If any Dolphins coach should have been happy after Sunday’s practice, it was Kris Kocurek.
His defensive line abused their offensive counterparts for most of practice, physically dominating the day at the point of attack.
And yet, Kocurek wasn’t satisfied, telling his players they had much work to do before the season, according to offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn.
“I said, ‘Really? They look fantastic.’”
Yes, the other side of the Dolphins’ coin since the pads have come on: For every sack, there was an offensive lineman who got beat or missed an assignment.
“We’re not near where we need to be,” Washburn said. “I think Adam [Gase] said the same thing [Saturday]. I do like our group. It’s a good group of guys. They’re working hard. But in terms of production, we’re not near where we need to be — protection, run game. We’re going to have to continue to work at it.”
The good news is there’s still plenty of time to do so. The Dolphins have not even been in full pads yet. There’s a scrimmage Saturday and the first of four preseason games is not for another 11 days.
But the Dolphins had hoped their line would be further along at this point in the summer, considering their projected starting lineup — Laremy Tunsil, Josh Sitton, Daniel Kilgore, Jesse Davis and Ja’Wuan James — has taken most every snap together since spring ball began.
“Not fast enough,” Washburn said of how the group’s chemistry was developing. “And you guys know who have been around, you just don’t get the time that we used to. That’s not an excuse, but every day is priceless for us. It’s so precious out here, a padded day. We need to see… But I will say this, it’s nice to have some continuity. You guys know around here, it’s been a shuffle. It is nice having that same five every day. Hopefully we’ll see some benefits.”
It’s unfair to pin the line’s hopes on any one player, but it’s fair to say that it will only perform as well as Tunsil does.
He’s entering Year 3 in the NFL, but the second as Miami’s left tackle. His 2017 did not meet anyone’s expectations, beginning with his own.
Tunsil said Sunday that he spent his summer working out at Ole Miss, where he played his college ball.
“I just want to be great,” Tunsil said. “That’s it. I want to be great.”
All NFL players do. Few actually have the talent and work ethic to pull it off.
The Dolphins believe Tunsil has the ability. And they’re starting to see the will.
“He came with that [look in his] eye,” Washburn said. “He had that eye as soon as he came back. It was something that he found within. I’m his biggest fan. I was here Day 1 with him. He’s come back with that. I don’t have to motivate Laremy Tunsil. He’s a motivated man. He knew after last season. He’s very prideful. You can tell that talking to him. And he’s just got to keep that up.”
Washburn continues to recover from a July 3 bike accident in which his left leg was rolled over by a truck. He considers himself incredibly fortunate to suffer nothing more than torn tendons; he has coached on crutches and in a golf cart this camp.
“It just looked bad,” Washburn said of the accident. “The adrenaline’s flowing, you stand up and my legs kind of an angle and I thought, ‘My gosh, I just lost it.’ But I was standing. You have those prescient moment where you think you’re going to lose your leg, but I didn’t.”