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AC In The AM: Players Being Honest With Themselves

Posted Jun 12, 2017

AC in the AM will appear during the offseason as events warrant. You can also follow AC in the AM on Twitter - @ACohenFins.

You know what resonated most with me after listening to so many of the Dolphins’ players talk during OTAs? The honesty. The self-evaluation. The urgency to correct some deficiencies. There was no avoiding the questions. Players accepted ownership for past mistakes and showed a real resolve to get things right.

They were candid and didn’t offer excuses. They looked in the mirror and didn’t like some of the things that they saw. So they entered this offseason with a new, more determined attitude. And they spoke freely about it in the press conferences conducted over the past three weeks.

This is good. This is refreshing. This is important. There is a high level of maturity on this team that is evident even in these early days of June and that maturity has rubbed off on some of the players that did not meet their own or this team’s expectations in 2016.

You don’t find that maturity on every team. We certainly haven’t seen that on every Dolphins’ team. But this group grew up together in so many ways last season, first with the adversity, then with the success, and we are seeing the results of that this offseason in so many different ways.

Like the players who have stood at the podium in the team’s large meeting room, speaking with their heart and soul about reaching a level they need to attain. Here are five examples:

• Wide receiver Leonte Carroo admitted this week that he didn’t approach his rookie season in the correct manner and that contributed to a lack of production on offense and inconsistencies on special teams. “Last year I didn’t have as good a year as I wanted,” Carroo said. “Kind of took being drafted for granted, wasn’t doing the little things right I was doing in college.” Now he returns for his second season intent on getting this right. He has re-dedicated himself in so many ways. “I’m attacking practice every single day to get better,” he said.

• Kick returner/receiver Jakeem Grant admitted that he let a few bad plays “mentally get to me” last season. That’s a sobering revelation by a player who is known for exuding such unbridled confidence. So it forced Grant to do some soul-searching this offseason – even invited punter Matt Darr out to Texas to work on his punt catching skills -- and the result so far has been far less drops, an important step forward.

• Right tackle Ja’Wuan James admitted that his technique needs refining and that he still has a ways to go before becoming “the best right tackle on the field every Sunday.” See, this isn’t about earning a starting job. James has been entrenched right there since his rookie season. This is about becoming more consistent and about reaching the level expected from a former first-round pick. “They are always going to hold us accountable,” James said. “I need someone to get on me when I do something wrong.” And you can be sure they certainly are.

• Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips admitted that he needs to start bringing it on every down. He said he hasn't played like a second-round pick and is determined to get it right. So he re-established some priorities in the offseason, holding some private workouts with Ndamukong Suh, and you get the feeling he now truly embraces and understands the opportunity that he has. “Time to step up my game,” he said. So far, the early results have suggested that he is well on his way.

• Running back Kenyan Drake admitted he needs to make better decisions on and off the field and that there were times last season when “I pressed on myself to make plays because I didn’t necessarily get the opportunities that I wanted.” There is no question that Drake has the skill set the Dolphins need. We saw that in flashes last season. Now the next step is refining his game and following instructions to the letter. “I need to make sure I’m where I’m supposed to be, when I’m supposed to be,” he said. Like the others, we have already seen indications that he has gotten the message. Training camp should tell us a lot more.

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