Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins ‘won’t have a shot’ this year if this flaw isn’t fixed, Flores says

More often than not, things are really not as bad as they seem in the moment.

That was not the case when Brian Flores reviewed tape of his defense from Thursday night’s preseason game.

In fact, just the opposite.

“I think the tackling was something I talked about after the game and it’s something I definitely reiterated to the team, that we have to do a better job defensively and in the kicking game from a tackling standpoint,” Flores said during a conference call with reporters Saturday.

“We won’t have a shot, we won’t give ourselves a chance if we don’t do a better job there. That’s something that I mentioned that’s not good. I would say it was probably worse than i thought.”

So expect a renewed emphasis on wrapping up and bringing the opposition to the ground in the coming days , staring with their joint practices with the Buccaneers in Tampa Tuesday and Wednesday.

How will those practices be structured? Will there be live, tackling to the ground periods?

Flores didn’t say Saturday, but did give a rough outline of what we should expect.

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“They’ll look similar to what we’ve done in training camp thus far, except that they’ll be against another team,” Flores said. “Obviously there’ll be a lot more players on the field. ... There’ll be a lot of moving parts to these practices. I talked to Bruce [Arians] and we scheduled out, I’d call it, 95 percent of what we want to do.”

More from Flores during his only media availability until Tuesday:

There’s no denying rookie receiver Preston Williams is “doing a very good job,” as Flores said, but the Dolphins are not ready to crown him.

The hype train has been running out of control after Xavien Howard said Williams is a future No. 1 receiver (which Williams backed up with several highlight reel catches against the Falcons), and Flores seemed include to hit the brakes.

“One good game doesn’t make you a superstar,” Flores said. “This league really is about consistency. He’s got to continue to string good practices together and hopefully good games. I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves with Preston. He’s got a long way to go.”

The Dolphins signed Williams after he went undrafted, surely a result of his arrest on a misdemeanor assault charge in college in an incident involving an ex-girlfriend.

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When asked why the Dolphins were comfortable signing Williams, Flores responded:

“Chris [Grier], Brandon [Shore], our personnel staff, they do a lot of digging on really every player, not specific to Preston,” Flores said. “We try to find their strengths. Their weaknesses. ... I think we have a structure here. We try to create a structure here where guys get in a routine and rhythm where all they’re focused on is football.”

Flores added: “I think people forget the fact that these guys are just kids. I remember being a 22, 23-year-old and I didn’t make the best decisions. And I think that’s something we have to educate our best people, as teachers, educators and leaders, to help educate them. And we’re doing that with Preston and all our rookies, all our young players.”

Flores again acknowledged that Michael Deiter and Shaq Calhoun, Miami’s rookie starting guards, struggled with “the speed of the game,” but seemed optimistic that both would adjust.

“As much as you can talk about it, there’s no way to simulate that,” Flores said. “You have to feel it, you have to go throw it, you have to experience it. I think both guys did and I think both guys settled down as the game went on. I thought that was positive.”

The Dolphins’ offensive line was not good Thursday, but a partial explanation for that is that Laremy Tunsil did not play. He’s healthy and should be on the practice field Tuesday. But what if he’s unavailable due to injury at some point this season?

“Losing a guy like Laremy Tunsil would be very tough, at the same time we’d have to be able to adjust and adapt and the next guy would be up,” Flores said. “As a team, we would have to do what we need to do, if we felt there was an issue, to help that position. If it means leaving the tight end over, we’d do that. It means chipping the back, we’d do that. If it means, sliding the line over there, we’d do that.”

Dolphins running back Mark Walton’s three pending cases, including a felony gun charge, could all soon be resolved. There’s a hearing set for Aug. 19, with the possibility of a global plea deal.

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