Fullback isn’t a sexy position, but it might be an important one for the Dolphins this season. In the past two days, the Dolphins have gone out of their way to get their fullbacks involved. Ryan Mahaffey, in particular, has stood out — and not just because he wears No. 6, a strange jersey for a lead blocker.
Mahaffey, a 6-2, 250-pounder out of Northern Iowa, has gotten most of the work with the starters, ably catching the ball. Rookie Jorvorskie Lane is the only other fullback technically listed on the roster, but Jerome Messam (a monster at 6-4, 250) is an option as well.
“We have made a conscious effort to get a little more of a two-back in there,” coach Joe Philbin said. “And it’s as much of an evaluation tool than anything else. The scheme’s negotiable, week-in, week-out.”
At safety, Chris Clemons was back with the first team, while on the offensive line Eric Steinbach worked at left guard and John Jerry at right with the backups.
Daniel Thomas, Lamar Miller, Julius Pruitt and Quinten Lawrence all took turns fielding kickoffs Thursday.
“I’m trying to get this organization back to where it used to be,” Miller said. ‘We’re just out here competing, getting better, and I’m just trying to take my time, whatever the coaches need.”
• It was a rough day for the offense, right from the start. In the first four snaps in 11-on-11 drills, there were two flags and a fumbled exchange. Also, receivers had trouble hanging onto the football. Messam, Pruitt and Roberto Wallace were among those with drops.
• Chad Johnson had a fantastic catch in traffic, reaching back across his body for a first down in 11-on-11s.
• Matt Moore connected twice with Marcus Thigpen on intermediate routes down the middle.
• Brian Hartline (calf) and Clyde Gates (hamstring) were again held out of practice, although Hartline did appear to run well in shorts.
• Offensive lineman Chandler Burden practiced after signing with the team Wednesday.
PLAY OF THE DAY
Considering the day belonged to the defense, it’s only fitting that it goes to someone on that side of the ball. During 11-on-11 drills, defensive end Jared Odrick burst through the offensive line and dropped Steve Slaton for a loss.
“Usually you start seeing exotic defenses, exotic blitzes on third-and-long. Not with this defense. It can be first down, second down, any down. It doesn’t matter; they’re bringing it and you’ve got to be on your toes.” — quarterback David Garrard, on the Dolphins’ new defense
The Dolphins have nine remaining training camp practices, all open to the public. Seven of the nine will be held at 8:40 a.m. at the team’s Nova Southeastern University training facility in Davie, including Friday’s session. Admission and parking are free at all practices. The first 1,000 fans attending Saturday’s scrimmage will receive two complimentary tickets to one of the two Dolphins home preseason games.