Miami Dolphins: What We've Learned Through Week 1 of Training Camp
The first week of the Miami Dolphins' training camp (technically the first 10 days) is now in the books.
Over the course of Week 1 of training camp, there are still plenty of questions that remain unanswered, while plenty of other lingering questions have been emphatically answered on and off the field.
More will be learned about, especially come Friday when they play the Atlanta Falcons (7 pm ET, WFOR CBS4 Miami-Ft. Lauderdale). For now, let's take a look at what we know so far of the Dolphins through the first week of camp.
Despite Looming Suspension, Dion Jordan Shines Bright
Dion Jordan was one of the biggest question marks heading into training camp.
The former third-overall pick had a turbulent, injury-plagued rookie season where he underperformed (due to not being able to get onto the field), then saw that season followed with offseason trade rumors (as reported by Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports) and a failed drug test that will sideline him for four games.
The dreaded "B-Word" was starting to get thrown around Jordan, as he looked like he would symbolize the failed Jeff Ireland-era.
The good news is that on-field performance often trumps all, and players, especially one as gifted as Jordan, sometimes find their way.
Jordan has come on in a big way this training camp, impressing his coaches, teammates and even the hard-to-impress Dolphins beat writers.
James Walker, who covers the Dolphins for ESPN.com, wrote that Jordan: "has been one of Miami’s biggest defensive playmakers in the first week of training camp", while adding this quote from defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle:
He’s been great. Dion has done nothing but come to work every day. He’s a lunch-pail kind of guy as it is. There is no prima donna in Dion Jordan, from the time he came here a year ago he was out here jumping on the scout team before he was even asked to do it.
Coyle would then add:
He’s anxious to continue to develop. He knows he’s got a lot of work. He’s been getting a lot of work here. We’ll continue to try to get a lot of players in the preseason games knowing that we’re going to miss him for a bit, but we envision his role is going to be extensive when he comes back and we know he’s going to be a great player for us.
Earlier in training camp, Jordan flashed his game-changing ability by picking off Ryan Tannehill and returning it for a touchdown. In addition to that, Jordan has registered at least one sack on every day of camp, including a sack during Saturday's scrimmage.
The hope for Jordan is that his production carries over into the season, but it will be hard since he won't be back until October.
Dolphins Are Looking for an Answer in the Middle
Miami's main issue in 2013 was a porous and turbulent offensive line that couldn't get the running game going and also allowed 58 sacks.
The main objective of the offseason was to fix these problems, which Miami so far has done a good job of addressing. Yes, their two new tackles (free agent acquisition Branden Albert and first-round pick Ja'Wuan James) struggled at the start of camp but have improved each day. Miami's problem has been in the middle, especially at center.
Mike Pouncey's injury has hindered the development of the offensive line, as the Dolphins started off camp by having Shelley Smith play center. Smith was signed this offseason to play guard and had never played center before.
The results went how one would expect, as Smith wound up messing up the snap time and again, making it a running joke in training camp among Dolphins fans.
Miami also gave Nate Garner a try at the position, which seemed to make more sense considering he has played center in the past, including starting two games at the position last season filling in for an injured Pouncey.
That didn't go as well as planned either, as Garner struggled with snaps as well.
Finally by Saturday night, the Dolphins appeared to be desperate, and as Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reported, they signed former Dolphin Samson Satele.
Satele brings some stability to the line, as he's a natural center with plenty of NFL experience. Unfortunately, in his 2013 campaign with the Indianapolis Colts, it had looked like his best days had already passed him.
When that's looked at as an improvement over any healthy players on your roster at the position, that's not good news.
To make matters worse, Satele's signing does bring up a fear I have, which is that the Dolphins believe Pouncey could wind up missing the entire season.
Miami's Doing Well at Wide Receiver
From lack of depth to a plethora of depth, we go from the offensive line to wide receiver.
The Dolphins seem to be doing well at the position, which means that there's a good chance that an otherwise NFL-caliber player will have to be let go at the end of camp.
Brian Hartline told Alain Poupart of MiamiDolphins.com that this has been the deepest group of receivers since he became a Dolphin, saying:
We’re able to have guys jump in and jump out and hopefully not miss a beat. We have a great competition going on in the wide receiver room. Guys know that. They should know that. Competition breeds better play. To me, it’s a good situation.
In addition to Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace, Jarvis Landry has come on strong for the Dolphins, along with the comebacks of Brandon Gibson and Armon Binns, both of whom got hurt at some point during last season.
Then there's Rishard Matthews, a player who coach Joe Philbin said "without a doubt" is having a good camp, per Chris Perkins of The Sun-Sentinel. Perkins later added that Matthews still has to impress the coaches, but even that makes the road onto the roster a tough one.
Damian Williams, a free-agent acquisition from the Tennessee Titans, is also having a good camp, and he could make it onto the final 53-man roster due to his return skills.
Overall, there's a lot to like about Miami's receivers.
As for its running backs...
Miami's Running Backs Are Still a Major Question Mark
Miami's running backs are a grab bag of mediocrity and guys who seem to be missing something.
So far, Lamar Miller has been the best of the bunch, but he's even having trouble consistently hitting the holes created by the offensive line.
Knowshon Moreno is a no-show thus far due to a knee injury that required surgery back in June. The Dolphins have him on the PUP list right now.
Daniel Thomas is still Daniel Thomas, and according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, he's been "solid but unspectacular" and will need to really perform and "run over people" in order to make the roster.
Mike Gillislee seems "more active" according to Salguero, but nothing to write home about.
A rushing attack that's at least respectable is key to Miami's chances this year, and so far, there's not a lot of reasons to be optimistic about this position.
At least not now.
Jarvis Landry Remains Impressive
Have I written enough about Jarvis Landry?
I feel like I've written too much about the rookie, yet not enough. He's gotten his own slide in my last few pieces and has been the most written about Dolphins rookie in quite a while.
Landry caught the attention of Sports Illustrated's Peter King, who said that Landry was Miami's best new player in camp, adding:
After a couple of practices, backup quarterback Matt Moore approached GM Dennis Hickey and told him: 'This guy’s got the best hands I’ve seen.' Landry, from LSU, is challenging touchdown-maker Brandon Gibson for playing time in the slot, but he can also play outside. Look for offensive coordinator Bill Lazor to find a role for Landry both inside and outside. Great note in the Miami Herald on Landry the other day—after the July 27 practice, he stayed afterward in the heat and humidity to catch balls fired out of the JUGS machine. Sixty balls, sixty catches. Not revolutionary, just interesting.
Of course, Landry isn't really competing with Gibson for playing time in the slot, for that's a race I'm confident enough to say is over, with Landry getting the clear advantage.
As camp goes on, I'm sure more will be written and said about Landry, which is well deserved on his end.
The Continued Improvement of Ryan Tannehill
On Saturday Morning the Dolphins held a scrimmage at Sun Life Stadium.
Said scrimmage drew over 10,000 fans according to the Dolphins, and thanks to the performance of the offense, a lot of hope.
The reason for this is Ryan Tannehill had perhaps his best training camp practice in three seasons with the Dolphins, while the offensive line looked the best it has been in a long time.
Per the Miami Herald's Adam Beasley, Miami's first-team offensive line didn't allow a sack, and Tannehill wound up going 15-of-27 for 139 yards and two touchdowns.
The top receiver of the scrimmage was the previously mentioned Jarvis Landry, who had four catches for 40 yards and a touchdown.
Miami's offense looked sharp on Saturday morning, mainly because of Tannehill. His accuracy could still use some help, but his pocket awareness and decision making look like they have improved.
If Tannehill's improvement this training camp is for real (and it feels like it is), Miami could be playoff-bound.
Scrimmage statistics provided by The Finsiders.