Armando Salguero

Reams of notes, quotes, anecdotes from Miami Dolphins’ week of preparation

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jakeem Grant clears from concussion protocol

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jakeem Grant said he is a step faster player in the team after practice at their training facility in Davie on Thursday, September 6, 2018, in preparation for their home opener game against the Titans on Sunday.
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Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jakeem Grant said he is a step faster player in the team after practice at their training facility in Davie on Thursday, September 6, 2018, in preparation for their home opener game against the Titans on Sunday.

The Miami Dolphins practiced indoors on Thursday. That seems strange because they open the regular season at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday. And it will be about 1,083,294 degrees on the field with 4,395,287 percent humidity.

In other words it will be hot.

And the Dolphins practice bubble is about a comfortable 70 degrees so that’s not a way to get used to the game conditions.

So why are the Dolphins working inside when this year they asked the NFL to schedule early-season games at home at 1 p.m., when it’s hottest, so they could take advantage of their hot weather advantage?

Well, obviously the team spent much of training camp working outside. If these players are not acclimated to the heat and humidity by now, it wasn’t going to suddenly happen Thursday.

Secondly, I’m told the team has done a study and the thinking is it can take advantage of practicing and playing in the heat. But coach Adam Gase also wants his team to remain fresh late in the year.

So he’s not going to burn them out practicing four days in the heat in September only to see them wilt in December games. The Dolphins are striking a balance.

But, yeah, they will have an advantage over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. Titans coach Mike Vrabel seems to understand that.

“We went to Houston and actually practiced in Houston for four weeks. So we’re used to the humidity,” Vrabel told Miami reporters this week. “A lot of people don’t know that. We traveled down there for training camp and were in Houston outside. So we should be ready to go.”

Except, that’s not actually true.

“I’m joking,” Vrabel admitted. “Guys, I’m joking. You can’t replicate that humidity. We understand there’s humidity down there. What we try to do is get ourselves in as best a condition as we possibly can to start the rigors of a regular season, especially on the road in Miami. We try to concentrate on our conditioning.”

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Dolphins fourth-string quarterback Luke Falk, who will not be active for Sunday’s game, has not been seen in the locker room during the period open to the media so far this week because he’s been busy learning the offense.

But excuse me if I think at least some of his spare time has been spent giving his new team and teammates clues about what the Titans are doing on offense because, well, he spent the past five months with the Titans until they cut him earlier this week.

“I haven’t picked his brain too much yet so far,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. “We’ll have him in the room and have those conversations.”

Gase has said there is little value in signing a player who is coming from a team the Dolphins are about to play. He said the value decreases even more when the player is a rookie.

Miami Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill says the speed and versatility of his receivers will be hard to defend.

But the Titans are aware the Dolphins plucked their guy. And they’re are taking measures to keep it from turning into a competitive disadvantage.

“Well, the one thing I did, I’m glad I listened to [offensive coordinator] Matt LaFleur...He was adamant about not putting everything in,” Vrabel said. “And I said, ‘I don’t know what the difference is.’ He wanted to wait until the final cutdown.

“He had apparently been burned in the past with the same situation. And so I said, ‘I’ll defer to you on this one.’ And as it turned out, something did happen. And so there’ll be some things that will probably change and there’ll be some things we’ll have done game plan wise [different form what] we were doing in the preseason.”

Look, at the very least, the Falk addition in Miami has forced the Titans to spend time changing some things. And I’m not absolutely certain I believe Falk hasn’t been able to help his new team with some information.

He’s a smart player who audibled in college. He was so impressive in the way he picked things up, it impressed the Miami personnel department.

That’s the reason he was one of the three college quarterbacks the team brought in for 30 prospects visits before the draft.

Those quarterbacks were Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen and Falk.

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Kenny Stills is a thoughtful individual aside from being a good NFL wide receiver. He was discussing the new Colin Kaepernick shoe contract when he made reference to his spot on the team.

Miami Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills encouraged by Nike's new endorsement deal with his friend and fellow activist Colin Kaepernick, and wishes the NFL would show similar support for their cause after practice in Davie on Thursday, Sep. 6, 2018.

Stills was one of the original four Dolphins who kneeled during the national anthem in the 2016 season-opener in protest of police brutality against black people. The three other kneelers -- Arian Foster, Michael Thomas, and Jelani Jenkins -- are no longer on the Dolphins.

“I’m the last one standing,” Stills said.

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Frank Gore was among the players who did not practice on Thursday. But he’s not injured.

Gore was given a rest day by coaches and that is the way it’s going to be the entire season the Dolphins play Sunday games.

Why?

Because the team installs its run game on Wednesday so Gore’s primary work is done then. The day off keeps him fresh. And Gase wants Gore’s legs fresh throughout the season.

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The Dolphins have $8,915,560 in cap space today. That makes them No. 12 in the NFL in most cap space.

The Cleveland Browns lead the league with $57,486,415 in cap space and the Los Angeles Rams have the least with $115,145.

In the AFC East, the Dolphins trail only the Jets in cap space. New York has $15,451,473 in cap space while Buffalo has $8,748,854 and New England has $5,712,202.

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I told you recently that I’m not really thrilled with the idea of the Dolphins run defense combining smallish (although admittedly quicker) defensive lineman playing in front of inexperienced linebackers such as rookie Jerome Baker and second-year player Raekwon McMillan, who missed all of last year because of injury.

To me that is a recipe for linemen getting mauled and blocked and the linebackers not always fitting the gaps on run plays.

But Dolphins defensive coordinator Matt Burke, aware the Tennessee Titans were reliant on the run last season, is not worried.

“They better be in the right place,” Burke said of his linebackers. “Our scheme is designed on attacking and with those guys up front in terms of size, we’re built on power and speed in terms of knocking guys back with explosion as opposed to raw size. Obviously, the bigger you can get and the more explosive you are that’s even better for us.

“So we’re trying to set edges in the run game and knock things back. The complement of the front line and linebackers is if those guys are climbing on our linebackers in the second level, then our front linemen, if they’re getting off the way they’re supposed to, should be able to make plays. And if now [the offense] is concerned about stopping out d-line and the way we’re getting off the ball, then our linebackers better trigger and make plays.

“Obviously, that’s something we’ve been working on in terms of those guys working together. I feel very confident in our ability to play the run this week.”

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