5 Biggest Takeaways from the Miami Dolphins OTAs
The NFL OTAs provide the fans and media a first glimpse as to how each team will look in the upcoming season, and in the case of the Miami Dolphins, the past week has been quite informative.
Since players first reported to OTAs on May 27, we have seen a number of interesting developments.
Among other things, there are already some key positional battles going on, Mike Wallace is much happier with Bill Lazor than he was with Mike Sherman and Dion Jordan is ready to be unleashed.
So let's take a look at the five biggest takeaways from the past week of organized team activities for the Dolphins.
5. Knowshon Moreno Is off to a Bad Start
While Moreno is still more than capable of doing just that, he hasn't gotten off to an ideal start with his new team.
After practice on Monday, Joe Philbin said that Moreno's conditioning could be better, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.
Meanwhile, Armando Salguero also reported that the running back appeared to be a bit overweight:
Knowshon Moreno looks a little thick around the belly. #needswork— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) June 2, 2014
Moreno is coming off a career season in 2013 where he rushed for 1,038 yards on 241 carries with 10 touchdowns. However, the Dolphins have made it clear that they have no intentions of just handing the starting role over to him.
According to Jackson, Miller got most of the first-team snaps, and it appears that the team is going to give the third-year running back every chance possible to win the starting job.
4. Mike Wallace Is Primed for a Monster Year
When the Dolphins signed Mike Wallace to a $60 million contract last offseason, most fans expected huge numbers from the explosive receiver.
It's safe to say that 73 catches, 930 yards and a career-low five touchdowns didn't quite live up to the hype.
However, the fact that Bill Lazor—not Mike Sherman—will be calling plays this season should be enough to bring plenty of optimism regarding the potential of Wallace in the Dolphins offense.
Lazor has already done his part to make Wallace as dangerous and explosive as possible, putting him in a ton of different looks over the first week of OTAs, per Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
According to Kelly:
Wallace has routinely been moved around before the ball is snapped during the Dolphins' OTA practice sessions.
Sometimes he's put in motion. Sometimes he's in the slot. During Monday's practice he ran a double-reverse for a 20-yard gain, which put the Dolphins' defense in a state of panic. Wallace was also lined up in the backfield for a couple plays.
'[Defenses] can't key on me. Last year they knew where I was every single play. I was there every game, in the same spot,' Wallace said, referring to his role lining up on Tannehill's right side. 'When you move around it is harder for the defense to know where you're at. Harder for them to adjust.'
This means a big season could be on the horizon for the Dolphins' top receiver.
3. Dallas Thomas May Win a Starting Job
Many people, including myself, assumed that third-round pick Billy Turner would claim one of the starting offensive guard positions, with Shelley Smith taking the other.
While Turner still has plenty of time left to win that job, right now it appears that Dallas Thomas is the leading candidate to start on opening day.
According to ESPN's James Walker, Thomas has gotten the reps with the first team at left guard and has held his own alongside Branden Albert.
After battling injuries last season and getting on the field for just two snaps all year, Thomas has been widely overlooked as a possible starter in 2014. However, he appears to have used last season as motivation, as he already looks much better than he ever did in 2013.
Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel writes of Thomas:
He actually looks like an NFL starter. He's leaner, and looks stronger. That transformation has me thinking he might be able to hold onto the starting left guard spot. That battle is between Thomas and Billy Turner right now, and considering Thomas had a year of NFL experience on Turner, and is playing the position he played at Tennessee, he presently has the edge.
At the very least, it's good to see Thomas stepping up his game after what was an extremely disappointing rookie season.
2. Koa Misi Is Getting the First Crack at MLB
Since the disastrous linebacker play in 2013, much has been made about what the Dolphins are going to do at that position in 2014.
The team didn't sign anyone in free agency and didn't draft a linebacker until the fifth round with Jordan Tripp.
While I have already made the case for Tripp to be the starting middle linebacker, the Dolphins are apparently giving Koa Misi the first chance at winning the job, according to Erin Brown of Fox Sports.
Misi proved to be a solid contributor last season, playing in 15 of the team's 16 games and finishing with 38 tackles and two sacks, doing his best work as a run-stopper with 26 of his tackles coming at or behind the line of scrimmage. He also graded out as the 14th-best outside linebacker according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
The reality is that Misi can't be any worse than Dannell Ellerbe was in 2013, and if he can provide consistent and reliable production at the position, then the Dolphins defense will be very good.
If he does move into the middle permanently, that leaves Tripp, Philip Wheeler and Jelani Jenkins as the top three options to start on the weak side, with Ellerbe taking over on the strong side.
1. Dion Jordan Is a Defensive End, Not a Linebacker
Heading into his rookie season, the bar was high for Dion Jordan after the team traded up to the No. 3 overall pick to draft him. However, the year got off to a slow start thanks to having shoulder surgery in the offseason and he never really got going.
Jordan didn't see much of the field in his first year, playing on just 29 percent of the defensive snaps.
There was some talk of Jordan making a move to linebacker over the offseason, but that appears unlikely to happen after he gained nearly 20 pounds, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald.
After bulking up over the winter, Jordan now stands at 265 pounds, looking bigger, stronger and better equipped to play the defensive end position.
While Jordan will almost certainly get some work at linebacker throughout the season, there's little doubt that the majority of his snaps will come on the defensive line, where he did well in limited time last season.
In 2013, Jordan recorded a pair of sacks along with four quarterback hits and 18 hurries while putting pressure on the opposing QB once every 8.5 pass plays, according to Pro Football Focus.
Now that he's healthy, Jordan should start start playing up to his enormous potential and could be in store for a monster year as part of what should be a ferocious pass rush for the Dolphins.