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COMBINE NOTEBOOK: Fellow Coaches Praising Gase, Christensen; Other Notes

Posted Feb 25, 2016

Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano sings the praises of Dolphins Offensive Coordinator Clyde Christensen

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano talked at the scouting combine about the many changes on his coaching staff and losing some good football minds.

One of those is Clyde Christensen, who now is part of the Dolphins coaching staff as the offensive coordinator.

“Clyde’s got a great football mind,” Pagano said. “Brings a ton of energy, a ton of knowledge. Knows quarterbacks inside and out. He’s tutored some of the best who play that position in the National Football League. He’s got great rapport with players, very relatable. He knows how to connect. He knows how to get the most out of his players.”

One of the coaches who have joined the Colts staff since the end of the last season was former Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbin.

Philbin, who coached the Dolphins from 2012 until he was relieved of his duties after the fourth game of the 2015 season, was hired by the Colts as offensive line coach and assistant head coach.

“He’s a darn good football coach,” Pagano said. “He’s got great history of developing great offensive lines all the way back to Iowa with Coach (Kirk) Ferentz and the line that he put together there. Well documented what he did in Green Bay. He’s a great, great man. He’s a great football coach. Great football mind. Brings a ton of knowledge to our football staff and we’re very, very fortunate to have him.”

Pagano mentioned another benefit in having Philbin on the staff: his experience in preparing a team for a game in London.

The Colts will be making their first trip overseas next season for a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“He’s a great resource for all of us, a great resource for me,” Pagano said. “He’s been over there a couple of times, so he’s going to bring a wealth of knowledge as far that trip and how you prepare for that game and that trip and those kind of things.”

FOX PRAISES GASE

If any coach around the league has good insight on new Dolphins Head Coach Adam Gase, it’s John Fox.

The veteran NFL head coach spent the last five seasons with Gase, four with the Denver Broncos and one with the Chicago Bears. Gase was Fox’s offensive coordinator the past three seasons, including last year with the Bears.

“He’s very passionate,” Fox said. “He’s a tireless worker. I think he’s very creative. I think he’s an outside-the-box thinker. I think he’s smart but knows people in the game. I think in hiring a staff, which I believe he did an outstanding job with …”

LIPPETT LOOKING OUT

Aaron Burbridge became in 2015 the second consecutive Michigan State player to win the Big Ten Receiver of the Year award. The player who won that honor in 2014 was Tony Lippett, a fifth-round pick of the Dolphins in 2015.

Burbridge never had more than 29 receptions in his first three seasons at MSU before he caught 85 passes for 1,258 yards and seven touchdowns in 2015, and he credited Lippett for playing a big role in his success as a senior.

“He was the biggest help with my development at Michigan State,” Burbridge said at the combine Thursday. “Coming into Michigan State I started and the second year he took over. Instead of being mad, I started to pick his brain. He helped me out become the player I am today.”

Despite his success at wide receiver, Lippett was drafted by the Dolphins as a cornerback, a position where he had seen part-time action in college.

“It was crazy,” Burbridge said. “He was a Big Ten Receiver of the Year and getting drafted at corner, it shocked me.”

Lippett got more playing time as the 2015 season ended and now appears to have a bright future at that position.

DOLPHINS CHALLENGE

Tight end Ben Braunecker is one of two prospects at the combine from Harvard, and he arrived confident he would show off his intellectual capabilities to every team who talked to him.

But he said there was one team that provided a tough mental test during an interview. That team was the Miami Dolphins.

“Everybody’s always got something interesting they’ll ask you to try to knock you off your feet a little bit,” Braunecker said. “The Miami Dolphins had me learn all their formations in like a minute and then 10 minutes later regurgitate all of that in under five minutes. That was probably the most difficult (question).”

Braunecker, a molecular biology major at Harvard hoping to one day go to medical school, was scheduled to take the Wonderlic test Friday. He wasn’t the least bit worried about performing well on that test.

“That’s always fun,” said Braunecker. “It’s like any sort of problem set or anything we do at Harvard, only a little bit simpler. I’m not worried about it at all. If anything, it’s a nice opportunity to flex your academic muscles a little bit.”

Braunecker said he was hoping to show this week he was athletic enough to succeed in the NFL, years after failing to receive a single scholarship offer from an FBS school.

He said learning an NFL offense should be no problem at all. Playing at Harvard prepared him in that respect.

“You learn a lot about yourself when you’re crushed or pulled apart both ways on the football field and with the pretty hefty academic load,” Braunecker said. “One of those things that I developed from all that pressure was how to dedicate yourself to a task. So I’m using that right now because I’ve braved the molecular biology storms at Harvard and still have been able to produce on the football field. I’m confident that taking away the academic part can only lead to more success.”

LAST WORD

Stanford guard Joshua Garnett on blocking at the second level:

“A lot guys want to get in space against smaller, quicker guys and just want to chop down on them. You’ve got to run through them. Just run through their soul and hopefully if you hit them, they’re going to go down.”

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