Cooler summer weather in South Florida happens for one reason and one reason only – impending storms. Friday, lightning pushed practice No. 3 into the indoor facility at the Baptist Health Training Complex. As the temperature cooled down inside, the Dolphins defense caught fire.
Practice 3 July 28, 2023
Defensive linemen Christian Wilkins and Zach Sieler combined for 102 run stops a season ago – a metric that measures defensive wins and which individual made tackles on said victories. The last time a defensive line tandem registered a combined triple digits in that Pro Football Focus category was the 2006 Patriots with Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork (103).
Friday, Wilkins and Sieler played the role of menace for the Miami offense. Different alignments, varied fronts, diverse routes to the backfield, the tandem took up residence behind the line-of-scrimmage all day long. This group has been together for a while under Defensive Line Coach Austin Clark.
"It's kind of like learning each other as a person, as a player, how to play next to him," Sieler said after practice. "Hey, what's Christian like? What's Raekwon like? That's something that's been really nice with a guy like (Bradley) Chubb, learning how he plays and how to adapt to that, (Jaelan) Phillips, all those guys."
By an unofficial tally, the defense cleared double-digit sacks on Friday with at least four of them coming by way of Wilkins and Sieler.
It was a total team effort as the defense put the clamps on at Friday's practice. The offense struggled to find passing lanes because of runners in the face of the quarterback paired with superb coverage on the back end. This comes one day after the news that superstar cornerback Jalen Ramsey will miss some time after undergoing surgery on his meniscus.
After the initial non-contact injury, Ramsey addressed the team, recounted by Head Coach Mike McDaniel.
(Jalen) spoke to the team yesterday and it really moved a lot of people. He first let everybody know how much he appreciated this team and how this team has accepted him. He’s been in the league for a little bit and he knows what we’re doing here and his opinion is special for his position group not to waver, and exuded all the confidence he has in that position group. Dolphins HC Mike McDaniel
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Cornerback Kader Kohou followed up a stellar Thursday with an impressive Friday, particularly in one-on-one drills. On back-to-back reps, Kohou shut down one route at the line because of his jam. Next, he recovered after the speedy Jaylen Waddle raced under a pass from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in the end zone, but Kohou stuck with the play and punched the ball out at the last moment.
Linebacker Bradley Chubb, who wore the orange jersey Friday, made a handful of plays against the run and the pass. His position-mates Jerome Baker and Duke Riley were regulars in the backfield as well.