Cornerback Torry McTyer worked with the first-team defense Saturday, a reward for his strong work in the early days of training camp.
McTyer, however, did his best to downplay the significance of lining up opposite Xavien Howard with the first defense.
"It was just coming out here doing my job," McTyer said. "I didn't really pay too much attention to that. So just knowing what I need to do."
Cordrea Tankersley and Tony Lippett both worked opposite Howard with the first-team defense in the first two days of camp.
Head Coach Adam Gase said McTyer, who had an impressive interception Friday when he stepped in front of intended receiver Jakeem Grant, simply earned his way into the competition for the starting job.
"I think he's had a good start to camp," Gase said. "For the way that we've operated over the last previous training camps and going into this one, I've told the defensive staff, 'Let's not wait around. If we feel like a guy is playing well, give him opportunities, especially with the first group.' They feel like he' s played well enough to be put into that spot and compete with that first group."
McTyer appeared in seven games as a rookie last season after earning a roster spot as a rookie free agent out of UNLV. He spent time in the offseason in his hometown of Los Angeles working with, among others, former Dolphins cornerback Jamar Taylor.
McTyer came back to camp weighing 190 pounds, eight more than last year, and with added confidence because of the experience he gained in 2017.
"I was a lot more comfortable than I was last year," McTyer said. "Just being one year in the scheme and just working out with some of the guys like Bobby McCain and all of the other guys, just feeding off them. … Being one year in, I'm a little more comfortable in the scheme and just more comfortable in myself.
"It gave me a lot of confidence, just being out there, getting some experience at corner and just knowing that I can play with those guys."
McTyer's strong work early in camp hasn't gone unnoticed among his teammates, as evidenced by McCain's answer when asked who has been the most impressive member of the secondary so far in camp.
"So far, Torry McTyer has been really strong," McCain said. "He has come out really strong and had a few really good days. He showed his offseason workouts have really paid off for him."
Putting on the pads: The Dolphins practiced for the first time this summer with shoulder pads, just another step toward the start of the preseason. Even with the pads, players were instructed to avoid tackling teammates to the ground. Still, there definitely was something different with the pads on. "It's just the feeling that you have, just the feeling that you get just being out here with the pads on," safety T.J. McDonald said. "The excitement of just putting the pads on. Just hearing the sounds. Just hearing them all sound off and the physical part of the game shows up, so it's real fun." Tackle Sam Young agreed. "The pace probably picks up just a little bit," he said. "As linemen — and I know the D-linemen feel the same way — we finally kind of feel like we get the restrictor plate taken off us a little bit. I know they get to do some moves they like to work and we get to work a little bit more of our technique. We're finally playing football." The Dolphins are expected to wear full pads Sunday.
Practice report: Rookie first-round pick Minkah Fitzpatrick had two would-be sacks in team drills, including one where he came in free on a blitz. … Linebacker Kiko Alonso had a nice diving pass breakup on a throw intended for running back Frank Gore out of the backfield. . … Ryan Tannehill threw a nice touchdown pass down the middle to Danny Amendola and Bryce Petty later threw a long touchdown pass to wide receiver Isaiah Ford. … The Dolphins did extensive special teams work, but the kickers didn't kick. … Offensive lineman Jake Brendel sat out again with a minor calf injury.
O-line observation: Gase said the plan is to go with the same five offensive linemen instead of rotating players, as was the case last summer. Gase said the decision was made at the end of last season that Jesse Davis deserved to be in the starting lineup and the other guard spot was settled when four-time Pro Bowl selection Josh Sitton was signed. Ted Larsen, who started the final eight games last season, is getting first-team reps because the Dolphins are trying to be smart with Sitton's work load. "We just kept talking about if we could get one group out there to where we weren't always rotating, that would be ideal," Gase said. "We knew when we signed Sitton that we weren't going to be able to practice him (all the time). If we were doing six-play period, we figured he was probably going to do four. With an older guy that's played a lot of games in his career, we wanted to make sure that we did the right thing. We wanted him and (Laremy) Tunsil to work together, but at the same time we want to make sure that we're not overusing him too early. Ted is still getting work with that first group, just not as many reps. It really helps Jesse. The more reps he gets with that first group, the better."
Cutting to the Chase: As is the case with the offensive line, Gase said the Dolphins are looking to stay with the same first-team linebacker unit, which at the start of camp has included Kiko Alonso, Raekwon McMillan and Stephone Anthony. But things could change, particularly if second-year player Chase Allen continues to make plays. Allen, who played in 16 games with four starts as a rookie free agent in 2017, had his second pick in three practices Saturday. "If he keeps doing what he's really done since he got here, which is he keeps getting better, he keeps finding a way to be around the ball, he gets his hands on a lot of balls, you're going to have to give him a strong look and really get him with that first group to see where he's at," Gase said. "Last year he did a lot of good stuff. We'll just kind of play it out. It's so early that I think we're going to have time to see how that group ends up panning out."
Birthday wishes: After quarterback Ryan Tannehill celebrated his 30th birthday Friday, linebacker Stephone Anthony and rookie long-snapper Lucas Gravelle had birthdays Saturday. Anthony turned 26 and Gravelle turned 23.
Youth is served: In keeping with their commitment to youth football, the Dolphins welcomed members of the Coral Springs J.P. Tavarella High School football team to practice Saturday. After watching practice, the players got the chance to meet Dolphins players and get autographs.