Barry Jackson

Where things stand with one of the Dolphins’ most competitive positions

Dolphins coach Flores is not fond of egos, ‘it’s a team sport’

Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores is not fond of egos, "it's a team sport", July 31, 2019.
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Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores is not fond of egos, "it's a team sport", July 31, 2019.

What appears to be the most dubious position on the Dolphins roster also is creating some of the most spirited competition.

A week into training camp, jobs remain very much open for Miami’s edge-rusher positions, which includes not only the defensive ends, but natural outside linebackers and several defensive backs who are used occasionally in that role.

Among the natural edge rushers, Tank Carradine has particularly distinguished himself and rookie linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel has had some good moments while receiving some first-team work in two practices this week.

Also working in that edge rusher role: Charles Harris — who drew praise from coach Brian Flores on Wednesday — plus Jonathan Woodard, Nate Orchard and Tyrone Holmes. Harris and Carradine opened as the first-team defensive ends in team drills Wednesday.

Flores said linebackers Jerome Baker, Kiko Alonso and Terrill Hanks, safeties T.J. McDonald and Reshad Jones and cornerback/safety Minkah Fitzpatrick are also getting some work in that edge-rusher role.

“Harris is doing a good job,” Flores said. “Tank is doing a good job on the edge as well. We’ve got a group of guys — that edge player — that goes back and forth between guys who are outside linebackers to ends to big ends to smaller ends.

“That’s going to be a fluid spot, just depending on situation, the best grouping, what they have out there offensively, and I think that spot will change. We work a lot of different guys there. We’re going to try to move those pieces as we see fit.”

Carradine played only one NFL game for Oakland last season — he had a disagreement with the staff about his usage — but believes he can jump-start his career in Miami, after producing 5.5 sacks in 45 games over six seasons as a former 49ers second-round pick out of FSU.

“It’s more of a scheme that fits me,” he said. “On base downs, I’m outside. Third down I’m on the inside. That’s one thing other teams wanted to use me at but it didn’t happen. Now I have a team that believes in me and gives me a chance to rush inside, rush outside, play nickel outside.”

Carradine said he hopes to be a starter here: “I haven’t had the career I have wanted but still have another opportunity to have a breakout year and help this team win.”

The Dolphins were 29th in the NFL in sacks last season with 31 and parted ways with their top two sack producers in Robert Quinn (6.5 sacks) and Cameron Wake (6). What’s left seemingly isn’t much.

“Sacks are a big stat; that’s the one everyone’s watching, but I think pressure on the quarterback, making the quarterback uncomfortable, making the offensive line uncomfortable, making really the offense as a whole — coordinator, everybody, coaches, all the way across the board — that’s pressure to me,” Flores said.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Baker leads the front seven players in snaps this season. He’s the one linebacker poised to remain on the field all three downs.

“Bake’s done a really good job,” Flores said. “He’s learned multiple positions. Obviously, he’s fast, he can tackle, he’s smart, he’s tough. He’s got some leadership qualities that are starting to develop a little bit.

“This is a talented guy. He can win a one-on-one pass rush. We’re going to ask him to rush, we’re going to ask him to cover, we’re going to ask him to tackle, play in the run game.”

Baker said he was honored to be given defensive play-calling responsibilities.

THIS AND THAT

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had his worst practice as a Dolphin, throwing interceptions to Xavien Howard and McDonald and fumbling a center exchange. Josh Rosen was very good in receiver/defensive back drills, throwing several long passes for touchdowns.

Tight end Dwayne Allen, who missed most of the offseason program and the first five days of camp with what is believed to be a knee injury, was activated off the physically-unable-to-perform list and participated in a small part of practice before doing conditioning work on the side and limping off the field afterward.

“He brings leadership, energy, effort,” Flores said. “In the past, he’s been a good blocker. He’s a good receiving tight end. That’s something that we’ll try to take advantage of if we can.”

Nick O’Leary has been the best of the tight ends in camp.

Alonso, running back Kalen Ballage and tight end Clive Walford missed practice with injuries that aren’t considered major. Receiver Jakeem Grant walked off with what appeared to be hamstring issue after making a catch but was standing on the sideline late in practice.

Undrafted Mississippi State rookie Shaq Calhoun lined up with the starters at right guard (a job Will Holden handled Tuesday), with rookie Michael Deiter at left guard and Jesse Davis at right tackle. Holden took second-team left tackle snaps.

The Dolphins released FIU rookie punter Stone Wilson, leaving incumbent Matt Haack as the only punter in camp.

Here’s my look at the remarkable life of Dolphins legend Nick Buonconti, who died Tuesday night at 78.

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