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NOTEBOOK: Jerry Making Big Strides Up Front; Other Notes

Posted Oct 3, 2012

Third-year right guard overcomes rough start.




There are a handful of positions in football where notoriety is not a good thing and offensive guard is one of them.

John Jerry gained some unwanted notoriety in August thanks to HBO’s Hard Knocks: Training Camp With The Miami Dolphins, and at the time he said publicly it didn’t bother him because he knew it was a show. Privately, he turned the episode that showcased his weight issues and conditioning concerns into a positive by pushing himself beyond his physical limitations and wound up earning the starting right guard job.

Through four games, Jerry has quietly become an integral member of an offensive line that is paving the way for the league’s fifth-best rushing attack. The Dolphins are averaging 4.6 yards per carry running behind Jerry, rookie right tackle Jonathan Martin, second-year center Mike Pouncey, left guard Richie Incognito and Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long. That reflects well on Jerry and his relationship with offensive line coach Jim Turner and assistant offensive line coach Chris Mosley.

“I think John’s in better physical condition. I think he has more endurance and stamina and I think he’s more serious about his profession,” said Head Coach Joe Philbin, whose background is as an offensive line coach. “I think he’s made a nice contribution and he’s developing nicely, but I think some of it is a reflection of Coach Turner and Mosley and the staff working with him. A lot of it is on him, he’s in better shape and he’s ready to roll more.”

Running back Reggie Bush is on pace to pile up just under 1,500 yards on the ground, and that’s with missing the entire second half of Miami’s overtime loss to the New York Jets two weeks ago. He and rookie Lamar Miller are each averaging 5.5 yards per carry and rookie fullback Jorvorskie Lane has emerged as a powerful force in short-yardage and goal line situations.

Lack of consistency on the offensive line had been Miami’s biggest issue in recent years, but Jerry took advantage of his own personal motivation and the untimely misfortunes of veteran guards Eric Steinbach (retired due to injury) and Artis Hicks (season-ending neck injury) to earn the trust of Philbin, offensive coordinator Mike Sherman and most importantly, offensive line coach Jim Turner.

“Obviously, he saw something in me that I didn’t see and that I wasn’t believing myself,” Jerry said of Turner. “He just really brought that out of me and just keeps pushing me every day. I’ve just got to give Coach Turner, Coach Philbin, Jeff Ireland and all of those guys a lot of credit for having faith in me and just believing in me. As each week comes I’m just getting more and more confident in what I’m doing.”

Now Jerry and Martin are emerging as two of the more impressive young guard and tackle duos in the AFC. Only Jerry and Martin no doubt would prefer to remain anonymous.

INJURY UPDATE

Linebacker Kevin Burnett (foot) and cornerbacks Nolan Carroll (Achilles) and Richard Marshall (back) did not practice today for the Dolphins. … Running back Reggie Bush (hip), defensive tackle Tony McDaniel (knee) and linebacker Austin Spitler (groin) were limited. … Wide receiver Marlon Moore (hamstring) and defensive tackle Paul Soliai (ankle) participated in a full practice. … For the Bengals, cornerback Jason Allen (quad) and linebacker Dan Skuta (back) did not practice. … Cornerbacks Nate Clements (calf), Leon Hall (hamstring) and Dre Kirkpatrick (knee), defensive end Carlos Dunlap (groin), center Jeff Faine (hamstring), halfback Bernard Scott (ankle) and offensive tackle Andrew Whitworh (knee) were limited.

LOCKER ROOM TALK

“I think I’m getting more comfortable. I don’t know if it was like an instant where I said, ‘Oh, it’s so much easier now,’ but I think I’m getting more comfortable the more reps I get. (I’m) just getting more comfortable with the offensive line adjusting things. They’re kind of seeing things and are expecting for me to say something, so whenever I do it, we make the decision quickly, they get adjusted quickly and then we can go. I think the pace and everything is picking up as far as identifying things, getting adjusted quickly and then running the play.” – rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill on his progression and handling of the blitz

“He is deceptively fast. I’ve had that label before too. It’s just kind of a stigma that comes with it. If it helps you, then it helps you. I don’t know if teams underestimate or anything, but he’s making plays for us and it doesn’t matter what color you are. If you can play football, you can play football. It’s not a racist game. Once you’re out on the field, everything’s the same. I’m excited about what he’s done for us as well as other receivers, Davone (Bess) stepping up, having a big game as well.” – Tannehill on wide receiver Brian Hartline being labeled deceptively fast

“After today it feels a lot better and there’s a huge difference. During the game I was hurting, I’m not going to lie. But I tried to fight through it and did the best I could, but either way we’ve still got to get the wind. I’m not going to make excuses. I’ve got to play better and I didn’t play well at all, so we’ve got to get back to the basics.” – running back Reggie Bush on how his knee is feeling and on the team in general

“They’ve got bigger bodies up there and another week where you have a good, strong set of offensive players and guys that can take it all in chunks. You get up there you stop the run and get three and outs and three and outs and then all of a sudden they hit a bomb, so you have to make sure your on top of your game play in and play out.” – defensive end Cameron Wake on Cincinnati’s explosive offense

“They’ve got a strong front four with some really good secondary players and some athletic linebackers, so they have it all. They’re active, they penetrate and I think they’re leading the league in sacks, so they know how to rush the passer, which is probably the most important thing.” – tight end Anthony Fasano on the Bengals defense

COACH SPEAK

“I think they’re doing a good job but again, I’m not worried about what other people thought of our receivers. What I’m worried about is are they getting open, are they catching the football consistently and are they helping us move into scoring territory and ultimately score points? So I think they’re developing.” – Philbin on if his wide receiving corps has changed perceptions

“They’re both excellent football players, game changing type guys who make big momentum plays. It’s going to be tough and it’s going to be a challenge, no doubt about it. He’s an impact player, no question.” – Philbin on defending Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green

“They’re very athletic and they have a great pass rush. They have 17 sacks, they’re physical and they’re working through some injuries but it’s a very good defense and a good scheme. Coach (Mike) Zimmer’s been in the league a long time, he’s an excellent coach and they’ve got a good staff there. It’s going to be a challenge because they’ve got some guys with a lot of length and quickness up front, so it’s going to be a test for our offensive line.” – Philbin on Cincinnati’s defense

“They’re probably sitting in their offensive staff room in Cincinnati saying, ‘Yeah, Kevin’s doing this and this and this and Kevin liked that.’ So it’s probably a wash.” – Philbin on how much defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle having coached in Cincinnati can help the Dolphins on Sunday

WORDS FROM THE OPPOSITION

“He’s the leader of this team and he acts like it and he has command of this offense. That’s one guy as the game goes on he never gets rattled no matter what the situation is.” – Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green on his second-year quarterback, Andy Dalton

“I think he has a real comfort with what he’s doing offensively. I think the guy was put in the national spotlight with the whole HBO deal, and I’m sure he’s welcomed being out of that, and being able to go back and focus on playing football. He’s a really talented guy. Mike’s coached him for a long time, so he understands him. I’m sure they understand each other. They speak and talk through the same language, and he’s had none of that coming in, which is great for him. You see the benefit of that, the way he’s playing.” – Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis on Ryan Tannehill

“They’ve done a nice job thus far stopping the run, and they’ve had the lead in some games so people have had to throw the football against them as well. They have big, physical guys up front. Starks is a fine, fine player. The nose tackle (Paul Soliai) is an excellent player. They’re getting great play from (No.) 55 (Koa Misi), the Sam backer. They’re doing great things. They’re a big, physical front group, and man to man to man, each guy is doing his thing and doing a good job, and they’re very effective.” – Lewis on Miami’s top-ranked run defense

DOLPHINS TIDBITS

## New wide receiver Jabar Gaffney spent some extra time early in practice working with wide receivers coach Ken O’Keefe and looked pretty comfortable during some positional drills and routes on air.

## There was a look of surprise on most of the players’ faces when Shannon’s “Electric Slide” came on over the loudspeakers as the first song during stretching and warm-ups. However, unlike last week when Cameron Wake, Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett performed a nifty line dance, nobody broke out the popular wedding dance moves. Things returned to normal with the second song, “Thuggish Ruggish Bone,” by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.

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