Miami Dolphins: 5 position groups to watch at OTAs

How will Ryan Tannehill look on the practice field this month? (Getty Images)

The Miami Dolphins begin organized team practice activity on Tuesday at the team’s practice facility in Davie.

While no live contact is permitted, 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.

Miami’s OTA dates are May 23-25, May 30-June 1 and June 5-June 8.

The Dolphins will also have a mandatory minicamp from June 13-15.

So with no contact, what exactly can coaches and players get out of these practices?

• The Dolphins can gauge the physical conditioning of older veterans

• The Dolphins can see which second-year players seem ready to make a quantum leap

• The Dolphins can begin to assess the readiness of rookies to contribute early in the season

Here’s a look at 5 position groups we’ll be watching (OTAs are not open to the public but some sessions are open to the media) in the coming weeks:

  1. Quarterback — We haven’t seen Ryan Tannehill operating Miami’s huddle since December 11, when a knee injury against at home against Arizona ended his season. According to offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen, “I don’t see (Tannehill) favoring it at all. He looks like the same guy.” Coach Adam Gase has said many times he does not expect Tannehill’s mobility to be limited, despite the plan to wear a knee brace. “He moves around fine,” Gase said. “He’s got a good edge that I like to him right now.” Gase said that Tannehill is pushing himself. It should be fascinating to see just how well Tannehill is really moving around and how comfortable he seems in Year 2 in Miami’s offense. A possible battle for third-string quarterback between Brandon Doughty and David Fales could be interesting to watch develop.
  2. Linebacker — The Dolphins plan to cross-train players like Kiko Alonso, Lawrence Timmons and rookie Raekwon McMillan at multiple positions. It would seem Timmons would take most of the early reps at inside linebacker with McMillan taking some, as it should be his eventual position. Miami already knows Alonso can play inside linebacker if needed. How does Koa Misi look in his return from a serious neck injury? How fast does Timmons look, at the age of 30? How fast does McMillan pick up what he has described as a defense more complex than the one he played in at Ohio State? How does McMillan look in pass coverage? Miami’s linebacking corps was a weakness last season. Could it become a strength?
  3. Wide receiver — Does Jarvis Landry show any signs of annoyance if a contract negotiation drags on? Probably not. Landry is emotional but has to believe after seeing teammates get paid that he will, too. Will Kenny Stills bring the same intense focus and commitment to preparation after getting paid? No reason to believe he won’t. Will Leonte Carroo take a step forward to show why he was a third-round draft choice last season. This is a key moment in Carroo’s fledgling career. Will Jakeem Grant take a step forward in ball security? We know he’s explosive. And perhaps most importantly, does DeVante Parker show real proof that he is ready to emerge as a healthy, dynamic, consistent star? Parker believes he’s one of the best receivers in the league. Perhaps this offseason he shows he’s really ready to fulfill that prophecy.
  4. Cornerback — All eyes will be on starting cornerback Xavien Howard, who missed two stints of his rookie season with a knee injury. Is Howard ready to become an upper-echelon starter? Could Howard see some reps at slot corner in case rookie Cordrea Tankersley is too good to keep out of the lineup? Will Bobby McCain or Tony Lippett struggle to the extent that their roster spot becomes jeopardized? Will Byron Maxwell show that he can provide tighter overall coverage than he did last season? Especially on crossing routes, Maxwell and Lippett must show they can stick closer to opposing wide receivers. Miami wants corners to play physical and tough, and in general there must be tighter coverage this season.
  5. Running back — What a great chance to see if Jay Ajayi really is a much better receiver, as advertised by Christensen. What a great chance to see if Kenyan Drake is ready to become one of the best change-of-pace backs in the NFL. He needs more touches in 2017 and should see them. Will undrafted rookie De’Veon Smith make a gigantic impression this offseason and perhaps push for a roster spot? Without hitting in these OTAs, it’s really hard to judge trench play. But it will be interesting to look at the guard/center combinations Miami uses. With Mike Pouncey presumably out of OTAs, one would think Kraig Urbik and Anthony Steen will get long looks there over the next month.

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