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NOTEBOOK: Dolphins Hold Final Practice In Preparation For Preseason Opener

Posted Aug 6, 2014

The game against Atlanta represents a great opportunity for some of the team’s younger players to make their case for a roster spot or a bigger role on offense or defense.

The Dolphins held their final practice Wednesday in preparation for their preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons on Friday night at the Georgia Dome.

“Today, we had somewhat of a combination practice,” Head Coach Joe Philbin said. “We worked, obviously, Atlanta preparation in portions of the practice and then we did some what we call Miami versus Miami segments as well. ... Now, we told our guys when we broke as a team, the physical preparation for the Atlanta game is mostly done and now a lot of it is going to mental (preparation) as we get ready to play Friday night.”

As with every preseason opener, the game against Atlanta represents a great opportunity for some of the team’s younger players to make their case for a roster spot or a bigger role on offense or defense.

“It’s just a chance to get more plays on tape,” said tight end Kyle Miller, who spent all of last season on the practice squad and spent the final six weeks of the 2012 season on the Dolphins inactive list. “That’s really what we’re trying to do in the preseason is just get plays on tape, prove that we can play and give ourselves a chance to make the team. Anytime you get more playing time, it’s a chance to prove more.”

Said second-year cornerback Will Davis: “Everybody is fighting for a spot on the team or even for a position. Making plays in a game is big. Making plays in practice is big, too, but everybody knows when the lights are on in that stadium on Friday is when you want to make plays as well as the next preseason games after that. It’s definitely a big oppportunity that you want to take advantage of.”

Starters typically don’t play very long in the preseason opener, but linebacker Philip Wheeler still has specific objectives in mind for the game against Atlanta.

“Just to get back into a flow of playing somebody else, another team, and try to get my tackling techniques better,” he said. “Just want to brush up on things and then focus on some things that you need to focus on.”

JUST FOR KICKS

With Caleb Sturgis nursing a groin injury and a question mark for the game at Atlanta, kicker Danny Hrapmann was signed Tuesday night and proceeded to make both of his field goal attempts at practice Wednesday, one inside the bubble at the Doctors Hospital Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University and one outside.

“As a kicker, at this point of the year, there’s not a lot of spots open for guys,” Hrapmann said. “Unfortunately for Caleb, he’s nursing an injury right now. I’m just going to do what I can to try and help out and do my best.”

Hrapmann, who made 49 of 65 field goal attempts in his final two seasons at Southern Mississippi, attended training camp with the Pittsburgh Steelers the past two summers and was waived by the Arizona Cardinals last Friday after spending six months with the team.

He says waiting for that phone call from an NFL team to get a chance is the hardest part of being a kicker.

“It’s extremely tough,” he said. “There’s 32 jobs, but there’s no telling how many people are exactly out there waiting for one of those calls. You’ve just got to be grateful for every opportunity that you get.”

DISTINGUISHED GUESTS

Among the visitors at practice Wednesday was U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch (D.-21st District) and former Dolphins defensive end Trace Armstrong.

Armstrong, who played for Miami from 1995-2000, is sixth on the team’s all-time sack list with 51.5.

Also in attendance Wednesday was one of the team’s oldest fans, Dorothy Whitehouse from Deerfield Beach, who is exactly 100 years old.

HALL OF FAME ADVICE

Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe was the last Dolphins player working on the Jugs machine Wednesday, and he said he started doing that after a conversation last year with new Pro Football Hall of Fame member Derrick Brooks, the former great linebacker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“I actually reached out to Derrick Brooks and he asked him how to get all the interceptions like he did,” Ellerbe explained. “He told me, catch 25 balls after practice every day. So I’ve been catching 30.”

THIS AND THAT

Defensive end Olivier Vernon returned to practice Wednesday after missing a couple of days because of a back problem. ... Linebacker Jason Trusnik and safety Jordan Kovacs both had interceptions during team drills. ... The offensive highlight of practice came inside the bubble when Jarvis Landry caught a long touchdown pass from rookie quarterback Josh Lobato on a fly pattern. ... There two musical selections Wednesday for warmups: “A1 Everything” by Meek Mill featuring Kendrick Lamar and “California Love” by The Remix Cartell.

LAST WORD

“You’ve got to get past the heat and humidity. Right now I feel miserable. When I came in this morning, I felt pretty good. It’s one of those things where you kind of battle through. These are the dog days. This is the hard stuff. When you get into games, that’s adrenaline. That’s fun. Practice is the work. This is what they pay you to be here for. They pay you to come to practice because this is the hardest part of your day.” — Veteran guard Daryn Colledge after practice Wednesday
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