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Miami Dolphins

3 Things to watch as Dolphins start training camp

Josh Ciganek

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(Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire)

Year two under head coach Adam Gase has officially begun in Miami, and the Dolphins look for back to back playoff appearances for the first time since the 2000 and 2001 seasons. Going 10-6 in your first year with a playoff appearance is great, but everyone knows that adaptation must occur in this league in order to stay at the top.

The Dolphins will look to keep improving but questions still remain. How is Ryan Tannehill and the knee doing? How will the new additions, especially on defense, blend with the old? And just who will emerge as the backup running back?

Tannehill was arguably having the best year of his career before going down with a knee injury ending his season. He threw for 2,995 yards and 19 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. He also had a career best 67.1 percent completion percentage and QBR of 93.5. The question is how ready is the rehabbed knee? Gase has warned the media not to ask  Tannehill how his knee is feeling. He’s throwing and running just fine, and Tannehill has said much of the same. Time will tell everything and the fans and media will be eager to see just how well he plays against live competition in the preseason.

The Dolphins continued their swim to adaptation by adding a couple of rookies and a few veterans to the defense. Rookie Charles Harris will look to learn from veteran linemen like Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh, while Raekwon McMillan will learn from former Steeler Lawrence Timmons. McMillan will probably have a better opportunity to make an immediate impact thanks to the injury and departure of Koa Misi.

Back to Harris. He showed flashes of being a great pass-rusher in the spring. But how will he look as the Florida temperatures begin to rise, the practices get more physical by day, and the tempers begin to flare and egos collide? Also, newly signed corner Alterraun Verner will look to carve out a role for himself and may be Miami’s starting slot corner, when the season starts. Let’s not forget he is a former Pro Bowler. Verner has all the capabilities of beating out his competition but at the same time could also be cut when all is said and done

The Jay train was in full effect last season with Jay Ajayi running for 1,272 and 8 touchdowns in break out season. The Dolphins will want to see him take on some more carries and in turn become a little more consistent. With that being said just who will emerge to back up the work horse to be?

Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake were both on the team last season and both made some impacts. Drake is very quick and a great pass catcher, while Williams was great in the red zone. Of the two it looks like Drake may have the first crack at being the next man up. Don’t forget about rookie free agent De’Veon Smith, who begins camp on the PUP list. Though, a solid camp from Smith could leave him as the 4th back on the 53 man.

Gase and company will look to build on their 2017 playoff appearance and it all starts now. The more questions you can answer and holes you can fill in July and August lead to more important games being played in December and January.

Josh Ciganek is a young draft pick working his way up the depth chart on the F.F.I. roster, who enjoys watching and writing about all of Florida’s football teams.

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Bama QB Tua Tagovailoa present to start NFL combine

Florida Football Insiders

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John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Scouting Combine is getting underway in Indianapolis this week and on Monday morning, one of the prized quarterbacks that will be available early in the first round of the draft was there for official measurements and to meet with teams.

Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, whose season ended with a fractured hip last November, is on the road to recovery and he was officially measured and also, met with numerous teams that are looking at the possibility of drafting him:

In addition to not only the injured hip, but also a history of high ankle sprain problems, Tagovailoa has got to answer critics on his size. At just 6 – 0 feet there will be concerns about his ability to clearly see downfield through the massive bodies on NFL Sundays.

However, this can be combated by moving him around out of the pocket and that’s something that Alabama was successful at doing over his three years as well.

As we wrote recently, Tagovailoa was injured in Alabama’s 10th game of the season suffering a fractured hip on a sack late in the first half at Mississippi State. He missed the Tide’s final two regular-season games and then, their Citrus Bowl win January 1st, over Michigan

He came to Alabama from Hawaii and the same high school as Marcus Mariota, having thrown for over 8,000 yards which at that time was a Hawaii High School record. And, he had a career of 84 passing and 27 rushing touchdowns in three seasons.

Tua burst onto the scene nationally, when he relieved Jalen Hurts in the second half and overtime of Alabama’s thrilling title game win over Georgia in the 2018 College Football Playoff Championship Game. Tagovailoa threw the game-winning touchdown pass on the first overtime possession, as Alabama celebrated their fifth National Title in nine seasons under Saban.

In his second season at the helm in the 2018 regular season, Tagovailoa was named second-team AP All-American and was a Heisman Trophy finalist, as the Tide reached the National Title game, again, before being beaten soundly by Clemson 12 months ago.

As this junior season unfolded, Tagovailoa was named almost became synonymous with the Dolphins, who started the season horribly at 0 – 7 and the moniker “Tank for Tua” began to gain momentum in South Florida.

Tagovailoa is obviously on the Dolphins list to look at strongly to select in the top five in the draft and currently, Miami is slated to pick fifth.

It is expected that Tagovailoa will work out for teams probably later in March or maybe even, early April at the Tide’s facility in Tuscaloosa, prior to the NFL draft coming to Las Vegas.

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Colorado announced hire of Dolphins assistant Dorrel Sunday

Florida Football Insiders

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Former UCLA coach and recently promoted Dolphins assistant Karl Dorrell is headed back to college, as the new head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes.

The school confirmed Dorrell’s hire on Sunday evening with a five-year contract to take over their Big 12 program:

The Buffaloes have been seeking a head coach since there coach Mel Tucker abruptly left to take the Michigan State job earlier this month.

Dorrell came to the dolphins with Brian Flores this past season, as wide receiver coach and earlier last week was promoted to assistant head coach for the upcoming season. Miami’s top receiver, DeVante Parker, blossomed under Dorrell’s tutelage as the year went on. He finished the season with 72 catches for 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns becoming the favorite target of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Dorrel is the latest Dolphins assistant on the move. Flores fired the offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea he brought with him from New England. And, his defensive coordinator Patrick Graham left to take the same job with the Giants.

Dorrell had also been the Dolphins receivers coach, previously from 2008 – 10 and then, their quarterbacks coach in 2011 under the late Tony Sparano.

Colorado’s athletic director Rick George said in a statement Sunday night,

“I am excited that Karl Dorrell has agreed to become our head football coach,” George said. “Karl has had great success as a college coach, both as a head coach and an assistant, and he knows the Pac-12 Conference and West Coast well. It was important that our next coach have CU ties, and Karl has those ties having worked at CU twice previously. Karl shares my passion for Colorado and our vision for winning championships. He will be a tremendous mentor and role model for our student-athletes, and he will provide great leadership for our program going forward.” 

The CU Board of Regents still have to approve Dorrell’s contract, which will be $18 million for five seasons.

Dorrell had previously been on Colorado staffs two other times in his career, including most recently as offensive coordinator under Rick Neuheisel from 1995- 98.

Dorrell was named head coach of his alma mater UCLA in 2003, where he lasted five seasons and went to a bowl game every year finishing with a career 35 – 27 record before being fired after the 2007 season.

Dorrell had previously been receivers coach for the New York Jets 2015 – 18 under Todd Bowles (above) and two of his receivers had made the Pro Bowl during his time there.

Colorado picked Dorrell from an interview process that also included former Buffaloes player and Kansas City Super Bowl offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy, who interviewed and was under strong consideration.

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