There have been plenty of receivers who flashed during summer practices, then slid into obscurity, from Roberto Wallace to Drew Morgan (still on the team) to Legedu Naanee.
But there might be something different about Isaiah Ford, who ranks at or near the top of Miami’s most pleasant surprises over the past three months.
The Dolphins’ seventh-round pick in 2017, who missed all of last season because of a preseason knee injury, made an acrobatic catch in the end zone during Sunday’s practice, one of a bunch of impressive receptions he’s made since the start of practices in May.
And receivers coach Ben Johnson admitted Sunday that the Dolphins “were shocked he was still there in the seventh round. We felt like we were getting a steal when we got him in the first place. We liked him better than the seventh round.”
Ford, 6-2, has been making a strong case for the Dolphins to keep him as a sixth receiver, with Leonte Carroo among others competing. Miami opened last season with five receivers on the roster.
Ford fell in the draft partly because of his 4.61 40-yard-dash time at the NFL combine.
But “his 40 time he ran in college is not indicative of how good an athlete he is,” Johnson said. “He can jump out of the roof. I know [assistant head coach/offense and former receivers coach] Shawn Jefferson and I joke all the time: He probably could play in the NBA. You get him on the basketball court with the rest of the receivers, he’s the best one. He’s an incredibly talented player.”
Since injuring a shoulder after a deep-ball catch on Friday, Ford has been wearing a red jersey in practice, an indication to the defense that he shouldn’t be roughed up. But Ford’s good work the past two days has been primarily the byproduct of good hands and skilled route running.
Ford caught 210 passes for 2967 yards, a 14.1 average, and 24 touchdowns in three years at Virginia Tech, then announced before the NFL Combine that he was the best route-runner in the 2017 draft, before going in the seventh round.
“He had faced a lot of adversity coming out of college.,” Johnson said. “Being injured last year was part of that. When he faced this, it’s not woe is me; he just puts his head down and starts grinding harder than the rest. It’s been fun to watch him work. He’s incredibly smart.
“I was in the quarterback room early in my career, and he would be fine surviving in that room with everything a quarterback has to handle. He is that intelligent. He knows every position. He’s extremely versatile. We just need to see him in games at this point and also contribute on special teams. He’s headed in the right direction.”
THIS AND THAT
Ryan Tannehill threw his first interception of training camp, to Reshad Jones, on a poorly thrown ball to Danny Amendola. David Fales also threw a pick, to linebacker Terence Garvin.
Through four practices, Brock Osweiler has three interceptions in team drills, Fales two and Tannehill and Bryce Petty one apiece.
Tannehill and Fales did good work other than the single interceptions. Tannehill threw several touchdowns in red zone drills. Fales a great throw to Albert Wilson – in traffic –for a touchdown.
▪ Three players missed practice Sunday: center Jake Brendel (calf), tight end A.J. Derby (foot) and defensive tackle Gabe Wright (foot). Tight ends coach Shane Day was non-committal about how long Derby would be sidelined; Derby ran with the starters in the first three days of camp.
▪ With Derby out, second-round pick Mike Gesicki received a lot of first team snaps, with MarQueis Gray. Gesicki caught two touchdown passes, including one in red zone drills, but whiffed on one blitz pickup.
▪ Cordrea Tankersley began the day as the starting cornerback opposite Xavien Howard. Tankersley, Tony Lippett and Torry McTyer continue to battle for that role.
“They’re getting well deserved reps,” Tankersley said of Lippett and McTyer, adding he had no expectation of being gifted the starting job. “I’ve been very consistent.”
▪ Rookie Jason Sanders made four of seven field goals – including one conversion from 51 yards but three misses between 30 and 40 yards.
▪ Former UM quarterback and Carolina Panthers quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey, now FIU’s assistant athletic director, was among guests at practice Sunday.
Here’s a look at what changed in the Dolphins’ tight end competition on Sunday and where rookie Mike Gesicki stands.