Before practice No. 2 in Tampa, Head Coach Mike McDaniel divulged his thinking on preseason game workloads. He didn't reveal his plan, which is ever-evolving with each piece of new information he gathers, but he did convey that the work accomplished in the joint session could influence his decision.
What the live viewing of Thursday's practice showed was indeed a productive practice for several of the veteran players on offense. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had it all working as he distributed the football to the many playmakers at his disposal. We'll get into that and the rest of the five takeaways on today's camp notebook.
To find the press conferences of Mike McDaniel, Tyreek Hill, Terron Armstead and more check out the team YouTube channel. For more analysis on today's practice, download the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield – available on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.
Here are the takeaways from the Day 12 of training camp 2022:
1. Everything including the kitchen sink
Being within earshot of the AdventHealth Training Center was enough to decipher the kind of show put on by the Dolphins offense Thursday against the Buccaneers. Thankfully, we had eyes on a sterling practice from the Tagovailoa, who showed off a plethora of different skills.
The best throw of the day was a 30-yard, needle-threading shot down the middle to Tyreek Hill, who had a great one-handed grab. Tua also found Jaylen Waddle between two defenders with a fastball later in practice.
Later, Tagovailoa lofted one to Mike Gesicki in the back corner of the end zone over a defender and just inside of the pylon.
A period later, Tagovailoa had an unblocked defender in his face as he rolled to his right. He flipped his hips, dropped the arm slot like that of a short stop and whipped a completion to fullback Alec Ingold.
Tagovailoa's timing, placement and feel was evident during one-one-ones and carried over to team periods. Perhaps most encouraging: the speed at which it appears Tagovailoa is processing information post-snap. On multiple occasions – from my vantage point right behind the end zone – Tua's helmet (eyes) went to one side of the field before snapping back to the other in unison with his throwing motion.
2. The playmakers
The wealth of yards and touchdowns was spread throughout, but it started in one-on-ones with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Each rep by the latter ended with No. 17 streaking into the end zone and a Bucs defender in tow.
Hill might've upped the ante on the separation generated by Waddle. Not only were the Tampa Bay defenders showing some frustration when covering the Cheetah, the chatter among the reporters on the end-line was that of disbelief.
The work translated to a team period with several scoring plays. Cedrick Wilson had a couple of strong catches in both periods but made his biggest impact on a Hill catch-and-run for six. Hill caught the ball behind the line and made a move to set up a pancake block from Wilson to spring Cheetah for six.
Gesicki caught a pair of touchdowns including one of Tagovailoa's best throws. The throw went above the entire Tampa Bay secondary, allowing the 6-foot-6 former volleyball star to climb the ladder and pull it down.
It's clear that Mohamed Sanu is a master of his craft. He's a tough cover. Erik Ezukanma had another productive day, Trent Sherfield made a handful of catches and Chase Edmonds provided another challenge for the Bucs linebackers in coverage.
3. The protectors
Terron Armstead had some 11-on-11 work and was on the field for Miami's first touchdown drive of practice. The Dolphins built some sturdy pockets. Manning the left side, Armstead has noticed the growth and viability of the right side of the line.
"We improved in communication," said Armstead. "I'm really excited about that. Technique-wise, I saw a lot of guys implement things they were struggling with earlier in camp. I think Austin Jackson had a great two days. Rob Hunt too. We're all just trying to get better – our wins and losses – and minimize those losses as we keep progressing."
Jackson noted his confidence as a pillar of his emergence this training camp. Naturally, we wanted to know the birthplace of that confidence:
"I think definitely with my work ethic this offseason and the work ethic that our coaches preached to us during OTAs, I think that's been able to help increase my confidence more than anything," Jackson said. "Just having a more deliberate work ethic."
4. Hands on footballs
Just as the Miami receivers made plays, the defensive backs followed suit. Jevon Holland and Trill Williams intercepted passes in the end zone and Keion Crossen got his hands on at least two more passes. That's five this week by my count. Holland's range was on display, closing down on passes to the perimeter and breaking up others, including another near-interception from Crossen.
"Keion has been making a bunch of plays," Holland said. "He's been around the ball. I tried to pop one up for him today on like a tip ball. Keion has been lights out today and yesterday too."
Xavien Howard broke up a would-be touchdown to Jaelan Darden in the team period one play before Noah Igbinoghene did the same thing. The coverage wasn't exclusive to the defensive backs as Duke Riley forced a target out of the back of the end zone to continue his strong camp.
5. Playing for each other
Wednesday, Mike McDaniel discussed what he's looking for at these joint practices, including a note on playing for one another. Curious to read into that philosophy more, I asked a few of the players what that means to them – the concept of playing for each other.
We are working for each other. Our job is to protect Tua, open lanes for Chase, Raheem, Myles, Sony and everybody. I’m working with Liam hand-in-hand, literally. What I do affects him. Dolphins LT Terron Armstead on playing for each other
"Offensively, I feel like for a wideout playing for each other is being smart, not getting stupid penalties and let's say for instance Raheem (Mostert) gets the ball, all receivers are blocking downfield, getting on the right assignment," Tyreek Hill said. "So not just being stupid, but getting stupid penalties."