Miami Dolphins

Interim coach Dan Campbell happy with Miami Dolphins’ ability to ‘violently compete’

Miami Dolphins interim coach Dan Campbell talks to reporters after practice Wednesday in Davie.
Miami Dolphins interim coach Dan Campbell talks to reporters after practice Wednesday in Davie. AP

It took 10 minutes of practice time for Dan Campbell to put his stamp on his team.

In short, the Dolphins’ first practice since Joe Philbin’s firing was amped up.

First, Jarvis Landry and Cedric Thompson got into a shoving match.

Then the Dolphins broke out the famed Oklahoma Drill — a one-on-one grudge match between offensive and defensive linemen — for the first time since the pre-Philbin era.

“That’s what they have those pads on for,” Campbell said in what has become his typical blunt style. “Got to learn to use those things again.”

Campbell added: “All I wanted to see is guys come out and compete and violently compete, and I felt that today.”

That is Step 1 in Campbell’s quest to change the culture of an organization that lost its way under Philbin.

But Step 1A is straightening out his coaching staff.

Both will take some time.

The Dolphins on Wednesday formally hired longtime NFL coach Al Saunders as a senior offensive assistant.

Saunders previously worked with Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor with the Washington Redskins and hopes to jump-start an offense that is one of the league’s least productive this season. He will work with Phil McGeoghan in the wide receivers room.

Campbell explained the move thusly:

“Bill and I talked, and this pass game is Al Saunders’, it’s got Al Saunders’ stamp all over it. And that’s where Bill got it from, essentially … that style, from that tree. He obviously brings experience, and he brings a lot of experience. … He understands what this offense, particularly the pass game, is supposed to look like.”

Saunders’ hiring was just part of an offensive shake-up.

Ben Johnson, who has served as Miami’s assistant quarterbacks coach since 2013, takes over for Campbell as tight ends coach. Ken O’Keefe, formerly the wide receivers coach, will serve as senior offensive assistant. Mike Wahle, previously a sports performance assistant, will assist Johnson.

We had one little small section of 7-on-7, which was actually football stuff. Everything else was all about being primates again.

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The Dolphins are also looking to bring in help on defense.

Embattled coordinator Kevin Coyle remains on the job, but former NFL head coaches Jim Schwartz, Mike Smith and Greg Schiano have been discussed, according to NFL Network.

Campbell said that he has not decided whether Coyle will be retained.

“I am in the middle of all of that right now,” he said. “I am still well into that whole process of trying to sort through all of that. And there again, I am trying to turn over every stone I can to this point with the limited amount of time that I have. And that’s it, that’s all I can tell you right now.”

The good news is, Campbell has some time. The Dolphins have their bye this weekend and don’t play again until Oct. 18.

And although there will inevitably be changes to scheme on offense and defense, he hadn’t gotten that far in his planning.

“That whole deal down there was a fundamental practice,” Campbell added. “It was just one-on-one. We had one little small section of 7-on-7, which was actually football stuff. Everything else was all about being primates again. Every one of those guys. Just back to the days where, hey, you line up and you go.”

Miami Herald reporter Adam Beasley Miami Dolphins report from outside the training facility in Davie, Florida. Video by Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald Staff

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