A few Dolphins notes on Memorial Day, with OTAs resuming Tuesday and one of three OTAs this week open to reporters (on Wednesday):
• The development of the Dolphins’ young cornerbacks will be critical this season, and we like what we saw in the first practice open to the media on Thursday.
Xavien Howard was very impressive, knocking away a Ryan Tannehill pass to Jarvis Landry and then making a strong play on a Kenyan Drake run for minimal gain.
We also liked what we saw from Tony Lippett, who had a pick-six (off David Fales) and swatted away a pass to MarQueis Gray.
Lippett, incidentally, told me this spring that starting is important to him. He isn’t going to quietly cede the starting job to Xavien Howard, who is positioned to start opposite Byron Maxwell if he has a strong training camp.’’
And rookie third-rounder Cordrea Tankersley had a pick-six on a Matt Moore pass in seven-on-seven drills.
• The Dolphins are still looking for more consistency from Kenyan Drake, who had a couple of long runs but also dropped what should have been an easy, wide-open catch on a short Matt Moore pass.
• Charles Harris showed a quick first step in individual pass rush drills but jumped offside during team drills.
• My biggest concern? Defensive tackle beyond Ndamukong Suh. We all know about Jordan Phillips’ uneven play, and there’s not a single veteran with much NFL experience behind them beyond journeyman Nick Williams.
There are several serviceable defensive tackles still available, including Dan Williams and Sen’Derrick Marks, but the Dolphins are - for the moment - eager to see what they have in rookies Vincent Taylor and Davon Godchaux before considering whether to add a veteran.
• Agent Drew Rosenhaus said on his weekly WSVN-7 segment that he called the Dolphins about former UM offensive lineman Orlando Franklin, who was released by the Los Angeles Chargers recently, but that the Dolphins told him they are happy with their guard situation.
Pro Football Focus rated Franklin 66th among 72 guards last season. Franklin worked out for the Jacksonville Jaguars last week.
• With Branden Albert gone, right guard Jermon Bushrod was asked how the offensive line is going to be different.
“I think we just have to have a better understanding in what we’re trying to do,” Bushrod said. “We have some different guys, so we’re going to have a new identity this year. We have to find out what that is. We have to tap into it and we have to make the best of it.”
Bushrod expects his second year as a guard to be more comfortable.
“I think it was tough, in the beginning, just learning how to get my body to play that position because I’ve been – since college, you’re looking at somebody who played left tackle for 14 years – and you want me to switch, go to the other side,” he said. “So my muscle memory was different. Sometimes I’d pop out of my right-hand stance and my feet would be staggered like I’m on the left side because that’s just what I was used to doing. But the more reps I took, the more reps I took, I felt better. I could see a drastic change in how I played from the first game, second game, to the end of the season into the playoffs.”
And what about Mike Pouncey’s recovery from hip problems?
“He looks good,” Bushrod said. “He’s very positive right now. Everything’s going … headed in the right direction. He’s doing whatever he has to do to make sure that he can go for us when needed. That’s what we want. I want to see him out there. I know he’s dying to get out there with us right now because that’s just the type of competitor he is. That’s how I am. He has to take the necessary steps for him to make sure that we’re good to go when it’s the time, when it’s really time to go.”
• Jarvis Landry, voted the NFL’s 98th best player in a vote of players last offseason, moved up to 42nd this year, NFL Network announced late Monday night. Ndamukong Suh was 55th, Cameron Wake, 62nd and Jay Ajayi 69th.