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Notebook: Newest Additions Get Right To Work

Posted Jul 29, 2014

Flurry of roster moves sees five new players make their debut at Tuesday’s practice.

The Dolphins had a lot of new players at practice Tuesday after they made a flurry of roster moves over the past two days.

To be precise, five players suited up for the first time: offensive tackles Tony Hills and Steven Baker, quarterback Josh Lobato, defensive end D’Aundre Reed and tight end Brett Brackett.

Waived to make room for the new players were quarterback Brock Jensen, wide receiver Gerald Ford, tackle Michael Philipp and linebacker Derrell Johnson, while guard Davonte Wallace was waived injured.

Both Hills and Reed bring NFL experience. Hills has appeared in 12 games in stints with Pittsburgh, Denver and Indianapolis since being a fourth-round pick of the Steelers in 2008. Interestingly, two of Hills’ 12 games came in the playoffs — with the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV against Green Bay to close out the 2010 season and with the Broncos in the 2011 wild-card playoffs when Denver stunned Pittsburgh with an 80-yard touchown pass from Tim Tebow to Demaryius Thomas on the first snap of overtime.

Reed appeared in six games in 2012 with the Minnesota Vikings, who drafted him in the seventh round in 2011.

Hills practiced for the first time since Aug. 31 of last summer when he was a member of the Oakland Raiders.

“It’s just about having faith, first of all for me faith in God and then faith in my ability and then taking full advantage of the opportunities, not letting opportunities pass you by,” Hills said. “I feel like here in Miami I have an opportunity. There’s a lot of young guys here and I’m just trying to form my niche and do whatever the coaches ask of me.”

Like Jensen, the quarterback he replaced, Lobato comes to the Dolphins as an undrafted rookie free agent.

The 6-foot-6 Lobato was a three-year starter at Northern Colorado and spent some time with the Colts after they signed him this spring as a rookie free agent.

“He looked natural throwing the football,” Head Coach Joe Philbin said. “I don’t want to overcomplicate the position, but when he worked out, he’s a big guy. I thought his arm strength was good and he looked pretty natural throwing the ball. Obviously, we’re going to coach him and we’re going to give him some fundamentals that we think are important. When he threw, it just looked effortless at times. I think he has a strong arm. We don’t know a ton about him, but he made a good first impression.”

HARD DAY’S WORK

The Dolphins had easily their longest practice of training camp so far as they almost reached the three-hour mark.

The Dolphins spent a lot of time working on their red-zone offense and red-zone defense on the first of five consecutive days of practice.

“I thought it was a productive practice,” Philbin said. “This is a big, important part of training camp. We’ve changed it up from last year. We did three days and then took a day off. Now, we’ve got a five-day window here where we really have to get a lot accomplished.”

BACK IN ACTION

Koa Misi, Brandon Gibson and Mike Gillislee all were back at practice Tuesday and working all the way through.

The three of them all left practice early on Sunday, with Misi being spotted with an ice back on his right foot.

On the flip side, center Sam Brenner was carted off the field early in practice Tuesday. His right foot was uncovered as he left the field.

MR. VERSATILE

With Brenner leaving practice early, Nate Garner got work at center with both the first- and second-team offensive line.

Garner had worked at both tackle spots to that point, but he started two games at center last season in addition to getting four starts at left guard. Garner actually has started games at every offensive line spot other than left tackle during his NFL career.

DIFFERENT KIND OF NOISE

One change in training camp this year has been the introduction of music during certain drills. In years past, the Dolphins injected simulated crowd noise during certain portions of practice.

“We talk about it as a staff,” Philbin said. “Everybody brought different ideas. We have some new guys and we kick around some ideas in the off-season of things that we can maybe do differently to hopefully improve the practice atmosphere. It’s not always going to be music. When we get closer to a game, we’ll do some crowd noise as well. But I think it’s been a good addition.”

Count cornerback Brent Grimes as somebody in favor of the music.

“I like it,” Grimes said. “We used to do just the crowd noise and it’s kind of annoying. This, you get a little music, it makes you feel a little better, gets you through the practice. I like it.”

THIS AND THAT

Wide receiver Armon Binns had a couple of touchdown catches during seven-on-seven drills. ... Defensive backs Steven Clarke and Kevin Fogg and running back Damien Williams joined the list of regulars (Marcus Thigpen, Damian Williams, Jarvis Landry, Rantavious Wooten) in fielding kickoffs. ... Damien Williams, a rookie free agent, also worked with the first-team offense during a team period at the end of practice ... The one musical selection during the warmup period was “Hate Being Sober” by Chief Keef featuring 50 Cent and Wiz Khalifa.

LAST WORD

“I was speechless. It’s obviously an honor, first off. To be able to play in the NFL and to be looked at highly by the guys you go up against every week, it’s a good feeling, but at the same time I’m not satisfied at all being 89. My first reaction was, OK, now I’ve got to get better. It was a good feeling, but at the same time I don’t want to focus on that too much, I don’t want to hang on that too much.” — Tight end Charles Clay on earning a spot on the NFL Network’s Top 100 list as voted on by NFL players
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