A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Thursday:
▪ Frank Gore never knew exactly when he would end up with the Dolphins. But he knew it would happen at some point before his career ended.
Gore shared a story this offseason:
“I remember when Bobby McCain, when he was in his rookie or second year, we trained together over the summer,” Gore said. “I told him before the end, I’m going to be in the locker room with you. I remember when I signed, he said ‘Boy, you were right.’ I’m happy to be here. Now I just want to show everybody that I still can play.”
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Gore, who attended Coral Gables High and UM, is the NFL’s only running back who has rushed for at least 900 yards each of the past three seasons.
At 35, “I still feel good,” he said. “I think about it sometimes. I think about how blessed I am to still be playing a game that I love since I was a kid. I always hear it every year: ‘When you turn this age, you can’t do it anymore.’ Especially with what it took me to get here, to play in this league, with the injuries that I had, and still to be blessed to play this game and have pretty good years, I think that’s a blessing.”
He believes he will be helped this year by playing home games on grass, after playing on turf in Indianapolis.
"Turf is tough on your body and it’ll have you swollen," he said. "Playing on turf, I wouldn’t get my body back until that Friday. But when I’m playing on grass, I’m good after the game. I’m happy that I’m on grass.”
Fans, he said, are “happy that I’m home. Coming from Coral Gables and going to the University of Miami, it’s been good. Now I’ve got to make sure that I’m ready for the season and do some good things for the team.”
▪ Couple of encouraging stats from Pro Football Focus reflecting how two of the Dolphins’ key young players fared late last season:
Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips ranked in the top 12 for pass-rush grade among all interior defenders from Weeks 11-17, producing 16 total pressures and three batted passes.
Whereas cornerback Xavien Howard allowed a passer rating of 96.0 when targeted in Weeks 1-9, he permitted just a 39.2 rating from Weeks 10-17 last season.
▪ Defensive tackle Akeem Spence, who played for new Dolphins defensive line coach Kris Kocurek in Detroit last season, said this is precisely what Dolphins fans can expect in terms of the team’s new philosophy with defensive linemen under Kocurek:
“When you turn on the film, it speaks for itself,” he said. “The defensive tackles next to the ends should be the first two guys off the ball, attacking the guards shoulders, knocking them back and creating penetration so that way your linebackers can play downhill. Everybody can be downhill. You’ve got your ends setting hard edges attacking the tackles at the tip of their pads, setting edges."
"That way our defense is one-gap sound, playing downhill. The defensive tackles are playing in the backfield and that should show on the film, guys getting knocked back. If not, then we’re playing read 3-4 and Kris is probably somewhere throwing his hat off screaming all types of obscenities.
The Dolphins appreciate Spence’s leadership.
“Like I tell the guys, if there is anything you want to know about me or Kris, just ask,” Spence said. “I’m here to help the guys progress. They’ve never played for Coach Kris. Sometimes Kris gets to hollering and they don’t know what he’s talking about, so I can pull them to the side (and say), ‘Hey, this is what he means.’ (I’m) just trying to get the group better. Yes, I am the veteran in the d-line room. So these guys, they do look to me like (Davon) Godchaux, J. Phillips, Gabe (Wright) and those guys.”
Who has most made an impression on Spence since he signed here?
“Our secondary,” he said. “You look at it, you’ve got Xavien Howard, you’ve got Reshad (Jones) in the back. It’s a really talented group. And then our linebacking core with young Raekwon (McMillan) and Kiko (Alonso) and those guys, they’re impressive. How fast they play, their anticipating, picking balls off. It’s a really great group to play with so far. They made an impression on me so far.”
▪ Here's what ESPN and Pro Football Focus identify as the Dolphins' biggest strength and biggest weakness this season:
"Biggest strength: The ageless Cameron Wake ranked second among 4-3 defensive ends last season with a 13.5 pass-rushing productivity rating. Wake once again had more than 60 total pressure in 2017, something he has done every season of this decade except for an injury-shortened 2015.
"Biggest weakness: The Dolphins have their fair share of question marks, but their most glaring weakness comes at right guard, a spot currently occupied by Jesse Davis, an undrafted free agent out of Idaho in 2015 who made his professional debut last year, starting the final 10 games at various spots on Miami's offensive line. Davis ranked 63rd among guards last year with a 40.2 grade. Behind him on the depth chart is Ted Larsen, who has finished five of his seven seasons with a grade south of 50.0, including last season's 39.4."
▪ Among Dolphins’ 2019 free agents, an extension with Cam Wake remains a possibility, but Miami would like to see more of Phillips and Ja’Wuan James before committing big dollars longterm.
▪ If Games 1 or 2 of the World Series is rained out, the Dolphins’ Thursday night game at Houston on Oct. 25 likely would be moved from Fox and NFL Network to merely NFL Network. That’s because Fox and MLB would need a makeup date for that World Series game and that Thursday would be the only date available.
Here's my piece from Wednesday night on players that the Dolphins have contacted who are eligible for the July 11 supplemental draft.
Here's my linebacker-focused Thursday piece with UM officials' views of every defensive player on the roster.