Miami Dolphins Rookie Training Camp Progress Reports
The Miami Dolphins spent the draft looking for players that fit their schemes, and now we're seeing how each of these rookies fit and their progress from the start of training camp.
Seeing the rookies grow throughout the course of camp is one of the most intriguing storylines in any team's training camp, and with the Dolphins this brings on even greater weight since it is Dennis Hickey's inaugural rookie class participating in their first camp.
How has Hickey done so far? That depends on the players themselves and won't be answered until the season. For now we can track the progress of each of Miami's draft picks, plus a few of their higher profile undrafted free agents.
Here's a progress report for Miami's rookie class of 2014.
OT Ja'Wuan James
At a season ticket holder gathering I attended back in June, Jason Taylor discussed his first couple of years with the Dolphins, which involved his training camp battles with former Dolphins great Richmond Webb.
I had to go against Richmond Webb, who does not get anywhere near as much credit as he deserves. Richmond Webb, beat my you-know-what everyday. It was so smooth and easy for him and I’d be trying and sweating and frustrated and yelling and cussing at him and trying to fight him and grab his facemask and, he seriously would do it with a smile on his face, and I would get frustrated sometimes. Tim Bowens and Trace [Armstrong] and some of those guys would tell me, ‘look, he’s going to make you so much better because you play against him every day in practice.
The rest, of course, is history in regards to the Hall of Fame career of JT. So what does this have to do with Ja'Wuan James?
James is matched up against Cameron Wake in training camp, and he can already see the long-term benefits of this pairing, just as Taylor came to see the benefit of his battles against Webb. James would tell James Walker of ESPN.com about his battles with Wake:
I love it because I’m a competitor. He’s a great player and he’s going to get me better. As long as I keep going as hard as I can against him, these constant reps we have, it’s going to get me ready for what I’m going to see in the season.
It will be a rare occurrence when James faces a pass-rusher the caliber of Cameron Wake during the season, so if James can hold his own against Wake, it should be a good sign for Miami.
So far, the results are mixed. On day one of training camp, James allowed two sacks to Wake, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.
Only eight days and seven practices later during the Dolphins scrimmage at Sun Life Stadium, Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald would report that neither James nor the rest of the offensive line allowed a sack.
That's progress that can get you excited about a player, and it shows the strides that Miami's new King James has made over the course of camp.
WR Jarvis Landry
Jarvis Landry is already Miami's most impressive rookie of training camp, and that doesn't seem to be slowing down.
Landry started off hot, impressing cornerback Brent Grimes during OTAs. Since then he has drawn the praise of his coaches, fans and both the local and national media.
I personally don't think I've written enough about him, despite the fact that there has been at least one slide in each of my last three slideshows dedicated to him.
Peter King of Sports Illustrated calls Landry the Dolphins' best new player in camp while raving about Landry's work ethic:
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.
James Walker of ESPN.com has praised Landry as well, stating:
The rookie wide receiver has displayed strong hands, solid routes and toughness. Landry is best in the slot where he can use his savvy and strong hands in traffic. He's made several of the most impressive catches so far of training camp. Landry is currently behind veteran slot receiver Brandon Gibson. Landry's also competing with Marcus Thigpen on punt returns.
From the looks of things, Landry is beating out Gibson for the slot receiver spot and should continue to see plenty of playing time with the first team throughout the preseason.
OG/OT Billy Turner
Miami's third-round pick Billy Turner will likely have a redshirt season in his rookie year in the pros unless the Dolphins are ravaged by injuries.
Turner has gotten some play with the first team though, with the Sun-Sentinel's Omar Kelly reporting that he will occasionally play at right guard with the starting unit.
While the Dolphins' intentions appear to be for a redshirt season for Turner, he is competing with second-year player Dallas Thomas for the starting job at right guard but appears to be behind Thomas as of now.
CB Walt Aikens
Since the start of training camp, the Dolphins have had fourth-round selection Walt Aikens all over the place.
Drafted as a corner, Aikens is currently listed on the Dolphins depth chart as the third left cornerback behind Brent Grimes and Will Davis, yet he has also worked at safety, the position he played when he earned freshman All-Big Ten honors at Illinois.
Aikens feels a bit more natural at the safety position, telling MiamiDolphins.com's Alain Poupart:
It just brings back old memories right now. Just going back to it, just got to get into the playbook. I mean, I’m pretty natural at safety. That was my first position. I really understand, it’s just about getting the plays down.
For now, it looks like Aikens won't be starting at either position, but he's working hard to contribute to the team in the secondary, being ready when called upon.
TE Arthur Lynch
Arthur Lynch was expected to compete for one of the tight end spots with Dion Sims, Michael Egnew, Kyle Miller and Gator Hoskins.
Thus far, Lynch isn't even the best rookie at the position, failing to register any noise in the battle.
Lynch will likely still make the team, but he has yet to wow anyone in training camp and seems like the least written about palyer of Miami's rookie class.
LB Jordan Tripp
Jordan Tripp is having a good training camp, however, on the field, it seems to have taken him a while to adjust.
Tripp's problem first appeared to be adjusting to the speed of the game, at least that's what the Sun-Sentinel's Omar Kelly implied when he remarked that Jordan was "playing faster finally" in a writeup of day five of training camp.
Tripp is showing progression though, and during Saturday's scrimmage we got to see it, especially when he stripped Damien Williams on a run play then returned the ball 73-yards for a touchdown.
Tripp now has his position coach excited, as linebacker coach Mark Duffner told the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson about Tripp:
“Jordan Tripp is good at a lot of things. He’s a highly competitive guy. He’s got great desire to be a great player and the athletic skills to do it and pretty good awareness. I’m excited what I see so far.”
Dolphins fans would like to see more as well.
WR Matt Hazel
An unfortunate part of sports is the fact that injuries can and will happen.
When the sport is football, sometimes the injury is a concussion, which is what is currently ailing Matt Hazel.
Hazel hasn't practiced for the Dolphins since July 31. On Aug. 1st, Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald reported that Hazel would miss multiple practices due to a concussion he suffered in camp.
Hazel has yet to get on the field since then, but when it comes to concussions, you're always better being safe than sorry.
DE Terrence Fede
With Dion Jordan's looming suspension, Terrence Fede knows he has an opportunity to crack Miami's final 53-man roster.
So far, Fede has impressed with his athleticism and skill set, which was on display during Saturday's scrimmage when he recorded a sack against the second-team offense and then knocked down a pass from Ryan Tannehill.
He’s got a lot of natural talent. There are a lot of things he can do and the coaches know he can do without him even knowing he can do it. He’s got to realize what he has and put it to use. He’s doing it pretty well in this camp. It’s like night and day from what he did in the spring to what he’s doing now. He’s a quick learner.
Fede is an impressive athlete and is showing it so far in camp. I will be shocked if he's not on the final 53-man roster.
DT Anthony Johnson
Anthony Johnson went undrafted, falling right into the Dolphins' laps, and so far he's been impressive when he's been on the field, with Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinel saying that Johnson was one of the guys to beat out for a final roster spot.
Unfortunately for Johnson, that was on hold for a bit as an injury forced him out of practice, per Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald.
He's back on the practice field as of now, and it will be interesting to see what he can do. He's a true talent at the defensive tackle position and a future starter in my eyes.
TE/H-Back Harold "Gator" Hoskins
Have I mentioned how much I hate injuries?
Harold "Gator" Hoskins has been one of my favorite Dolphins rookies thus far. He has been playing very well throughout training camp and will get a legitimate shot of making the final 53-man roster.
However, injuries, a hamstring to be exact, will postpone the Gator Hoskins show for "multiple practices," according to Andrew Abramson of The Palm Beach Post.
Hoskins has been the more impressive of the two rookie tight ends, and has even prompted Joe Philbin to say that the Dolphins might carry five tight ends.
If not, Hoskins still has a good shot of making the team, likely taking Michael Egnew's spot.
Depth chart information provided by Ourlads.com.