The youth football team visiting Dolphins practice Wednesday was Port St. Lucie High School, making it a very special day for wide receiver Albert Wilson.
The speedy wideout, signed as a free agent in the offseason, played at Port St. Lucie High before going on to Georgia State University.
"It's awesome, man," Wilson said. "I didn't have the opportunity when I was in high school to come out here and just see how professional athletes prepare for the game, and with the (first) game being so far away and seeing how concentrated they are. I feel like it's a great job that (the Dolphins) get the high schools out here and just get the opportunity to see it."
Wilson said he had a lot of good memories of his days playing football at Port St. Lucie High, including scoring a lot of touchdowns.
He pointed out that some members of the coaching staff remain from his time at the Palm Beach County school. He also was clear with what he hoped the high school players would take away from their visit.
"Just how to prepare," Wilson said. "Just that their dream is possible. Coming from the same high school that I did to come here and play professional football, I hope it gives them a little pep in their step of what they want to accomplish."
Wilson was asked what he would tell himself if he could go back and talk to his 14-year-old self.
"I feel like at 14, I was pretty straightforward and had my mind made up of playing football," he said. "Just don't doubt yourself. There are a lot of times I doubted myself and (wondered) if this was for me or not. I stayed with it and I found out it was for me. (If I were to) go back then, (I'd) just tell myself don't doubt myself."
Lippett cuts it loose: It was around this time last year that cornerback Tony Lippett sustained an Achilles injury that would cost him the entire 2017 season, but he's not even thinking about it these days. "I feel like it's out of my mind," he said. "I don't think about it. I don't ever question myself out here because I know the hard work I've put in through this whole last year, so I don't second-guess myself out here, not when I'm cutting or running or anything like that, jumping. I don't second-guess myself. I just go." Head Coach Adam Gase said Lippett, who appears to be battling with Cordrea Tankersley and Torry McTyer for one of the two starting cornerback jobs, has made significant progress in returning to the form he showed in 2016 when he led the Dolphins with four interceptions but just needs more consistency. "I think he's had some days where he's looking more like he was in 2016," Gase said. "I think he just has to focus on what he's doing right now. He has to put that injury behind him. I think eventually that'll move away from him. I think it's going to happen more when we start playing games and we can get tackling and it gets a little more physical and real for him. I think once he gets into a preseason game, all of that will just go behind him and he'll be able to go play."
Bright outlook for Branch: Defensive end Andre Branch is in his third training camp with the Dolphins and it's a happy time for him for a couple of reasons. One big one is he's fully healthy after dealing with an injury late last season. "It feels good to be healthy for once again," he said. "I played half the season hurt and it just feels good to be back to 100 (percent)." Branch said it was difficult watching film of himself last season because he didn't feel that was a true representation of his ability. Now, he's ready to get back to his 2016 form and be part of what has the makings of a tremendous defensive end rotation with Cameron Wake, Robert Quinn, William Hayes and Charles Harris. That was one of the factors that led to a heightened sense of excitement as training camp 2018 started. "For sure, for sure," he said. "I love this game. The Dolphins want me here. I want to be here. My teammates love me. That's all I can ask for."
Praise for Hayes: Veteran defensive end William Hayes doesn't seem to attract a lot of attention from the media, but Gase said he doesn't go unnoticed by his teammates and coaches. "Well, we notice him in practice," Gase said. "I know our players notice him. He does a great job. Every day is a game to him. He doesn't take any plays off. He takes everything he does as serious as anybody I've ever been around. When we traded for him and when he got injured last year, that was a big swing for us because he was really our attitude guy on defense. He set the tempo a lot of times. He played through a lot of injuries, it seemed like. I think he was a little more hurt than what he led us on to believe. That guy is tough, he's physical and he cares. He wants to win and he wants to do right." Hayes was re-signed as an unrestricted free agent in March and figures to play a prominent role on the Dolphins defensive line.
Practice report: The Dolphins practiced in uppers (shoulder pads only) Wednesday. … Tackle Ja'Wuan James was kept out of team drills as a precaution after sustained a muscle strain. Wide receiver Isaiah Ford (shoulder) sat out practice after wearing a red (non-contact) jersey the past couple of practices. He joined offensive lineman Jake Brendel (calf) and tight end A.J. Derby (foot) on the sideline. … Rookie seventh-round pick Jason Sanders did the kicking Wednesday and was 6-for-7 on field goal attempts, with a long of 42 yards. … Defensive tackle Vincent Taylor broke through the line of scrimmage to meet running back Kalen Ballage in the backfield on a running play. … Cornerback Xavien Howard had a nice pass breakup on a deep pass from Ryan Tannehill intended for Kenny Stills. … Linebacker Kiko Alonso had an interception on a fourth-down play inside the red zone. … Longtime Rams wide receiver Isaac Bruce, who played at Fort Lauderdale Dillard High, and new Dolphins Walk of Fame inductee Mark Duper and were among the visitors at practice Wednesday.
Dolphins becomes a shark: Dolphins Vice Chairman Matt Higgins will be featured as a guest host on the upcoming season on the ABC reality show "Shark Tank." Higgins will be a guest shark, one of the tycoons listening to pitches from entrepreneurs in the hopes of landing an investment for their idea. The 10th season of "Shark Tank" will premiere Sunday, Oct. 7. Higgins said he already had taped his "Shark Tank" segments and wasn't allowed to divulge specific information, though he did call it a great experience. "I actually met the folks at Sony through a mutual friend and told them a little bit about my backstory and what we do during the day," Higgins said. "It's not that different than what they do on the show and we just formed a great relationship and they made an invite. How do you pass that up?" Higgins said there was a simple reason he liked the show in the first place. "I think you guys know this, but I literally came from nothing," Higgins said. "I was 16 years old living in a shoebox apartment in Queens taking care of my sick mother. I had government cheese in the refrigerator, you know, as poor as you can get. I think this country is about endless possibility. You have no excuses not to try to make the most of your life and there's no room to be a victim. I think the show shows that every week, that if you're sitting with an idea at home and you can't sleep at 1:30 in the morning that, yes, you can give that idea a shot. You may just make it. And there's a group of very professional, successful people who are willing to help you get the rest of the way there. I've probably watched every single episode. For me, it just represents everything that I've gone through in my whole life, in my own journey as an entrepreneur, and it also helped give me an outlet to pay it forward to somebody who's trying to make that same transformation that I did as a kid. It doesn't mean they're coming out of poverty, per se, but they're making hard decisions to leave their job, to mortgage their house, to give up their 401K. I love being a part of that dream. Like I said, it's what I do in the day all the time. I'm meeting with entrepreneurs who maybe they don't admit it, but deep down they're scared, they're doubting themselves, did I make a mistake? And, I'm like, 'You didn't make a mistake. We can make it work.' "