Starting left tackle Branden Albert dressed in full pads, continuing to make steps in his right knee injury recovery on a day the defensive line stepped all over its offensive counterpart.
Usually coaches and players shrug off early camp defensive advantages as a product of the offense’s greater sophistication and need for cohesion. That goes double for coaches such as the Dolphins’ Joe Philbin, who tread the line down the verbal middle of the road like a tightrope walker.
So, when Philbin said, “We’ve got to have a little cleaner pocket for our quarterbacks, that’s one thing I noticed overall,” it indicated the offensive line’s got problems.
Philbin said it’s too early to be concerned, but the fact that he brought the issue up without being asked says something also.
“Not any one specific guy,” Philbin continued, “but I would just say overall that’s something we want to do because if we’re going to pus the ball down the field, if we’re going to take seven steps at times and hold the ball to let the routes extend, we’re going to have to have protection.”
Facing the Dolphins pass rush with Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon coming off the ends and Ndamukong Suh pushing the pocket in the middle when he’s not being double-teamed won’t help anyone look good in training camp.
Albert dressed in full pads for the first time and did the walk through. Jason Fox worked left tackle in the drills.
“It was good to have him out in pads — for him, for the team,” Philbin said. “We’re just taking it one day at a time, and we’ll see when we can add more to his plate.”
Safety Reshad Jones put a crescendo on the defense’s domination Sunday by jumping a short Ryan Tannehill rollout pass and taking it back 98 yards. Well, Jones would have gone all the way had he not slowed to high step as Tannehill chased him down at about the 20.
“I didn’t want to make him feel badly the whole play,” Jones said, chuckling. “I think it was huge for our red-zone defense. A couple of years ago, we were in the top [five].
“That’s one of the things we want to pride ourselves on, getting back to that area.”
The Dolphins allowed touchdowns on 52.73 percent of their red-zone possessions last season, 16th in the NFL, a slide back from 46.43 percent in 2013, which was fifth. And that percentage skidded back from a league-best 42.59 percent in 2012.
“We probably had upwards of 95 competitive snaps, and almost every single one of them was in the red zone,” Philbin said. “It’s an area, as you guys know, we need to do a better job of this year.
“We were kind of middle of the pack on defense. and I think we were 21st or something close to that on offense.”
Cornerback Will Davis picked off backup quarterback Matt Moore the play after Jones’ interception.
THIS AND THAT
▪ Kicker Caleb Sturgis nailed field-goal attempts from 46 yards (off the right hash) and 51 yards (off the left hash) out of the hold of punter Matt Darr.
That last fact seemed interesting in a training camp context.
Punter Brandon Fields has been the holder on Dolphins kicks for the past eight seasons, working seamlessly with 10-year long snapper John Denney. Doing his main job later, he launched several perfect punts, both from distance and dropping some inside the 10.
▪ The 175 riders in Sunday’s first Dolphins Cancer Challenge training ride then got fed breakfast and watched practice from one of the VIP platforms. The Dolphins Cancer Challenge will be held Feb. 20.