DAVIE — At the NFL owner’s meetings in March, Dolphins coach Adam Gase outlined the approach he wanted cornerback Cordrea Tankersley to take into this season.
“We’d love to see him come in really with the mindset of that’s his spot and he’s not going anywhere and really be aggressive as far as not let anybody take that spot that he’s had,” Gase said.
Tankersley said Wednesday that Gase addressed that directly with him.
“It’s a no-brainer,” Tankersley said. “I kind of had the idea myself that it’s my job to lose kind of a deal. He definitely let me know that. And it’s just extra motivation.”
Tankersley started 11 games as a rookie, picking up 24 tackles and 7 passes defended.
What’s the next step in his game?
“My next step is to become one of the best corners in the league,” Tankersley said. “I’m still learning from the guys on the team. Just stepping up and being more aggressive. I feel like I can be more aggressive in my second year. Take what I learned last year. Step it up a notch.”
Tankersley said the biggest adjustment he had to make as a rookie was to the speed of the league. Tankersley was very good on short passes. He played a physical style. And he was an excellent tackler.
To reach the next level, he’ll need to continue to work on his his footwork, ball recognition and downfield plays. Tony Lippett, who is returning from an Achilles injury, is more vulnerable underneath but excellent on balls deep in the air.
“It’s hard to say,” Gase said of Tankersley. “I think he got better. I think there were times where he wishes he could go back and do some things different; but that’s the rookie year.”
The Dolphins expect Xavien Howard to emerge as a legitimate number one, shutdown corner this season. But one area of concern is definitely the level of play they can expect opposite Howard.
There is not a lot of depth at cornerback. And Miami needs Tankersley to grow quickly.
“I feel like we have competition all over the field,” Tankersley said.