Whether it was Jakeem Grant racing past defenders on a 102-yard kickoff return, Albert Wilson scurrying past would-be tacklers or Kenny Stills leaving Tennessee Titans in the dust on his 75-yard touchdown reception, one thing was obvious Sunday:
This Dolphins team has some serious speed at multiple positions.
And that’s hardly a coincidence.
“One of the things that we talked about when we were putting our team together in the offseason — this being something that the league was going to go to — [was] having speed and being a fast team,” coach Adam Gase said Monday. “...We feel like in kickoff return, it 100 percent works for us to where we get athletic guys getting guys covered up and have a guy like Jakeem that can take one back.”
Players aren’t typically timed with a stopwatch once they’re on an NFL team, but here’s some perspective on the speed of some Dolphins entering the league:
Grant wasn’t invited to the 2016 NFL Combine, but his 4.34 40-time at Texas Tech’s Pro Day would have been second among all receivers at that Combine, behind only the 4.32 run by Will Fuller V (then of Notre Dame, now of the Houston Texans). And one Saints scout reportedly said Grant ran a 4.10 that day, which would be the fastest time ever.
Stills had the fifth-fastest time among receivers at the Combine in 2013 (4.38). Wilson’s 4.43 at the 2014 Combine tied with Sammy Watkins and Odell Beckham for seventh-fastest among receivers.
Kenyan Drake’s 4.44 was third-best among running backs in the 2016 Combine.
Mike Gesicki tied for the fastest 40 time among tight ends at this year’s Combine, at 4.54, while fellow Dolphins rookie Jerome Baker was fifth among linebackers at 4.53.
According to a source, the Dolphins signed center Travis Swanson, who was signed by Miami last week and cut a day later to make room for special teams ace Brandon Bolden.
The Dolphins released tight end Gavin Escobar to make room on the 53-man roster, per a source.
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 spent part of training camp with the Jets, who play host to the Dolphins on Sunday.
▪ AJ Derby ended up playing the most of the tight ends (46 of Miami’s 62 offensive snaps). Gesicki played 21 and Durham Smythe 15. Escobar was inactive for the game.
“We were trying to give Mike a series here and there,” Gase said. “I just have to be aware of who is in the game at the time because there are certain things AJ does well and then Mike does [well]…
“Me and [tight ends coach] Shane Day are trying to talk through what we want to do each series. I need to get used to it because it’s a change for me of rotating the tight ends as much as we do.”
▪ Gase said the ball slipped out of Ryan Tannehill’s hands on the first interception that was intended for Gesicki in the end zone and the second one was the result of Tannehill and Grant not being on the same page.
▪ Gase said having Brock Osweiler as the backup Sunday – instead of David Fales –was “best for this game” but could vary each week.
▪ Among areas where Gase wants to see improvement from the opener: “We want to do some different things as far as how we can stop the run game and just be more efficient and consistent, really…. We had some missed tackles that we just can’t afford.”… Gase also was troubled by the mild Dolphins/Titans fight after Reshad Jones’ first interception: “The fight drives me nuts.”
▪ Gase said slot cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick “did a really good job” and also praised cornerback Bobby McCain.
▪ The Dolphins said they were waiting word on the severity of long snapper John Denney’s shoulder injury.
▪ McCain, Xavien Howard, T.J. McDonald and Kiko Alonso played all 69 defensive snaps. Among starting linebackers besides Alonso, Raekwon McMillan played 61 and Jerome Baker 30.... Fitzpatrick played 44…. Offensively, Drake had 46 snaps (of 62) and Frank Gore 18.
▪ Fox had no immediate explanation for why South Florida viewers were switched from a portion of the fourth quarter of the Dolphins-Titans game, with Fox going to NFL studio and prime time programming instead. Local viewers missed a Titans series… WQAM Dolphins co-analyst Joe Rose missed Sunday’s game because of a personal reason, but the team said he will be back in the booth for Sunday’s game at the Jets.