Training camp opens on Friday for the Miami Dolphins and fans couldn’t be happier. It’s been a long road since the Dolphins fired Joe Philbin last year. This year’s camp brings new coaches, new systems and new personnel. Stakes couldn’t be any higher for the Dolphins as fans have lost not only patience but interest over the last few seasons. With owner Stephen Ross ponying up top dollar for stadium renovations, you better believe he expects a winning team to fill those seats.
Check out five players to watch as the Dolphins open up training camp.
It’s no secret that Tannehill will be under a microscope. Looking back at the 2012 NFL Draft, even Kirk Cousins who was drafted as a backup has made a playoff appearance. The Dolphins seem to be in a never ending cycle of rebuilding and Tannehill has been the closest they’ve come to nailing down a franchise qb. Timing and foot work should be Tannehill’s offensive focus this season.
He should have more time with a beefed up offensive line to plant his feet and let the ball fly. Sprinkle in some playmakers on offense and Tannehill should have a career year this season. With the addition of Arian Foster Miami should be able to lean on the running game a little more this season as well. Look for a little less predictability out of Miami and plenty of opportunity for Tannehill to shine.
If you want to know just how much of an asset Devante Parker will be for Miami this season, refer back to his second quarter TD against the Ravens last season. Parker can go up and get the football. Last season, Miami’s offense sputtered at times and eventually broke down. Look for Adam Gase to stretch the field with Parker allowing Jarvis Landry to pick apart the middle like poor Ramsay Bolton’s face on Game of Thrones. Spoiler? Parker should provide Tannehill with a much-needed safety net this season as well as put an end to their redzone woes.
Jordan Cameron/Dion Sims
People often forget Jordan Cameron was a pro bowler in Cleveland. If anyone could use a bounce back year, it’s Cameron. Between injuries and not being used properly in the offense, he’s slowly approaching irrelevancy. Luckily for him, an Adam Gase ran offense often favored the tight end position. Whether he or Dion Sims decides to step up, the tight end position should also benefit from a stretched football field. Sims at times has been talked about as the next break out player. Just last year in preseason alone Sims looked like he finally came to play. Then came the concussion and Miami’s abandonment of the tight end plays quicker than run plays. Dion faded back in line. 2016 should be the year of the tight end for Miami. Look for them to get more involved as Miami again tries to establish redzone scoring.
Byron Maxwell wasn’t the popular decision amongst some Dolphin fans this offseason. After he became a success in Seattle, Maxwell took a step back with the Philadelphia Eagles. Maxwell fits in better with Miami’s more physical approach this season. Topped off with, predictably, one of the better defensive lines in football and Maxwell could be back to his old ways. Maxwell has been said to be getting his hands on a lot of passes this offseason challenging receivers to make the catch. Miami needs a player like him to challenge them to get physical, go up and get the ball, and wrestle away catches. Expect Byron Maxwell to be a key contributor on the Dolphins defense.
There was a time back in Buffalo where Kiko Alonso was an animal. His rookie season was one to write back home about. Then the hinges came undone. First the position change, then an injury, then a trade to a sinking Eagles team. Alonso might have returned to his rookie form had he not rushed back from injury. Philadelphia needed his help on defense and in week two he went down again. Fast forward to the end of last season and Alonso is now a Dolphin. His ACL seems 100% and the Dolphins get yet another low risk high reward player. The Dolphins seem to be gambling on a lot of maybes but whispers around camps have people talking as if he will be their best kept secret.
This may be the most talented group of players Miami has had in quite some time. Miami has had plenty of big names take center stage in a Dolphins uniform but never seemed to have the right pieces. Adam Gase has the benefit of great holdover talent as well as some he plans to groom. It’s time for the Dolphins to stop being so talented on paper and show what they’re made of on the field.