It's August, which means we get Dolphins football games for the next six months – rejoice!
The team is building up the sweat equity in preparation for those contests with another high-intensity, evenly-matched practice. The defense shut down some of the offensive work while the offense got their some splash plays of their own.
Today, we also heard from the defensive coaching staff before practice with an insight into the team's performance through the first five days.
To find the press conferences of the assistant coaches, Zach Sieler, Connor Williams and more check out the team YouTube page. 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 5 of training camp 2022:
1. Going deep sets up the intermediate
The training camp notebook consistently raves about the chunk gains in the intermediate passing game. When Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are in the huddle, those 15-yard plays can go for 50-yard scores on any given snap. That's what happened Monday with a trio of catch-and-runs.
Tua Tagovailoa found Tyreek Hill with a well-located pass over the middle as Hill fired out of his break, secured the catch and went to work. On the next play, Jaylen Waddle made onlookers feel like they were watching the same play on loop, only this time from Skylar Thompson. A few plays later, Waddle caught a pass from Tagovailoa that looked like a repeat of his long catch-and-run in the Carolina game last season.
Attacking intermediate zones comes from space created by the threat of that speed, according to Dolphins Safeties Coach Steven Gregory.
"Any time you've got two receivers that are that fast … it puts stress on the entire defense. That speed, that vertical release into the defense, guys have to be thinking about over the top and then that opens up the intermediate part of the field. It's great to see those guys out there together. It's definitely a unique element."
It's fitting that the intermediate damage was done one practice after Tua found Tyreek for the 65-yard connection that has made the rounds on social media.
"We're very multiple as a defense," Gregory said. "We're giving them a lot of different looks and doing a lot of different things schematically, and to see Tua launch that ball and strike it out there to Tyreek Hill … hopefully that's a sign of things to come on Sundays (for our offense)."
2. The work nobody sees – hot starts for Sieler, Wilkins and Davis
If they mess something up in practice, they’re going to fix it at the end of practice if that rep never came back up. If they lost on a specific block, if a game didn’t hit, they’re going to clean that up. It’s really cool to see because sometimes they’re coming to the sideline as you’re going to get to them on what just happened and they’re telling you what went wrong. They’re starting to being able to identify problems as veteran players. Dolphins DL Coach Austin Clark
It's that type of work ethic that produced 89 tackles for Christian Wilkins last season, tied for the most by an NFL defensive lineman since 2013.
"Playing with tight elbows in the run game, knocking guys back pursuing the ball and all the focus he put on his pass rush, we have to put it all together now to be a consistent player down-in-down-out," Clark said. "And he's done that. This guy works his butt off every day in the offseason, and we expect that out of every player … He's a special player and a great guy."
Wilkins' good friend, Zach Sieler, had a notable practice on Monday. After putting on a clinic in one-on-one pass rush drills, Sieler shut down a handful of running plays and provided consistent pressure against the pass.
"Yeah, I think being with (Austin) Clark and just the d-line in general for so many – two or three years now – it's one of those things that as soon as it happens, you kind of know, 'oh shoot, my hand wasn't right in that play or I had a bad step,'" Sieler said. "So we kind of both will sit there and he'll run off and I'll tell him something and I'll run off and tell him, 'hey man, you messed that up.' And we'll make sure we focus on that after to really try and hone-in on that."
3. Connor Williams, veteran impact
Raekwon Davis had another strong day as he grows into a valuable piece on a solid Dolphins defensive front.
"(Raekwon is) doing great," Sieler said. "He's seeing blocks. He's seeing his reads. He's looking slim, feeling good, yeah. I think it's been going really well."
Davis, who is entering his third season out of Alabama, noted the addition of Connor Williams as a linchpin to his growth and success early in camp.
Bro, listen. When Connor first got here – because I felt like zone, quick zoning was something I really struggled with – and when Connor got here, he really made me better as a player, quick zoning, the type of blocks they do. I’ve been so much better ever since he’s been here. But yeah, he’s a great center. He’s great, bro. He’s very good. He’s been good ever since he’s been here. DL Raekwon Davis on OL Connor Williams
Though the defensive line had its share of stacked up run plays, it was the offensive line that won my inexact, amateur scorecard in the one-on-one pass rush drills. Liam Eichenberg, Connor Williams, Robert Hunt and Austin Jackson all pieced together multiple reps in which the rusher – and, as a result, the drill – came to a standstill. That's the best result an offensive lineman can hope for.
4. Gaskin weaves through the defense
The offense scored their wins in the team portion of practice as well. That's been something of a theme five days in: plenty of run stuffs, but the occasional slip through the cracks where a running back finds daylight.
Today, that was Myles Gaskin. He wound a run through traffic for an 11-yard touchdown in red zone work and hit another explosive play for a chunk gain in regular 11 vs. 11 work.
"That's the competition part of it," Gaskin said when asked about the speed of the Miami offense. "Bringing in the guys that we brought in, just real fast guys and guys that have been in this system before. It's just excited being able to learn from these guys. It's exciting. I can't elaborate that enough, but it's been fun. It's fun."
Check out photos from training camp practice on Aug. 1.
5. Young defensive backs making noise
Trill Williams picked off his second pass of 11-on-11 this camp, but his passes defensed are approaching double digits. He's showcased exceptional ball skills in a defense that he says plays to his traits perfectly.
Rookie safety Verone McKinley III earned the nickname The General in college for his communication and leadership abilities. While McKinley was patrolling the backend at Monday's practice, the Dolphins offense had to throw the ball away a handful of times.
For more analysis on Dolphins training camp, download the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield, available on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.