Rookie free agent Shaq Calhoun has made quite an impression in his first NFL training camp, pretty much like he did as a kid when his basketball prowess earned him his nickname.
The guard from Mississippi State’s full name actually is Deion Lenard Calhoun, but he has gone by “Shaq” for a while now.
“I was playing basketball, I was 7 or 8 at the YMCA and I had a coach who coached me when I got to the sixth grade from middle school he recruited me to go to the high school I went to — Restoration Academy,” Calhoun said after practice Friday. “So when I got there, he was calling me ‘Shaq’ and it just stuck around. And everybody else started calling me that.”
Calhoun says he hasn’t played basketball since 2015 and he doubts he’s the best basketball player on the Dolphins roster.
Defensive tackle Adolphus Washington, who was a Parade All-American in high school in both football and basketball, might deserve consideration for that honor, and Calhoun also mentioned wide receiver DeVante Parker.
“I know we’ve got some hoopers,” Calhoun said. “DeVante, he seems like he would probably be good. I know we got some hoopers somewhere.”
It’s all football now for Calhoun, who has done well enough in his first training camp that he’s gotten snaps with the first-team offense all week.
“I think I just listen well and try to apply the coaching as best as I can,” he said. “My coach told me I’ve listened well to what he has to say and I just try to apply it every day and get better every day we practice.”
Calhoun described his reaction when he first found out he would be getting reps with the first-team offensive line.
“I was kind of nervous for real because I’m still trying to learn the playbook and I know going with the 1’s you get a more advanced play call,” he said. “I was nervous at first, but I’m playing around veteran guys who help me out. So it wasn’t that big of a challenge when we finally got on the field.”
The Dolphins have canceled the scrimmage at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday because of weather and lightning concerns.
The team still will practice, but that will take place at the Baptist Health Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University and will be closed to the public.
Special events connected to the scrimmage still will take place as scheduled. The next open practice to the public will be on Monday, Aug. 5.
New Dolphins linebacker Nick DeLuca made an appearance at practice Friday, though he was in street clothes because he had just agreed to terms.
DeLuca signed with the Dolphins some six weeks after he was waived by the Jacksonville Jaguars, for whom he played nine games with two starts as a rookie in 2018.
Upon arriving to watch practice, he made it a point to quickly catch up with cornerback Tyler Patmon, with whom he played in Jacksonville last season. There won’t be much time to waste for DeLuca as he tries to get acclimated to his new team and a new defense.
“I’m excited just to get in here, get to work as soon as possible,” he said. “(A Dolphins representative) was talking about (talking to the) media, I’m trying to find my iPad and looking at calls and stuff. I’m excited to get to work and get back to it.”
DeLuca’s college career was quite successful as he won four national titles at FCS powerhouse North Dakota State.
“Part of some really special teams, no doubt about it,” he said. “Learned a lot throughout the process about winning and what it takes to win. I think I bring that to the table and will try to carry that on, what I learned from there and moving on forward.”
In a rush
The Dolphins’ top two sack leaders from the 2018 season — Robert Quinn and Cameron Wake — no longer are on the roster, but defensive tackle Akeem Spence still has plenty of confidence the team will be able to generate a good pass rush.
“It’s going to come from everywhere,” he said. “It might come from up front one play, we might have the blitz one play. It’s just going to come from all over and we’re going to do it as a defensive group and going out and executing. Trust me, we’re going to get after the passer.”
The Dolphins conducted a walk-through inside the practice bubble at the Baptist Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University. … Running back Kalen Ballage, wide receiver Albert Wilson, linebacker Kiko Alonso and tackle Jordan Mills all were at practice after sitting out Thursday. … Among those not spotted at the walk-through were safety Reshad Jones, linebackers Raekwon McMillan and Chase Allen, tight end Dwayne Allen and wide receiver Jakeem Grant, along with the two players still on PUP — linebacker Mike Hull and cornerback Cordrea Tankersley.
The Dolphins had visitors again at practice Friday, this team members of John I. Leonard High School in Palm Beach County.
As will be the case with every team invited this summer, the players and coaches received a tour of the Baptist Health Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University, listened to a character development talk, watched practice and met with current coaches and players on the field, and had lunch.
Also at practice as a guest was Flores’ high school coach, Dino Mangiero. The two obviously are close, as evidenced by Mangiero’s presence at the press conference that introduced Flores as the new Dolphins head coach in February. Flores also often mentions Mangiero’s influence on his coaching philosophy.