Dolphins owner Steve Ross attended the opening session of the team’s three-day minicamp on Tuesday, clad in dress clothes despite the searing heat. And the Dolphins’ first-round draft choice revealed afterward that Ross has unintentionally given him extra motivation.
In the wake of the Dolphins selecting Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick 11th overall in the first round of April’s draft, the Boston Globe reported that Ross "stepped in and implored his team to trade back” before making that pick. The Miami Herald subsequently confirmed that.
Fitzpatrick said Tuesday he’s aware of that report.
“I heard about it,” he said. “He’s a businessman so he’s going to look at the business side of anything. It’s extra motivation to prove I’m worth the pick, that I belong here.”
Fitzpatrick said as of Tuesday afternoon, he hadn’t had a single conversation with Ross.
Fitzpatrick confirmed he has had two interceptions and multiple pass breakups through seven practices.
“Minkah has gotten his hands on a lot of balls,” coach Adam Gase said. “Seems to be all over the place. It’s been great seeing him progress since the first day. Anytime [Alabama coach Nick] Saban has the amount of praise he had for him, you don’t hear that a lot.”
Fitzpatrick said the Dolphins are using him at three positions - strong safety, free safety and nickel back – and he doesn’t have a preference. Though coaches have spoken of the possibility of playing Reshad Jones, T.J. McDonald and Fitzpatrick together, Fitzpatrick said none of those three safety lineups have been used in practice.
Cornerback Tony Lippett said he’s “really close” to 100 percent off last August’s Achilles injury and has sat out only one of the team’s seven practices over the past 15 days.
Lippett, who tore his Achilles while jumping for a ball in a training camp practice 10 months ago, said he has sought advice from teammate Cam Wake and former teammate Brent Grimes about coming back from that injury.
He said Grimes told him “long speed is the last thing to come around.”
Gase said he’s “not worried” if Lippett gets beaten by a receiver during a June practice.
“I want him to get the kinks out," Gase said. "We need him to stress himself as much as possible so when we get to camp he feels as right as he possibly can.”
Lippett, who had four interceptions in 2016, said: “I’m definitely on track to be the same player I was.” He still has some soreness in the Achilles at times.
▪ Defensive back Jordan Lucas is a boot with a leg injury and is “day to day,” Gase said. Receiver Leonte Carroo, off recent knee surgery, won’t return for June practices but will be ready long before training camp in late July, Gase said.
Mobility was one of Ryan Tannehill’s greatest assets before his two knee injuries in the past 18 months. And Tannehill said that should remain the case now.
“I feel like I am moving well, able to escape, able to get upfield when the window is there,” he said. “It’s still going to be a weapon for me. When defenses present an open spot, we have to take advantage of it with my legs.”
Tannehill, in his first five seasons, rushed for 1065 yards on 216 carries, a 4.9 average.
▪ David Fales, competing with Brock Osweiler and Bryce Petty for the backup quarterback job, connected with tight end Thomas Duarte on a catch-and-run for a 65 yard touchdown during Tuesday’s practice.
“Fales keeps getting better, making a lot of plays in practice,” Gase said. “He’s doing a good job of finding the open guy.”
Fales’ problem, in the past, has been “over thinking,” Gase said. “He can process a lot in his brain. Sometimes he'll take a couple of extra steps those guys aren’t ready for.”
▪ Tannehill said his wife is expecting a girl in October. Tannehill’s other child is a boy. “Got a change of hormones in the household,” he said. “I’m really excited.”
▪ Tannehill said rookie tight end Mike Gesicki “has flashed a couple times – last week, he made a great one handed catch down the sideline on a deep ball.”
▪ Even privately, teammates rave about Tannehill’s leadership, how he texts players with encouragement. And he’s willing now to come down hard on them if needed.
“Sometimes I might be a little short-tempered expecting guys to do what they’re supposed to do,” he said. “I hold guys accountable. That’s how we’re going to win here, holding guys accountable, myself included.... When [players] make a mistake [a second time], that’s when I have a problem.”