Miami Dolphins

Dolphins’ Gase could change how running backs are deployed midseries

Miami Dolphins running back Daniel Thomas during OTAs at the Miami Dolphins' training facility in Davie, Florida, Mon., June 6, 2016.
Miami Dolphins running back Daniel Thomas during OTAs at the Miami Dolphins' training facility in Davie, Florida, Mon., June 6, 2016. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

The Dolphins, under former coach Joe Philbin and interim coach Dan Campbell, often inserted a new running back on third downs. But coach Adam Gase implied Monday that he isn’t keen on midseries situational substitution for backs. And that apparently will result in a change in how Miami’s backs are deployed.

“Any time you’re playing that spot in this offense, you have to be able to do it all. It’s not a one-trick-pony-type of offense,” Gase said. “So we really don’t believe in, ‘Hey, you’re just a first- and second-down back.’ I don’t know what that means.

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“We look for guys that can stay on the field all three downs because we’re not looking to sub personnel. … If we need to switch somebody out because we’re having a long drive, then so be it But really, whoever the guy is that we’re starting with in the series, that’s the guy I want to finish.”

Jay Ajayi is the Dolphins’ likely starter, with rookie Kenyan Drake also expected to make the team, and Damien Williams trying to hold off Daniel Thomas and Isaiah Pead for the No. 3 job.

CORNER BATTLE

Rookie Xavien Howard said he is evenly sharing first-team snaps at left cornerback with Tony Lippett, opposite projected starter Byron Maxwell.

Howard “has showed us that he has great movement skills,” defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said. “He has great lateral quickness. Obviously, being a rookie, he knows nothing about playing the position on this level but talent-wise, he’s what we thought he was going to be.”

Bobby McCain is the front-runner at slot corner, and Jordan Lucas and Tyler Patmon are also playing in the slot.

And what about 5-9 Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, who was cleared for practice two weeks ago but was working on the side Monday?

“We’re taking it slow with him,” Joseph said. “He had a serious, serious [knee] injury [before the January 2015 Rose Bowl for Oregon]. We’re hoping to get him to camp, so we can give him more attention.”

THIS AND THAT

▪ Receiver DeVante Parker has been kept out of the past two practices because of an undisclosed injury. Parker, who has had two foot procedures in past years, was able to do some light jogging Monday.

“When you’re running as much as we are, and something small comes up, we’re probably being a little overprotective,” Gase said. “We need him to feel good once we get into this minicamp [next week] but also to feel good going into the summer so he can train because that’s a lot of time between that minicamp and training camp.”

▪ Joseph said Cam Wake, returning from last October’s ruptured Achilles, “has looked good, looked explosive.”

▪ Receiver Wes Welker, who played for Denver when Gase was offensive coordinator there, visited practice Monday, but the Dolphins do not intend to sign him, Gase said.

“He lives like five minutes away,” Gase said. “I love being around him. That’s a great, great thing for our guys to have a guy that’s probably one of the best slot receivers of all-time being in the building.”

▪ Joseph said Chris McCain was moved from linebacker back to defensive end because “he’s a taller outside pass rusher. It fits better for him to be an end in this scheme than an outside guy.”

▪ Besides Parker and Ekpre-Olomu, also working on the side Monday were linebacker Neville Hewitt, tight end Jake Stoneburner and receiver AJ Cruz. Reshad Jones (protesting his contract), Mario Williams (personal matter) and Thomas Duarte (in school at UCLA) weren’t at practice.

Joseph said Jones’ absence “doesn’t hold us back” in installing a new defense. In accordance with NFL rules, Jones would be fined $76,580 if he skips all three days of next week’s mandatory minicamp, according to Pro Football Talk.

▪ Joseph said he has given no thought to what position Dion Jordan will play if he’s reinstated, with defensive end and linebacker the two options.

Joseph, asked about Ndamukong Suh returning for voluntary workouts the past few weeks: “It means a lot. It’s obviously voluntary. But it’s also voluntary to be good. But if you want to be good on defense — you want to be a good player — you’re here.”

▪ The Dolphins worked out former Colts running back Dan Herron on Monday, according to The National Football Post.

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