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AC in the AM: OTAs Providing Some Clarity

Posted Jun 8, 2017

AC in the AM will appear during the offseason as events warrant. You can also follow AC in the AM on twitter @acohenfins.

With OTAs ending today and only a three-day Mini Camp remaining before a six-week break, here are 10 things we now know about the Dolphins that maybe we weren’t quite sure of heading into these offseason workouts:

1. Ryan Tannehill is fine: No doubt there are still some obstacles to clear, like taking the first hit on his brace-protected left knee. But everything we have seen of Tannehill this offseason has been positive and there are no indications that he will be slowed at all, or that his game will have to change, because of those sprained ligaments he sustained late last season. As fellow quarterback Matt Moore put it, “he looks fantastic.”

2. DeVante Parker looks like a different player: First, he is healthy and for Parker, that’s significant progress. Next, he has totally bought into the system, keeping himself in excellent shape while trying to master some of the finer nuances of his position. The explosion off the line. The sure hands. The confidence. It’s all there. “He’s growing like everyone wanted him to,” said Moore. The next step is continuing it all in training camp.

3. Charles Harris is the real deal: I know we haven’t seen him in pads yet, but I’ve seen enough of Harris to know that he will be making a difference early on in his career. The first step is as good as advertised. In many ways, he reminds me of a young Cam Wake. Perhaps most surprising is his skill set against the run. Adam Gase called Harris “disruptive” which is exactly what they were hoping for when he was selected with the No. 14 pick of the first round.

4. Jay Ajayi has improved his receiving: We see it just about every day on the practice field. Ajayi takes a pass out of the backfield, or across the middle, and does it almost effortlessly. The goal this season was to make Ajayi more multi-dimensional and that started with his pass receiving skills. It seems to be working out just fine and, in fact, offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen called Ajayi “maybe the most improved guy out there this offseason.”

5. Julius Thomas is the big play tight end the Dolphins so badly needed: You can tell in practice. You can see he is different than most. The way he races down the middle of the field. How he catches the ball. How he runs his routes. How he does all of this with 256 pounds packed tightly in a 6-foot-5 frame. Bottom Line: Thomas can help take this passing attack to another level.

6. Jordan Phillips is growing up: Inconsistent his first two seasons here, Phillips admitted that he needs to change that in a hurry. We’re seeing early signs that he is on his way. He spent time this offseason with Ndamukong Suh. He came to terms with his own shortcomings. He seems to have improved his level of effort. While consistency can only be judged over time, Phillips has looked good in offseason workouts. But he’ll be the first to tell you that he needs to prove himself every day.

7. Patience will be needed with Mike Pouncey and Koa Misi: The goal with both players is long-term. Who really cares what they look like in June? Both are coming off significant injuries, Pouncey to his hip and Misi to his neck. Adam Gase has made it clear that both will be moved along slowly, and every objective is centered on getting them ready for the regular season. So, to nobody’s surprise, neither has hit the practice field in OTAS nor should we expect them to practice next week in Mini Camp.

8. Reshad Jones looks like his old self: His injured shoulder now fully healed, his mojo clearly back in place, Jones has picked up exactly where he left off prior to the injury and that’s the best possible news for this Dolphins defense. His absence was felt in all sorts of ways last season and now his presence is being felt every day on the practice field. Great to see No. 20 back out there.

9. Matt Burke has the trust of his players: The first-year defensive coordinator showed us what he is all about during OTAs. He stands back there in the secondary, arms folded, carefully surveying everything around him. There is a calm about him that his players embrace and an Ivy League education they respect. They also value the fact that Burke, for the most part, will keep the same defense run by Vance Joseph a season ago. “He will get our defense right,” predicted linebacker Mike Hull.

10. Adam Gase hasn’t changed a bit: We really didn’t think he would, but after the success of a 10-win season and a trip to the playoffs, we wondered what his mindset would be heading into his second season. If he anything, he is hungrier than he was as a rookie head coach and even more determined to continue what he started. The passion. The drive. The enthusiasm. It’s all part of his DNA. “He keeps reminding the guys not to be complacent,” said associate head coach Darren Rizzi. And it clearly starts at the top.

The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by our columnists and bloggers represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.