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Top News: New Defensive Pieces In Place

Posted May 12, 2018

Defensive coordinator Matt Burke was asked for his input before the Dolphins made the trade with the Los Angeles Rams to acquire defensive end Robert Quinn, and he gave his full endorsement not once but twice.

Burke said Saturday he was asked to watch some game film of Quinn before rendering his opinion. He immediately said he was 100 percent behind the move — and then watched the film with new defensive line coach Kris Kocurek.

Nothing that has happened in the first part of the offseason program has made Burke change his opinion.

“Even going back when he came back in the draft, we were really high on him when I was in Detroit,” Burke said. “We thought he was a really good scheme fit for what we were trying to do. He has a rare ability to bend. It’s kind of freaky to watch sometimes, even going through drill work. He’s one of the loosest, kind of bendy athletes I’ve ever been around at that position.

“He’s been great. He’s been a good worker. He doesn’t say much, kind of quiet guy. He just comes to work every day with a smile on his face and gets after it. I think he feels comfortable being in a scheme that fits his skill set. I’m real excited to see what he can do for us.”

Sold on Sanders: The Dolphins made Jason Sanders the second kicker taken in the 2018 NFL draft when they selected him in the seventh round. The Dolphins worked out Sanders before the draft and came away impressed, even though he missed 10 of 35 field goal attempts during his time at the University of New Mexico.

“The No. 1 thing when we’re looking at the kicker, the talent, the ability … when look at college placekicker, one of last things I look at is field goal percentage,” Associate Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Darren Rizzi said. “His operation (with the snapper and holder) wasn’t great. I was really impressed with the talent, the person and we felt strong enough to draft him.” To prove his point about college field goal percentages being misleading, Rizzi ran down the college marks of longtime NFL kickers Stephen Gostkowski (76.1), Mason Crosby (74.7), Phil Dawson (74.7), Matt Bryant (72.4) and Robbie Gould (63.9). “Field goal percentage probably gets looked at a little bit too much,” Rizzi said.

Return options: Jakeem Grant handled most of the punt returns in 2017 (36 of 51, to be precise), but the Dolphins will be looking for another second option now that Jarvis Landry is in Cleveland. Rizzi said the Dolphins have solid options because new wide receivers Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson both have punt return experience in the NFL. When it comes to kickoff returns, the Dolphins have another option as well in the form of rookie fourth-round pick Kalen Ballage, who returned 49 kickoffs the past two seasons.

Tannehill take: Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has made a good first impression on new offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, both on and off the field.

“It’s been impressive to see Ryan really throw the football and the command he has of the offense,” Loggains said. “The 2016 season, he had such a good year. I turned on (video of) the OTAs and the training camp before he got hurt and got the watch how much improvement and how much jump he was taking in year two. It was unfortunate he got hurt.” Loggains said he has been impressed by Tannehill’s intelligence and his work ethic. “One thing I didn’t know about Ryan before I got here is how much he loves football. What I’ve been able to see from him is he’s a great thrower. There’s not a throw he can’t make. I’m really fired up to work with him.”

Tackling a position: The Dolphins will have a new look at defensive tackle with Ndamukong Suh no longer on the roster, but Burke likes what he has on the roster at that position. The Dolphins recently bolstered their depth at that spot by trading for five-year NFL veteran Akeem Spence, who will join Jordan Phillips, Davon Godchaux, Vincent Taylor and Gabe Wright.

“I’m excited about that room,” Burke said. “We’ve got some young players in there. Adding Akeem was a nice piece for us. It’s going to be open competition. In an ideal world, we play four tackles and we rotate them through.”
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