NFL Nation: Brent Grimes

CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall shoved Miami Dolphins cornerback Cortland Finnegan following the last offensive play in Miami's 27-14 victory.

Finnegan
The two emotional veterans have a history of confrontations from previous battles. It also didn't help that Marshall lost to his former team, which added to his frustration.

But when asked about their brief squabble, Finnegan shrugged it off in front of the media and quickly wanted to switch topics.

"I'm not sure," Finnegan said. "I know we won the game and that's all that matters."

Several of Finnegan's teammates nearby in the locker room began to laugh, as though Finnegan had much more to say about Marshall before the media arrived. Finnegan then smiled but refused to elaborate on the situation.

"It was just a good team victory," Finnegan said with a sly grin.

Sunday was a victory for Miami's little guys. Much was made of the height difference between Chicago's receivers Marshall (6-feet-4) and Alshon Jeffrey (6-3) against Miami corners Finnegan (5-10) and Brent Grimes (5-10).

Finnegan, in particular, was coming off a poor outing with several missed tackles and poor coverage in a loss to the Green Bay Packers. Finnegan said during the week he must play better or find a seat on the bench.

But the veteran corner responded with his best game of the season and a tough assignment against Marshall and Jeffrey. Finnegan finished with four tackles, a team-high four pass defenses and a forced fumble.

"It was huge," Finnegan said of bouncing back. "But I have the support of my team and my coaches, and that's big. ...The fact that you have all those intangibles with the young guys, coaches and Brent [Grimes] pushing you, it's helpful for everybody."
CHICAGO -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Miami Dolphins' 27-14 win over the Chicago Bears:

Wallace
Wallace
On the rebound: The Dolphins felt vindicated after their bounce-back performance Sunday evening. Many questioned if Miami would bounce back from last week's deflating, last-second loss to the Green Bay Packers. But the Dolphins put forth one of their most impressive games on both sides of the football, proving they have the talent to play with most teams. Now, the Dolphins must work on their consistency. "People just last week were telling us we were trash," receiver Mike Wallace said. "So we've got to keep our head up and stay focused, no matter good or bad."

Win for the little guys: Much was made of the size difference this week between Bears receivers Brandon Marshall (6-foot-4) and Alshon Jeffery (6-3) against Miami cornerbacks Brent Grimes (5-10) and Cortland Finnegan (5-10). But the corners won this matchup. Marshall and Jeffery combined for just eight receptions for 57 yards. Finnegan and Grimes were physical and covered well for most of the game. "You guys made a story of it," Finnegan said afterward. "But Brent said it earlier; we go against receivers who always are bigger than us. It's just one of those things."

Tannehill's wheels: Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is running the ball more and it's paying dividends. Head coach Joe Philbin praised Tannehill's wheels after the quarterback rushed for 48 yards on six carries. Tannehill made a long run of 30 yards that gave the Dolphins a lot of momentum. He now has a 30-yard run and a 40-yard run in back-to-back weeks. "He's done a very consistent job in it," Philbin said. "I think it's repetition, repetition, repetition. It paid off today a couple times."
DAVIE, Fla. -- Smallish Miami Dolphins cornerback Cortland Finnegan has figured out a solution for defending big Chicago Bears receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.

Finnegan
“Unless we sign (NBA player) Luol Deng, (who) just signed with the Heat...” Finnegan joked. “We’re 5-10. So we’ve just got to deal with that. That’s really all I’ve got for you. I don’t know if much changes other than that. I’m 5-10, so is Brent. So we’ll figure it out.”

Expect size to be an issue for the Dolphins’ secondary Sunday against the Bears. Miami starting cornerbacks Brent Grimes and Finnegan are both 5-foot-10, while Marshall is 6-4 and Jeffery is 6-3. Rest assured Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is looking forward to throwing high passes Sunday and taking advantage of Chicago’s size advantage, especially in the red zone. Both Chicago starting receivers surpassed 100 yards receiving in last week’s win over the Atlanta Falcons.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins had trouble last week defending the size of Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson, who is 6-3. Nelson had nine receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown in Miami’s 27-24 loss.

Grimes
Grimes
Still, Marshall is not overlooking the Dolphins' cornerbacks.

“There is no mismatch out there,” said Marshall, who played two years in Miami from 2010-2011. “This is probably going to be the best secondary that we face all year. Grimes is a technician. He’s super-duper focused. I don’t understand how this guy wasn’t drafted. I don’t understand how the Falcons let him go. ... We all know about Cortland. He’s hyper-competitive and he makes plays on the ball.”

Grimes and Finnegan didn’t have their best games last week against Green Bay. Nelson beat Grimes several times, including the touchdown catch, while Finnegan struggled with tackling.

Miami needs a pair of standout performances from its starting cornerbacks against Marshall and Jeffery in order to stall Chicago's offense and pull off the road upset.

“It’s the 24-hour rule,” Finnegan said of bouncing back. “I think the Chicago Bears don’t give a rip what happened against the Green Bay Packers. So we’ve got to go out there and give them our best.”
DAVIE, Fla. -- When you mention top receivers in the NFL, names such as Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, Julio Jones and Demaryius Thomas usually come to mind.

But rarely is Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson's name put in the same category, despite putting up comparable numbers the past few years.

Nelson
Grimes
Grimes
"I don't know why," Miami Dolphins Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes said of Nelson. "He does it all the time. He makes great plays and great catches. ... He has all the tools. If people don’t want to talk about him, he will just keep doing his thing under the radar."

Grimes will face one of his toughest matchups of the season with Nelson when the Packers (3-2) travel to face the Dolphins (2-2) on Sunday. Entering Week 5, Nelson was second in the NFL in receiving yards (525) and second in touchdown catches (four).

It will be up to Grimes and fellow veteran cornerback Cortland Finnegan to stop Green Bay's top receiving threat. Nelson is by far the favorite target for Packers Pro Bowl quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Nelson has 10 more receptions than the next most productive Packers receiver, Randall Cobb, who has 24 catches for 273 yards.

Nelson, who is 6-feet-3 and 217 pounds, also has a distinct size advantage that he aims to use against Miami's smaller starting cornerbacks. Both Grimes and Finnegan are listed at 5-feet-10 and 190 pounds.

"He’s strong and he’s bigger than you think he is," Grimes explained of Nelson. "And he has great hands. Aaron Rodgers puts the ball where it has to be and he makes the catch. I think his strongest thing is after he makes the catch, he’s not easy to bring down."

Green Bay's offense is hitting its stride during its two-game winning streak. The Packers are averaging 40 points per game in victories against the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings. Rodgers has seven touchdown passes and zero interceptions in that span.

Miami’s secondary also enters Sunday’s game with momentum. Grimes, safety Jimmy Wilson and rookie Walt Aikens all had interceptions in Miami’s recent win against the Oakland Raiders, and Finnegan also had a fumble return for a touchdown.

The Dolphins' secondary must continue to make plays for Miami to have a chance at upsetting Green Bay.

"I guess you can say it’s shown that if you come off a good game, the confidence is a little higher," Grimes said. "It might not be every individual. But it might be some people on the team that see some things happen, get on a roll and roll like that. Me? I approach every game one game at a time."
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Miami Dolphins' 29-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills:

Frustration: The overall theme in the locker room Sunday evening was frustration. Nearly every player who addressed the media felt he could have played better to help avoid a blowout loss. The Dolphins were beaten on offense, defense and special teams. “We made some mistakes that we usually don’t make,” Dolphins Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes said. Miami is 1-4 against the Bills in its past five meetings.

Tannehill
Tannehill owns up: Miami starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill owned up to his shaky performance against the Bills. Although the loss wasn’t on one player, Tannehill didn’t do his part and finished with 246 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception. “We didn’t win so it’s not good enough,” Tannehill said. “No part of our offensive performance was good enough.”

No Moreno: One key player who was missing in the locker room Sunday was Dolphins running back Knowshon Moreno. He injured his elbow in the first quarter and never returned.
TAMPA, Fla. – Mike Evans had to be the happiest person that Saturday night’s game with the Miami Dolphins was only a preseason contest.

Evans
The rookie wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a play that looked like it was heading for a highlight reel but instead might end up on a bloopers show.

In the second quarter, Evans caught a short pass from Mike Glennon and bounced off a would-be tackler. Evans seemed destined for the end zone, but something got in the way. Miami cornerback Brent Grimes stripped the ball from Evans at the 1-yard line. A play that should have resulted in a touchdown turned into a touchback.

“It was a rookie mistake,’’ Evans said after Tampa Bay’s 20-14 loss. “I had the ball on my inside arm and I didn’t anticipate him. It was a good play by him. I should have had the ball in my outside arm.’’

“We can correct that,’’ coach Lovie Smith said.

But Evans obviously has been making a good impression in practices. He had been behind Chris Owusu on the depth chart. But Evans got the start over Owusu on Saturday. The Bucs don’t expect Evans to make the same mistake again.

“I don’t think we have to have any conversations,’’ quarterback Josh McCown said. “As unfortunate as that is, it’s the best teacher.’’

Observation Deck: Miami Dolphins

August, 16, 2014
Aug 16
10:38
PM ET


The Miami Dolphins knew they were in for a tough test offensively Saturday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Miami's first-team offense was nearly perfect in one touchdown drive against the mediocre Atlanta Flacons’ defense last week. But Tampa Bay has defensive talent at a lot of positions, and the Dolphins’ offense would be on the field longer.

The result was a mixed bag for Miami's starting offense during a 20-14 win over Tampa Bay. The first-team offense produced three points in three drives. The other two resulted in a punt and a lost fumble by starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The good news is Tannehill threw the football well. He was 9-of-14 passing for 110 yards.

Tampa Bay’s defense was able to expose some things needed to improve in Miami's new offense under first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. Here are some other thoughts on the Dolphins' second preseason game:
  • Dolphins starting right guard Dallas Thomas struggled mightily. Thomas had the tough task of Tampa Bay Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Thomas gave up a sack and fumble to McCoy in the first half, another hit on Tannehill and a tackle for loss. Thomas also had a false start in the second quarter when McCoy was not in the game. Questions will certainly arise whether Thomas can handle the starting job for 16 games. Miami has other options to explore if Thomas continues to struggle. Rookie third-round pick Billy Turner and veteran free-agent signing Shelley Smith could get another look next week in practice.
  • Miami’s running game also remains a cause for concern. Starting running back Lamar Miller rushed for just 3 yards on three carries. He had just 11 yards on four carries last week against Atlanta. Miami is getting little push from its offensive line in the running game. In the first half when starters and key backups played, the Dolphins rushed for minus-5 yards on nine carries.
  • It is only the preseason, but Dolphins starting cornerback Brent Grimes produced one of the best plays of the exhibition season. Tampa Bay rookie receiver Mike Evans made a strong catch over the middle and broke through a tackle attempt by Miami safety Jimmy Wilson. Evans appeared on his way to a touchdown, but Grimes hustled from the opposite sideline to force a fumble before Evans reached the end zone. After review, the Dolphins were awarded the football via a touchback. For a Pro Bowl cornerback to hustle that much in a preseason game says a lot about Grimes.
  • The Dolphins showed off their depth at receiver. Backups Brandon Gibson, Jarvis Landry, Rishard Matthews and Damian Williams all made their presence felt against Tampa Bay. This foursome combined for nine receptions and one touchdown catch. Miami might want to consider trading one of its lower-level receivers in order to gain depth at another position.
  • Miami backup quarterback Matt Moore virtually locked up the No. 2 quarterback job Saturday night. Moore was 13-of-19 passing for 158 yards and a touchdown. He threw a nice touchdown pass to the corner of the end zone to Matthews before halftime. The Dolphins signed veteran quarterback Brady Quinn this week to push Moore. Quinn was the third quarterback Saturday and was 4-of-4 passing for 22 yards.

Dolphins Camp Report: Day 15

August, 14, 2014
Aug 14
1:30
PM ET
DAVIE, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Miami Dolphins training camp:
  • Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace expects to make his 2014 debut Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Wallace missed last week’s preseason opener due to a hamstring injury but has practiced all this week. The speed is still there. Wallace caught a pretty deep ball from quarterback Ryan Tannehill in practice Thursday over Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes in one-on-one drills. Tannehill and Wallace were criticized last year for not making enough big plays. “Me, personally, I always tell you I don’t care about what nobody says,” Wallace said of the critics. “I know how hard we work every single day. I feel like it’s going to come, it’s going to happen for us.”
  • Miami tailback Knowshon Moreno practiced for a full week, but his status remains up in the air for Saturday. Moreno recently got off the physically unable to perform list and participated in team drills for the first time this week. Although he doesn’t look 100 percent, Moreno made some nice runs and showed solid hands. But the goal is to have him ready for the regular season. “I think [in] the running game, he’s starting to look like his old self,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin. “I don’t know about the passing game just yet.”
  • Dolphins rookie linebacker Jordan Tripp is making an impression. Tripp was used a lot Thursday on the second team – both in base and nickel defenses. Tripp had a fumble and recovery for a touchdown in Miami’s scrimmage and nearly had an interception against the Atlanta Falcons last week. The rookie fifth-round draft pick appears to be a strong candidate for the 53-man roster.
  • Another rookie who is making plays is undrafted running back Damien Williams. He has about two weeks to continue to push for a roster spot. Williams caught a long touchdown pass from Tannehill on a wheel route Thursday and made darting runs in camp. “Playing in the NFL, you gotta make plays, you want to make plays,” Williams said. “My main priority is getting in the end zone.”
  • This was the final official session of training camp. The Dolphins will take the day off Friday in order to travel before Saturday’s game against the Buccaneers. Miami will return to the practice field on Monday.

W2W4: Miami Dolphins

August, 8, 2014
Aug 8
12:00
PM ET
The Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons open the preseason Friday night at the Georgia Dome.

1. Lazor focus: Much has been made this offseason and in training camp about offensive coordinator Bill Lazor’s new scheme. Dolphins players and coaches have praised Lazor for the job he’s done with Miami’s offense, and Friday is the first time everyone gets to see it in a game situation. Lazor arrived in Miami this season after a stint with Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles. The Dolphins are adding many of the concepts from Kelly’s high-powered offense. Does Miami have the personnel to pull it off? It’s been up and down early in training camp. But performing well against Atlanta will give Miami’s offense some confidence.

2. Tannehill kicks off Year 3: Just as Lazor’s offense will be in focus, a lot of eyes will be on Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, as well. The third-year quarterback is 15-17 as a starter and enters a make-or-break season. Tannehill is learning a new offense and could use some early momentum in the preseason opener. He was inconsistent this week in training camp. Tannehill threw seven interceptions in the past three practices. Tannehill is not expected to play much more than two or three series on Friday.

3. Familiar faces: It’s just a preseason game, so don’t expect regular-season intensity. However, it is worth noting Miami will face former longtime Dolphins defensive tackle Paul Soliai for the first time. Soliai spent seven years with the Dolphins from 2007-13 and wanted to stay in Miami this offseason as a free agent. However, the Dolphins disagreed on Soliai’s value and the Falcons signed him to a $33 million contract. Soliai could be motivated to perform well in his limited playing time. Friday also marks the return to Atlanta for Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes. He played against the Falcons last year in the regular season in Miami.

Dolphins Camp Report: Day 10

August, 5, 2014
Aug 5
3:00
PM ET
DAVIE, Fla. – A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Miami Dolphins training camp:


  • There were questions coming into the season with how much veteran cornerback Cortland Finnegan has left in the tank. Miami’s free-agent pickup signed a two-year contract after a pair of down years with the St. Louis Rams. But Finnegan has had a solid training camp and Tuesday was his best day. He had three interceptions -- two off quarterback Ryan Tannehill and one off Matt Moore – to cap a strong practice. Finnegan is solidifying a starting cornerback job opposite Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes. “He got a lot left in the tank,” Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace. “He’s a really smart guy. He knows how to play the combinations of routes. He’s seen every combination you can possibly bring. He’s a smart guy and takes chances.”
  • It was another rough day for Miami’s offense overall. Tannehill and Moore combined for five interceptions. Tannehill was picked by Finnegan (twice) and Grimes (once). Moore's picks also were to Finnegan and Grimes. Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said the turnovers are not what the team wants, but he’s trying not to get too high or too low with practices. On the flip side, the defense was terrific and easily won the practice against the offense.
  • The Dolphins added several key players to their injury list on Tuesday. Starting defensive end Olivier Vernon (back), running back Daniel Thomas (hamstring) and tight end Michael Egnew (concussion) all will miss multiple practices, according to the team. It’s also unlikely any of these players will participate in Friday’s exhibition against the Atlanta Falcons.
  • With Vernon out, Miami 2013 first-round pick and backup defensive end Dion Jordan has received first-team reps this week. It appears Jordan most likely will get his first career start -- albeit in the preseason -- Friday against the Falcons. This is a good opportunity for Jordan, who had a non-descript rookie year and will be suspended the first four games of the regular season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Still, Jordan is having a solid camp and continues to make plays in practice.
  • The Dolphins will return to practice Wednesday at 8 a.m. ET for their final practice of the week. Miami will have a travel day on Thursday and take the field Friday for its preseason opener against the Falcons.
DAVIE, Fla. -- Here is the tricky part about training camp: The practices are informative, but you don't want to overrate them.

That thought process certainly comes into play this week with Miami Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill. He has six interceptions – yes, six – in the past two practices heading into Friday's preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons.

Tannehill threw three interceptions for the second consecutive practice on Tuesday. He had a trio of turnovers to Miami starting cornerback Cortland Finnegan and Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes. Tannehill nearly threw a fourth interception in team drills, but Grimes dropped the pass. Grimes later did pushups on the sideline after the missed opportunity.

Add in the fact that Tannehill also threw three interceptions on Monday and, at the very least, it raises some eyebrows.

"Obviously, offensively, we don't want to have those in a ballgame," Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said of the interceptions. “But you can't get too high or too low in the middle of a practice because it can taint your image. ... There were too many interceptions, however, I thought they responded well later in the practice and worked through it."

Tannehill said one of his interceptions Tuesday to Finnegan was a "brain fart" and the other was inside the bubble early in practice when the offense wasn't warmed up.

The Dolphins wrapped up their installation phase on offense and defense Tuesday. But according to Tannehill, the team is still experimenting and it led to several of his six turnovers Monday and Tuesday.

"It's a combination of a bunch of stuff," Tannehill said. "Some throws we're trying to just make in practice to see if it’s something we want to move on with during the season. We have other answers on the play. But the coaching staff wants to take a look at some throws on different coverages to see if we can complete them.

"I think we've come to the conclusion that we're going to move onto another route.”

Tannehill is learning a new offense for the first time since college under first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. It is a demanding, uptempo scheme where much is expected from the quarterback. Growing pains are expected for Tannehill, especially in training camp.

But the truth is this is a big Year 3 for the Dolphins' starting quarterback when everything will be monitored closely. Tannehill's past two practices were certainly worth noting, and many will be curious to see how he responds Friday in his first live action of the preseason.

A strong preseason debut is the easiest way to erase a poor week of practice from Tannehill.

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.

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. -- Miami Dolphins second-year cornerback Jamar Taylor looks quicker and more explosive than he did a year ago. For the first time in his NFL career, he enters offseason workouts 100 percent healthy.

The Dolphins drafted Taylor in the second round last year despite a pre-draft kidney ailment and subsequent sports hernia that kept him out for most of the offseason. Taylor spent the regular season fighting off injuries and trying to earn playing time. He finished with just 40 snaps on defense.

[+] EnlargeJamar Taylor
Kevin Hoffman/USA TODAY SportsJamar Taylor is looking to bounce back from an injury-marred rookie season.
But Taylor enters his second year with the Dolphins a more confident player. Taylor has a chance to earn a role on the defense and is out to prove he can live up to his pre-draft billing.

“It's getting there. He's definitely coming back out,” Taylor said recently during organized team activities (OTAs). “That person ya'll seen talk a lot, it's getting there. But I got to learn. I got to crawl before I can walk. I'm out here trying to pick these older guys' brain.”

Taylor is surrounded by veterans in the secondary such as safety Louis Delmas and cornerbacks Brent Grimes and Cortland Finnegan. Finnegan happens to be Taylor's biggest competition for a starting job this summer. The Dolphins are having a three-way battle between Taylor, Finnegan and Will Davis for the right to start at cornerback opposite Grimes.

If Taylor can win a starting job -- or even the nickel cornerback role -- it will be a sizable turnaround from last season.

“I think it's more motivation for myself. I have high expectations of myself,” Taylor said. “I can't really worry about what everyone else thinks, as long as I get the respect of my teammates, my coaches and myself.”

Last year wasn't just a poor start for Taylor. The entire 2013 Dolphins draft class had little production. Miami had the third-fewest snaps (1,126) by a rookie class in the NFL last year. Only the AFC champion Denver Broncos (1,066 snaps) and Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks (1,111 snaps) had less production from their rookies.

The Dolphins are hoping players such as Taylor, Davis, defensive end Dion Jordan and guard Dallas Thomas all can make the jump in Year 2 and find significant roles on the team this season.

“I think it was a learning experience for all of us,” Taylor said. “We all came here on our high horse and we got humbled real quick. I think we got to keep working. I expect all of us to do good, keep learning, play fast and compete.”
Cortland Finnegan admits he had a down year with the St. Louis Rams in 2013. The veteran cornerback battled through injuries and inconsistent play that limited him to just seven games and one interception.

Finnegan
The poor year eventually led to Finnegan getting released by the Rams this offseason. However, he quickly found a home Friday with the Miami Dolphins, who were searching for a veteran presence to add to their secondary.

Finnegan, 30, is the early favorite to start opposite Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes. It could be a formidable duo if Finnegan can return to the old form that he had with the Tennessee Titans. Somewhere, that got lost during his stint in St. Louis.

“I play with an edge, and I’ve learned to control that throughout the years with the fines going down,” Finnegan explained during his teleconference Friday with the Miami media. “At the same time I want to bring that same tenacity and spunk that I had that maybe I was missing. I know a lot of people said maybe something was missing. Maybe that’s what it was.”

Finnegan, at his best, was one of the most physical cornerbacks in the NFL. He was an aggressor who often got in the heads of receivers.

A starting cornerback job is wide open in Miami. Finnegan will compete with 2013 draft picks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis in training camp. Taylor and Davis had injury-plagued seasons and will be hungry to earn bigger roles with the team in 2014.

Finnegan has a lot to prove with his new Dolphins team, as well.

“I’m going to work,” Finnegan said. “Nothing was ever given to me, and I don’t want it. I want to come in and compete for any job of that magnitude. I hope the younger guys are coming in to compete.”

Finnegan said he’s out to prove he has something left in the tank. His inconsistent play last season has many wondering if he’s hit a wall. The Dolphins signing Finnegan to a two-year contract shows the coaching staff believes last season was an aberration.

Finnegan said he expects to be “110 percent” by organized team activities in the spring.

“Now it’s a clean slate,” Finnegan said. “I’m on a new team with great coaches. I have to let my play do the talking.”

SPONSORED HEADLINES

NFL SCOREBOARD

Thursday, 10/16
Sunday, 10/19
Monday, 10/20
WEEKLY LEADERS