DAVIE — Tony Lippett it out there, running around with his teammates for the first time since tearing an Achilles tendon in a Miami Dolphins practice last August.
But it is clear this isn’t going to be an easy process. And it is clear there is no rush to get Lippett back into any competition to start with cornerback Cordrea Tankersley.
“I think he just needs to keep working on getting himself just feeling as 100 percent as he possibly can for training camp,” Miami coach Adam Gase said Tuesday. “Right now, I’m not so much worried about if (Lippett) gets beat or something physically wasn’t perfect for him. I want him to really stress himself and kind of get the kinks out.”
Lippett, asked about what he would consider his ideal role for 2018, did not say starter.
“Right now I’m just taking it one day at a time,” Lippe said. “Just getting better. Knocking off the rust. And trying my best to get to 100 percent when we get back to camp. I’m just grinding. Going out there and competing.”
As much as modern medicine has advanced, an Achilles injury is a very challenging one to return from, especially for a cornerback. But Lippett has been encouraged by conversations with former Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes, who bounced back from the same injury.
“The last thing to come around?” Lippett said of Grimes’ advice. “Probably just the long speed.”
Lippett, a former receiver, has always had the advantage of speed and athleticism. Yet he was hurt leaping on a simple play in practice. And while he say’s he’s “really close” to 100 percent and “definitely on track to be the same player I always was,” it’s going to take time.
And that’s why nobody is counting on Lippett as a starter. But Miami really does need him to recover in order to provide much-needed cornerback depth. Lippett started 13 games in 2016, had 4 interceptions, and made as much improvement as any Miami defensive player that season.
“It was really watching film and knowing your opponent,” Lippett sasid. “Knowing the game plan. Getting better one day at time. Working on technique in practice. Knowing what the team is trying to do to you. Knowing how to execute the game plan on Sunday.”
Gase is downplaying any talk of timelines or competing to start.
“It’s been since last July or August since he really rolled out there,” Gase said. “I think sometimes you worry about putting out bad tape. And we know what he’s dealing with. We know what he’s recovering from. And we just need him to stress himself as much as possible. So when we hit training camp he feels as right as he can.”
Lippett said he’s over the “Why me?” phase of injury recovery. He’s experiencing some Achilles soreness, if not pain.
“It’s just getting used to doing this again,” Lippett said. “I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned a lot about my body. I just try to put one foot forward every day. Just keep grinding and getting better every day.”