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Growing pains evident for Dolphins rookie RB Kalen Ballage

Florida Football Insiders



Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Dolphins have high hopes for rookie Kalen Ballage, but the last few days have been a reminder that it’s a process to transition even from big time college football to the NFL.

First, Ballage had an early fumble in Tuesday nights preseason loss to the Buccaneers at Hard Rock stadium.

Then during Sunday’s practice, he missed a blocking assignment that would have resulted in quarterback Ryan Tannehill taking a “blindside hit” had it been in a game situation.

And, Tannehill had no problem letting Ballage, and everyone watching, know that that kind of play will get you put on the bench.

Dolphins beat writer Chris Perkins of the Fort Lauderdale sun-sentinel recapped more:

Interesting, that Tannehill acting almost as a coach, or the offensive coordinator in sending Ballage off the field. And then, continuing to scold / instruct him of the importance of picking up blocking assignments and changes.

As we wrote last week, it’s the same situation in Tampa for Buccaneers rookie running back Ronald Jones. He must get better at pass blocking as well if he wants to be on the field more, especially on third down.

Back to Ballage. He certainly got the body and the skill set to see some playing time, even though last year’s part-time starter Kenyan Drake and veteran free agent Frank Gore are ahead of him on the depth chart.

But, is coach Adam Gase said after practice on Sunday, Tannehill had every right to get his point across to Ballage:

“He was right today with what he did,” Gase said. “I would have been upset if I was him because he knows what the result in a game would have been. It would have been painful for him, for sure.

“I think he was in the right to kind of make an example there. When he does things like that, I think for our offense, that’s a good thing.”

It should be pointed out that Gase and the front office jettisoned RB Jay Ajayi last year in part for his inability and at times, disinterest in protecting Jay Cutler.

This is why it’s training camp and part of development of a player. A player in Ballage, that the Fins hope develops and contributes in all phases, soon.

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