One week into training camp, the Miami Dolphins will get their first progress report in Saturday's scrimmage at Sun Life Stadium.
For players vying for jobs, it's an opportunity to make an impact in game-like conditions.
"Personally, just [avoid] mistakes, but at the same time I'm definitely trying to make a play, get a pick," second-year cornerback Will Davis said. "You're trying to stand out right now … as much as you can. Compete with your teammates, congratulate them, and at the same try to get yours."
The coaches are eager to see how Bill Lazor's new offense is coming together, with particular interest in the offensive line.
"I think [the scrimmage] is going to be important," said coach Joe Philbin, who views it as a dress rehearsal for Friday's exhibition opener at Atlanta. "There are no coaches on the field. They have to figure it out. They have to make the calls with no coach yelling a specific call or adjustment. We'll see how those guys sort things out for themselves."
There is no charge to watch the 9:30 a.m. glorified practice, but fans must obtain a ticket in advance at Dolphins.com/trainingcamp. Immediately following the scrimmage this year's Dolphins Walk of Fame inductees will be announced. There will also be an autograph session with players and other activities for fans.
Philbin described the format as controlled. While the offense will be given an opportunity to attempt to move the ball under normal game conditions, he said portions of the scrimmage will be devoted to specific circumstances. That will include segments focusing on operating in the Red Zone, goal-line offense, two-point conversion and the two-minute drill.
As to whether success by one unit would reflect negatively on another, Philbin said, "It's a football game. Sometimes your opponent makes plays. … You just have to learn how to play through some of those ups and downs."
Rookie Walt Aikens is not only adjusting to the pro game, he is doing it at a new position since moving to safety. The fourth-round pick out of Liberty has been a cornerback since he was a freshman at Illinois.
"It's just about communication and being on the right page with the rest of your teammates. Now I have to make calls with linebackers and the corners. They've been really helping me out," he said.
Aikens said the change of roles plays to his strengths as a defender.
"It's a better view, I'm way back so I can see everything happening and break on some balls," he said. "When you've got corners like we have, it's just great back there because you don't have to do much long [coverage]."
Much better on the center-to-quarterback exchanges, which wasn't an issue Friday. But a staggering number of balls ended up on the ground on simple, short tosses to receivers and backs who were not working against defenders. Too many were either dropped or off-target. Perhaps it was a lapse of concentration, as receivers seemed to do better when covered. ... Marcus Thigpen made a nice grab of a Ryan Tannehill toss in the corner of the end zone. ... With TE Charles Clay apparently getting an easy day, Kyle Miller showed good hands on a couple of catches, including diving in the end zone to snag a Pat Devlin zinger over the middle. … Nate Garner got most of the work at center with Sam Brenner (knee) not participating in drills. … Another sparse crowd Friday. The 8 a.m. starting time is likely a factor at weekday practices, but skepticism in the fan base may contribute. Turnout for Saturday's scrimmage may shed more light.
Devlin got extensive work and was sharp throughout the practice. He threw some nice touch passes in drills inside the 10. His experience and performance so far would appear to give him the edge on Seth Lobato as the third QB.
Rookie guard Billy Turner, the third-round pick from North Dakota State, continues to appear overmatched at this point. That was evident again in one-on-one drills against veteran defensive linemen, though he did get the best of fellow rookie Garrison Smith in one skirmish.
QB Matt Moore was limited to some handoffs due to a sore shoulder, and he is expected to not throw for several days. ... Rookie WR Matt Hazel (concussion) and LB Tariq Edwards (knee) will also miss multiple practices. … LB Jelani Jenkins was on the sideline with his right knee wrapped and iced midway through the practice. … WR Mike Wallace (hamstring) remained out.
Quote of the day
"He's definitely having the best training camp in three years that I've been here. … He's still a difficult man to move off the line of scrimmage. I think he's ratcheted up his pursuit to the ball to a different level than what I've seen."
— Joe Philbin, Dolphins coach on defensive tackle Randy StarksCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun