Barry Jackson

Dolphins pushing offensive tackles for more; Coaches address personnel issues

A bunch of Dolphins notes from Tuesday’s briefing with several coaches:

• On paper, the strength of the Dolphins’ offensive line should be their center and their tackles. Mike Pouncey, Laremy Tunsil and Ja’Wuan James are the three first-round picks on that line and the players with the highest ceiling.

But the Dolphins implied Tuesday that the play of their tackles - Tunsil and James - isn’t at the level of consistency that they want.

Asked if Tunsil and James are playing close to the level the Dolphins expect, offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said:

“I think at times they are,” he said. “At times, they are special. At times, the right tackle [James] is as good in the run game as any right tackle in the league. We keep working on getting the consistency. It’s a hard position to be consistent. Tunsil will have the biggest challenge of his young career this week [versus Terrell Suggs]. It’s a tough position and harder to be consistent at. Their good play has been good enough; we’ve got to get it consistent where we know what we’re getting day in and day out.”

Tunsil’s status for Thursday is in question because of a knee injury.

Christensen has said Pouncey has been Miami’s best blocker this season. Who’s second best? Christensen said “Jermon Bushrod has played extremely well, good solid steady football. I would stop short of saying second.”

• Gase, on releasing Byron Maxwell: “He did a good job last year. He battled, played well for us at the end of the season, the last 10 or so games we played. We had a lot of young guys and had to shake for a roster spot, for now and the down the road. I don’t think anything went wrong. We have a lot of good players, a lot of guys we like.”

Gase said he’s happy what he has at cornerback, with Cordrea Tankersley, Xavien Howard, Bobby McCain, Alterraun Verner, Walt Aikens and Torry McTyer: “I like that group. You can throw in the safeties, too. One guy [safety T.J. McDonald] that’s coming back soon. It’s a pretty talented group, pretty physical group. Those two young guys have really helped our run game. They are physical and they hit hard. It’s rare to have two guys that tackle as well as those two guys do.”

• And why did Gase want David Fales as his backup quarterback for now instead of promote Brandon Doughty?

"We’re looking at how long this is going to be,” Gase said of Jay Cutler’s injury that will require Matt Moore to start. “We felt this is best decision for the organization.”

Gase said Fales’ “recall is really good. He’s the kind of guy you throw in there and it looks bad and you figure out a way to make the play."

• Gase appears to have settled on a formula he likes at tight end the past three weeks - Anthony Fasano and Julius Thomas playing similar snaps (Fasano played more two of the past three weeks) and MarQueis Gray some.

“That has been a conversation,” Gase said.

Thomas played the vast majority of snaps during Miami’s 1-2 start and “that was something that hurt us in Denver,” Gase said of his and Thomas’ time with the Broncos. “Hewas playing close to 75 plays a game. It wears on you a little bit. We really like all three guys and want them to play. We think they can contribute in different factors in the offense; we like to rotate those guys in. It gives us good and bad tendencies to use to your advantange. They all have three different skill sets. With all three out there, it’s easy to call plays.”

• Cordrea Tankersley was clearly to blame on the Jets’ first touchdown pass. But was the second TD pass Tankersley’s fault or was he supposed to get safety help (from Reshad Jones)?

“Both,” defensive coordinator Matt Burke said. “It was a miscommunication. We should have had better pre snaps communication which would have provided better help for him. He was expecting help and didn’t get it but that was partly his fault that it wasn’t communicated before the snap. I felt he slowed down a little bit because he expected the help.”

So what does Tankersley do well now and where must be improve?

“I told Tank when he got here, he can run,” Burke said. “He’s a fast kid. I said you always have that in your back pocket. He’s a physical player at the line of scrimmage. His growth has to come from route recognition, formation tips. That’s where his development has to come along.”

• Why did screens give the Dolphins so many problems against the Jets?

“First play of the game, we were lined up wrong,” Burke said. “Defending screens is about recognition... Two of the screens we gave up we were lined up wrong which I am obviously not happy about. We missed seven tackles on one play. We should never give up a third and 19 conversion.”

• If Andre Branch cannot play Thursday because of a groin injury, Burke said he believes Charles Harris is good enough against the run now to play substantial snaps in base defense.

• Christensen, who cracked last week that Miami hoped DeVante Parker could be like Lazarus and play last Sunday with his ankle injury: “He hasn’t risen quite yet. We felt some tremors. We’re still looking anxiously. This is a hard week because it’s a short week. We do very little full speed. It is getting better. How far can he get on a short week and without the practice sessions - it will be a game time decision.”

• Burke said linebacker Rey Maualuga has been “great” in his four games.

• The NFL has quietly closed its investigation into a spring incident involving Jarvis Landry and the mother of his child, meaning there will be no suspension. The woman said Landry was not at fault. The district attorney also has closed the case.

Here’s my post on Maxwell and Fales, with the financial upshot of releasing Maxwell.