Barry Jackson

Another encouraging Tannehill sign; Undrafted WR emerges; Dolphins notes

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill smiles during OTAs practice at the Miami Dolphins training facility in Davie, Florida, May 25, 2017.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill smiles during OTAs practice at the Miami Dolphins training facility in Davie, Florida, May 25, 2017. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Friday:

• What’s most encouraging about Ryan Tannehill is: A) how he improved under Adam Gase and B) how he’s back to 100 percent (in his estimation) after a frightening knee injury.

But to a lesser extent, this is also heartening to the Dolphins: He continues to emerge as a leader, which is vital to the quarterback position.

Tannehill’s ability to be a vocal, in-your-face leader had been a serious question, even a bit of a concern, earlier in his career. It shouldn’t be now.

“Well, even as a rookie, I thought he was very poised and had great leadership qualities,” said new tight end Anthony Fasano, who played with Tannehill his rookie season before leaving and returning to the Dolphins this offseason. “(He’s a) smart, athletic player but that’s just grown. I think he’s vocal. He’s definitely the team leader. Everyone knows it. He commands it in the meeting rooms and in the huddle. I think it’s just the natural progression for him.”

Tannehill arranged informal passing drills with his receivers, running backs and tight ends at Nova Southern University in March, and attendance was nearly perfect.

“Everyone – most everyone – came,” Fasano said. “The willingness to work, encouragement and the quick pace and everyone was on the same page pretty quickly. (From) where I’ve been, that that really doesn’t happen in March, so that was encouraging.”

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill talks to the media about practicing this week with a leg brace after a season-ending injury last year.

• Fasano, 33, has noticed changes since his first stint here (2008-2012).

“I just think that the competitiveness and pretty much the day-to-day atmosphere has really increased – the tempo of practice, the speed, the willingness to work,” Fasano said. “Not that it was lacking in the past, but it’s exceptionally high right now…

“It starts with coach Gase and what he brings and the culture he brings to our meetings every day. It kind of permeates through our team. I wasn’t here last year, but I can see from some of the film I watched early last year to now, a lot has changed for the better.”

Fasano, incidentally, never thought much about the Dolphins before free agency. But once Dion Sims bolted for Chicago, everything came together quickly.

“When Dion went to Chicago, I think it became more of a realistic opportunity,” Fasano said. “But I have always kept a home here. I was going to live here after playing or wherever I ended up anyway. So it was kind of a natural process and made sense for me and my family.”

Fasano was Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 blocking tight end last season.

“I welcome it with open arms. I think that’s part of how I’ve changed as a player. Recently (I’ve) been on teams that have kind of a more pass-dominant tight end and I’ve been the in-between motion, run-blocking guy, and I’ve embraced that. I try to work on that while also not neglecting the pass game and third down and key catches at certain times. So that’s kind of how my game is molded.”

• I was really impressed with undrafted Arkansas receiver Drew Morgan during Thursday’s practice, the third of the offseason and first open to the media. He repeatedly got open and caught at least four passes.

Morgan, 6-0, caught 65 passes for 739 yards last season. He had three touchdown catches last season and 14 in his career and averaged 12.8 per reception in his career. He also returned four punts for 37 yards and three kickoffs for 58 yards in his Arkansas career.

Meanwhile, second-year Dolphin Rashawn Scott, the former UM receiver, made a nice catch contorting his body.

Leonte Carroo is the front-runner for the No. 4 receiver job based on draft pedigree, but it is not absolutely certain that he will make the team. There are several formidable challengers.

• Gase said he planned to use Jakeem Grant on the outside, instead of merely in the slot, at receiver, and we saw some of that Thursday. Grant is still working to polish his route running.

• The chemistry between Tannehill and DeVante Parker was very encouraging Thursday, with Parker catching at least three passes. But the chemistry between Tannehill and new tight end Julius Thomas remains a work in progress, which is to be expected.

• Walt Aikens was on Malcolm Lewis and defended one of those passes well but Lewis caught another on a comeback route.

This is the third in a flurry of posts from me this morning, with at least one more to come. Here’s my post on three interesting power rotation players that the Heat quietly summoned to team headquarters this week. Here’s my post with UM football nuggets, including on the quarterback and receiver battle and a curious tweet from a top UM recruit. And please follow me on Twitter (@flasportsbuzz) for quick links and news.

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