Barry Jackson

Dolphins make decision on Tankersley, add a WR. And coaches size up several of the rookies

The Dolphins, according to a league source, have decided not to activate cornerback Cordrea Tankersley, the former Dolphins third-round draft pick who hasn’t played in a calendar year while recovering from a knee injury sustained in a practice early last November.

Tankersley will miss the remainder of the season.

The Dolphins had a Wednesday deadline to decide whether to activate Tankersley off the physically-unable-to-perform list, release him or keep him out for the season. He has been practicing for the past three weeks.

Tankersley, who was not released, said last week that he’s healthy. But cornerbacks coach Josh Boyer said Tankersley was still working on getting himself into game shape.

Miami had an open spot on the 53-man roster, and filled it with rookie wide receiver Gary Jennings, who was released by the Seahawks on Tuesday and claimed off waivers by the Dolphins on Wednesday.

The Dolphins brought Jennings to their headquarters for a pre-draft workout after an excellent career at West Virginia in which he caught 168 passes for 2,294 yards and 17 touchdowns in four seasons. He didn’t appear in a game for Seattle this season.

Before the draft, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein said Jennings is a “possession receiver with an impressive combination of size, speed and contested catch toughness. Jennings was one of the fastest players at the Senior Bowl, according to Zebra Technology tracking, and his 4.42 combine time and huge numbers in explosive testing are sure to push him up draft boards. He needs to play faster and sharpen his routes to become more than a traits-based backup.”

ROOKIE UPDATE

With 12 rookies on the roster and two more on injured reserve, Dolphins assistant coaches this week offered a mid-season assessment of several of their first-year players. Some highlights:

Even though Williams (32 catches, 428 yards, three touchdowns) sustained a season-ending knee injury that could sideline him into training camp next season, the Dolphins emerged convinced that they have a longterm piece.

“He’s come a long way since his arrival here,” receivers coach Karl Dorrell said. “I’m very encouraged he’s going to have an excellent NFL career. It’s unfortunate that it has come to a short end for this particular season, but he’s one of the future pieces for the Dolphins. He should be proud of what he’s accomplished, but also he should be hungry that he knows there’s a lot more out there.”

The next mission? Eliminating drops (he had three) and “there’s a lot of refinement he will gain with knowledge and experience,” Dorrell said. “I would expect you would see a cleaner, more consistent player the next time he steps on the field.”

Dorrell said the Dolphins “want to keep him busy” during his ACL recovery: “He better be right there with us. We want to keep him involved with what we’re doing offensively.”

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Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins comes off his best game (five tackles and his first sack), but the Dolphins want more.

“Week by week, he’s getting better,” defensive line coach Marion Hobby said. “I haven’t had to be on him much about his effort.”

Above all, they want Wilkins to be a stout run defender. So is he a good run defender yet? “He’s working in that direction of being good,” Hobby said. “It always takes time. He’s coming along.”

Pro Football Focus rates Wilkins only 96th overall among 119 qualifying interior defenders and 80th against the run. The good news: His 28 tackles are most among rookie interior defensive linemen and eighth among all interior defensive linemen.

The Dolphins have liked some of what they’ve seen from guard Michael Deiter but, as offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo said, “he’s got a way to go. Some battles he wins. Some battles he holds on for dear life. Those are the experiences he needs to become the player we expect him to be.

“It’s not going to help him sitting on the bench watching it. He’s got to be in there taking his lumps to get his skills up to par. He’s doing exactly what we want him to do. I would be happy if we had a whole bunch more just like him.”

Has Deiter been competent at least? “Absolutely, and he’s got the right mentality for the job,” DeGuglielmo said. “Very professional. He knows what he has to work on and he’s working on those things.”

PFF rates Deiter 74th among 78 qualifying guards.

Brian Flores said rookie guard Shaq Calhoun has played well but didn’t play last week because he had hit a rookie wall. DeGuglielmo echoed that: “He’s done a good job for us and I think he’s practiced well [but] we have a bunch of guys we want to see play.”

Cornerback Nik Needham, the undrafted rookie, has performed competently and the Dolphins like what they’ve seen.

“He’s lost 12 pounds since he’s been here; reshaped his body,” cornerbacks coach Josh Boyer said. “If you watch his UTEP tape, he’s an instinctive player, had a good play style. He had the mental, physical toughness.”

It’s undetermined if linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel will play this season after a training camp foot injury, but linebackers coach Rob Leonard saw enough to be encouraged. “Smart, physical, tough and versatile,” he said.

Miami can bring back one more player off injured reserve, and that likely will be Van Ginkel or defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter. But neither is ready to practice yet. Offensive tackle Julien Davenport has been designated to return off IR and practiced Wednesday.

INJURY UPDATE

Cornerback Ken Webster (ankle) was the only Dolphins player who didn’t practice at all on Wednesday.

Six players who have started games this season were limited: Safety Reshad Jones (has missed three games with a chest injury), center Daniel Kilgore (missed three games with a knee injury), defensive tackles Christian Wilkins (toe) and Davon Godchaux (shoulder), defensive end Avery Moss (ankle) and fill-in center Evan Boehm (hip).

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