The mystery is over. We now officially have some clues provided by the Miami Dolphins coaches.
Before Tuesday's OTA session I had a few questions (okay, 10), but watching the action during the first practice of Phase Three provided some answers.
Let us go over a few.
1. How much does Ryan Tannehill's skill set fit into the new offensive Bill Lazor is building for the Dolphins?
Lazor has A LOT of work to do with Tannehill, who practiced poorly on Tuesday. He was picked off by Cortland Finnegan during 11-on-11, and two other defensive backs dropped possible interceptions. His unit stalled consistently, and it was so bad Lazor said he hopes the offense doesn't look this bad the next time the media is watching, which will be next Monday. Tannehill is consistently inconsistent, and that's something Lazor needs to fix. He also holds onto the ball too long, which is also something that seemed to agitate Lazor.
2. How many of the Dolphins' injured receivers -- Brandon Gibson, Brian Hartline and Armon Binns -- are working with the team instead of rehabbing their knee injuries?
Binns, who is 10 months into his ACL rehab, was the only one cleared to do everything on Tuesday. And even though he wasn't at full speed he still caught a 70-yard bomb from Matt Moore, beating Jamar Taylor deep. Hartline and Gibson did some drills, but mostly individual stuff.
3. Which unit does the rookie offensive linemen start out with?
Ja'Wuan James, the first-round pick, worked as the starting right tackle. He was backed up by Jason Fox. Billy Turner, the team's third-round pick, worked as the second-team left guard, playing behind Dallas Thomas, who is nearly identical to him. Thomas and Turner are both listed at the same height (6-foot-5), and same weight (315).
4. Which offensive linemen are serious contenders for the starting guard spots, challenging Shelley Smith and Turner?
That question is a bit murky because of all the mixing and matching the Dolphins were doing. Sometimes Nate Garner was working as a guard, and sometimes he was in as a tackle. Sam Brenner worked as the backup center, but that might not last long if he keeps on snapping poorly. Smith, who is smaller than I expected, is the starting right guard and Thomas and Turner are in a royal rumble style battle for Richie Incognito's old spot at left guard.
5. Which cornerbacks are contending for the starting spot opposite Pro Bowl pick Brent Grimes?
That job apparently belongs to Finnegan, who was the top performer in practice on Tuesday. Finnegan, who is surprisingly bigger than I remember him, was everywhere, and pulled down a interception on Tannehill during his first snap of the final 11-on-11 session. Taylor backed up Finnegan and Will Davis backed up Grimes, but they did flip sides.
6. How many cornerbacks are being cross-trained to handle the nickel cornerback spot?
I honestly didn't see anyone but Jimmy Wilson working as the nickel. Maybe I wasn't paying close enough attention. I promise to do better next time.
7. Will Jelani Jenkins keep pushing for a starting OLB spot?
This question provided the biggest surprise of the OTA session because Koa Misi was moved inside, swapping roles with Dannell Ellerbe, who worked as the strong side linebacker. What was really a head scratcher was when Miami used Wheeler and Misi as the nickel linebackers and left Ellerbe on the sidelines. Isn't Ellerbe and his two interceptions the better coverage guy? Jenkins worked with the second-unit as the weakside linebacker, where he was paired with Jonathan Freeny (SLB) and Jason Trusnik (ILB). Rookie Jordan Tripp worked as the third-team inside linebacker.
8. How will the rotation of talented defensive tackles sort itself out?
There wasn't much of a competition considering Jared Odrick was limited by an undisclosed injury. Earl Mitchell, who I noticed was smaller than expected, was the defensive tackle paired with Randy Starks. We'll see how this position battle plays out when Odrick gets a green-light to participate without limitations.
9. How much have Dion Jordan's strength issues subsided?
Jordan, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 draft class, looks bigger and stronger. His shoulders are broader. But he was invisible during Tuesday's sessions. That's not really a big deal considering the Dolphins aren't wearing pads. Defensive linemen usually flash when pads come on, which allows them to become violent.
10. How will the tight ends be used in Lazor's new offense, and which backup best complements Charles Clay's skills as an H-back?
The tight ends and H-backs where EVERYWHERE and doing EVERYTHING. That's probably the one thing I'll take away from Lazor's offense during my first and second exposure to it. In day one the Dolphins used a steady diet of the two tight end package, and they changed up the tight ends and H-backs that were used, and had them doing plenty. Sometimes they were on the line, sometimes they were in the backfield, and sometimes they were lined up out wide. It will take a minute for me to grasp and understand this approach, and the purposes of it.
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