If teams truly play how they practice, the Miami Dolphins two-minute drill should be vastly improved this fall.
In the final offensive series of a long, hot spring Thursday, Ryan Tannehill was Joe Cool.
The second-year quarterback led his side on an intrasquad scrimmage-winning drive, capped by a 13-yard touchdown pass to Marvin McNutt and a two-point conversion to Brian Hartline. The drive covered 50 yards in the final 1:37.
We couldnt have scripted it any better ourselves if we planned it that way, Joe Philbin said later. I thought it was an excellent practice for the last mandatory minicamp [session].
Added an ebullient Tannehill: That was fun.
Of course this mock game was in shorts and helmets, and the score was jerry-rigged to give Tannehills side which included Lamar Miller, Hartline and Charles Clay a chance to win at the end.
Nonetheless, Tannehill did something he couldnt once his rookie year direct his team on a game-winning touchdown drive in the waning moments. The Dolphins lost five games with such a scenario in 2012.
We all know sometimes the last practice of the offseason program is a semi-pulling-teeth exercise, Philbin said. I thought the guys responded and competed well.
A few highlights:
• Clay had a great bounce-back performance a day after struggling with drops. He caught everything thrown his way, including a 9-yard touchdown pass from Tannehill.
• Lineman Austin Spitler blocked Brandon Fields punt in the end zone on the games opening drive.
• Defensive end Derrick Shelby was a dynamo, recording three sacks.
• Cornerback Nolan Carroll returned an interception for a touchdown off Matt Moore and saved a punt from going in the end zone on the coverage team.
• Caleb Sturgis won the day in the kicking battle. He drilled a 58-yard field goal and had several touchbacks. Dan Carpenter missed from 51.
• And former CFL player linebacker Lee Robinson intercepted Aaron Corp, and undrafted rookie defensive end Emeka Onyenekwu finished off an impressive week with several pressures.
I think if you look how much we improved from OTA One to the minicamp, it wasnt always pretty, but I think we grew as a team, as an offense, every time, Tannehill said.
And more importantly, they did so with their health mostly intact. The only injury of note this week was an undisclosed but apparently not very serious issue affecting Dustin Keller.
The tight end sat out nearly all of minicamp, but didnt seemed overly concerned about it affecting him long-term.
After team meetings Thursday during which Philbin reminded his players to stay out of trouble the Dolphins scattered. Some went home, others went on vacation, while several plan on staying local to prepare for the season.
Tannehill will take some time away from football, but then organize an off-site throwing session with teammates the week before camp begins.
I think the amount we put in, the level were at, just comparing to last year, is strides past, Hartline said. But theres still work to do. You dont want to dumb it down, Im honestly really happy where were at.
Added Tannehill: I think were confident, but were hungry.