A six-pack of Dolphins nuggets from Monday’s practice:
• Every observation made at every NFL OTA practice comes with this warning: Don’t overstate what you’re seeing. Players, after all, aren’t in pads.
With that caveat out of the way, the early signs from rookie first-round defensive end Charles Harris are encouraging.
Harris has flashed in each of the three practices open to reporters. On Monday, he stopped Kenyan Drake for a loss on a running play and then forced Ryan Tannehill out of the pocket on a throw.
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Adam Gase was asked if Harris has been disruptive only in practices open to the media or consistently so.
“It is consistent,” Gase said. “He’s really done a good job of trying to implement the techniques we’re asking him to do and doing everything in the run game (and) passing game exactly what he’s coached to do. It’s hard to predict how far we can take and what’s going to happen when we get in pads.
“That’s going to be a different world just because we’ll be able to do some different things offensively as far as the run game goes and some of the trap game type things. That will be a new world for him with what we’re going to do in training camp. I think it’s just going to be an evolving process for him. He’s just going to keep learning and see how fast he can adjust to the pro game.”
• Drew Morgan remains the most impressive of the Dolphins’ young receivers competing for the fourth, fifth and potentially sixth jobs.
If you think you’ve heard this from me before, it’s because you have. That’s been the case for all three open practices so far.
Morgan, the undrafted rookie from Arkansas, made a bunch of catches again Monday and also had significant yards after catch. On the flip side, he was stripped of the ball after one catch, with undrafted Georgia rookie defensive back Maurice Smith shaking it loose.
As for second-year receiver Leonte Carroo, he made one very good catch down the field from Matt Moore for a touchdown in 7-on-7 drills (beating Cordea Tankersley) – and a couple others – but also dropped at least two.
I asked special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi this: How much of a factor was special teams in the decision to keep Rashawn Scott active ahead of Carroo late in the season and for the playoff game?
“Rashawn Scott progressively got better throughout last year,” Rizzi said. “He was a guy whose arrow was up all year. He was always on the verge of breaking the 53. We thought Rashawn gave us a little more at that point than Carroo. Joint decision among the offensive staff and coach Gase” and Rizzi.
But Rizzi said: “Leonte Carroo is doing a lot better; he is looking like he has taken the offseason seriously. Carroo played 100 plays on special teams last year. I was really happy with the way Rashawn played. Guys are all competing for the fourth, fifth, sixth [receiver] spots. It’s a good battle.”
Among others competing for receiver jobs, UM’s Malcolm Lewis caught a TD pass in red zone drills and Damore’ea Stringfellow had a long catch-and-run on a pass from Brandon Doughty.
Morgan, incidentally, returned only four punts for 37 yards and three kickoffs for 58 yards at Arkansas (all as a senior) but is one of several players who has gotten return work over the past two weeks.
“Drew is one of those guys that has done it in college, done it a lot in practice, like Jarvis [Landry] and Jakeem,” Rizzi said. “He’s a guy that looks like he’s fairly comfortable back here, more than most.”
• Grant, who remains the front-runner for the return jobs, has improved but remains a work in progress. Asked if he has caught every punt (without a drop), Rizzi said no.
“He has not caught every single one,” Rizzi said. “But he looks much improved. He catches 30 to 40 balls before practice, 10 to 15 in practice, 30 to 40 after practice. He’s catching 70 to 75 punts a day off live foot or the Jugs machine.”
Rizzi commended Grant for flying punter Matt Darr to Texas this offseason so that Grant could work on returns.
“I’ve seen some very talented players, some Hall of Famers, who couldn’t catch a punt,” Rizzi said. “He knew he couldn’t take the offseason off and pick up where he left off. That’s why he got Matt down to Texas and worked on it all offseason. He’s been really mature about it. He was the one who told me he was disappointed in himself.”
As was the case during an earlier OTA practice, Grant caught a pass and then dropped one less than two minutes later.
• Left tackle Laremy Tunsil worked on the side during practice, but Gase said his injury is not significant, without elaborating. Safety Reshad Jones missed the voluntary workout, but Gase said there was nothing significant there.
“No,” Gase said. “It’s just I’m being soft and holding them out.”
• Gase decided to have his team practice in a downpour instead of using the practice bubble.
“I personally love it because now it becomes a real game for us,” Gase said. “We’ll see how our guys react to it and understand what we’re trying to do. We saw last year in the Arizona game, you have to keep your feet. The ball was popping up, popping all over the place. We were getting turnovers. We did a fairly good job of protecting the ball in that game and that’s probably what helped us win that thing.
“It was really good to see the guys just never batting an eye. We had guys staying on their feet and we weren’t slipping and sliding all over the place. The grass held up well. It was good for us to go through.”
• A few practice observations: Smith, the undrafted Georgia rookie, made a couple of nice pass breakups in coverage… Ryan Tannehill lofted a beautiful pass to DeVante Parker for a touchdown, beating Byron Maxwell. Tannehill also ran for decent yardage on a couple plays, another sign that his knee should not be an issue…Lafayette Pitts broke up a pass to Isaiah Ford... Pitts also nearly picked off David Fales for what would have been a pick-six.