Barry Jackson

Gase excited about Thomas, updates Pouncey and Tannehill status

Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey (51) before the start of the game. The Washington Redskins host the Miami Dolphins at FedExField in Landover, Maryland on Sun., Sept. 13, 2015.
Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey (51) before the start of the game. The Washington Redskins host the Miami Dolphins at FedExField in Landover, Maryland on Sun., Sept. 13, 2015. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

A six-pack of notes from Adam Gase as rookie minicamp begins:

• Anytime Gase has talked about new tight end Julius Thomas this offseason, it’s clear how excited Gase is about the potential of exploiting mismatches.

Gase said in Denver, teams tried to cover Thomas with a linebacker at times.

“Any time you can single a guy up and there’s a matchup problem there, whether it’s a safety or linebacker on him, now you’ve got man-to-man and if he can win, there are some big-time issues,” Gase said. “We had a lot of success doing that and teams quit doing it against us. The next thing you know they’re playing Cover 2 or some kind of quarters and then we start running the ball and then the next thing you know, you’ve got a 1,100-yard back that nobody thinks can run the ball. I think any time you have a tight end that can really cause issues in the passing game, especially down the middle of the field, it benefits the run game and the other players on the field.”

• Mike Pouncey, limited to five games last season because of hip problems, was spotted on crutches recently and Gase said:  "We’re going to bring him along slowly. I know we kind of joked about this in the past about how I’m going to handle him this coming season; but our goal is to make sure that he plays every game plus more. So if that means that he doesn’t practice as much, I have no issues with that. We have four guys who can play guard/center. We did it so much last year, nobody is affected by it. It’s been a smooth transition."

• After picking up Ja’Wuan James’ $9 million option for 2018, the Dolphins are now pushing for more.

“I still think we have a lot of room to where we can help him, and I think there are some things that he can help himself on. There are still big strides for him to make,” Gase said.

“I don’t think we’re even close to where his ceiling is. I don’t even think we’ve even come close to reaching it. I see a guy that’s really coming every day and he does, he has a little bit a different look to him trying to do what we’re asking him to do. It will start in OTAs, and that’s really not the best time to really evaluate our offensive and defensive lines; but once we hit training camp, that’s really what those guys are preparing for; to make sure when they hit that, it’s reactionary. They’re not thinking. They’re doing what they were trained to do. If we can get him better, that’s going to be real beneficial to the entire line.”

• Ryan Tannehill, five months removed from a knee injury, "looks normal to me," Gase said. “He just looks like he did last year. The difference is he’s got a better grasp of the offense at this point compared to last year. He moves around fine. He’s got a good edge that I like to him right now. You can tell that he wasn’t real happy about getting hurt last year. I like the way he’s working right now, and we’ll just keep doing what we’ve been doing. I know he’s really trying to make sure that he’s one of the reasons that we’re taking the next step. He’s really been pushing himself.”

• On draft pick Isaac Asiata, Gase said: "Anytime you can add pieces that increases the toughness of our team, that’s a positive. When you have a bunch of hard-nose never-say-die players, you are always going to want those type of guys."

Asiata spoke today about how happy he is Miami drafted him. “I felt that brotherhood here; you could tell everyone in the building loved their job,” Asiata said of the feeling he had when he took a pre-draft visit here.... “You can relate to [Gase]. Really approachable guy.”

• Gase, asked whether the team’s defense is improved: “I don’t know if we could go much further. We could, but not too much further down. Both sides of the ball, we were just bad. We were bad statistically, however you want to look at it. We had a rough stretch there with five games – or five or six games – where we were just terrible. We had a couple of rough ones versus some good teams. We have a lot of room to improve, which is a good thing for us.”

Second-round pick Raekwon McMillan, the Ohio State linebacker, agreed to terms on a contract, according to a source. Asiata previously agreed to terms.

Quick broadcast note: NFL quarterback Jay Cutler joined Fox today. He will be paired with Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis on Fox’s No. 2 team. John Lynch, Fox’s previous No. 2 analyst, left to become GM of the 49ers.

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