Miami Dolphins tight end Dion Sims improving as a receiver

08/06/2014 7:48 PM

08/07/2014 7:47 PM

The encouraging news about the Dolphins’ tight end situation: Dion Sims appears to be much improved, especially as a receiver, and is in good position to land the No. 2 tight end job behind Charles Clay.

The unsettling development: Of the seven tight ends on the roster, only three are fully healthy: Sims, Kyle Miller and recent addition Brett Brackett.

Clay (knee), Michael Egnew (concussion symptoms) and Harold Hoskins (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday, and rookie Arthur Lynch remained limited with an undisclosed injury.

The Dolphins would prefer not to play Lynch in Friday’s preseason game against the Falcons in Atlanta, barring a change of heart. So Dolphins fans will see plenty of Sims, Miller and Brackett.

Sims has impressed throughout camp, catching several passes over the middle and finding ways to get open in the end zone.

“He’s catching the ball very well,” coach Joe Philbin said. “We’ve seen him in the passing game look and play faster. We’re encouraged by that. That’s something that can pay dividends for us this year. His blocking has gotten more consistent.”

Sims — who caught six passes for 32 yards as a rookie — said he has watched tape of Clay, Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez in an attempt to learn nuances of becoming a better receiving tight end. At 6-4 and 265 pounds, “my height and body will help me in the passing game,” he said. “I’m getting better body position.”

Tight ends coach Dan Campbell said Sims “has come a long way. He had a heck of a spring. In camp, he has proven he’s ready to take that next stride up.”

Lynch, the team’s fifth-round pick out of Georgia, said blocking is his strength, but he has made several good catches on intermediate routes going back to the offseason program.

“I’m doing fairly well,” he said, adding he can’t showcase his blocking as much without being able to practice fully. “That’s the frustrating thing with being limited. I won’t wow you with anything, but I can do a lot of things well.”

Egnew, who hasn’t returned to practice since leaving for concussion tests Monday, “has gotten better” as a player, Campbell said. “Michael has helped us with roles that are silent roles that people don’t quite understand.

“He filled the fullback role for us last year and did a heck of a job at it. He’s done a nice job in run blocking. He’s continually getting better in his routes. That’s something he knows he needs to improve on to really be able to help us in the pass game. If you say, ‘What is one area he needs to work on?’ It’s the pass game.”

The Dolphins this week worked out veteran tight end Steve Maneri, who has 10 starts in four seasons, but did not offer him a contract after the workout.

THIS AND THAT

• With Pat Devlin (hamstring) and Matt Moore (shoulder) unable to practice Wednesday, undrafted quarterbacks Seth Lobato (Northern Colorado) and Brock Jensen (North Dakota State) got all the work behind Ryan Tannehill.

Lobato threw an interception to Jordan Kovacs but also made several strong throws, including a 79-yard touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry, who beat Kevin Fogg.

Tannehill’s play was up and down. He badly overthrew Brian Hartline on a deep ball and Jason Trusnik intercepted a pass that was batted away by Dion Jordan, giving Tannehill seven interceptions in three practices this week. But he made an impressive pinpoint throw to Damian Williams on a crossing route, beating Will Davis.

The Dolphins aren’t especially concerned about Moore but wanted to give him another day of rest.

•  Olivier Vernon (back), Mike Wallace (hamstring) and Hartline returned to practice, but running back Daniel Thomas (hamstring), cornerback Jalil Brown (knee), Clay and Hoskins remained out, and kicker Caleb Sturgis (groin) was limited.
•  Dallas Thomas remained with the first team at right guard, with Shelley Smith sharing time at left guard with Daryn Colledge, who has received the majority of the first-team snaps.

Colledge, signed June 30, “has picked up the system well, but it’s taken a little while,” Philbin said. “I don’t think it’s all the way there yet, but I’m hoping there is more development coming in the next couple of weeks.”

• Philbin likes what he has seen from rookie linebacker Jordan Tripp: “He has a chance to contribute. He’s very smart.”
• CBS-4 will air Friday’s game live at 7 p.m., with Dick Stockton, Bob Griese and Nat Moore announcing the team’s preseason games this season. NFL Network will air the game on tape at 10 a.m. Saturday.

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