When the Dolphins signed Brice McCain in March, Joe Philbin made clear that the Dolphins viewed him as a slot cornerback. Five months later, McCain is immersed in a close battle with Jamar Taylor for the starting cornerback job opposite Brent Grimes.
So what changed to make the Dolphins conclude that he’s capable of more than merely slot duties?
“He has played good football since he’s been here,” Philbin said. “He’s competitive. He’s got good recovery speed. He’s picked up the system well. He’s going to get opportunities to show if he’s the second-best, third-best, whatever it may be. We will take all the body of work, preseason practices and games, and see who’s the best.”
McCain, who intercepted a Josh Freeman pass during Monday’s practice, said it sells him short to refer to him as merely a slot corner.
“I do take offense to that because I can play outside as well,” said McCain, who is Miami’s shortest cornerback at 5-9. “I’ve been playing outside my whole life. I played outside in college [Utah]. That’s what got me here. In Houston, I started outside [before Wade Phillips was hired].
“When you have quickness, you can put yourself in position to make yourself bigger. A tall corner, if you’re always behind the guy, how can you jump? How can you use your height if you’re always trailing and never can catch up with a guy? My speed and quickness and my jumping ability really help me out.”
Taylor took the first-team snaps on the boundary Monday, with McCain in the slot. But McCain, who had three interceptions for Pittsburgh in 2014, said afterward that he and Taylor continue to alternate in those roles. Taylor was listed with the starters on the Dolphins depth chart released Monday.
“They can’t lose with whatever they go with because we’re both talented guys,” McCain said, adding that he expects to move to the slot in clear-cut passing situations even if he starts on the boundary.
Jim Turner, who lost his job as Dolphins offensive line coach in February 2014 after Ted Wells’ report implicated him in the team’s bullying scandal, is filing a defamation lawsuit against Wells, ESPN reported.
“Wells is not a good human being and when I didn’t give him the stories he wanted, he targeted me as part of a problem in Miami,” Turner said in May. “He’s not an independent investigator. He’s not doing this looking at both sides of the situation. He’s hired by the NFL and he’s going to print the story that they want printed.”
Offensive tackle Jonathan Martin, who was at the epicenter of that bullying scandal, officially announced his retirement from the NFL on Monday and thanked his former 49ers and Panthers teammates on Twitter but made no mention of his former Dolphins teammates.
▪ Former Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas addressed the team Monday and did “a fantastic job,” Philbin said. “Everybody in the room could feel the great passion he has for the sport and this organization. … His message was time goes by quickly. Take advantage of every opportunity you have as a player.”
Reshad Jones said Thomas also spoke of the importance of getting enough sleep.
▪ In addition to DeVante Parker and Don Jones, five others missed practice: Koa Misi (calf), Kenny Stills (calf), Jay Ajayi (hamstring) and Christion Jones (hamstring).
▪ The Dolphins signed former Seattle practice squad running back Demitrius Bronson and safety Phillip Thomas, who has started four NFL games, all for the Redskins. Miami released safety Shamiel Gary, who was injured, and receiver Tyler McDonald.
▪ Andrew Franks hit five of six field goals, including a 56-yarder. … Jacques McClendon and Billy Turner split first-team snaps at right guard.
▪ Practice featured a brief skirmish between Ja’Wuan James and Kendall Montgomery. James threw Montgomery to the ground in a blocking drill and Montgomery got up swinging.
▪ A month after being dropped by WQAM-560, former Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder was re-hired by the station. He will join Marc Hochman and Zach Krantz from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays beginning Tuesday.