Fullback Evan Rodriguez, signed by the Dolphins in June to compete with Jovorskie Lane and Charles Clay, took first-team snaps in the backfield Thursday.
Lane, who started last season strongly, hasn’t impressed the coaching staff so far this preseason. Clay, who is working as a tight end and fullback, was all over practice Thursday, even taking reps with the scout team. Despite Rodriguez’s elevation to the starting unit, it’s unclear if the Dolphins will keep a fullback on the roster or opt for another tight end.
Plays of the Day
• Cornerback Brent Grimes finished up his camp with another impressive display of athleticism. During a red-zone drill, Grimes jumped high in the air in the back-right corner of the end zone to break up a pass to Clay. Grimes, listed at 5-10, plays much taller than his height, and he frustrated receivers and quarterbacks throughout camp.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill didn’t make many exciting plays on the last day of training camp but continued to show progress in his second season as a starter. On one rep during 11-on-11s, Tannehill first read the defense and audibled, successfully re-aligning the formation to deal with a blitz. After picking up the blitz, Tannehill fired a quick slant to Brian Hartline, delivering the ball to Hartline as soon as the receiver made his break to the inside.
• Rookie cornerback Will Davis corralled another interception on the last day of camp. Davis has turned heads for his propensity to create turnovers, a trait that coach Joe Philbin is coveting. On Thursday, Davis managed to pick the ball out of the air as Brandon Gibson bobbled a pass on an out route.
• Safety Reshad Jones hasn’t made much noise in camp since signing a four-year extension, but he flashed his big-play potential Thursday. Working against the scout-team offense led by Aaron Corp, Jones dropped down in the box and made an interception in the middle of the field.
• The entire practice was moved inside the bubble for the first time all camp because of rain.
Guards John Jerry and Lance Louis participated in practice. Louis is working his way back from a torn ACL, and Philbin said he hopes to see him play soon. Jerry did not participate fully but worked in position drills. Nate Garner missed practice with a shoulder injury.
• Tannehill struggled on deep throws Thursday. During one-on-ones, he overthrew an open Hartline. On an 11-on-11 play, Tannehill had Mike Wallace come open, but the throw went inside as opposed to toward the sideline, drawing coverage and a pass breakup.
After wrapping up his second training camp, Philbin named some of the players who stood out during the past month.
Philbin said tight end Michael Egnew raised his stock. Egnew struggled mightily last year, only joining the active roster late in the season. Miami brought in Dustin Keller via free agency and drafted Dion Sims to compete with Egnew this season, and it might have worked. Egnew still struggled with drops through the preseason, but his blocking improved significantly, and he didn’t seem to have issues about knowing the offense.
Defensive end Olivier Vernon was also cited by Philbin as a player who improved dramatically. Vernon seemed to lock down the starting defensive end job across from Cameron Wake with a solid camp. With rookie Dion Jordan working his way back from a shoulder injury, Vernon’s progress gives Miami pass-rushing depth.
Left tackle Jonathan Martin also received praise from Philbin for his steady progress. Martin started camp with lots of questions about his ability to protect Tannehill’s blindside. But after a rough start, Martin has put together a string of good practices. With depth at left tackle an issue, Martin’s play as well as his health will be a key for Miami in the regular season.