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From Rookies to Vets, Newcomers Are Starting to Feel At Home in Miami

While the Miami Dolphins retained most of their key contributors from 2022, a host of new players, from rookies to veteran acquisitions, have settled into the team throughout OTAs and are already making their imprint on the 2023 Miami Dolphins.

Tight end Tyler Kroft and tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, two of the team's more recent offseason additions, appear to be finding their feet in the locker room quickly. Kroft and Ogbuehi were both drafted by Cincinnati in 2015. Now, they're back on the same team and share a sense of excitement for what the Dolphins can accomplish in 2023.

"They got something special going on here, and they have the pieces," Ogbuehi said when asked about his decision to come to Miami. "I'm just here to add on to that and to go as far as we can."

Now reunited with Ogbuehi, Kroft is looking forward to using his versatility as a blocker and pass-catcher in the Dolphins' offense.

"I've always took pride in trying to be a three-down guy," he said. "Excelling in the run game and the pass game. This is an offense that asks a lot out of the tight ends. It gives you an opportunity to do both which I really like."

In addition to carving out his own role, Kroft is also helping ease the transition for rookie tight end Elijah Higgins, who is in the middle of his first offseason in the NFL.

"I've just been working on him because like you said, he's playing a whole new position, it's a new league," Kroft said.

Higgins tallied 104 receptions for 1,204 yards as a wide receiver during his junior and senior seasons at Stanford and was the team's top receiver in 2022 (59 rec, 704 yards). Now, he's adjusting to the tight end position and life as an NFL player.

"I was a rookie, shoot, nine years ago, but I've just been talking to him about not letting it get too big for him, just trying to take each day at a time," Kroft said. "At the end of the day, you're going to mess stuff up. Everybody does. I told him to just not get too low on himself and don't get too high when you are making plays, too."

Miami Dolphins tight end Tyler Kroft (48) runs the ball during OTA’s at the Baptist Health Training complex on Thursday, May 25th, 2023 in Miami Gardens, Fla. (Brennan Asplen/Miami Dolphins)

Like Higgins, running back De’Von Achane and cornerback Cam Smith are also making steady progress in their first year of OTAs.

"I think both of them have done exactly what's been asked of them to this juncture," head coach Mike McDaniel said. "I think along the process there's so much going on for rookies, you forget that you're joining a team that has established players and you need to make way on that team through the locker room and the coaching staff, just the building in general. That's what I've seen them focus on and I can tell they're starting to become one of the guys. I think you have to win over your teammates at least with the Dolphins before you're able to play with them and I think they're knee-deep in that journey and I've been happy with what they've produced."

Miami Dolphins defensive back Keion Crossen (27) cornerback Tino Ellis (34) and cornerback Cam Smith (24) during OTA’s at the Baptist Health Training complex on Tuesday, May 31st, 2023 in Miami Gardens, Fla. (Brennan Asplen/Miami Dolphins)

In a way, the rookies and many of the newcomers are taking on the same types of challenges McDaniel faced last offseason, as he transitioned to South Florida and a new job in his first year at the helm.

It's a process he clearly appreciates, though, and one that a year later, has him feeling at home in Miami.

"Last year, you don't even know where you're at, so there's a ton of stuff that allows you to do your job more efficiently and more focused on the task at hand," McDaniel said. "It's been an awesome offseason that's been filled with work with a little sprinkle of husband/dad time that has been outstanding."

"I've moved my whole life so that's old hat, but I remember specifically leaving the stadium after the first game and being like, 'wow, this is a great place to live and do my job.'"