Adam Gase on Thursday became the one zillionth coach to caution not to overstate the importance of who lined up with the starters on the first day of training camp, noting that’s a reflection of where players stood at the end of the offseason program. Still, those decisions provided some insight into the Dolphins’ thinking:
▪ Defensive tackle: Jordan Phillips, Akeem Spence, and Davon Godchaux could end up playing comparable snaps, with end/tackle William Hayes and Vincent Taylor also factoring in as Miami looks to replace departed Ndamukong Suh’s 877 snaps in 2017.
But on the first day of camp, Spence — who started 11 games for Detroit last season — lined up opposite Phillips with the starters, with Godchaux and Taylor the second-team tackles.
▪ Cornerback: Cordrea Tankersley opened with the starters opposite Xavien Howard, but Tony Lippett will be given every opportunity to challenge Tankersley for the starting job. The Dolphins also gave top nickel corner Bobby McCain some snaps at boundary corner during the offseason program.
Lippett said he has no idea how coaches will allocate first-team snaps but that starting is “meaningful” to him. He intercepted a poorly thrown pass by Brock Osweiler on Thursday.
“Those guys are battling,” Gase said. “Tony looks like he’s trending toward what he was when he was healthy. He looked good today.”
Torry McTyer was the other second-team boundary cornerback on Thursday.
▪ Safety: T.J. McDonald opened with the starters, alongside Reshad Jones, but rookie Minkah Fitzpatrick also got some first-team work. Fitzpatrick opened with the second team opposite Jordan Lucas.
▪ Linebacker: Stephone Anthony opened with the starters, alongside Kiko Alonso and middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan. Anthony clearly is getting first crack at the open job created by the release of Lawrence Timmons, who remains unemployed.
Chase Allen, Terence Garvin, and Jerome Baker were the second-team linebackers Thursday. Allen intercepted an Osweiler pass that was bobbled by Jakeem Grant, and Baker made a couple of nice plays.
▪ Defensive end: Robert Quinn remained with the starters, opposite Cam Wake, as was the case during the entire offseason program. Andre Branch and Charles Harris opened with the second team.
▪ Tight ends: Miami opened team drills with MarQueis Gray and A.J. Derby starting in a two-tight end set. But rookies Mike Gesicki and Durham Smythe will be given every opportunity to challenge for the starting job. Gavin Escobar and Thomas Duarte are also competing.
▪ Right guard: As expected, Jesse Davis began the day with the first team, and he’s considered the likely starter. Asked if he’s fine with a sixth-man, jack-of-all-trades role, Ted Larsen said: “I don’t like it” while making clear he “is ready to play wherever” he’s asked — which could be guard or center.
“It’s allegedly a competition,” Larsen said of right guard. “We will wait and see. I can’t control anything I can’t control.”
▪ Running back: Kenyan Drake opened with the starters, and Drake and Frank Gore both looked very good. They will be 1 and 1A, with the order to be determined.
▪ Receivers: DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills lined up with the starters as expected, but regardless of how this shakes out, Albert Wilson and Danny Amendola also will play a lot.
▪ Backup quarterback: David Fales took second-team snaps behind Ryan Tannehill, with Osweiler the third quarterback to take snaps and Bryce Petty the fourth. Osweiler threw the only two interceptions Thursday; none of the backups was great.
Overall, expect some second-teamers to get work with the starters during camp.
“Eventually, we will try to move some things around and get different groups in there,” Gase said. “We’re trying to get guys back in the flow.”
THIS AND THAT
Receiver Leonte Carroo, who has just 10 catches for 98 yards over his first two pro seasons, pronounced himself healthy after June knee surgery and said he feels no added pressure to make the roster, even though he’s likely at best the sixth receiver on a team that can’t be sure it will even keep six.
“I had a nagging injury that was pretty much bothering me since my rookie year,” he said. “And I finally just got it fixed so I feel 100 percent now.”
Where have coaches challenged him to improve?
“Get faster off the ball, in and out of breaks better and become more polished as a receiver and make plays,” he said. “If Kenny or DeVante were to go down, they need to have that confidence in me that I can go in and make just as many plays as they can.”
Of his first two seasons, he said: “It’s been up and down but I feel like as [each] year went on, it got better and better.”
▪ Rookie seventh-round pick Jason Sanders, battling undrafted FAU rookie Greg Joseph for the kicking job, made all seven of his field-goal attempts, including one from 52 yards. Joseph didn’t kick Thursday.