Armando Salguero

How ‘a bloody matchup’ when training camp opens is helping Dolphins now; notes on Pouncey, DeVante, Ajayi, Timmons, LB David Harris

Miami Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore has been impressed with new teammate Lawrence Timmons, who he got acquainted with in the playoffs last season.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore has been impressed with new teammate Lawrence Timmons, who he got acquainted with in the playoffs last season.

It is pouring at Miami Dolphins headquarters in Davie. The team worked inside the Nick Saban Memorial Bubble on Tuesday, and here’s what’s going on:

First-round draft pick Charles Harris says that while watching tape of himself in practice he has noticed his first step, which is otherwise explosive, is “not as efficient as some of the other guys, the vets.”

“It’s something I’ve got to work on,” Harris said.

Hard to imagine it getting better, but he’s trying.

Harris has been getting help from coaches, obviously, but also teammates. His practice reps against starting left tackle Laremy Tunsil caught everyone's eyes awhile back, but Tuesday Harris revealed how this competition is to the benefit of both players, certainly for him.

“The first time I went against him, I got a message from him,” Harris said.

Harris said Tunsil gave him advice on what to do and how to handle a situation to set the edge better.

“Everybody wants to get each other better on both sides of the football,” Harris said.

Offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said that once pads go on in training camp the competition between Harris and Tunsil will be “ a bloody matchup, and it will make them both better.”

I love Clyde.

▪ Backup quarterback Matt Moore and Christensen have unique view of players on offense and defense. They shared their thoughts on Tuesday:

Moore said Ryan Tannehill looks “fantastic” and “looks like nothing happened.”

Tannehill is going to be wearing a brace throughout the season, and Christensen said the team expects him to run and do everything like he has done in the past. That means he’s going to have to learn to slide while wearing that brace — something that Joe Flacco, for example, had trouble with last season following his knee surgery the year before.

Christensen said the work perfecting Tannehill’s slide with the brace will be done in training camp.

Moore said Xavien Howard is “looking pretty good. He’s flying around.”

You want a fantasy football insider alert? Moore and Christensen love tight end Julius Thomas and what he’s likely to bring the Miami offense.

“When he gets going, he really can move on cross routes and down the seams,” Moore said. “It’s no secret he’s going to be a big role in what we’re going to do.”

Said Christensen: “If Julius Thomas is healthy, he has been a 10-touchdown guy. That’s a big number. He can be that. The thing I can tell you about Julius that’s been most impressive to me is what a pro he is. He’s a pro how approaches the game, how he sees things, how he sees himself. He’s a rare pro. He’s been huge in our locker room, huge in our meetings. He’s way beyond what he does on the football field which can be a rare thing if he can stay healthy.

“His presence has been enormous.”

Moore said linebacker Lawrence Timmons has been “flying around” in practice and is “a great addition. He doesn’t say much, but he plays ball.”

Moore said receiver DeVante Parker is “growing the way everyone wanted him to ... DeVante is kind of hitting his stride right now and everybody’s seeing it. He makes the quarterback look good a lot of times.”

Christensen said Parker now “runs fast every day. In the past he’s been up and down. One day you think you had a Hall of Famer and the next day you weren’t sure he was going to make it to the game.”

Christensen also praised Timmons and added that “22 is a great addition,” referring to safety T.J. McDonald.

“Those guys have jumped out at me,” Christensen said.

▪ The Dolphins’ plan for starting center Mike Pouncey, still making his way back from his multiple hip injuries and surgeries, is to not play a lot in the preseason if at all. And he’s not going to practice a lot in the regular season.

It’s all designed to get Pouncey, who hasn’t finished a 16-game season since 2012 to games on regular-season Sundays.

But how do the Dolphins get their starting center ready so he can play in those games given what I’ve just reported is the plan?

“Both those things are probably a given, that it’s going to be minimal,” Christensen said of the plan. “He’s such a pro. Even now in the meetings, he’s got the calls, he hears the calls, he sees the scripts. He’s been really, really good in the meetings.”

So Pouncey will be mentally prepared. But what about the body?

“I do believe you have to be out there some to be game-ready,” Christensen said. “We’ll have to pick our spots and you have to give him some reps, get his conditioning up. We’ll just have to bring him along with short bursts. And we’ll have to be smart with it. Just have him ready for opening day, which is the goal. The good news is the mental part won’t be the challenge with him.”

The challenge is having Pouncey ready to play 60 minutes in the opener.

▪ This and that department....

▪ Second-year linebacker Mike Hull said he’s been getting first-team snaps at middle linebacker. He said three or four guys have also been getting work there but he believes he’s got as much a chance to win the job as anyone.

▪ Jakeem Grant admitted Tuesday that as he struggled catching punts and passes last year he struggled with his confidence. He said he’s putting that behind this year. If he struggles on one play, he said he’s moving on to the next opportunity. Easy to say. Hard to do for people with certain mindsets. Grant said he thinks of himself as a receiver first and then a returner. Me? I think if he makes the Dolphins this fall, it’s going to have to be as a punt returner so he better perform doing that job.

▪ Christensen said Jay Ajayi “may be the most improved guy out there. He’s a different guy from a year ago.” Think about that. Ajayi was the fourth-leading rusher in the NFL last season.

...The New York Jets released linebacker David Harris today after 11 years with the team. The man who drafted Harris to New York? Dolphins executive vice president for football operations Mike Tannenbaum. Just saying.

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

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