Barry Jackson

Dolphins thought Tunsil would be Hall of Fame-type left tackle — they’re still waiting

Miami Dolphins tackle Laremy Tunsil during training camp. He has had an inconsistent season.
Miami Dolphins tackle Laremy Tunsil during training camp. He has had an inconsistent season. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

Lots of Dolphins notes on a Thursday:

▪ Some Dolphins fans have wondered whether Laremy Tunsil, who has been inconsistent at left tackle, would be better off returning to guard, where he excelled as a rookie last season.

For starters, that’s not going to happen. The Dolphins believed coming into this season that Tunsil can be a Hall of Fame-type left tackle, and tackle is viewed as a more important position than guard.

But a Dolphins coach described Tunsil’s play this season as merely adequate and Miami expects better from the 13th overall pick in the 2016 draft.

Offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said Tunsil “has had back-to-back rookie years” in that he has played different positions each of his two seasons.

“He has been good run blocking — done both adequately, especially last week was really good.”

Tunsil has said he looks up to Dallas left tackle Tyron Smith, and Adam Gase pointed to him as the type of player than Tunsil is striving to play like.

“It’s one thing to play left tackle in the SEC,” Gase said. “Diffferent animal at this level. You watch 77 [Tyron Smith] — he’s dominant. That’s what he wants to strive for, to be that type of player. I know he is striving to be a consistent guy. He tells me all the time don’t worry about my side. He has the confidence to get it done one on one.”

Gase said there are “times he does exactly what you look for in a lineman” but other times he doesn’t.

The Dolphins aren’t happy with his 12 penalties, second most in the league. “There is a frustration level led by him — you can’t [do that],” Christensen said. “It’s been a point of emphasis. He’s disappointed.”

But Christensen suggests nobody should wonder if he’s at the right position: “He’s a left tackle.”

▪ Though DeVante Parker reinjured his ankle again against Buffalo, Gase suggested he would be fine for Sunday’s game in Kansas City.

“At some point in the game, he got rolled up on,” Gase said. “Thought he was going to be all right. Just stiffened back up. Should be all right.”

▪ With Julius Thomas out for the final two games, we could see some of new tight end A.J. Derby behind Anthony Fasano on Sunday.

“He can catch and run and block,” Gase said of Derby, who was claimed off waivers from Denver in November after catching two touchdown passes for the Broncos earlier this season.

Christensen said MarQueis Gray’s snaps will increase as well.

▪ Couple things on Kenyan Drake: Christensen, noting his improved maturity and wanting to get things right, said: “It’s not that painful to be mature. He hasn’t quite arrived yet. He’s having fun with the role. ... He has a physicality to him, takes pride in it. Had a couple slip-ups that were embarrassing to him [with fumbles]. He has a personality where he fixes things. Protection had a couple screw-ups early and he fixed it. He takes pride in it.”

Gase said Drake has a special ability to make a cut in a small area. Has an incredible burst.”

▪ The Dolphins went into the season determined to make a decision on whether defensive tackle Jordan Phillips is worth keeping around. He has done enough to convince them he is. In fact, defensive coordinator Matt Burke said he now considers Phillips to be a reliable player, something coaches wouldn’t necessarily have said in the past.

“Snap count was a little down last week, but he has been really good,” Burke said. “The two weeks before that, he was at his best in a long time. I feel he has been more consistent this year — to the point where I had conversations with him, ‘Hey man — you’ve got to be one of our leaders now.’ He has found his way a little bit. Even last year, he he wasn’t as outgoing as he’s been this year — I am encouraging him to be more of an energy guy — part of that comes with being consistent and being reliable.”

▪ Defensive end Cameron Malveaux and linebacker Stephone Anthony have made a case to have roles in 2017. Burke said both have graded out well since being injected in the lineup — Anthony a month ago, Malveaux two weeks ago. “Both have performed very well for us,” Burke said.

▪ Christensen said the Dolphins don’t want their players — with a defender around them — stretching the ball past the goal line — plays that badly cost Pittsburgh and Oakland in losses last week.

“We try to discourage it; it’s risky,” Christensen said. “In traffic don’t reach the ball out. You have to be careful with the ball.”

Christensen said one defender is enough to qualify as “traffic,” saying “one defender is enough not to do it. Traffic is anytime you are not 100 percent sure you can get it across. We are better off keeping it secure. You can’t take chances with the football.”

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