DAVIE—The Dolphins believe they are set for years to come with cornerbacks Xavien Howard and Cordrea Tankersley. They were relatively high draft picks, both are 24 and they’ve shown high potential in their early opportunities.
It’s important to remember that both are hugely inexperienced. Howard is in Year 2, but Sunday’s game against Denver will be only his 18th NFL start. Tankersley is starting his 10th game.
Miami coach Adam Gase stopped by the cornerback drills during Thursday’s practice and looked pleased with the group. While the team is middle of the pack in passing yards allowed and is yielding the second-highest opponent passer rating in the league, Gase likes what he’s seen from Howard and Tankersley so far.
“They’re pretty good,” he said. “I mean there will be occasional things where things get messed up, but it hasn’t been a whole bunch. X has been outstanding. He’s really done a good job. He understands what we’re doing and doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.”
Neither does Bobby McCain, who typically takes the slot receiver. McCain is known in the building as an absolute technician, and there’s rarely any concern about him. He might be the most dependable defensive back on the roster when it comes to carrying out assignments.
Pro Football Focus ranks McCain as the Dolphins’ best cornerback, placing him 47th in the league. Tankersley is 73rd, and Howard checks in at No. 117.
With Tankersley and Howard, Gase’s main emphasis lately has been teaching them to resist becoming tentative after they get beat.
“I want to see those two guys just play aggressive and you just have to move on from the next play,” he said. “If you get beat one time, it happens. I mean if you haven’t been beat in the NFL, you’re probably not playing. I want our guys playing confident. I want them playing aggressive.
“I want them to challenge wide receivers. I don’t want them to play passive and off and just try to keep everything in front of them. I want them to put pressure on the wide receivers and make it a tight throw and if they make a good play, good for them; but the majority of the time when you watch the NFL, there’s a lot of missed throws down the field.”
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