The best news so far in Dolphins training camp? No season-ending injuries.
But reasons for consternation, or at least mild irritation, have emerged less than two weeks before the New England Patriots visit Sun Life Stadium on Sept. 7. Among them:
The starting offense has played with neither the pace nor productivity that everybody hoped.
Because of injuries, Miami is already on its third kicker.
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Injuries have complicated several roster decisions.
Coach Joe Philbin on Monday bemoaned the first-team offense’s inability to score more than three points in six possessions against Dallas.
“Our offensive first group has to score more points,” he said.
When offensive coordinator Bill Lazor arrived from Philadelphia, numerous players noted in May and June that the team was practicing at a faster pace, though not at the breakneck speed that the Eagles played with under coach Chip Kelly to begin last season.
But Miami’s offense hasn’t been up-tempo all that much recently, to the point that Philbin and Lazor “talked on the sidelines a couple times [Saturday] that we thought we could have been pushing the pace a little faster,” Philbin said. “It’s something that has to get a little quicker.”
Wide receiver Mike Wallace agrees.
“You feel like you’re going fast,” he said Monday, “and then you realize you aren’t going that fast, and by that time, it’s time to come out. [But] we will play faster once the season starts, when we have a concrete game plan. We will definitely be playing faster in a week and a half.”
Quarterback Matt Moore said the offense is “definitely not as fast as [Philadelphia] was doing it. When [Lazor] sees he’s ready to use [high-tempo offense], he will.” Philbin was non-committal about how much no-huddle the Dolphins will use.
Also Monday, Wallace again was put in the uncomfortable position of having to explain why he and Tannehill cannot consistently connect on deep balls.
“Until we hit it, people have a right to ask that question,” Wallace said. “And it’s not going to be one time. We have to continually do it every day. “[Overall], we’re doing pretty well. The deep ball was the only thing we didn’t hit [Saturday against Dallas]. We have to hit that.”
Wallace dropped four intermediate passes from Tannehill during Monday’s practice but also caught at least three and worked with Tannehill on routes after practice.
Meanwhile, other issues bear monitoring:
• The Dolphins released kicker John Potter, who injured his hip against Dallas, leaving two kickers on the roster: Caleb Sturgis, who remains out with a groin injury, and newcomer Jake Rogers, who has never kicked in a regular-season game. Rogers missed from 44 yards during Monday’s practice but hit field goals from 41, 44 and 49 yards.
• A few others battling for roster spots are injured, making roster decisions more difficult.
Running back Mike Gillislee (hamstring) and defensive tackle A.J. Francis (knee) remained out Monday, tight end Brett Brackett (knee) also sat out practice, and tight end Arthur Lynch (back) is still limited.
The Dolphins are unlikely to cut Lynch, a fifth-round pick, but could place him on injured reserve if they continue to have concerns about a back injury that happened this summer. Lynch has participated in some practice drills but hasn’t been cleared to participate in 11-on-11 work or play in games.
Lynch said he has been held out for precautionary reasons and hopes to be cleared to play Thursday against St. Louis at Sun Life Stadium.
“I am healthy enough to do things,” he said. “I fully intend to play in games.”
Francis is considered Miami’s fourth-best defensive tackle but has been unable to do anything on-field in three weeks.
But running back Daniel Thomas returned to practice from a hamstring injury that has kept him out of all three exhibition games.
Asked if Thomas needs to play well Thursday to keep his job, Philbin said: “It is important for his sake, our sake, to get him out on the field. We want to see what he can do.”
THIS AND THAT
• Guard Billy Turner was wearing a walking boot on his left foot and will miss multiple practices. Defensive end Terrence Fede (knee) also remains out. Both rookies are expected to be on the 53-man roster.
Linebacker Koa Misi (shoulder) and receiver Marcus Thigpen (hamstring) returned to practice. Linebacker Philip Wheeler practiced with his right thumb in a small cast, and safety Walt Aikens practiced with his left hand in a protective wrap.
• The Dolphins signed defensive tackle Cory Grissom, a former standout at South Florida who spent last season on injured reserve for the Patriots.
• Besides Potter, the Dolphins cut safety Demetrius Wright and offensive tackle Steven Baker, leaving them with 86 players. They must get down to 75 by 4 p.m. Tuesday.
• Dan Marino, who joined the Dolphins as a special advisor on Sunday, visited Philbin in his office Monday. Marino’s job “will be something that evolves over time,” Philbin said. “He’s going to contribute to the organization in a lot of different areas.”