Barry Jackson

Dolphins add veteran NFL starter, offer insight on keeping four quarterbacks

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill and coach Adam Gase interact at a practice last week. The Dolphins are keeping four quarterbacks for now.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill and coach Adam Gase interact at a practice last week. The Dolphins are keeping four quarterbacks for now. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

The Dolphins added a veteran NFL starter on Monday, signing center Travis Swanson as interior line depth.

The Dolphins also re-signed offensive tackle Sam Young and released safety Maurice Smith, who played well in preseason.

Swanson appeared in 53 games for Detroit the past four seasons, with 42 starts.

A former third round pick by the Lions out of Arkansas in 2014, Swanson finished last season on injured reserve with a concussion, marking the second consecutive season he was diagnosed with a concussion.

He signed with the Jets in April and was cut last Friday.

Monday’s transactions leave the Dolphins with the maximum-permitted 53 players and with nine offensive linemen: starting tackles Laremy Tunsil and Ja’Wuan James, starting center Daniel Kilgore, starting guards Josh Sitton and Jesse Davis and four backups: Young, interior lineman Ted Larsen, tackle Zach Sterup and Swanson.

Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase talks to the media about his team offense after practice at their training facility in Davie on Sunday, September 2, 2018, in preparation for their home opener game against the Titans on Sunday.

QB TALK

When Hall of Fame general manager Ron Wolf visited with Dolphins executives and Adam Gase this offseason, Wolf made a point about quarterbacks that resonated with them. That message, and many other factors, have led the Dolphins to where they are today, with four quarterbacks on their roster, most of any team.

“This offseason it was interesting; Ron Wolf came in and we were having a lot of discussions about development of players, not only quarterbacks, other positions,” Gase told WQAM’s Joe Rose and Zach Krantz on Monday.

“One of the things he did really well was he drafted quarterbacks every year. That was one of the things he talked about; he can’t believe how many teams are going with two quarterbacks.

“He kept talking about it’s the most important position in football. Why wouldn’t you want to keep developing guys, why wouldn’t you try to get guys on your roster you like, spend time with them, keep bringing them along?

“You never know when it’s going to be the Matt Hasselbecks of the world, where they go in there and have success. They might graduate and go somewhere else. You should always be trying to develop that position.”

Plus, as Gase added: “I’m a quarterback guy. We like having quarterbacks.”

And that’s a big reason why Miami kept both Brock Osweiler and David Fales behind Ryan Tannehill and claimed Luke Falk off waivers.

Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase talks to the media about the roster cuts to 53 players after practice at their training facility in Davie on Sunday, September 2, 2018, in preparation for their home opener game against the Titans on Sunday.

Here’s ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.’s take this past spring on Falk, who was drafted in the sixth round by Tennessee, cut by the Titans on Saturday and claimed by the Dolphins on Sunday: “He’s a cerebral kid, he’s got a professional approach. There’s a lot to work with there. People say well you can’t improve arm strength; yes you can. I think he’s a guy who has good mechanics, he understands the game.

“At 6-4, 215 he has the size. He can manage the pocket. He can make accurate throws. Arm strength is the issue with Luke Falk and he holds the ball too long, Hhe’ll take sacks, he won’t just throw the ball away. I thought third round maybe Luke Falk would come off the board. He had the injury [last] year … didn’t really play to the level expected in some of those games but he played through that injury.”

Kiper noted that Falk “actually looks up to Tom Brady and patterns his game after him. Falk isn’t a great athlete, and he doesn’t have the strongest arm, but that’s what teams said about Brady in 1999. So, no, I don’t think Falk is the next Brady, but he can be a solid NFL backup. Unfortunately, he went where Brady went basically, he dropped a lot further than you thought he would.”

THIS AND THAT

The Dolphins expect to bring linebacker Mike Hull back when he’s eligible to return after eight games. But keep in mind that the Dolphins can use short-term IR on only two players. So if another player is injured in the first half of the season, they will need to select two players among Hull, Brendel and anyone else who’s injured.

Players on short-term must sit out eight games.

“ Losing Mike for a little bit – Hull – that kind of stings us,” Gase said. “We had a good plan going into training camp with him, to make sure he stayed healthy. We were getting him ready for a big year of special teams and just having him ready at linebacker. Losing him in that preseason game, that stung a little bit because he’s an impact player for us on special teams.”

Gase, on the decision to keep cornerback Cornell Armstrong over Tony Lippett: “That one was, we went off of basically what we felt like the performance was this training camp. Some people might disagree. Maybe it was time for us to part ways with Tony. That wasn’t fun, just because of history, being here together and being a Michigan State guys as well, I’m always going to be pulling for him. If he ends up back here at some point, I’m all for it.”

The Dolphins still believe receiver Isaiah Ford might have a future here, and that’s why they kept Ford and Leonte Carroo on the practice squad.

Coaches “told me I made a ton of strides, showed a lot of toughness,” Ford said. “I need to continue to learn from Danny [Amendola] and be ready when my number is called.”

The fact tight end Mike Gesicki wasn’t thrown a lot of passes in preseason was by design.

“We have confidence in him in the passing game so that was not really a high priority for us,” Gase told WQAM’s Rose. “We have a good plan. Mike has a unique skill set. We did a lot of things this offseason in preseason to make sure we are in a great place with his run blocking and pass protection to make sure he will feel a defense like it is in the regular season.”

Asked about Gesicki’s role, Gase joked: “We’ll probably just have him block a lot.”

None of the UM players made the cut on the Dolphins’ practice squad. Carroo and Ford were kept over Malcolm Lewis; Rashawn Scott would have had a chance if he hadn’t been injured.

At defensive tackle, the Dolphins opted to keep UCF’s Jamiyus Pittman over UM’s Anthony Moten, who spent preseason with Miami. Pittman said defensive line coach Kris Kocurek told Pittman that he “came and worked hard and shut my mouth.”

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