After two practices that went to the defense, the offense found explosive plays in the running game, through its playmakers on the outside, and a handful of dazzling throws from Tua Tagovailoa.
Today, we'll cover the Day 9 from Miami Gardens by looking at Tagovailoa's session, Jaylen Waddle's big camp, depth on the outside both on defense and offense, a big day for the run game and the defender's perspective on Mike McDaniel's offense.
To find the press conferences of Tyreek Hill, Jaelan Phillips, Christian Wilkins and Austin Jackson 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 9 of training camp 2022:
1. The Tua surge
Early on, in a practice the featured a significant portion of 11-on-11, the offense found its success in the ground game. More on that in a moment. Tagovailoa had a handful of completions sandwiched between a rare miss and an interception -- just his second of camp – but the Miami quarterback got cooking after a fun drill that riveted the fans. Tagovailoa, Teddy Bridgewater and Skylar Thompson all hit a throwing net from 50 yards before a boisterous crowd of cheers and chants.
Returning to 11-on-11, Tagovailoa had a few of his most impressive throws all camp. First, he found Chase Edmonds on a quick throw against a blitz from the Miami defense. The pass allowed Edmonds to accelerate through the catch and into the third level for a would-be showdown with Jevon Holland to decide if the play was a 20-yard gain or a 60-yard touchdown.
Tua finished practice with a low red-zone touchdown strike to Waddle, but it was the longer scoring play that got the fans fired up. With Noah Igbinoghene on Waddle's back, and Jevon Holland lurking over the top, Tagovailoa thread the needle with a precision pass that allowed Waddle to open up his 4.2 speed and score from 65 yards.
2. Waddle, Waddle, Waddle
Every practice is an opportunity to come out and watch the many talents of Jaylen Waddle. He's catching short passes and gaining yards after catch. He's catching long balls for explosive plays. He's making tough, contested catches in traffic. He's tapping his toes on the sideline to display unique body control.
Perhaps most impressive is the impression he's made on the other electrifying receiver in this Miami offense in Tyreek Hill.
It’s the same way. I can kind of put us in the same category. When I was at his age and at his time in his career, I came into work every day. He works hard and doesn’t make excuses and does what he’s told. And when another guy got the ball, he played for that guy no matter what. So if I’m getting the ball, he’s blocking for me. Or if Raheem (Mostert) or anybody else, or if Tua (Tagovailoa) got the ball, he’s doing what he’s got to do to make plays for this team. That’s all I can ask for from a young guy trying to learn, trying to make it and trying to do what he can to support his family or whatever. Shout out to ‘J-Dub’ (Waddle) for that. WR Tyreek Hill on WR Jaylen Waddle's approach and professionalism
3. Big rips in the run game
Early, it was the running game that produced the chunk plays for the Miami offense. Chase Edmonds' patience and vision continue to pay dividends. He's finding small creases and hitting big plays each practice. The second play of practice was jammed up in the middle before No. 2 bounced out around the edge and used his speed to win the corner.
"He's fast," Jackson said. "Very fast and he's a great runner. Picks the right holes. Pretty great."
Raheem Mostert had a long run up the sideline in that same period. Salvon Ahmed and Gerrid Doaks hit chunk plays just a few plays later. Tyreek Hill got in on the action with a rush that drew out his patented deuces celebration en route to the end zone.
4. Iron sharpening iron and playing for your brothers
One big picture takeaway from nine days of training camp is the number of seemingly easy yards this offense can create. A receiver leaks out with plenty of room to run and the quarterbacks find them for big gains to jump-start team sessions.
Jaelan Phillips and Christian Wilkins, who was in the orange jersey today, both have had stellar camps. Studious, well-conditioned players who grind until they get it right, Phillips and Wilkins offered their perspective on the challenges of facing this offense. They also divulged a team mindset that centers around effort and playing for one another another.
"We always say that you can measure your love for your teammates by how close you are to the ball at the end of the play," Phillips said. "Really all that's about is just not playing just for yourself, you're playing for your brothers around you. We're all fighting for our livelihood. This is how people feed their families. So to really love and trust your teammates is to go out there and put it all on the line for them and for the organization as a whole."
"That's the way you've got to stress yourself and restrain yourself so you can get your conditioning up so the game is easy," Wilkins said. "That's what practice is for. You've got to harp on those little things and that's how I play in the game. When the ball is away, I'm trying to go get it. That's my standard and how I do it. It's a tone-setting thing and no one else has an excuse if one of the bigger guys on the defense is doing it."
5. Youth movement at receiver and cornerback
The development of young players in the WR and CB rooms has been apparent this training camp and Saturday provided another demonstration of that.
Noah Igbinoghene had his first interception of camp today and arguably an even better play when he defended a deep shot from Tagovailoa to Waddle. The ball skills, the deep speed and his ability to reroute at the line of scrimmage all popped today.
Trill Williams made three plays in quick succession that reflected the kind of camp he has had. One was in coverage, one was against the run and another as a rusher. He's been finding the football and stepping up to the challenges presented by this Miami offense.
Rookie receivers Erik Ezukanma and Braylon Sanders showed their stuff again on Saturday. Ezukanma had arguably the catch of practice when he high-pointed a deep shot from Skylar Thompson to pull down a 50-yard touchdown.