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Dolphins Close Minicamp With Spirited Spring Game

Posted Jun 19, 2014

Players were divided into two teams, and it was the White team that pulled out a 16-13 victory.

The Dolphins wrapped up their offseason conditioning program Thursday with a spirited 90-minute practice that looked almost like a game.

The players on the roster were divided into two teams, and it was the White team that pulled out a 16-13 victory. But what stood out about the practice were the performance of rookie wide receiver Jarvis Landry and the pass rush.

Playing for the Aqua team, Landry led all receivers with five catches for 67 yards, including a 21-yard pass from Ryan Tannehill.

“Jarvis, he’s ahead of the game,” said fellow wide receiver Mike Wallace. “He plays like a three-, four-year vet already. He’s really smart and crafty. He’s going to be good for us.”

The pass rush, meanwhile, produced eight sacks, four each for the Aqua and White defenses.

Defensive end Olivier Vernon, coming off a breakthrough 2013 season, led the way with 2.5 sacks, while rookie free agent Marcus Thompson had 1.5.

“At first glance it looked like we got pretty good pressure on the quarterback,” Head Coach Joe Philbin told reporters after practice.

Defensive end Cam Wake, waiting in the room to be interviewed, chimed in with a comment that elicited laughter from the assembled media: “Yeah, I think so, too.”

Wake also made his presence felt Thursday as he combined with Thompson on a sack and later dropped deep into coverage to make an interception, only to have it nullified because the play had been stopped when linebacker Jason Trusnik got to quarterback Pat Devlin for what would have been a sack.

Devlin accounted for one of the touchdowns for the White team when he scored on a 4-yard run. The White team also got a 6-yard touchdown pass from Matt Moore to Damian Williams on a fourth-and-1.

Based on unofficial stats, both Moore and Devlin completed 7 of 11 passes, Moore for 77 yards and Devlin for 49.

Tannehill, who quarterbacked the Aqua team, finished 18-of-27 for 191 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. The TD pass was a 17-yard hook-up with Armon Binns on a third-and-10.

Brock Jensen was 1-for-4 in two series and was sacked on the final play of the practice by fellow rookie free agent Garrison Smith.

It was a strong practice all around for Smith, who also pounced on a loose ball after a muffed exchange between Tannehill and running back Lamar Miller. Smith didn’t field the loose ball cleanly, but ultimately was able to fall on it.

“These gloves are kind of slippery and in a real game I usually switch them at halftime,” Smith said. “It was practice, so I didn’t switch them, so it kind of slid out of my hand a little bit. Trust me and believe me, if it was game time, I’m in the end zone doing my touchdown dance.”

The rest of the scoring in the scrimmage came from kicker Caleb Sturgis, who was good on field goal attempts of 32, 40 and 54 yards but also missed from 47 yards out.

The “spring game,” as Philbin dubbed it Wednesday, was heavily tilted toward the passing game, although Miller did have a nice 8-yard run.

Along with Landry, the players who stood out in the passing game were Brandon Gibson (four catches, 28 yards), Charles Clay (3-48) and Rishard Matthews (3-41).

The practice capped a good week for Gibson, who participated in team drills Tuesday for the first time all spring.

“This is standard for me,” said Gibson, who had catches on three consecutive plays at one point. “I try to make sure I go out there and try to pick up where I left off. that’s what I’m trying to do.”

For Philbin, more than anything, the practice was about giving his players a taste of game action without having coaches on top of them.

“I thought it was good,” he said. “There’s going to be some different things, different rules. We got a chance to do a lot of things. I thought overall the tempo was good.

“We didn’t have an overly complicated plan. It wasn’t like we called every defense or every offensive play that we have in the playbook. At the same point, we didn’t tell them exactly what we were going to run. So it was good to test their knowledge, test their understanding, can they think on their feet? Can they make a decision like that (snap his fingers) as they’re going to have to in games.”

The practice was a great way to wrap up the offseason program, which began back on April 21.

“It’s always fun to have these kind of contests because you’re split up but at the same time we’re always going to be teammates and at the end of the day we’re going to go out there and cheer for each other,” Wake said. “Even then, I found myself cheering for the defense even though it wasn’t the guys on my side of the ball.

“I felt it was competitive all around, whether it was defense or it was offense or receivers going against the DBs, or linebackers, running backs, whatever it was, you saw plays being made on both sides of the ball.”

HEALTHY AND HAPPY

Unlike other teams around the league, the Dolphins appeared to have completed their offseason conditioning program without a significant injury.

“Our strength and conditioning guys, Darren (Krein) and Dave (Puloka), really put together an excellent program,” Philbin said. “We had just outstanding attendance. We had 99 percent attendance in the voluntary phase. I’ve never been a part of anything like that. The players deserve credit for being in good condition and the staff and the trainers and all that. Certainly you don’t want to send the players out of the building and have multiple guys that you don’t know what their future looks like.”

SPRING STANDOUTS

Philbin was asked which players stood out during the nine-week offseason program, which included OTAs and minicamp, and he mentioned five players by name.

“I thought Rishard Matthews had a good camp,” Philbin said. “He’s making good progress. Dallas Thomas is a young guy who’s making good progress. I think Jelani Jenkins quietly is another guy that’s doing some things. Of course, you have Jamar (Taylor) and Will Davis, those guys. That’s the expectation that after 12 months already being a professional football player now the second go-around, they have a better handle on the expectations, how to act like a pro, how to practice like a pro, how to train like a pro, and some of those things we’re seeing on the field transferring there.”

Earlier, Philbin also commended veteran safety Reshad Jones for the work ethic he showed during the spring.

“It’s very noticeable on tape that he’s practicing harder on a more consistent basis,” Philbin said. “To a coach, those are good signs that a guy is doing a little bit extra, practicing a little bit harder.”

THIS AND THAT

Former Dolphins wide receiver Chris Chambers was at the Doctors Hospital Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University to take in the final practice of the spring. ... Rookie cornerback Walt Aikens celebrated his 23rd birthday Thursday ... Also celebrating his birthday on this day was Finsiders analyst John Congemi ... The musical selection for the stretching portion of practice was “Top Back” by T.I.

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