Barry Jackson

Grant’s fumbles got in his head; Defensive players impressing; Dolphins notes

Miami Dolphins Jakeem Grant (19) during Dolphins mini-camp at Doctors Hospital Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University on Thurs., June 16, 2016.
Miami Dolphins Jakeem Grant (19) during Dolphins mini-camp at Doctors Hospital Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University on Thurs., June 16, 2016.

A six-pack of Tuesday Dolphins notes after an OTA session that was closed to the media:

▪  Jakeem Grant admitted what became obvious last season: The November/December issues with fielding punts got in his head. He had four fumbles last season on return opportunities.

“At the start of season, I was catching everything,” he said. “All it took was one drop to make me unsure. That’s what created the chain reaction. I felt mentally I let it get to me. When I dropped punts in the game I let it get to me. Mentally, I couldn’t get over that hump. I was thinking so much, I hope I don’t drop it. This year, I’m thinking I’m catching everything.”

Grant is catching at least 75 punts a day said he has had very few drops.

One reason he asked punter Matt Darr to fly to Lubbock, Texas, to work on fielding punts was this: “Down in Lubbock, the wind is crazy,” Grant said. “There could be chance we have crazy wind like that” in a game this season.

Grant said he didn’t pay for Darr’s flight, but “I took him out to show my appreciation.”

Grant played only 19 offensive snaps last season, and offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said the Dolphins want him more involved offensively. What does he need to show to get those chances?

“Being comfortable with the offense and knowing the playbook inside or out,” Grant said. “So you know exactly what you have to do. That’s the great thing. I feel like going into this year, I know the offense really good and I am looking forward to whatever they have planned for me.”

He’s enjoying the chance to play on the outside at receiver instead of merely in the slot. But what if big corners get physical with him on the boundary?

“What God blessed me with is speed and quickness,” Grant said. “A lot of corners don’t match up with smaller, quick twitch receivers on the outside. Not letting them get hands on me and working the release. Using what I’ve been blessed with.”

▪  Even as good as Jay Ajayi was last season, Christensen said he might be the most improved player on the team.

“He has really been impressive,” Christensen said. “How he works, how he practices. He’s a different guy.”

▪  I asked Christensen who has really impressed him on defense. He mentioned linebacker Lawrence Timmons and safety TJ McDonald. Matt Moore immediately mentioned cornerback Xavien Howard.

Timmons “has a presence in there,” Christensen said. “He whacks anything that moves. He has been an adjustment. He has literally turned some heads. [And] those safeties are making more plays. 22 [McDonald] is a huge addition. He has made huge plays, made a pick in the end zone. Those skill guys are faster and making more plays.”

▪  We’ve mentioned how impressive undrafted Arkansas rookie receiver Drew Morgan has been, and Moore says he has a tangible NFL skill.

“He’s your typical inside guy; he has a lot to learn but he understands leverage,” Moore said. “If you have that in this league you can do a lot. He uses his body well. Picked up the offense well.”

▪  Christensen said DeVante Parker’s consistency has improved. “Runs fast every day. How fast he’s played has been really different. Been consistent and been really fast. [And] Kenny Stills is having a great offseason, continues to climb and take his game to a new level.”

▪ Christensen said he expects Isaac Asiata to “be in the mix” in the competition at guard — “he’s still in the learning phase” — and “I think we’re going to end up deep again. Silver lining of Mike Pouncey [not practicing] is it will rotate a lot of guys in there.”

Christensen said Pouncey will need to play some in preseason to be game-ready.

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