Brian Flores: ‘It’s about getting 11 guys on the same page’
A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Tuesday:
▪ The rebuilding Dolphins don’t offer a lot of compelling summer story lines — beyond the quarterback battle — but here’s one that has everyone around the team intrigued:
Can Preston Williams, who tantalized in the offseason program, join Davone Bess, Dan Carpenter and several other undrafted Dolphins to make a real impact here?
Undrafted out of Colorado State — where he was top five in the country in receptions and yards last season — Williams used his 6-4 frame and good speed to make a bunch of catches in the offseason program. He was especially impressive in red-zone drills, hauling in several touchdown passes from Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen.
There were also some mistakes, including a few penalties and drops, but enough good things to leave the front office and coaching staff believing he could develop into a rotation player here, according to a club source.
And this is encouraging: Since the offseason program ended, Williams has been taking steps to improve.
Fitzpatrick set him up with former Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall, and Williams and Marshall (the former Dolphin and six-time Pro Bowler) have worked together in the past month, both on conditioning and on-field football work.
Williams has been working out at a training facility in South Florida, determined to capitalize on this opportunity.
“Really, I didn’t have any expectations coming in; I just came in ready to work,” he said last month. “I’m really proud of myself. Coach is always pushing me to go past my limits. … I’m growing. I’m evolving.”
There have been plenty of Dolphins receivers who flashed in the offseason program and ended up footnotes — from J.R. Tolver to Roberto Wallace to Drew Morgan (the former Arkansas receiver who recently retired).
For Williams to avoid that fate, “we have to find a consistency there,” Fitzpatrick said, noting he mixed “great plays and boneheaded plays. He’s definitely a guy that, as a quarterback, you take notice at some of the plays. He certainly has enough talent to do it.”
Rosen said he’s “a really talented guy with great hands, and I’m really looking forward to developing with him.”
Williams, at this point, is competing with Brice Butler, Isaiah Ford, Stanford rookie Trenton Irwin and long-shot Reece Horn for a fifth and potential sixth receiver jobs.
“Undrafted, drafted, first round. It doesn’t matter,” Williams said. “Everybody’s equal.”
▪ Meanwhile, the Dolphins also like the reliability of Irwin and would like him to study Julian Edelman, according to a team official. His special teams ability and good hands give him a chance to stick on the 53 or the practice squad.
“He has a lot of wiggle in him; I like that,” Dolphins cornerback Jalen Davis said of Irwin.
▪ Encouraging to hear that Rosen has spent at least some of his off time in South Florida, throwing to Williams and Kenny Stills, among others. Rosen knows he has ground to make up in the quarterback battle.
▪ The NFL holds its supplemental draft on Wednesday, but the top two prospects play positions where the Dolphins already have considerable depth — safety and wide receiver.
The draft’s top prospect is Washington State safety Jalen Thompson, who was considered a potential second- or third-rounder in the 2020 draft before learning that he had lost his final year of eligibility. West Virginia receiver Marcus Simms might also be selected Wednesday.
Former Syracuse linebacker Shyheim Cullen, former Saint Francis defensive back Bryant Perry and former junior college tight end Devonaire Clarington also entered their names in the draft.
Miami will have one open training camp roster spot after it eventually places defensive tackle Kendrick Norton on the non-football injury list following last Thursday’s serious car accident that resulted in the amputation of an arm.
▪ NFL insurance will cover Norton’s medical bills, but Norton has started a go-fund-me page hoping to raise another $150,000.
“With his career over and no source of income currently, this has put a tremendous amount of financial strain on Kendrick and his family. Any continued support is appreciated,” his agency said in a statement on Instagram. Norton has had three surgeries and might need two more.
▪ Pro Football Focus rates the Dolphins’ offensive line worst in football. Here’s what the website said:
“The offensive guard curse lives on in Miami. Just one year after a 2017 season that saw the team’s guards combine to give up 69 total pressures, the side lost Josh Sitton to injury, and Jesse Davis, Ted Larsen, and Travis Swanson combined to allow 98 pressures on the interior in 2018. Wisconsin product Michael Deiter will come in and try and steady the ship as a rookie having finished the 2018 college season ranked third in overall grade (82.2) and third in run-blocking grade (82.8) among guards with at least 400 offensive snaps played. Former Bills right tackle Jordan Mills is set to take over the right guard position vacated by Ja’Wuan James, but Mills’ three-year grade at right tackle (60.1) pales in comparison to James’ (75.4).”
Mills hasn’t won the right tackle job yet, and Davis remains an option there.