Coaches love good hands. Jarvis Landry has good hands — and showed them off just an hour into his first rookie minicamp practice.
During seven-on-seven drills Friday, the Dolphins’ second-round draft pick darted off the line, got behind cornerback Walt Aikens and made a leaping, contorting catch near the left sideline.
And, just as importantly, he kept his balance, turned up field and picked up even more yards.
Granted, it was just a moment in time. But it was a telling one for Landry, the receiver out of LSU whose dependability makes up for what he lacks in explosiveness.
“It was a fade [route],” Landry explained later. “I think it was the quarterback [Brock Jensen] trusting me to make a play, and I did.”
Landry made lots of those plays during his three years with the Tigers. Of his 77 catches as a junior — when he was LSU’s most valuable player — 62 went for first downs.
So far, that hasn’t changed at the next level.
“He always made plays, got separation, got open and made great catches, and that’s what he’s been doing for us the last two weeks,” Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey said.
Familiarity in the system surely helps. There has been much curiosity this offseason over what new coordinator Bill Lazor’s offense will try to do in Miami.
Landry said it’s nearly identical to what he ran at LSU — which is Cam Cameron’s version of Air Coryell. Cameron, the former Dolphins coach, is now the Tigers’ offensive coordinator. Taking — and hitting on — downfield shots are a big part of his system.
It worked. LSU averaged 10 yards per pass attempt last year. The Dolphins, meanwhile, managed just 6.
It was tough to make any sweeping generalizations about Lazor’s offense after one practice — particularly one featuring some 70 guys who won’t be on the team. But Landry’s take dovetails with the scouting report provided by Mike Wallace earlier in the spring. Wallace called Lazor’ system a “big-play” offense.
So why wasn’t Landry a first-round pick?
He’s under 6 feet, and his NFL Scouting Combine 40 time was an injury-slowed 4.77 seconds. Although he ran faster at his pro day, Landry will never be confused with a burner.
But Hickey put more stock in Landry’s college tape than in a couple of sprints in shorts. Landry averaged 15.5 yards per catch last year and had 10 touchdowns.
“That’s the important thing to us,” Hickey said. “It’s not a number on a stopwatch, it’s how fast they play with a helmet, shoulder pads and other guys trying to cover him.”
Aikens had trouble doing that Friday — and ultimately left the field because of dehydration.
That’s why no one should write off Landry playing meaningful offensive snaps this fall, even with the Dolphins returning their top nine pass-catchers from 2013. On the job for just two weeks, he has already worked at all the receiver positions — both on the outside and in the slot.
More likely, however, Landry will also need to be a special-teams presence to get activated on Sundays.
“I’m very confident,” Landry said. “But at the same time, I’m selfless, and I believe in the overall view and overall vision of the team and the core values that we stand for in Miami.”• Dolphins coach Joe Philbin missed Friday’s minicamp to tend to a family matter.
• The Dolphins now have five of their eight-player draft class signed to contracts. On Friday, they announced deals with Aikens (fourth round, four-year deal), linebacker Jordan Tripp (fifth round), receiver Matt Hazel (sixth round) and defensive end Terrence Fede (seventh round).