MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The Dolphins here told me that Wednesday’s joint practice with the Eagles wasn’t that hot. I disagree. Here are some of the things I saw and heard in Miami as the teams sweated through two hours of practice…
1. Through a month of training camp, Jevon Holland became a star. From a leadership standpoint, second-year security can now put someone else in charge of defense. As a player, he has rare range, coverage and physicality. Plus, everyone knew he wanted to be great. And after being a good player as a rookie, the idea of him reaching greatness this year is realistic.
2. The depth of the receiving room is evident, well beyond the headliners Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Trent Sherfield, the man behind San Francisco’s Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk and brought in from there by former Nines assistants Mike McDaniel and Wes Welker — has built a really good training camp, To build on the solid reputation he had coming into Miami. Fourth-round pick Erik Ezukanma has quickly integrated into the pro game and McDaniel’s offense. Add in former Cowboys perimeter Cedric Wilson as another roster lock and then you’re out of a job, which is why receivers Preston Williams and Lynn Bowden have become The subject of trade negotiations.
3. Tua Tagovailoa looks like a good fit for McDaniel’s offense. The system plays to his strengths, requires him to play a quick, instinctive game, and there are plenty of signs of his offense under Alabama’s Steve Sarkisian. But the real quarterback at camp may be seventh-round pick Skylar Thompson. He’s old as a rookie — he’s 25 in June — but he’s smart, he works and has been great in practice. That could force Miami to keep three QBs on its 53.
4. Mike Gesicki has been educated over the past six months, and Miami has tried to develop him into a better blocker, preparing him for the rigors of playing the position in McDaniel’s program. His coach, led by seasoned assistant Jon Embry, showed him tapes of young player George Kittle showing him how far Kittle once needed to go to become the run he developed into power in the game. That’s why Gesicki is playing more in the preseason, as teams are trying to get him involved at that stage of the game.
5. With scaling back next week, I think the Dolphins will be looking for more depth in corners, defensive edges and offensive lines. But in the final set, getting Troon Armstead and Conor Williams to help fix a problem with a problematic unit. Armstead, if he can stay healthy, is still one of the best left tackles in the NFL. Williams is the guy Miami has to shoot to center (they have a little preseason tape he did in Dallas and love his athleticism at that position), and so far, that shooting looks to be working.
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