Veterans And Rookies Mesh Well In First Full-Squad OTA

Posted May 22, 2012

Both practice fields got quite a workout this morning at the Miami Dolphins Training Facility as new Head Coach Joe Philbin had the full 89 players at his disposal for the first time.

Rookies got to work with veterans and get a taste of the faster speed at the NFL level and the veterans got yet another glimpse of what the new offense under Philbin and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman looks like in action. There were a lot of moving parts in all three facets of the game at play and Philbin looked almost as out of breath as some of his players following the first OTA of the preseason.

“I was really pleased with the effort out there today and I thought the execution was relatively good for the vast majority of practice,” Philbin said. “I think the last team period that we had things got a little bit sloppy. My guess is that guys got a little tired, maybe the heat caught up with them or the reps caught up with them, but overall I was pleased.”

Prior to this first of a three-day session, the only other action on the practice fields took place before the 2012 NFL Draft during a voluntary veteran mini-camp and then the rookie mini-camp after the draft. So to see both groups together running through the same drills was something that Philbin and his coaching staff had been looking forward to.

Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill looked relatively at ease handing the ball off to Reggie Bush and rookie Lamar Miller while being protected by the likes of Jake Long and Mike Pouncey. He also got to throw passes to veteran wide receivers Davone Bess and Brian Hartline as well as rookies B.J. Cunningham, Rishard Matthews and his former teammate at Texas A&M, Jeff Fuller.

“It was exciting to really get to work with those guys for the first time,” said Tannehill, who became the first Dolphins quarterback taken in the first round since Hall-of-Famer Dan Marino in 1983. “We had kind of the walk-thru practices last week where everything was kind of half speed and we were really not going full speed. So it was good to get to throw to those guys for the first time going full speed against our secondary and I was just excited to be on the field.”

This was also the first chance that Tannehill got to share the field with returning veteran quarterback Matt Moore and veteran free agent signee David Garrard. Even though he was paying close attention to their practice habits, Garrard admitted that he and Moore are getting tips from Tannehill at the same time.

Philbin kept a close eye on that group, including second-year quarterback Pat Devlin, and watched how all of them worked with the receivers, running backs and offensive linemen. He came away pleasantly surprised and very impressed.

“I can’t say enough about the professionalism of Matt and David Garrard and Pat Devlin. Those guys have been exceptional,” Philbin said. “You watch them on the field they’re encouraging one another and they’re doing the same with Ryan when Ryan’s up. It’s impressive to watch and they’re pros. They know what the deal is, they know what the stakes are but they’re helping one another out and they’re eager.”

Philbin revealed that Moore asked him after the veterans were finished if he could stay out there on the practice field and watch the rookies go through the next drills. He identified the group of quarterbacks as one of the most impressive groups in camp, and now the other positions will get to leave an impression tomorrow, Thursday and then during next week’s three-day OTA sessions before the June mini-camp.

DOLPHIN TIDBITS: Bush experienced a bit of déjà vu in practice when he went back to field punts during special teams drills. He was the primary punt returner for the New Orleans Saints from 2006-10 but only returned six punts last year for the Dolphins. … Rookie wide receiver B.J. Cunningham, who is one of two draft picks to have signed contracts, showed good hand-eye coordination on a pass from Tannehill that was tipped by safety Jimmy Wilson in a 7-on-7 drill. He made a juggling one-handed catch on his way to the end zone. …Miller made his presence known by showing his speed after catching a slant in front of Wilson and racing into the end zone. … Among the guest coaches on hand were former Dolphins defensive line coach Dan Quinn and former Green Bay Packers guard Marco Rivera.

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