The Dolphins will employ a group approach at defensive tackle in 2018, breaking a pattern from recent years.
New defensive line coach Kris Kocurek said after practice Wednesday he's looking to spread the work load after Ndamukong Suh led all NFL defensive tackles last season in defensive snap count percentage.
"We plan on having four to five guys in there rolling," said Kocurek, who ironically coached Suh in Detroit before Suh joined the Dolphins in 2015. "I know Ndamukong played a lot of snaps last year; we plan on waving guys through this year. Having depth at the position always helps. We're going to rotate them through there and try to keep their snaps down as much as we possibly can and keep them playing as fast and as hard as we can go."
One of those players expected to be part of that rotation is newcomer Akeem Spence, who the Dolphins acquired in a trade May 3. Kocurek also is familiar with Spence, having coached him in Detroit last season when Spence started 11 games.
"Spence is a hard-working guy," Kocurek said. "Obviously, I put my name on it to bring him here. We got him here. He fits our style of play. He fits the culture we're trying to build in our locker room. He fits in with the guys. He's a team guy. He works really hard and he's really quick-twitched to play the type of aggressive defense that we want to play."
Renaldo return: Renaldo Hill is back with the Dolphins as an assistant coach, a little more than a decade after he played safety for the team. Ironically, Hill said Wednesday his first steps toward becoming a coach took place during his three seasons with the Dolphins, particularly his one season playing under Todd Bowles, who was assistant head coach/DB coach in 2008 and is now Jets head coach. "I would always come up here with Coach Bowles and he would kind of give me a brief plan of the game plan and I would kind of go take it off on my own and then try to reconvene later to try to see what he's picked up and what I've picked and see if I was on the right path." Hill was hired this offseason after he spent the past three years as defensive backs coach at the University of Pittsburgh. Hill's coaching career began at Wyoming in 2012, two years after he ended his 10-year NFL playing career with the Denver Broncos. "I always wanted to be connected to the game still," Hill said. "Regardless of where I went, everybody assumed that I would be a coach."
Distinguished visitors: Along with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School football team, another visitor at practice Wednesday was former NFL head coach and Dolphins assistant Dom Capers. Capers, who also watched practice Tuesday, worked with the Dolphins as assistant to the head coach in 2006 and defensive coordinator in 2007. He was head coach of the Carolina Panthers for their first four seasons (1995-98) and had another four-year stint as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars (2002-05).
Wilson watch: For the second time in two open OTA sessions, new wide receiver Albert Wilson came up with a big play. On Wednesday, Wilson made a nifty over-the-shoulder catch on a pass from David Fales near the sideline. Wilson had a long touchdown reception in the open practice a week ago.
Practice notes: Running back Frank Gore won't be doing a lot of work in the spring, but he did take part in team drills Wednesday. … CB Tony Lippett and WR Leonte Carroo both missed practice. … Charles Harris went through the individual drills and then ran with the strength and conditioning staff during team periods.
Delighted with deal: Kocurek said his reaction was pretty much the same as that of defensive coordinator Matt Burke when he was presented with the possibility the Dolphins would be trading for Rams defensive end Robert Quinn, a deal they officially completed in March. "He came into my office and kind of the way he described it is he kind of thought it was a joke to begin with. I kind of said the same thing when Coach Burke came in and said he wanted to watch Robert on film. I said, 'Come on now.' And then we figured out we were going to possibly get him. Obviously, I got excited about it. He's been a guy going all the way back to North Carolina that I've had my eye on. I liked him coming out of the draft. Obviously I've watched him throughout his NFL career. He fits our scheme. We're very fortunate to get him. As good a player as he is on the field, he's as good a guy off the field." Defensive end Andre Branch said he didn't know Quinn all that well before the trade, but likes what he's seen so far. "Great teammate," Branch said. "Great energy. Love to have him in the locker room."