The Miami Dolphins had a busy week at the NFL owners meetings. Locker-room culture was among the major topics discussed among the 32 teams and commissioner Roger Goodell. Miami also had media sessions with owner Stephen Ross, general manager Dennis Hickey and head coach Joe Philbin.
ESPN.com’s Dolphins page hit on many of the key points last week in Orlando, Fla. But here are some additional things we learned during our time at the owners meetings:
I get the sense Philbin is sincere in his goal to become more available and accessible to his players. Philbin admits that's an area where he can improve entering his third season. Philbin embarrassingly was unaware of the high-profile bullying scandal going on inside his locker room last season. All 32 head coaches were in Orlando last week, and Philbin got a chance to exchange notes and share his experience with peers he respects.
Ross is very optimistic that Sun Life Stadium renovations will take place. He is willing to pay about $350 million of his own money in exchange for property-tax relief. There are still some hurdles to climb in the process. But Ross and the Dolphins would like to have everything in order in time to make a Super Bowl bid for 2019 next summer.
The Dolphins still aren’t sure what position is best for 2013 third-round pick Dallas Thomas. Miami experimented with Thomas all through training camp at guard and offensive tackle. The Dolphins’ coaching staff believes narrowing Thomas’ workload to one position will help the second-year player’s growth. “You want to get the player comfortable,” Philbin said.
Miami’s coaching staff didn’t get enough explosive runs from Lamar Miller last season. Miller struggled with a poor offensive line, but he also didn’t do a good job of breaking tackles. He only had four rushes last season of 20 yards or more. The Dolphins signed projected starting running back Knowshon Moreno last week, which could move Miller to the bench next season. Moreno also is not an explosive running. But the Dolphins hope Miller can get longer gains with fewer carries.
The No. 2 and No. 3 cornerback spots are open in Miami. Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes will man one spot, while veteran Cortland Finnegan and second-year players Jamar Taylor and Will Davis will compete for the other roles. Finnegan is the favorite due to experience. But Miami is not going to hand him a starting job.
For now Dannell Ellerbe is still the starting middle linebacker in Miami’s 4-3 defense. But the Dolphins haven’t ruled out any combination for next season until their roster is complete. Miami’s run defense was inconsistent last season and Ellerbe wasn’t fully comfortable with his role. The Dolphins hosted fellow middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson last month when he was a free agent. Jackson, who signed with the Indianapolis Colts, could have provided a chance to move Ellerbe outside. The Dolphins may still look for an opportunity to add someone at middle linebacker via the draft or free agency.
The Dolphins are open to adding another quarterback to compete with No. 3 quarterback Pat Devlin. Miami tendered Devlin, who has been a developmental project for the Dolphins for four seasons, for one more season.