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OTA NOTEBOOK: Pennington Comes Home To Mentor; Other Notes

Posted May 29, 2013

Former Dolphins quarterback works with QBs in the bubble.





It’s been three years since Chad Pennington had been part of a Miami Dolphins practice, but there he was today decked out in a white, long-sleeve Dolphins workout shirt and a Dolphins ball cap.

Pennington had a notebook and a pen and was working closely with the quarterbacks imparting some of the wisdom that made him the NFL’s most efficient quarterback over an 11-year career. He spent his last three seasons in Miami after being a New York Jet for eight seasons, and current Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill soaked it all in.

“Chad’s a good guy to learn from,” Tannehill said. “He was around the game a long time and still is around the game. He’s wanting to help, which makes a difference. It’s exciting for me to get to work with a guy that played at a high level for a long time, so any piece of information I can pick up from him I’m soaking it up.”

With a career completion percentage of 66.0 and one of the most efficient seasons in franchise history back in 2008, Pennington’s words carry a lot of weight. He was the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year twice and in that 2008 season he completed 321-of-476 passes for 3,653 yards, 19 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.

Head Coach Joe Philbin has had other former players and guest coaches attend practices to add something to the experience, so this was another opportunity for him to do it with a known commodity.

“I think it’s excellent for the players and staff to hear at times a different perspective on things,” Philbin said. “We’ve been around our offense for a while and we know what we like to do, so sometimes it’s good to hear from other people how things are done. They may see it with a different and see it a different way and he’s obviously working with the quarterbacks and it’s great to have him here.”

DEFENSE WINS THE DAY

Even though Philbin revealed that the focus of today’s practice was on red zone offense, his defensive unit made life difficult all over the field.

Linebackers Alonzo Highsmith and Koa Misi, cornerback De’Andre Presley and safety Kelcie McCray all came away with interceptions. Presley, Misi and McCray all stepped in front of the intended receiver and headed the other direction for what would have been touchdowns, while Highsmith was in the right place in the middle of the field to pick off a Aaron Corp pass.

“I said afterwards that I was a defensive coach today because they had all the takeaways and got all the offense that I thought I knew at one point,” said Philbin, who still likes to look at the film to make a firm observation. “Obviously, it’s good to make plays and that’s why there’s so much good teaching going on. I’m sure it looked like the defense had the upper hand, however, I’m sure there’s a lot of things that they need to clean up and correct.”

ROOKIE WR GARDNER THROWN INTO THE FIRE

One day after being signed to the roster, big rookie wide receiver Courtney Gardner hit the ground running in Philbin’s fast-paced practice. If he wasn’t running routes and catching passes in 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills he was helping on special teams.

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound raw prospect has just one year of college under his belt at Sierra College back in 2011, where caught 61 passes for 1,099 yards and 10 touchdowns as a sophomore. He had agreed to terms as an undrafted rookie free agent with the San Diego Chargers earlier this month but he and the Chargers mutually agreed to part ways, and now he’s trying to make the most of this opportunity.

“I’m catching on and I know the formations and the basic stuff,” said Gardner, who looks to Julio Jones, Dwayne Bowe and Calvin Johnson as receivers he’d like to emulate. “I’m just getting down the hand signals now and I’m just trying to get my career started. (The Dolphins) just loved the raw athletic ability that I have and they want me to come in and really fight for a roster spot.”

THIS AND THAT

Wide receiver Mike Wallace was absent from today's voluntary OTA session. … With the rain forcing the team inside for the entire practice session, the players warmed up and stretched to some upbeat music again, starting off with “The Harlem Shake,” and closing with “Jam On It,” by Newcleus. … Rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis continued to impress with his leg strength as he was booming field goals with plenty of distance to spare from all distances. … Running back Daniel Thomas showed off his agility and quickness on an early screen pass as he made a sharp cut to avoid a tackler and kept his balance during the run after catch.

THE FINAL WORD

“I saw Ryan as he stepped off the elevator and he said, ‘Well, it wasn’t one of our better days,’ and I said, ‘That’s why you’re going into the film room to learn and correct.’ It’s that cycle of development that we talk about all the time.” – Head Coach Joe Philbin
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