A six-pack notes from Dolphins coach Brian Flores’ Tuesday session with reporters at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix:
▪ Charles Harris hasn’t been told whether the Dolphins intend to keep him exclusively at defensive end or playing him some at outside linebacker when the team uses a 3-4, according to a source.
But Flores said he likes the skill set of the former first-round pick, who has three sacks and 38 tackles in 27 NFL games.
“He’s got size, he’s got speed, he’s got athleticism,” Flores said. “He plays hard and does a lot of things we like as a staff. He can rush, he can play in space a little bit, tackles fairly well. He does a lot of good things. He’s an interesting player on our team. I’m excited to see him on April 1st when the team reports. We’re going to spend a lot of time with him.”
The fact Flores spoke of Harris being able to play in space suggests he might stand up at times, as opposed to always having his hand in the ground at defensive end.
▪ Flores said he expects Kiko Alonso to be on the team.
“This guy has been a productive player in this league for a long time,” Flores said. “His leadership and style of play and the way he goes about it, from a work ethic standpoint, from a day-to-day training standpoint, and all of the things I hear are positive.”
▪ The Dolphins privately have conveyed that they prefer Minkah Fitzpatrick as a safety longterm but haven’t said how they will use him in 2019. And Flores declined to clarify that Tuesday.
“His strength is that he can handle a lot of different positions,” Flores said. “He’s versatile. Free safety, strong safety, corner, Star, ‘backer – you can do whatever you want with him. He’s a guy we spent a lot of time thinking about how we’re going to use him. I’m not going to give up the goods on how we’re going to do that today.”
Asked if he prefers Fitzpatrick at one position, Flores said: “My preference is to see what he can handle and see what he does that will help the team win. If that’s multiple positions, then that’s multiple positions. If that’s one spot, then that’s one spot.
Incidentally, Flores said he believes safety T.J. McDonald can play linebacker in certain situations.
“He can play safety, he can play linebacker, he can blitz pretty well,” Flores said. “That kind of plays into some of the things that I’ve done defensively as far as moving some pieces into different locations. I think he’s been a productive player in this league. I think he’s big, he’s fast, he can tackle. We’ll find space for guys who are big, fast and can tackle, because those are at the top of my list of things that I’m looking for defensively.”
▪ Flores suggested adding tight ends Dwayne Allen and Clive Walford wasn’t an indictment of young tight ends Mike Gesicki and Durham Smythe (who figures to be more impacted by those pickups than Gesicki). Nick O’Leary also returns as part of that competition.
“I would say the young players in that room, they need,… everyone needs competition,” Flores said, adding Allen and Walford are “two quality players that we wanted to acquire and felt like they would help the team. It’s a competitive room and I think competition breeds excellence. Hopefully, having that many guys and having that competition will yield the best players. [And] we wanted some veteran presence in there. That was part of getting Clive and Dwayne.”
▪ Flores said “we’re going to obviously have an emphasis on offensive line in the draft” and declined to say whether Jesse Davis would stay at guard or move to right tackle.
“He had a great year last year at right guard, but we’re going to move guys around,” Flores said of Davis, who’s one of three returning offensive line starters (with Laremy Tunsil and center Daniel Kilgore, who was limited to four games because of a torn triceps).
“Players are going to move around. They’re going to play different positions. That’s how you build … Jesse’s ability to play both tackle and guard, that helps us.”
▪ Flores, on new cornerback Eric Rowe, the former Eagles second round pick who started 12 games combined for the Patriots the past three season:
“Obviously, we had him in New England; this guy, he’s tall, long, good speed, tackles well, does a lot of good things. He has been hit with the injury bug a couple times, but when healthy, he’s been a productive player. We’re excited to have him. We know what kind of person he is and his work ethic. I think he’s a good player, good talent.”
Does Flores expect Rowe to compete to start?
“Yeah,” Flores said. “I think he’ll compete to play… He’s been a guy who’s played on the left side, played on the right side, played inside, played some safety in college. He’s another guy who’s versatile and can do a few things. Mentally, he can handle it.”
Here’s my Wednesday piece with Dolphins draft notes, including the Hurricanes players auditioning for the Dolphins and one UM star who has been non-committal about working out for the Dolphins.