What We Learned This Week from Miami Dolphins Training Camp

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What We Learned This Week from Miami Dolphins Training Camp
Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

It was a long week at Dolphins camp, and Hard Knocks hasn't even premiered yet!

But with all the news coming out so fast, it's understandable if you may have lost track. So here's what we have learned so far from Dolphins camp.

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
The Quarterback Race Isn't Over

David Garrard is getting first-team reps. Matt Moore is getting first-team reps. Ryan Tannehill is getting first-team reps.

Pat Devlin...never mind.

The consensus thus far is that Garrard has been the most impressive of the three quarterbacks in camp, and it shouldn't come as a surprise: He's the most experienced in the NFL and in the West Coast offense, having backed up in the Jaguars' version of a West Coast offense under offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave from 2003-2004.

Moore has been regarded as a "gamer"; that is to say, he's not a very good practice quarterback and has only ever won a camp battle against air Jimmy Clausen.

Tannehill is in an uphill fight against his status as the No. 3 quarterback on the roster.

Everyone's getting a turn (hold the mom jokes). 

But by the count of Peter King of Sports Illustrated, Garrard looks better right now than Peyton Manning does. He said it, not me. 

 

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
Defense Embracing New Look

The Dolphins offense is getting a lot of the attention as they transition to the West Coast offense, but the defense is going through some transitions of its own.

Namely, in the transition from a 3-4 defense to more 4-3 alignments.

"I think that they are embracing it, and for some of them, it lends to their skill sets, maybe a little better, but not necessarily," defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said, according to Andy Kent of MiamiDolphins.com. "They played darn good defense a year ago in the 3-4, and as I told you guys in the beginning, there weren't that many true 3-4 snaps. There was a lot of under defense, a lot of substitution defense, so there are elements of what we did here a year ago that we are incorporating and some that we will continue to incorporate as the year goes on."

It's going more swimmingly for some than it is for others; because of his experience as a rush defensive end, Cameron Wake isn't feeling the ripple effect as badly as linebacker Karlos Dansby, who has never played middle linebacker in a 4-3 before.

I'm interested to see what nose tackle Paul Soliai's role will be in the defense. He played primarily on the nose in the 3-4 front last year, and now that the Dolphins are switching to a 4-3, one has to wonder whether he'll factor in on passing downs or if he could become a specialist on first and second down.

 

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
One of these things is not like the others.
Wide Receivers

The Dolphins worked out wide receiver Braylon Edwards according to Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post, and while the news broke during training camp, the workout happened prior to the Dolphins taking the field for their first practice. Teams make these sort of scouting moves all the time, bringing in players for workouts to keep a running list of available free agents. Still, that's not a glowing endorsement for the Dolphins' depth at receiver. 

Courtesy MiamiDolphins.com
But with veteran wide receiver Brian Hartline out with an injury, that presents an opportunity for some of the younger Dolphins receivers to step up.

Wide receiver Roberto Wallace stood out during offseason workouts, and that has continued into training camp as Wallace, along with wide receiver Julius Pruitt, have been the object of affection for some of their teammates. Per Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post:

Earlier this week, Hartline said to watch out for Julius Pruitt and Roberto Wallace as his sleeper picks to make the roster. Friday, Sean Smith was asked to point out a couple of players who have stood out, and he also picked Wallace and Pruitt.

"Two guys that are definitely getting their fair shot," Smith said. "I saw Pruitt in the slot today, and that's something you've never seen him do before. And Roberto, with the short, intermediate routes, to see him run his slants and 5 yard digs, it was good. Coming out of his breaks, he's a whole lot quicker."

It's too early yet to put much stock in the ability of any of these young and unheralded receivers to break out in 2012, but if they continue to grow as they have in the early parts of camp, one or both could make a case for serious playing time.

 

Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE
Changing Scheme on Offensive Line, Continuity Could be Key

The Miami Dolphins are changing schemes left and right. Offensively, defensively and on the offensive line, where the team is transitioning from a "bigger and stronger" mentality to a line built more around agility, quickness and the ability to know assignments.

This could be the most drastic change that no one is talking about. I mentioned on Thursday the number of big offensive linemen the Dolphins have drafted over the years, so their fate may be hanging in the balance if their skill set doesn't translate.

It's interesting to see the Dolphins switch former tight end Will Yeatman to tackle according to MiamiDolphins.com, but it gives you an idea of what the Dolphins are looking for in their offensive linemen. 

 

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
Odds and Ends

Tying up the loose ends with some piecemeal notes and thoughts around the team:

  • Glad to see Chad Ochoci--erm, Johnson, taking some initiative in building team chemistry. Would have liked to see it in a different venue than a strip club, but hey, whatever works. All I know is, there's a famous saying in the NFL with former Dolphins czar Bill Parcells: "Nothing good ever happens after midnight."
  • Lamar Miller has earned first-team reps, according to Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald. This shouldn't come as too much of a surprise; the Dolphins know what they have in Reggie Bush (or at least they think they do, after last year) and this gives them a chance to find out if Miller can seriously contribute if called upon in spell duty for Bush.
  • Defensive end Jared Odrick, formerly a first-round pick for the Dolphins in 2010, has been lining up at left defensive end in the 4-3 according to Ben Volin. Interesting, since he was a defensive tackle at Penn State and played five-technique for the Dolphins in the 3-4. The NFL is still very much a run-right league, so it makes sense to have a solid run-stuffing defensive end on the left side, even one of Odrick's size (6'5", 304 pounds).

 

Who to Read

Obviously, I can't keep you 100-percent updated with all the training camp happenings over the weekend, and while these weekly wrap-ups are nice, you can get up-to-the-minute information by following any one of the following respected Dolphins writers on Twitter:

Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post, Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald, Omar Kelly and Izzy Gould of the Sun-Sentinel, and Andy Kent of MiamiDolphins.com.

 

Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates.

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