Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, evolving as one of the faces of the franchise, won’t merely tell you that he likes his new offensive weapons.
He will also specifically explain to you why.
Among his early observations on the new skill position pieces on offense:
▪ On Frank Gore: “It really surprised me how hard he hits the hole. When he runs downhill, he puts his foot in the ground and he goes. You see it on tape but to see it in person, you see a crease that’s a foot wide [that you’re] barely able to get a helmet through, and somehow he fits his whole body through there and is off to the next level. That’s been the most fun thing for me to see him find a way to get through a crease where it looks like a human being can’t fit.”
▪ On rookie tight end Mike Gesicki: “Mike is coming on. He has incredible range; that’s one thing that struck me. He’s got a huge catch radius. You put a ball anywhere near him, he has the ability to jump and get it and one way or the other he’s going to get his hands on it. That’s been very impressive so far.”
▪ On tight end Durham Smythe: He sees improvement in his blocking – a strength out of Notre Dame – and “the soundness in his fundamentals. That’s going to be huge for us.
“[Sunday], he had a pass route where he got off the ball where he’s running and in a flash, you don’t think of him as a burner or speed guy but he got off the ball and was moving. And in the quarterback room we noticed, ‘Wow, he’s moving on this [play].’ You kind of think of him maybe as more of a blocker but he still has the speed and athleticism to help us in the passing game.”
▪ On rookie running back Kalen Ballage: “Kalen has been good. Big, strong, physical guy, runs really hard. We’re moving him around a lot. It’s hard on him now because we’re moving him out in the pass game. We have him in backfield protection, the run game, so there’s a lot on his plate right now. But he’s doing a good job learning and applying.”
▪ On new receivers Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson:
“Albert has picked up the offense really quickly, as well as Danny. Both have surprised me how well they got on board with exactly what we’re trying to do. Not perfect but no one is. The fact they jumped in and haven’t missed a beat is huge for us. You see the kind of weapons we have in the first and second units right now.
“Danny understands zones and how to get himself open and does a great job of finding windows and finding space. He’s going to help us a lot this year. Having a veteran guy who has played a lot of football, played in championships, the experience being able to lead that room is big.”
Tannehill wasn’t asked specifically about Wilson, but coach Adam Gase made news Monday by saying that Wilson – who played primarily slot receiver in Kansas City last year –“is not a slot. He’s an outside guy. Nobody understands. He’s not an inside guy.” Wilson said he has been playing slot and outside in practice.
▪ On impressive rookie receiver Isaiah Ford, Tannehill said: “He was coming off a [knee injury too] so he was the one guy I could throw to during the rehab process and be within the rules. We had a lot of time together and it’s showing. He’s a talented guy, able to make plays on the ball and he’s done a good job so far in camp of showing that.”
Tannehill, who turned 30 last Friday, has been pretty accurate through five days of training camp, throwing only one interception, and showing no ill effects of last August’s major knee surgery.
“I feel great,” he said. “I was telling somebody the other day I feel like I’m 25; 30 just feels old. I’m not really sore. I was pleasantly surprised day 2, I was expecting a little arm soreness [and there wasn’t].”
Though he’s wearing a protective knee brace, Tannehill’s mobility in the pocket appears as good as it was before the knee injuries.
“I don’t see any limitations at all,” quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree said. “He’s in and out of the huddle. He’s getting guys on the same page, operating fast, seeing things quicker. It’s been fun to watch and fun to coach.”