The next time you see the Dolphins on a football field it will be on Saturday for the 2022 debut at Hard Rock Stadium, when they take on the Las Vegas Raiders. Nobody is more excited about it than Head Coach Mike McDaniel.
"Since I've been here," he said, "I've just been like, 'Wow, this Miami Dolphins fan base is phenomenal.' Just hearing the feedback, seeing the fans out at practice, I know there's going to be a lot of energy and people are excited about seeing their players and their team."
To find the press conferences of Christian Wilkins, Durham Smythe, Jevon Holland 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.
To read the previous 14 training camp notebooks, click here.
Here are the takeaways from the Day 15 of training camp 2022:
1. Accurate, catchable footballs
As practice moved from the climate-controlled indoor facility to the scorching Miami August sun, the temperature wasn't the only thing that heated up. Tua Tagovailoa found Trent Sherfield over the top for a long touchdown to kick-off the team period of practice.
Later, Tagovailoa showed the arm talent on a 30-yard shot up the sideline and down the elevator shaft to Tyreek Hill. It's hard to find elements of Hill's game that aren't elite, as he showed his veteran savvy on this particular ball. Waiting until the football was nearly in the breadbasket, Hill kept his hands tight and made it difficult for the nearby defender to judge the location of the ball. Both Hill and Sherfield have had fantastic camps.
So has Tagovailoa.
The indoor portion of practice put the media behind the goalpost on the balcony overlooking the artificial turf. That vantage point allows one to truly appreciate the accuracy of Tagovailoa. The football is consistently on guys coming out of their breaks in a position to lead them into the run after the catch.
In a hurry-up situation, Tagovailoa completed four straight passes against various rush looks of the Miami defense. His processing was sharp as the ball consistently replaced the vacancy left by the extra rusher. Then, on the fifth play, that ball hawk in the middle of the defense did what he's been doing all camp.
2. From out of nowhere
It's four picks in three days for Jevon Holland as the sophomore safety has had a sterling camp showing.
"He's so instinctual," tight end Durham Smythe said about Holland. "He's obviously a great athlete but the instincts just put him apart. He makes plays that he really shouldn't be making in terms of what his job is in the defense on certain plays. When you have a guy like that kind of expects, or really knows what's coming and can read things so quickly, he's a guy that can make a play on the opposite side of the field when he's not there."
A true student of the game, Holland listed the safeties of which he most admired and studied the tape as a youth. He singled out a variety of players, highlighting their versatility. Holland described how his role in college allowed him to become the versatile safety Dolphins fans have come to love early on in his career.
"It puts me in a dynamic where if I have to step down and into the box or I have to do anything close to the line, I already have some type of history with that," Holland said. "College and NFL are completely different, but it kind of gives me a comfortable feeling knowing I've been down there before."
3. Big boys rumblin'
Today's practice vantage point allowed for an up-close look at another position – the offensive line. The booming sound of each guy striking the bag as they fire out of their stance will get your attention, but so too does the first step quickness of this group.
We saw that quickness translate to some lanes opening up and convoys leading to productive run plays at today's practice. On a deep shot from Teddy Bridgewater to Braylon Sanders – a beautiful catch-and-throw for 50-plus yards -- rookie Kellen Diesch found himself in a one-on-one matchup. Diesch excelled with blocking in space at Arizona State and showed off the type-writer feet on this rep to handle the initial speed, then redirect on a secondary move back inside.
Earlier this summer, Rob Hunt raved about this system, claiming he'd like to play the rest of his career in the scheme. Judging by his touchdown-that-never-was last year, maybe this quote is the crux of that excitement.
"It's crazy to see these 330-pound guys hitting top speeds up around 18 miles per hour," Smythe said.
4. Manufacturing energy
Yesterday I joked about the dog days of camp arriving for an out-of-shape reporter who sits on his butt sipping coffee. I talked about the heat seemingly going up a few more degrees than previous practices and, today, Christian Wilkins echoed those thoughts.
A lot of that is definitely calculated. It just felt like we’re in day whatever at training camp, we’ve been going at it. Being in the position that I’m in, you have to recognize when there is a day or there is a time where guys will get a little – just human nature. You’ve been going hard just practicing against each other in training camp, and you are kind of like, dang let’s just get to the game. But no, you’ve got to find a way to get yourself going so that everyone else can get going too. It’s all definitely calculated to bring a little bit more juice and energy to practice. DL Christian Wilkins on calculated attempts to manufacture energy
Wilkins talked about a handful of his teammates that he says also do a good job of bringing the juice, but nobody better than his own position coach, Austin Clark.
"I love Coach Clark," Wilkins said. "He's a heck of a coach. He brings it every day and he holds us to a high standard. He's been doing that since day one that he's been here. He holds us to the highest standards. He knows how great we can be and he's going to push us to be that great each and every day. It doesn't matter how hot it is, how many plays we've worked – none of that. He just wants us to be our best each and every play. He's such a good coach teaching technique. My technique has gotten a lot better. A lot of guys on the defensive line's technique has gotten better. He brings that juice – good, bad or indifferent."
Check out photos from training camp practice on Aug. 17.
5. Sanders sweeps the leg
While the offense and defense worked on the far field, the specialists got countless snaps and kicks in on the near field. Jason Sanders put at least 20 kicks through the uprights and from outrageous distances. His 4-for-4 night in Tampa last Saturday was a microcosm of his camp as he's been aces.
Today, he talked about the benefit of adding punter Thomas Morstead to the specialists' room.
"He's very similar to me," Sanders said of the veteran punter. "He's very analytical. We like talking kicking. Having an older guy like that, it takes me back to John Denney. John Denney was great here. I love having those guys around because they're so smart and they know exactly what they want to do."