The return of football is always a welcome sight, perhaps now more than ever before. An arduous offseason is in the books and everyone's favorite time of year is on the precipice. August in Miami means heat, humidity, hitting and hard decisions made in order to trim the roster down to 53 in time for Week 1.
In this training camp preview, we're going position-by-position giving you a glimpse into every member of the Miami Dolphins roster. We'll cover all the angles including who the players are on the field and off of it.
On today's docket, the edge defenders, in order of jersey number.
July 27 - Tight Ends
July 29 - Quarterbacks
July 30 - Wide Receivers
August 3 - Running Backs
August 4 - Offensive Line (Part 1)
August 5 - Offensive Line (Part 2)
August 6 - Interior Defensive Line
August 8 - Edge
August 10 - Off-Ball Linebackers
August 11 - Cornerbacks
August 12 - Safeties
Andrew Van Ginkel – 1 accrued seasons (2nd in MIA)
Opening Day Age: 25
After a strong summer camp and preseason, Van Ginkel spent the first 10 games of his rookie year on injured reserve. He returned for the final six games and picked up where he left off in August. Playing as an on-ball, stand-up edge defender, Van Ginkel is impactful in all three phases – rushing, coverage and against the run.
An instinctive player, Van Ginkel is particularly adept at processing routes in coverage and closing down as a curl/flat defender. At Wisconsin, this led to two big interceptions – including one returned for a touchdown in the 2018 Big 10 Championship game – and produced only 10 yards allowed on 20 coverage snaps as a rookie.
"When we drafted (Van Ginkel), we thought we were getting a young, physical, smart, tough, young player," Flores said. "(He) can play a few different roles and has some pass rush, has some set-edge ability, has some special teams value. (He) did a good job early in training camp and last week he strung a couple of good practices together, so we'll see how that goes (and) see if he can carve out a role for himself this week."
Van Ginkel made 15 tackles – four for loss – with seven coming within two yards of the line of scrimmage in his first NFL season. He pressured the quarterback six times and notched his first career sack against the Jets in Week 14.
Vince Biegel – 3 accrued seasons (2nd in MIA)
Opening Day Age: 27
Acquired in a trade last September, Biegel led the 2019 Dolphins with 34 quarterback pressures. He was a quick study in limited time as he acclimated to a defense that features multiple fronts – which leads to some snaps on the ball in a three-point stance and some up in a two-point as a stand-up outside linebacker. Per Pro Football Focus, Biegel played 576 snaps on the line (no differentiating between a down lineman or two-point stance) and 45 snaps as a true off-ball linebacker.
"Vince brings a great effort, great intensity, great attention to detail," Flores said after Biegel's snap count significantly increased in Week 6. "He's smart. It's very, very important to him. He practices hard. All things that you want out of your players and I think he's a young player that's developing, and I think that there is something to develop there. He's got a long way to go as far as just learning overall defense – our defense and then how offenses play week to week. His role could be very different. It could be very multi – he could rush, he could drop, he could get involved in some games and some stunts. That changes week to week. He's got a lot to learn. He's got something to learn every week.
After playing only 48 defensive snaps before the Week 5 bye, Biegel became a permanent fixture. The first-year Dolphin logged 577 snaps with at least one QB pressure in each game except for one (Week 15 at the Giants; a game where he intercepted a pass).
Biegel did more than rush the passer. He made 22 run stops and allowed only 24 yards on 71 coverage snaps (targeted four times). Biegel wins with a crafty arsenal of rush moves and a motor that never quits – the latter producing a tremendous hustle play in the Week 10 win at Indianapolis
Vince Biegel is playing out of his mind pic.twitter.com/LatyvVFNyl— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) November 13, 2019
Kyle Van Noy – 6 accrued seasons (1st in MIA)
Opening Day Age: 29
The reunion of Kyle Van Noy back in Brian Flores' defense has the look of a perfect marriage. Van Noy's an accomplished linebacker in all three phases of the game. He's capable of aligning all over the formation, and he's willing to contribute in the kicking game if called upon. Last season with the Patriots, Van Noy played 776 of his defensive snaps on the ball (99 off-ball). In 2018 -- when Flores was the play caller -- his workload was more evenly split (563 on-ball, 564 off-ball). He also played 147 snaps on special teams in 2018 under Flores.
From a 2018 interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, Van Noy talked about the relationship Flores has with his players and the two-way street of communication.
"I think it's just he's able to communicate with everybody on the defense," Van Noy said. "So he's able to get after guys when needed and he compliments them when needed. He brings a different element to the table. And we enjoy it, we embrace it and we just want to play hard for him."
Last season, Van Noy was classified as an edge defender on PFF. He tallied 60 quarterback pressures (18 among edges), 33 run stops and allowed only 95 yards on 92 coverage snaps. In 2018, he rushed the passer 159 fewer times than 2018 – classified as a linebacker -- and finished second among his position group with 36 pressures. His veteran presence and consistent work fitting the run and executing the many games (stunts, twists, slants) in the pass rush department should provide both production and more opportunities for his teammates.
Tyshun Render – Rookie
College: Middle Tennessee State
Opening Day Age: 23
Coach Flores hammers home the requisite criteria to play for his Miami Dolphins on a regular basis – tough, smart players that love the game. Tyshun Render, according to one of one of his coaches at Middle Tennessee State, has exactly that mindset when he buckles the chinstrap.
"Big Rend is a guy that you can throw on Tuesday practice tape in the dog days of the season and witness him on the backside of a play run the opposite direction from him and he would turn and bust his butt to make a 'save the day' play," the coach said. "He consistently had effort that we would use as an example of how to play defensive football."
Render registered 10 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception in his final year as a collegian. He won MTSU's Defensive Player of the Week six times and won the team's "Grinder Award" for his work in the program's spring practices.
Shaq Lawson – 4 accrued seasons (1st in MIA)
Opening Day Age: 26
Like Van Noy, 2020 is something of a reunion for Shaq Lawson. After a four-year stint with the Bills, the new Dolphins edge defender will team back up with Marion Hobby, who was Lawson's position coach at Clemson. Lawson brings size, strength and disruption as a pass rusher off the edge to Miami.
Lawson notched career highs in sacks (6.5), quarterback pressures (40), run stops (25) tackles for loss (13) and snaps played (520) last season. The 13 TFLs ranked 21st in the NFL and 13th among defensive ends and his 18 quarterback hits were 17th among players classified as defensive ends.
According to Flores, Lawson and teammate Emmanuel Ogbah fit the criteria of what the Dolphins were looking for when the team signed the free agent ends.
"We wanted to bring in good players – guys who fit the criteria we're looking for: tough, smart, talented, able to communicate – and I think we feel good about the guys we acquired; but at the same time, it takes time for a defensive line to gel, so we need to hit the practice field," Flores said.
Emmanuel Ogbah – 4 accrued seasons (1st in MIA)
College: Oklahoma State
Opening Day Age: 26
Built like something you'd see in a football player manufacturing lab, Ogbah is a tank. At 6-foot-4, 273 pounds with 35.5-inch arms, Ogbah comes equipped with the length, strength and athletic profile to help the Dolphins edge defending exponentially.
The heavy-handed production translated to Ogbah's NFL tape. He's an effective contain rusher that can overwhelm tackles with power and dent the edge considerably to free up linebackers to pursue the run game.
Ogbah had a career-high 5.5 sacks last season for the Chiefs despite playing in just 10 games and a career-low 251 pass rush reps. Through four years, Ogbah tallied 18 sacks and 2,527 reps – an average of 631.8 snaps per year.
The pressure data from Ogbah's career has been consistent. With 125 pressures spread across his four seasons, Ogbah's career pass rush productivity rate is 8.3 percent. Last year in Kansas City, Ogbah produced a 10.7 percent pressure rate, topping his career-best 9.4 pressure rate his rookie year in 2016 with the Browns.
Ogbah's run defending numbers have also been consistent. With 83 run stops (tackles within two yards of the line of scrimmage) on 965 running down reps, his career run stop rate is 8.6 percent. Among players with 10 or more games played, Ogbah's 10.6 percent run stop rate in 2019 ranked fourth in the NFL.
Curtis Weaver – Rookie
College: Boise State
Opening Day Age: 22
The all-time sacks leader in the Mountain West Conference (38), Curtis Weaver's production matched the football make-up scouts say he exhibits. NFL.com's Lance Zierlein notes the athletic ability and football I.Q. in his report.
"Weaver is a naturally instinctive counter-rusher who uses synchronized hands/feet to attack both inside and outside edges as a rusher. He plays with football intelligence, his hands and feet work in unison and he plays past blockers with his eyes."
That slippery arsenal of moves and play recognition didn't just produce sacks for Weaver at Boise State; he was a regular in the backfield against the run. With heavy hands, balance and body control, and enough power to collapse the edge, Weaver racked up 47.5 tackles for loss in three years.