Day 14 Notebook: Matthews Returns To Practice; Other Notes

Posted Aug 11, 2013

Dolphins wide receiver returns after missing two weeks and catches long sideline pass from Ryan Tannehill.

Wide receiver Rishard Matthews returned to practice on Sunday and marked the occasion by catching a bomb from quarterback Ryan Tannehill during one-on-one drills.

While the play was exciting, Matthews was just happy to be working again after being out since the first week of training camp.

“I think it was good,” Matthews said. “I felt good. I’ve been out for about two weeks. I feel like I’ve missed a step, but everybody said I looked smooth out there running. So it’s just, continue to improve and get back on the field and contribute.”

Matthews said he tried to make the most of his time during his time away from practice, which meant learning as much as possible.

“The No. 1 thing is film work, watching film, studying, being in the film room,” Matthews said. “Just because I’m not at practice doesn’t mean I’m not in the room with them. Definitely taking notes as I usually would if I was practicing. Definitely film review, making sure I know what I’m doing when I get out here and making sure that when they throw me back in the groove that I haven’t really missed a step.”

Matthews sure looked like he hadn’t missed a step when he got behind cornerback DeAndre Presley in the one-on-one drill.

“A simple route, get back in the groove with Ryan and everything,” Matthews said. “He put it in a good spot and it was my job to catch the ball and we executed.”


Sunday’s practice at the Doctors Hospital Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University was conducted in front of a crowd of about 1,000 season-ticket holders. The practice initially was scheduled exclusively for rookie season ticket members, but it was extended to those season ticket holders who were shut out of an exclusive practice on July 27 because of excess demand.

Fans at practice Sunday were handed a white T-shirt featuring the team’s slogan: IT’S OUR TIME.

What the fans saw Sunday was a different type of practice, as Head Coach Joe Philbin decided to change things up and stayed away from 11-on-11 drills.

“One of the primary identities we want to have on this football team is a fundamentally sound team,” Philbin said, “so we devoted a lot of time to fundamentals today and a lot of time to one-on-one competition in all three phases. Initially — obviously I have to go in and watch the tape — I think we accomplished our objective.”


Defensive end Tristan Okpalaugo already beat the odds once, going from walk-on to two-year starter at Fresno State. He’s trying to do something similar this summer by making the Dolphins roster as an undrafted free agent.

He’s certainly shown pass-rushing ability in the preseason, recording a sack in each of the first two games. His sack of Dallas quarterback Nick Stephens caused a fumble, although the Cowboys were able to recover the loose ball.

“It’s a pretty good start, could be better,” Okpalaugo said. “I feel like the D-line is pretty stacked, so I’ve got to show more than I’ve been showing.”

Okpalaugo — pronounced O-PA-LA-OO-GO — signed with the Dolphins in May after playing outside linebacker in Fresno State’s 3-4 scheme last year. So in addition to adjusting to the NFL game, he’s having to get re-adjusted to playing defensive end, where he lined up in 2011.

“Just work on fundamentals,” he said. “That’s something I feel I need a lot of work at. Coming from a 3-4 last year, my fundamentals, staying low, stuff like that.”


Fullback Jorvorskie Lane turned into a juggler during a one-on-one drill when he caught a pass from Pat Devlin after the ball was tipped four times. The ball first bounced off Lane’s hands, then off the hands of linebacker Austin Spitler, and then Lane tipped it twice before finally corralling it. … Running back Lamar Miller pulled off a nice in-and-up move in one-on-one drill before catching a pass from Tannehill. … Defensive tackle A.J. Francis spent some time after practice working with offensive line coach Jim Turner. … The musical selections during the stretching period inside the bubble were “Swimming Pools (Drank)” by Kendrick Lamar and “HYFR” by Drake featuring Lil Wayne.


Rishard Matthews on fellow wide receivers Brian Hartline, Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson: “They’re on us in the film room, they’re getting us better. They’re showing us how to be professional on and off the field. I’m just excited. Sitting back, especially watching somebody like Mike Wallace, how fast he is, and then Gibson, how technical he is with his routes, and then Hartline with how smart he is when it comes to the game. I’m definitely learning as much as I can.”

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