Receiver DeVante Parker returned to practice Tuesday. The Dolphins offense finally worked on Tuesday.
There might just be a correlation between the two.
For the first time in days, Miami’s offense brought the fight to its defense, and Parker — healthy after a week lost to a hamstring injury — landed a few haymakers.
Most notably: a comeback route for a first down during Miami’s successful two-minute drill late in practice.
“Man, it's nice to have you back,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill told Parker as the wideout returned to the huddle.
“It was a long wait,” he said. “Everybody wanted to make sure that I was 100 percent when I came back. I didn’t want to come right in and just rush anything. I had to be patient with it.”
Parker added: “I felt good today. Limited reps but those reps were good.”
Parker, Miami’s first-round pick from a year ago, looked as good as he felt. His stride was fluid. He insists he’s up to speed on the offense.
And if he had to play in Friday’s preseason opener, he probably could. But Adam Gase, the Dolphins’ first-year coach, may err on the side of caution.
“We’re not going to have him practicing two days and then you don’t see him for two weeks,” Gase said of the team’s plan for Parker.
Now, it would be way too optimistic to think the Dolphins’ offensive woes are all fixed now that their downfield threat is back. But the offensive line still sprung leaks Tuesday, and the starters’ late touchdown drive came against the backups.
But, at the very least, Tuesday gave the Dolphins (and their fans) reason to feel good after a rough weekend. Saturday’s scrimmage was the offense’s first real test, and “we failed it miserably,” Gase said. The Dolphins’ offense managed just one first down on eight drives and didn’t cross midfield once.
“We got dominated up front,” Tannehill said. He didn’t take the domination lightly.
Tannehill got on his teammates in the days since, making it clear to the offense that “it wasn’t acceptable, how we came out in practice.”
Tannehill’s assertiveness is a great sign for a team with a leadership vacuum in recent years.
“I think Adam's completely enabled me, and I feel like I have the credibility now to pretty much demand excellence out of these guys, so that's what I'm trying to do,” Tannehill said.
Gase added: “I felt like he came out with a purpose and was very aggressive as far as he was chirping a little bit out there especially amongst our guys. I think he was more focused on our group just really preaching what we’ve been talking about like sticking with our process, positive plays, getting completions.”
It’s well established that Gase and Tannehill are a package deal this season. They’ll rise or fall together.
And the former intends to protect the latter -- both from external criticism and the vicious hits Tannehill has taken in his first four seasons.
Two years ago, Tannehill was one of the NFL’s better running quarterbacks. But through two weeks of training camp, the read-option hasn’t been part of the playbook. And Gase doesn’t seem all that keen on moving the pocket either.
Some of that is due to personal preference. And some is out of self-preservation.
“Against our defense, every time we run a naked, I love watching Mario Williams run past his face and tell me he just killed him,” Gase said with a chuckle. “It’s a great feeling.”
The best feeling would be Tannehill, operating from the pocket, connecting with Parker deep downfield. That’s the way everyone in Davie has it planned.
“He stretches the field for us when you put him on one side, Kenny [Stills] on the other side, Jarvis [Landry] in the middle,” Tannehill said of Parker. “We have three really dynamic playmakers.”