The battle for the Dolphins’ open cornerback job opposite Xavien Howard appears to have another contestant.
Torry McTyer, the undrafted second-year cornerback out of UNLV, was the surprise starter opposite Howard when team drills began on Saturday, the third day of training camp.
“He’s had a good start to camp,” coach Adam Gase said. “For the way that we’ve operated over the previous training camps and going into this one, I’ve told the defensive staff ‘let’s not wait around. If we feel like a guy is playing well, give him opportunities, especially with the first group.’
“They feel like he’s played well enough to be put into that spot and compete with that first group.”
McTyer is the third different player to open with the starting corners in three days, following Cordrea Tankersley on Thursday and Tony Lippett on Friday. Bobby McCain, the starting slot corner, said Saturday that he also has received some snaps on the boundary.
McTyer overcame odds to make the roster last season and logged 65 defensive snaps as well as special teams duties. He took first team snaps Saturday a day after jumping a route to Jakeem Grant and intercepting a pass from David Fales.
Both McCain and safety T.J. McDonald called McTyer the most impressive cornerback early in camp.
“He’s in great shape,” McDonald said. “He’s competing, making a lot of plays on the ball. He just seemed more comfortable. He’s fast, he’s trusting his speed which is big for a corner. He can play inside and outside. He’s doing a good job.”
McTyer – who worked out with former Dolphins cornerback Jamar Taylor, among others, in Los Angeles this offseason - had three interceptions (including one returned for a touchdown) and 22 passes defended in four years at UNLV but was bypassed in the draft.
Per Pro Football Focus, in McTyer’s final season at UNLV in 2016, he allowed just 48.5% of the passes in his coverage area to be caught and yielded a passer rating of just 61.2.
He said his strength is his speed; he runs a 4.3 in the 40-yard dash.
He said he’s “playing more confidently and faster.” He’s also bigger, now measuring in at 190 pounds after gaining eight pounds this offseason.
Getting snaps late last season ”gave me a lot of confidence, getting some experience at corner and knowing I can play with those guys.”
He said because he wasn’t drafted, “I will always have that chip on my shoulder.”
McTyer isn’t the only undrafted second-year defensive back who has impressed. So has safety Maurice Smith.
“He’s been a guy that’s improved since he’s been here,” Gase said. “His confidence level is extremely high right now. He understands the defense. It’s allowing him to play faster. He’s in unbelievable shape. He’s probably one of our best conditioned athletes that we have in the building. He’s really put himself in position to compete for a spot.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ Only center Jake Brendel (calf) missed practice.
▪ Receiver Isaiah Ford, whose contact was limited because of a sore shoulder sustained after a deep ball on Friday, caught a touchdown pass from Bryce Petty on Saturday and continues to impress.
Leonte Carroo, the other top contender for a No.6 receiver job (if the Dolphins keep that many), also had a good day with several catches, including one in which he left Lippett in the dust with an impressive move in one-on-one drills.
▪ Brock Osweiler threw his third interception in three days and his second to linebacker Chase Allen. That was the only interception Saturday.
▪ Stephone Anthony continues to work with the starting linebackers alongside Kiko Alonso and Raekwon McMillan, but Allen could get a look at some point.
“I think at linebacker, we kind of want to see how it goes with the guys that we have out there right now,” Gase said. But “if [Allen] keeps doing what he’s really done since he got here – which is he keeps getting better, he keeps finding a way to be around the ball, he gets his hands on a lot of balls – you’re going to have to give him a strong look and really get him with that first group to see where he’s at.
“Last year he did a lot of good stuff. It’s so early that I think we’re going to have time to see how that group ends up panning out.”
▪ Ryan Tannehill, who hasn’t thrown an interception in three days of practice, delivered a 40-yard dart to Danny Amendola for a touchdown. Those two have developed strong on-field chemistry this summer.
▪ Dolphins executive vice president/football operations Mike Tannenbaum, special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi and two support staff members represented the team at former Dolphins coach Tony Sparano’s funeral Thursday in Minneapolis. Sparano died Sunday, at 56, as a result of arteriosclerotic heart disease.