Armando Salguero

Miami Dolphins starting CB competition unsettled, but one player seems to be in lead

Miami Dolphins cornerback Tony Lippett feels strong after season ending injury last season

Miami Dolphins cornerback Tony Lippett feels strong after season ending injury last season as he returns to practice.
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Miami Dolphins cornerback Tony Lippett feels strong after season ending injury last season as he returns to practice.

When the Miami Dolphins began their training camp they knew they had one good cornerback in Xavien Howard. Unfortunately for them, the Dolphins also knew they had an unsettled situation at the other outside cornerback spot.

And as we’ve watched Cordrea Tankersley, Tony Lippett and even Torry McTyer getting a chance to compete with the first-team defense during practices, one thing has become increasingly clear: Tankersley has improved of late and seemingly taken a small lead in the competition.

Lippett, who is recovering from a torn Achilles that cost him all of 2017, is still not playing at the level he was in 2016 when he started 13 games and led the team with four interceptions.

McTyer got a shot to work with the first-team defense one day so far and, well, he looked better when he was working against reserves.

Bottom line? The Dolphins are nowhere close to settling their open cornerback job opposite Howard. But ...

Tankersley seems to have a slight edge. He worked mostly with the starters on Wednesday — the first day back from a players’ day off and so the first day of a new work week. On Monday, before the day off, Tankersley put himself in position for an interception that would have come to him had the ball not been caught (and dropped) by a linebacker in front of him.

Lippett, meanwhile, worked mostly with second-teamers Wednesday.

Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase talks about cornerback Tony Lippett's return after a season ending injury last season, August 1, 2018.

“Yes, I mean right now it really doesn’t matter,” Lippett said of the repetitions schedule. “I’m just trying to continue to get right every day, just come out here with a positive mindset no matter where I’m at and just play and just keep getting better. It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be trying or whatever it is. Just come out here and get better every day.”

The thing is Lippett has had a couple of notable difficult moments, particularly on deep passes. He was flagged for a pass interference Wednesday on a deep pass down the right third of the field. Days ago he gave up a long completion to Jakeem Grant and later allowed a red zone touchdown to Grant.

It hasn’t been a disaster for Lippett. But neither has it been good enough.

Miami Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso wears the least amount of clothes possible during practice to battle the extreme heat.

“I think he’s had some days where he’s looking more like he was in 2016,” coach Adam Gase said Wednesday. “I think he’s had some days where he has a tough matchup a lot of the times because it seems like he’s on Jakeem [Grant] quite a bit and that will test you right out of the gate as far as being able to transition and trying to stay with a guy with really good speed.”

Miami Dolphins WR Albert Wilson's former high school, Port Saint Lucie HS, attends training camp to watch him practice at the Miami Dolphins facility in Davie, Florida.

Ultimately the Dolphins will likely pick their starting cornerback based on what happens in the preseason with Tankersley and Lippett. One supposes the team could also decide it wants to bring in a player from free agency such as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie or off the waiver wire, but that doesn’t seem likely.

After Wednesday, however, Tankersley seemed to be slightly ahead.

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero
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