A day after changing offensive line coaches, the Dolphins made wholesale lineup changes in practice Tuesday, replacing two players who had been working with the first team and shifting the position of another.
In coach Dave DeGuglielmo’s first full day as the replacement for dismissed Pat Flaherty, rookie Michael Deiter and Will Holden took over the first team left and right guard spots, replacing Chris Reed and Jesse Davis.
And Davis shifted from right guard to right tackle, sending veteran Jordan Mills to the second team. Undrafted rookie Shaq Calhoun also took some first-team snaps at right guard. As expected, left tackle Laremy Tunsil and center Daniel Kilgore remained with the first group.
Players took the coaching change in stride. In his job as a team “analyst,” DeGuglielmo had been attending some offensive line meetings even before the coaching change was made, Kilgore revealed.
“It was just like, ‘oh wow, interesting,’” Davis said of the coaching change. “Everything is kind of par for course as it goes right now. We’ve been here for three years, we’ve had like five different guys. It’s just part of the business. Stuff doesn’t happen right, there’s changes.
“We’re tough guys. We’re going to get stuff done. We’re going to protect [Ryan Fitzpatrick] and [Josh] Rosen. We’re not going to take any crap.”
Players said in his first day, DeGuglielmo brought more intensity to the position, as far as demeanor, than Flaherty.
“He’s an intense guy,” Deiter said. “You’ve got to meet that intensity.”
Davis said the offensive line coaching Tuesday was a “little bit more fired up. Obviously he’s got to leave his mark on us moving forward, and this camp is not supposed to be easy or not hurt people’s feelings. If you can’t take the coaching, you’re not going to really make it in the NFL.... Little different coaching styles, but it’s the same offense.”
Kilgore said coach Brian Flores did not explain the reasons for Flaherty’s dismissal in in his meeting with the players.
“He didn’t have to; that’s his call,” Kilgore said. “Surprised [by the firing], yeah, but after meeting with coach Flo, he had a gut feeling; that’s what he thought was best.”
DeGuglielmo, who was the Dolphins’ offensive line coach from 2009 through 2011, last season coached a Colts offensive line that allowed the league’s fewest sacks (18) and was 22nd in yards per carry, but he was fired after the season reportedly because coach Frank Reich wanted his own choice in the position.
The biggest adjustment to the coaching change?
“He is going to have to get his terminology in,” Kilgore said. “It is tough, because we did have a spring with Flats, so it’s going to take some time to get his terminology, what he’s expecting for us. That’s the biggest transition for us.”
As for the lineup changes Tuesday, Deiter moved up to the first team two days after Flaherty said he was a “long ways away” from being “a good NFL player.” Flaherty felt more comfortable starting Reed, who played for him the past two years in Jacksonville. Reed played some backup center with the second team Tuesday.
DeGuglielmo is “going to push me, make me the best player I can be,” Deiter said. “He’s going to make us a really good offensive line.”
Holden, who opened with the starters at right guard, has given up four sacks in seven NFL starts with Arizona over the past two seasons, but most of those came at tackle. He played some guard at Vanderbilt and his first NFL start came at guard. He spent 11 days on the Colts practice squad last year, working with DeGuglielmo.
“I’m a natural tackle, but whatever this team needs, I am going to obviously do what they need,” said Holden, who was claimed off waivers five days before the start of camp.
Calhoun, who also got some first team work, was considered among the best guards who went undrafted in April.
Davis played every snap at right guard last season but worked some at tackle with DeGuglielmo when he was on the Dolphins staff as an offensive assistant in 2017 and also during the minicamp last month.
“I knew it was going to happen at some point,” Davis said of playing tackle. “I wasn’t like scared of it or anything.”
Kilgore said he spoke with Flaherty on Monday night and “thanked the guys for all their effort for him. He knows we’re in good hands.
“It’s the toughest transition when you’re blindsided like that,” Kilgore added of Flaherty. “But he’s a good sport. He understands. I told him he’s an awesome coach, but he’s an even better man. Fortunately we have his son on staff, and [Dolphins coaching assistant] Shawn has done a great job and he can carry on what his father did and establish himself as a coach in his own career.”
THIS AND THAT
Linebacker Kiko Alonso missed practice with an injury that isn’t considered serious. Running back Kalen Ballage walked off the field because of an injury during practice, but it didn’t appear serious. Tight end Dwayne Allen, linebacker Chase Allen, defensive back Cordrea Tankersley and linebacker Mike Hull remain out.
▪ The Dolphins made an initial due diligence inquiry call on free agent defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche, a former first-round pick in 2016 who was cut by Arizona this week. He had 32 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 10 games last season but sustained a torn ACL in December and won’t be ready to play until September.
▪ Rookie linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel got considerable first-team work for the first time in training camp and made a nice play in pass coverage against tight end Nick O’Leary. Undrafted Georgia rookie defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter also got first-team 11-on-11 work opposite Tank Carradine before Charles Harris replaced Ledbetter on subsequent team drills. Carradine forced a Kenyan Drake fumble and has been the best of the defensive ends through five days of camp.