Miami Dolphins

Far from ‘Hard Knocks’ cameras, Dolphins receivers find new post-Landry equilibrium

Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills signed autographs for fans most every day after training camp practices.
Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills signed autographs for fans most every day after training camp practices. dsantiago@miamiherald.com

Tuesdays at 10 p.m. have got to be a surreal hour for Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker and Jakeem Grant.

That’s when HBO airs Hard Knocks, allowing the rest of the country to witness the Jarvis Landry that his teammates in Miami saw up close the last four years.

Talented. Brash. And yes, at times far too emotional.

Landry has been all of that and more for the Browns, who traded for him back in the spring.

Back here in South Florida, the volume has been turned way down. Yes, Grant was involved in a minor Dolphin-on-Dolphin fight a few weeks back, but that’s been the only bit of receiver drama visible to the media during training camp.

Stills thinks that this new-found comity will not just make for a more pleasant workplace, but also a better football team.

“Just the work that I’ve seen us we put in,” said Stills, who returned to practice Tuesday after missing last week with an ankle and calf issue. “The camaraderie that we have. The time that we’ve spent outside of the building. Guys come in and work. There’s not much complaining. We just come in, work, and when we leave the building, guys are studying their stuff. We’re having a lot less mental errors. We can still clean up penalties and little things that we have. But just the vibe that I get from this group of guys, and the way we work together each and every day, gives me a positive and optimistic outlook on the season.”

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills talks to about the protest during the playing of the national anthem after the game an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Hard Rock Stadium on Thursday, August. 9, 2018, in Miami Gardens.

If Stills was making a direct contrast to life with Landry, he did not say it.

But there’s no question that this is a freer group this year, without the Dolphins needing to worry about keeping Landry happy with enough targets and money.

And Stills is acting as a different type of leader. Instead of fiery speeches and thrown helmets, Stills has characteristically taken a more subtle tact.

He’s been more big brother than drill sergeant. And his way might be more effective.

“You have to study, put the time in,” Stills said. “Just because work’s over at 4:30, 5 o’clock, that doesn’t mean you go home. People are here until 6:30, 7, 8 o’clock. Making sure that you really know the stuff, so when the time comes and coach calls the play, we can go out and execution.”

Stills expects to play Saturday against the Ravens (he probably would have appeared in last week’s game, had it been the regular season) and seems poised for a big season.

Miami Dolphins receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson each took a knee during the playing of the national anthem before the team’s preseason opener Thursday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Not that he has any set personal goals. “Never,” he insisted.

In fact, about the only time Stills wants to be the center of attention is during the two minutes the national anthem is played.

He kneels in protest of racial inequality and police misconduct.

The reaction from the public this year, compared to years past?

“I still see a lot of misunderstanding, confusion, anger, bitterness. I still see that from the other side. But this time around, there’s been a lot more people reaching out with positive thoughts, positive reactions. I really appreciate that. It makes me feel like, what we’ve done with the protest has been a good thing. As far as starting conversation, getting people to talk about the things that are happening. We still have a long way to go, but I feel like what we’ve done is something in a positive way.”

The following Dolphins did not practice Tuesday due to injury: Parker (finger), defensive end William Hayes (hamstring), running back Kalen Ballage (concussion), guard Jake Brendel (calf) and linebacker Mike Hull (knee). Tight end MarQueis Gray practiced, despite remaining in the concussion protocol.

NFL offensive innovator and Adam Gase mentor Mike Martz not only attended Dolphins practice Tuesday, but took part in some light coaching.

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