Thursday brings a break for the players in the middle of the grind of training camp. Without a practice to take in, we turn to the coaches for their evaluations of the roster, practice themes, and everything under the Miami Dolphins 2020 training camp umbrella.
Defensive coordinator Josh Boyer, special teams coordinator Danny Crossman, defensive line coach Marion Hobby, linebackers coach Anthony Campanile, outside linebackers coach Austin Clark and defensive backs coach Gerald Alexander met with the South Florida media on Thursday morning – here are the highlights of those press conferences.
Alexander on turnover mindset: "The (turnover) point system is really just trying to enforce what we're trying to get done and that's our job description – getting the ball for our offense or scoring ourselves. At the end of the day, it's getting those guys in a competitive environment. Everything we do, every technique, every detailed coaching point that we give them and every defensive scheme, is all about getting the ball."
Alexander continued: "You start to see that energy, that competitiveness amongst those guys at practice doing the little thing that reward points. At the same time, I'm trying to build culture. I'm trying to build a way of behaving in the defensive back room. Doing certain things at practice and always being conscious of the ball hopefully is generating a way of behavior where that's just the way that we operate out there on the practice field. It's been fun, it's been competitive; but at the end of the day, there is some method to the madness about how we operate out there in the secondary in particular."
Boyer on flying to the football: "I think practice execution becomes game reality; so if we're not practicing something and it's not a point of emphasis, you're probably not going to get the results that you want. We spend a lot of time on trying to get the ball, and I would say historically if you look through the league, the turnover margin is probably closest-related to wins and losses as anything else there is. And to get turnovers, you've got to get a lot of guys to the football and they've got to know what they're doing when they get there."
Teaching technique and modern football
Campanile on modern-day linebackers: "You've got to be able to run and hit, and you've really got to be a smart guy because as the game has evolved at every level, linebackers are being asked to do more things. It's always evolving. You want guys that can run and hit and are great communicators, and obviously that takes a really good football IQ to do that at this level."
Alexander on the value of safeties who can cover: "Offenses are trying to do everything they can to attack space, especially in the passing game. You need guys who have the athleticism to be able to cover in space and be tough enough to be able to support on the run. Those guys are much valued now in today's NFL than maybe in years past or in the history of the NFL, when things were kind of a little bit more condensed and heavy run-oriented. So when you have guys like Bobby, when you have guys like Eric and you have guys like Brandon, who are really good in space but also are smart, great communicators and tough enough to support the run, those guys are valued in today's game."
Boyer on the importance of cornerbacks: "It goes really back to situational football – third down, red area, two-minute. Those are, call it, 'winning football.' You really need to have guys that can cover and you can never have too many of them, especially the way offenses are constructed. Sometimes it's three receivers, one tight end and a receiving back; and all of them are skilled receivers. Or it could be two tight ends, two receivers and a receiving back; and they could run the ball at you or they could spread you out and throw it, and I think as many guys that you have on your team that can cover, it puts you in a more beneficial state as a defense."
Marion Hobby on length and heavy hands: "When you look at the offensive tackles and the offensive linemen even in this league, they're pretty big guys. So being able to attack them at the point of attack with strong hands, being able to separate off guys and then batting down passes is a lot of timing. The guys are getting separation, getting their eyes, seeing the quarterback's hands come off and being able to get their hands up."
Clark on linebackers rushing various gaps and Kyle Van Noy's role: "Schematically, depending on what the scheme calls for – if it's a true one-on-one matchup that we're dictating there, then that's different too. I think Kyle has a skillset that he can win on the edge, he can win inside, and his versatility within this scheme that we play, as well as what he's done on Sunday making big-time plays in big-time games, is something that's going to prove to be huge for us."
Individual player evaluations
Hobby on Jason Strowbridge: "He wants to please and sometimes – a guy told me a long time ago, 'a confused player and a non-motivated player look the same' – and I think sometimes he's a little bit confused and wants to please, wants to be correct and sometimes, just man, just turn it loose and go. But I'll tell you what, he does flash at you a lot. He does a lot of good things that catch your eye that keeps you on his trail. You push him a little bit, but he does a lot of good stuff. I always tell him, 'hey man, react,' rather than thinking this thing through."
Boyer on Emmanuel Ogbah and Shaq Lawson: "Both of these guys are very diligent workers. They've done a lot of things that we've asked them to do. I think they're both talented players and I think they've made the most of their opportunities in practice. Improvement is a constant theme for us, and that's something that we strive for on a daily basis and I think these guys work hard at that. They're not satisfied with one good play."
Clark on Andrew Van Ginkel: "The biggest thing 'Gink' has done for himself is he got a lot stronger at the point of attack. I think he understands the scheme extremely well and he knows how to use his length and athleticism, and has found some niches in his game and some go-to stuff for him. It's paid dividends. He's also a very smart player that understands the scheme and I'm really excited working with him."
Campanile on Elandon Roberts: "He's a physical player. As a person, he's one of the greatest guys you could ever meet. He's a jovial guy off the field and to be honest with you, I think that's where he loves being is inside the white lines and making physical contact. Just in drill work and in team periods, he's an awesome guy to be around; but has a great demeanor, certainly in the meeting rooms, off the field and within the lines of the football field."
Alexander on Byron Jones: "You see that he's the ultimate professional, he's a great influence on some of our young guys and how he approaches really everything that he does, whether he's on the field, off the field or in the classroom. You start to see a guy who handles himself like a professional, who is doing some good things out there on the field, who is learning and developing as he continues to go. Then he's out there really competing out there on the football field."
Crossman on Clayton Fejedelem: "Clayton is a guy that as we bring in an established veteran, number one is understanding what's been his role in the past, and just being able to translate that to us and set the tone for what we're trying to develop and where we want everybody to be in those drills. Yes, Clayton is doing a great job."
Trade and roster news
The Miami Dolphins today announced they have acquired a 2021 conditional seventh-round draft pick from the New York Jets in exchange for running back Kalen Ballage.
The Dolphins also announced they have activated cornerback Xavien Howard off the reserve/COVID-19* and active/physically unable to perform lists. The team also signed defensive end Avery Moss and waived cornerback Picasso Nelson Jr. and center Donell Stanley.