Barry Jackson

Gase sees difference in run defense; Dolphins personnel notes

Miami Dolphins DE Charles Harris (90), during OTAs at the Miami Dolphins training facility in Davie, Florida, May 31, 2017.
Miami Dolphins DE Charles Harris (90), during OTAs at the Miami Dolphins training facility in Davie, Florida, May 31, 2017. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

A bunch of Dolphins notes after Day 6 of training camp on Wednesday:

• It’s too soon to know if the Dolphins’ run defense, which tied for last in the league in yards allowed per carry (4.8), is appreciably better. But early signs in training camp are encouraging.

A bunch of runs have been stopped for short gains, no gains or losses. And though there have been some big runs, there’s a clear difference from a year ago.

“I’ve noticed a difference with the d-line,” coach Adam Gase said. “They’re so sound right now. They are closing things down in the running game very quickly. It’s been very difficult running the football, especially in the edge.”

New defensive end William Hayes has helped in that regard. And the defensive tackle play, a concern, has been pretty stout. Vincent Taylor, the rookie sixth-rounder, made a couple of impressive stops in the running game Wednesday, albeit against other backups.

“They are hammering it good – those second, third groups,” Gase said, noting that some runs are still gaining good yards. It’s all about consistency.”

The unanswered question, of course, is whether the strong play of the run defense is partly a reflection of poor offensive line play, with the Dolphins continuing to hold center Mike Pouncey out of team drills.

“We learned a lot what we needed to improve on schematically,” Gase said of his defense. “There are times everyone was on the same page [last season] and sometimes we would be way off and gashed in the running game and passing game. We added some guys with veteran presence.”

• Gase likes what he has seen from second-year running back Kenyan Drake.

Last season “Kenyan had a lot on his plate,” Gase said. “It was probably too much sometimes. Now he’s more comfortable seeing how far we can take him. Speed obviously is something you notice right away. It looks like the defense might have him and he pulls away and that’s hard to do in the NFL. You notice it in the route running too. He’s done a good job, he’s trying to be as detailed as possible. He’s more comfortable with the terminology.”

• Though Jakeem Grant dropped what should have been an easy catch Wednesday, Gase has reiterated that there has been growth as a receiver.

“By putting Jakeem outside, he’s caught a lot more balls and been more involved in the offense,” Gase said.

Said Matt Moore: “Credit him. He's worked really hard. He's done a really good job. He understands the offense so much more than he did last year. He's been a guy you kind of grown to love. You know he's going to be where he's supposed to be. He's going to make things happen with the ball in his hands.”

• Gase said he had no update on seventh-round rookie receiver Isaiah Ford, who remains out with a knee injury. [UPDATE: According to a league source, Ford had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Wednesday and the timetable for his return is undetermined. Going on season-ending injured reserve is a possibility.]

Who among the six undrafted young receivers has most impressed?

“I think Drew Morgan has done a really nice job coming in, picking up the offense, understanding what he's trying to do,” Moore said. “I think Malcolm Lewis has done a good job. They're all working. Those two guys have really stood out to me.”

• Here’s one under-the-radar player who has caught the eye of veterans: undrafted UNLV cornerback Torry McTyer.

“He’s made a lot of plays,” Moore said. “We had to ask early in camp, who's number five? We know who he is now because he's been around the ball, kind of likes to dish it out a little bit. That's what you want in a defensive back. So he's done a really nice job.”

FYI: Moore said rookie Cordrea Tankersley is “physical, competitive, competent.”

• Walt Aikens continues to work exclusively at cornerback, but he said he has been told he also needs to stay ready at safety if needed.

“We’re trying to find the right spot for him,” Gase said. “He did the safety thing last year. He’s an emergency corner as well. We all know what he can do on special teams. Corner gives him best chance to do that. He’s working every day to perfect that craft. He’s done a good job. Walt is a team first guy.”

Aikens played cornerback for three years at Liberty but has been a safety in his three years in the pros.

• Some practice notes: Sinorise Perry dropped an easy touchdown… Tannehill had TD throws to Kenny Stills and Jarvis Landry in red zone work… Nate Allen had a nice breakup of a Tannehill pass to Julius Thomas in the end zone… Matt Moore threw a TD to MarQuies Gray, beating Michael Thomas…

• Neville Hewitt intercepted Brandon Doughty… Storm Johnson turned the corner for a nice TD run… New receiver Jordan Westerkamp had a TD catch near the goal line.. Moore made a nifty 30-yard throw to Leonte Carroo, beating Alterraun Verner….

• Running back De’veon Smith fumbled after Mike Hull blasted him; Jordan Lucas picked it and would have returned it for a TD if the play continued… Andre Branch had a sack; he’s been active all camp… Anthony Steen got some first-team work at left guard, where Ted Larsen remains with the first team primarily.

Here’s my Wednesday post with some UM football notes.

 
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