6 Players Turning Heads at Miami Dolphins Training Camp
However, as usual, some players have caught the eye and attention of the coaches, pundits and fans since the start of camp, fueling excitement in the team's fortunes.
Here, we're going to take a look at these players, the ones who are turning heads as training camp continues to go on, and gauge their shot at making noise for the Dolphins come September.
WR Damian Williams
The Miami Dolphins have two players with the name "Damian/Damien Williams," and both players have made this list.
To avoid further confusion, remember that DamiAn is the wide receiver, and DamiEn is the running back.
This is about the wide receiver who, thus far, looks like a threat not just for Marcus Thigpen's return job but also even Marcus Thigpen's roster spot.
Williams has been fielding kickoffs for the Dolphins since the start of training camp, and according to Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinel, he looks like a return option (alongside Jarvis Landry).
Kelly doubled-down on Williams by calling him one of the best players of Tuesday's session, but he's not the only Dolphins beat writer singing his praises, as Andrew Abramson of The Palm Beach Post tweeted this about Williams on Sunday:
Keeping my eye on WR Damian Williams. He was impressive yesterday. I think he'd have to win the return job to get a roster spot.— Andrew Abramson (@AbramsonPBP) July 27, 2014
Williams so far looks like he's earning that return spot, while confusing some fans due to having a similar name to another impressive Dolphins newcomer.
RB Damien Williams
Damian with an "A" Williams has a rough road ahead of him to make the team, but Damien with an "E" Williams has this on his side in terms of the probability of making the team: He plays arguably Miami's weakest offensive position.
Williams was mentioned in Kelly's tweet praising the best players from Tuesday, with the comment that he's "moving up depth cht (sic)." He would then tweet this about both Williams players being impressive in training camp:
Here are youngsters, journeymen, other guys who have caught my eye: Landry, A.J. Francis, Damian Williams, Damien Williams, Chris McClain.— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) July 29, 2014
Damien Williams has caught my eye as well, as he seems to show good vision while running the ball, and he runs with power. If I'm Daniel Thomas and Mike Gillislee, I'm a bit scared of my roster spot being taken by the former Oklahoma Sooner.
DE Olivier Vernon
How does Olivier Vernon get on this list?
He had a great 2013 season, meaning in training camp his job was simply to get healthy and perform well enough to keep his status as starter.
Vernon has gone above and beyond that, though, as he has found himself dominating Branden Albert during team drills, getting at least one sack each day during training camp.
That's very impressive. Albert is a Pro Bowler, so this isn't like last season when Vernon was dominating Jonathan Martin.
It should be noted that Vernon dominating Albert is a positive because Albert is one of the few players on the offensive line who you can count on to perform in the regular season. His past speaks for him, and he's still in his prime.
For Vernon to perform so well against him speaks volumes about the talent Vernon has.
What also speaks volumes about Vernon's ability is that his main competitor for that starting defensive end job has also been very impressive.
DE Dion Jordan
Despite his impending four-game suspension to start the season, Dion Jordan is making the most out of his opportunities in training camp.
Jordan has had a strong camp (far stronger than last season) and has managed to make a play in every session.
He already has a pick-six on Ryan Tannehill and has racked up a sack at least once in every session.
Jordan won't get a chance to show off what he can do during the first four games of the regular season, but he's showing in training camp why he will be a crucial part of Miami's defense in the final 12 games of the season. Miami's speed package highlight's Jordan and will be tough for any team to block against when paired up with Olivier Vernon and Cameron Wake.
TE Harold "Gator" Hoskins
How good has Gator Hoskins been for the Dolphins thus far in training camp?
He's been so good that Miami could carry five tight ends on the roster, at least that's what head coach Joe Philbin seems to imply when he "wouldn't rule out the possibility" of that happening, per Andrew Abramson of The Palm Beach Post.
This is possible because the Dolphins don't have a fullback on the roster, and Hoskins could always play H-Back, a role that formerly belonged to Charles Clay.
With neither Dion Sims or Michael Egnew impressing anyone too much, it wouldn't be surprising for either of those players to be released in favor of Hoskins either, just in case Miami has more of a desire for depth at another position.
WR Jarvis Landry
Dolphins fans have been excited for the Jarvis Landry addition since he was drafted in the second round this May.
So far in camp, Landry has given us the reason to be excited.
Landry has been one of the Dolphins' top performers in each training camp session, showing off speed that many experts thought he didn't have while also using his sublime route-running ability to get open.
He has already become a reliable target for Ryan Tannehill, even earning the praise of Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who gushed to Jacob Feldman of The Miami Herald about Landry's talent:
Jarvis Landry is somebody I think everybody is really excited about, speaking to the coaches. He’s really going to be somebody that’s going to surprise a lot of people and really bring some excitement to this team.
Head coach Joe Philbin had similar praise for Landry, saying:
He seems to be kind of an instinctive football player. He picks things up well. I think he reads coverages quickly and accurately, he has a knack of finding a way to get open, and so far he has displayed very good hands. He’s off to a very good start.
His ability to get open will earn him more playing time than I even thought he'd get (the wide receiver position for the Dolphins is pretty loaded this year). He can be used in the slot or on the outside and has done well in both positions thus far in training camp.
Part of why Landry has impressed has been his work ethic. In Feldman's Miami Herald article cited earlier, it is reported that even after practice, Landry heads over to the JUGS machine to continue to work on catching the football. His massive hands help in that endeavor, but he's still looking to improve on what is his greatest strength.
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