Day 3 Notebook: Defense Gains The Edge In Full Pads; Other Notes

Posted Jul 29, 2012

Three days into his first training camp as a head coach, Joe Philbin finally got to watch his team perform in full pads, and there was definitely a noticeable difference.

The South Florida heat tends to slow athletes down on its own, but the added weight of shoulder pads and thigh pads adds another level of intensity. Philbin expected to see a dip in speed on the field from the first two days when the team practiced in shells, so he wasn’t totally surprised, but he did see a visible edge for the defensive players.

“My initial reaction maybe is that the defense might be a hair head, and that’s not uncommon,” Philbin said. “The first day in pads is when your offensive guys, at least in my history, seem to take a little bit longer to get used to the leverage of the game and the speed of the game.”

One area where there was a clear disparity during team drills was in obvious passing situations, as defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle’s pass rush consistently got to the quarterbacks. Philbin chalked some of those rushes up to some poor pass protection but mostly it came as a result of the defensive players getting a good push both in pressure periods and in their basic four-man fronts.

Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill was placed in the unenviable position of making his training camp debut on this day. He was not in full pads because he is required to receive the same two-day acclimatization period before donning them. That will happen Wednesday for the first-round pick, but he still had to deal with everyone else running at full speed in pads.

“When you’re going in pads, the D-line is coming off a little quicker, able to collision, so the pass protection is a little different,” Tannehill said. “David (Garrard) was talking about it, the pressure they got today was a little bit more than they got the last two days just because of the pads. It’s a different element there. It’s a fast game.”

The defensive players enjoyed the advantage they had out there, considering the first two days they were being tested trying to keep up with the fast pace of the offensive drills. Putting on the pads allows for the defense to feel a little more even when it comes to match-ups.

“I think guys were flying around before,” said linebacker Jamaal Westerman, who came over from the New York Jets in the offseason. “I think now we’re just working on that tackling technique, you know, bend at the knees, playing behind your shoulder pads. That’s the thing. When you put on pads, you have to work on those things.”

Defensive end Cameron Wake has a bit more descriptive take on the difference being in pads makes.

“You turn it up a little bit. It’s real bullets now,” he said. “None of this tagging off, all this two-hand touch and pitter-patter. It’s a man’s game. It makes it more realistic. You can do more things with the pads on, especially guys like myself. Some of these outside linebackers/D-end types where you got to play the leverage game, you’re going to be giving up 70, 80 pounds to some of these guys and you’ve got to go in there and put your weight on some of these guys. When you have the pads on, you get a better sense of what you can do and what you can’t.”

DOLPHINS AUDITIONING ANTHEM SINGERS: The Dolphins are holding an open audition as they look for talented individual singers, groups and or musicians to perform the National Anthem at 2012 home games. The auditions will take place on August 4th in conjunction with the team’s open practice at Sun Life Stadium. Fans will play a role in the selection process as they will have the opportunity to vote for the final anthem performer of the year. The winner of the fan vote will get to perform the National Anthem at the team’s final regular-season home game on December 23rd against the Buffalo Bills.

DOLPHINS TIDBITS: Tannehill’s first official pass completion of training camp came inside the practice bubble on a designed rollout to his right as he connected with Roberto Wallace for 12 yards. On the very next snap he handed the ball off to Chad Johnson on an end around going to the left. … Shortly after the team went outside and broke up into one-on-one drills, Tannehill lofted a pretty 35-yard pass to rookie running back Lamar Miller near the left sideline as Miller got behind linebacker Austin Spitler. … Miller looked very fast throughout the morning running the ball out of the backfield and catching passes, as well as returning punts. … When it was time for full-speed team drills, cornerback Vontae Davis showed off his leaping ability by breaking up a pass from Matt Moore on the first play. … Moore got his revenge a little later when he hit Legedu Naanee in stride in the left corner of the end zone on a 34-yard wheel route. Naanee got behind Davis. … Late in the practice, Tannehill was intercepted twice on balls that were tipped, once by Austin Spitler and once by Gary Guyton.
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