Rookie orientation only happens once and this past three-day weekend in Davie will be the only time these Miami Dolphins players will have had the practice fields and weight room to themselves. So bonding rather than competing tends to be more beneficial.
Cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis recognized how working together could help in the long run from the very beginning, especially since they already had a good rapport from their time together at the Senior Bowl in January. Taylor was Miami’s second-round draft pick out of Boise State last week and Davis, from Utah State, went in the third round
“We’ve been talking a lot, but it’s mostly about how we can help each other out and just try to get better,” said Taylor, who at 5-foot-10 and 192 pounds drew a lot of attention from NFL scouts throughout the draft process. “My expectation is to just continue to learn. It’s a whole new stage. We’re starting all the way back over, so I want to just learn the best way I can and work from there.”
Talking to each other and being on the same page is imperative for all defensive backs, but the cornerbacks truly need to have a built-in connection. There is so much misdirection at play in today’s NFL offenses that pass coverage responsibilities can change on the fly.
Head Coach Joe Philbin was impressed with what he saw out of Taylor and Davis on Friday’s first day of live practice, considering this was their first exposure to defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle’s system. They had Thursday night to get acquainted with the playbook and these two appeared to do their homework.
“I thought their communication was good,” Philbin said. “I heard Jamar specifically. I might have been on his side (of the field) a little bit more than Will’s side. I like the fact that those guys were communicating. I watched some of their fundamental drills and they look like they both have good knee bend and move their feet pretty well, but obviously it was just a quick glance.”
Taylor and Davis actually were teammates in Mobile on the North squad and wound up on the losing end of a 21-13 score. Davis came up with his team’s lone interception, picking off Senior Bowl MVP E.J. Manuel, who was the only quarterback taken in the first round, and returning it 25 yards.
So even though the two players line up at the same position, Davis took the same approach as Taylor when it came to how he handled himself on the practice field and throughout the rookie camp.
“When you get on the field you’ve got to compete but I’m not really worried about everybody because you just have to make sure you’re putting in your effort,” Davis said. “Congratulate your teammates when they make a good play and then when you get in there try to do the same thing, make a good play and just keep competing.”
For Davis and Taylor, the next step is maintaining that attitude when the intensity of the competition heats up.