The offense is still the troubling thing for the Dolphins because five weeks of practice and three exhibition games haven’t solved issues that need desperate attention before the season begins in earnest.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill still needs to make faster decisions and be more consistent with his accuracy, particularly on deep passes.
The running game still needs establishing because it needs to be a crutch for Tannehill while he improves. And right now it is mostly working as if on crutches.
The tight end position is suddenly a major worry because Dustin Keller, the most productive offseason acquisition in training camp, is out for the season with a terrible knee injury.
The offense also has key players — John Jerry and Lance Louis — who still are not quite ready for the season’s start because of injuries.
But amid those myriad questions and problems the Dolphins are privately maintaining a hopeful, positive attitude because while their offense might be covered in darkness now, light seems to be on the way.
Take tight end for example.
Keller’s knee injury was a blow felt for several days within the team. It truly hurt.
But out of that calamity, the Dolphins this week saw hopeful signs from their young tight ends that maybe, perhaps, conceivably everything will be all right.
Charles Clay, the most likely candidate to be Miami’s so-called seam threat, was exactly that during a fine week of practice. He probably caught more such passes during the past week than he had the previous four weeks.
Rookie Dion Sims, meanwhile, continued to be both a blocker (which everyone expected) and good pass-catcher (which was not expected by anyone outside the organization). He has shown himself to be football smart. He has shown himself to be a factor for the season.
Sims is a quiet young man the Dolphins hope can make big noise this season.
Even Michael Egnew, the player offensive coordinator Mike Sherman threatened to cut on the spot during a team meeting last season, is looking good. Although he started camp slowly, he has lately strung a series of good practices together — something he never did last year.
Egnew’s play speed is improved. He’s catching the ball with his hands. And he’s holding on.
What seemed like an unlikely attempt to make the team early in camp is all but assured Egnew of a roster spot now.
“The loss of Keller is disappointing because he was making so much progress even as a blocker, and then fitting into our offense,” Sherman said. “The other three guys have really done a nice job. Obviously, they have a lot on their shoulders now with the loss of Dustin, so they need to be able to pick up the slack there.
“I think the tight ends have really made a lot of improvement. I think [tight end coach] Dan Campbell is a tireless coach and stays after them and gets the best out of his players.”
The Dolphins lately have seen a different Mike Wallace as well.
Wallace, everyone knows, is a proven player. There are no issues with him. But early in camp he injured his groin and when he returned, he didn’t immediately look his old blazing-fast and smooth self.
But almost overnight late last week Wallace began to run better. And he began to connect with Tannehill on dynamic long passes. And that carried over to the exhibition game in Houston.