of the team.

That has put leadership as one of the top items that will help make the Dolphins successful in 2014. The roster has talent. But last year's scandal and late-season collapse cost Miami a playoff berth.

According to Dolphins Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake, lack of leadership isn't an issue.

"Obviously, it's unfortunate what happened [last season] and we're not going to dive too deep into that," Wake said. "But, as a whole, you look around this team [and] there are guys that may be vocal or guys that maybe do it by example. We have leaders all over the place."

Wake is part of a defensive line that must provide leadership on and off the field. In addition to Wake, arguably the team's best player, Miami's defensive line also has 2013 sack leader Olivier Vernon, dynamic second-year player Dion Jordan and veteran defensive tackles Randy Starks, Jared Odrick and Earl Mitchell.

On paper, defensive line is the deepest area of the team and will be expected to set the tone on a weekly basis.

"When it comes down to it, the D-line's the heart and soul of the defense and, if we're not doing what we have to do, then things start falling apart," Vernon said. "That's just one thing we're trying to focus on now and make sure it goes into the season."

Many in South Florida and around the country will be monitoring the Dolphins' locker-room leadership this upcoming season. It will still take the team coming together and leadership if Miami wants to end its five-season playoff drought.

"I was never of the impression that [leadership] was lacking. But, just like I don't feel like my strength is lacking or my conditioning is lacking, I'm going to work on that as well," Wake said. "Working on leadership, making it a more prominent part of our organization, I don't see anything wrong with that."

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