Some key moments from Adam Gase's newsy news conference Thursday:
▪ Ryan Tannehill has been "really smooth" during the Dolphins' offseason conditioning program, an encouraging sign after suffering two major knee injuries in the course of eight months.
"I haven’t seen a change," Gase said. "I see a guy that’s very confident, I know he’s excited to get back out there. I know us as coaches, we’re excited to have him back out there. Really smooth, the operation that we’ve been able to do, as far as what we’re doing in practice or throwing sessions. It just feels smooth."
Gase's praise was tempered a bit, however, as Tannehill still "has to go through all of those [rehab] steps, with the doctors, with our trainers. We’re just going through the process of it all right now."
▪ T.J. McDonald will remain at safety, even if rookie Minkah Fitzpatrick takes his starting job.
There has been some thought that the Dolphins might move McDonald to linebacker after an underwhelming eight games last year, but Gase shot down that idea Thursday.
"T.J.’s playing safety," Gase said. "If we have to make adjustments somewhere – he’s not moving to linebacker. He’s going to be a safety and we’re going to figure out a way to get our best 11 players on the field. How it all plays out? I can’t tell you right now. What you think right now and what it ends up being the first week of the season can change quickly. We learned that last year on both sides of the ball."
McDonald signed four-year, $24 million last summer just before his eight-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy began. He is earning $1.5 million this season but his salary balloons to $5 million in 2019. The Dolphins could conceivably trade him if he doesn't play well in camp, but it might prove difficult, as he is owed $5.1 million in guaranteed money over the next two years.
▪ The Dolphins signed Frank Gore. They drafted Kalen Ballage.
But Kenyan Drake is still probably going to be the Dolphins' leading rusher in 2018.
It's a remarkable turnaround from 2016, when Drake spent much of his rookie season on Gase's naughty list.
"I think he’s matured a lot, whether it be the playbook, him personally," Gase said. "Being in this league. You get through that first year, and the second year sometimes is a feeling out process. You’re trying to figure out who are you? Starting to get older. You really realize that this is a job, it’s different than college. I see a different guy – one who prepares, knowing the situation he’s coming into this year. It’s been a good process for him, to watch his maturity level go up on and off the field. I think we have a guy really looking to bust out."