Barry Jackson

More of the same, but also something new, in Dolphins’ quarterback battle

Dolphins coach, “now that the pads are on it will get tough and gritty”

Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores says, "now that the pads are on it will get tough and gritty" at training camp, July 27, 2019.
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Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores says, "now that the pads are on it will get tough and gritty" at training camp, July 27, 2019.

A Saturday six-pack of Dolphins notes after day three of training camp:

▪ There have been eight practices open to reporters — three so far in camp and five during the May and June offseason program.

And Saturday — the first day in training camp with players wearing full pads — might have been the first where a reasonable observer could emerge believing quarterback Josh Rosen had the better day in full team drills than Ryan Fitzpatrick did.

The caveat is that Rosen continued to work against mostly the second-team defense, while Fitzpatrick continued to get nearly all of the work with the starters.

Fitzpatrick’s accuracy, very good since he joined the team, was off a bit Saturday. He threw an interception to Eric Rowe, who made a terrific play in the corner of the end zone against DeVante Parker. That was Fitzpatrick’s first pick in full team drills through three days of camp.

Fitzpatrick and center Daniel Kilgore had to run to the TNT (takes no talent) wall — the punishment for mishaps — after fumbling a QB/center exchange.

Rosen, good but not great Saturday, threw a beautiful TD pass to tight end Nick O’Leary and had another sizable completion to Trenton Irwin. His only interception (picked off by Bobby McCain) came in a red-zone drills with only a quarterback, receiver and defensive back on the field.

Rosen got several first-team snaps Saturday, but it will be difficult to get a good gauge on Rosen’s progress until he starts working more with the starters.

Several of Rosen’s drives with the backup offensive line have gone nowhere through three practices. That’s partly because he has been under frequent duress, though there was one play Saturday where he seemingly had an eternity and held onto the ball too long.

I asked coach Brian Flores what criteria are considered in allocating first-team quarterback snaps so far in camp. He mentioned getting certain players snaps with a particular quarterback and said snap distribution is typically determined the day before a practice.

The Dolphins keep saying this is an open competition, even with Fitzpatrick the clear leader. But for this to be a genuine competition, Rosen needs to get more work behind the Laremy Tunsil-anchored offensive line.

“Good player,” receiver Kenny Stills said when asked what he has seen from Rosen. “The ball, when it comes out, it doesn’t look like it’s coming hard, but when it gets up on you, it has good zip. He seems to be able to anticipate what’s happening out there. He’s just got to keep doing what he’s doing and show out in the preseason.”

▪ Practice observations: The Dolphins red-zone run defense was outstanding, with Vincent Taylor and Maryland rookie Tre’ Watson both making stops to prevent touchdowns, and Christian Wilkins also making his presence felt. Watson’s stop on Kenyan Drake forced a change of possession, so to speak ...

Rowe, who continues to get most of the first-team boundary cornerback snaps opposite Xavien Howard, has put together two good days in a row, though he slipped on one TD pass Saturday. … Northwestern rookie cornerback Monte Hartage has been the best of the rookie or inexperienced corners through three days. He made a terrific play breaking up a pass to Mike Gesicki. …

The Dolphins opened one team drill with an I-formation and rookie fullback Chandler Cox had mixed results in that role. ... Allen Hurns, who signed Friday, caught a touchdown from Jake Rudock. ...

Isaiah Ford beat Jomal Wiltz for a touchdown. Wiltz has cooled off after a strong offseason program. ... Pittsburgh rookie defensive end Dwayne Hendrix has done some nice things, including a solid pass rush on Rudock. ... Preston Williams had a nice catch in the end zone — he might have been out of bounds — but his chances of making the roster — while still alive — took a hit with the Hurns signing.

▪ Lineup stuff: The Dolphins continue to alternate Nate Orchard, Tank Carradine, Charles Harris and Jonathan Woodard as edge rushers on the first team. ... At linebacker, a combination of Raekwon McMillan and Kiko Alonso and Chase Allen and Jerome Baker get work with the first team when Miami plays three linebackers. In nickel pages, Sam Eguavoen continues to play ahead of McMillan and Alonso, with Baker also usually part of that lineup. ... Christian Wilkins and Davon Godchaux continue to get the majority of first-team work at defensive tackle. ...

For the third day in a row, Chris Reed started at left guard and Jordan Mills at right tackle. Third-round pick Michael Deiter said he plays with the starters (at guard) only when Kilgore needs a break and Reed shifts to center. Deiter has worked a bit at right guard but mostly at left guard. ... Kyle Fuller has done good work as the second-team center, though the second team line has been generally deficient.

▪ McCain opened with the starters at free safety for the third day in a row and said he now considers himself a safety.

“Right now, I’m definitely deep,” he said. “It’s putting all your playmakers on the field, guys that have chemistry, such as myself, Xavien [Howard], Minkah [Fitzpatrick], T.J. [McDonald] and Reshad [Jones]. That’s why it makes sense.”

He said he’ll well suited to free safety because he can communicate well and “I’m a guy that can get the job done. I’m rangy, I can move well, I can tackle, I can cover. Free safeties do a lot more covering than you think.”

▪ Taylor continues to make impact plays when given the chance; he shot past Kilgore and dumped Fitzpatrick in a goal-line drill Saturday.

I would love to see Taylor get more work to determine if he can sustain the production. He averaged 25 snaps per game on defense last season in eight games before his season-ending foot injury against Houston, compared with 42.2 for Davon Godchaux and 41.6 for Akeem Spence.

Does Taylor ever wonder what he could do with more snaps?

“If it is, it’s not something I come out about,” he said. “If I keep making plays, they’re going to find a way to put me on the field. We all want more snaps but we have to play our role, know what’s best for the team. the only thing I can do is be productive.”

▪ Random stuff: Receiver Albert Wilson returned to practice after getting a day off to rest his previously injured hip. Tight end Dwayne Allen, cornerback Cordrea Tankersley (who has not been spotted on the field this camp after last October’s major knee surgery) and linebacker Mike Hull remain sidelined. ...

Most light-hearted moment Saturday was Jakeem Grant opening a door and running right into the team offices after dropping a pass, kind of the reverse of Randal Hill running through the tunnel for UM in the Cotton Bowl after a TD. Moments later, Grant emerged shaking his head. ...

Minkah Fitzpatrick said he sees similarities between Flores and Alabama coach Nick Saban: The whole challenging thing [of players being constantly challenged]. That’s why I wanted to go to Alabama, to be constantly challenge and constant demand for high standard. That’s something that’s in common.”... The Dolphins have a 10:30 pm curfew during camp.

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