How Frank Gore is already influencing Miami Dolphins’ Kenyan Drake

Miami Dolphins running back Frank Gore at training camp. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

DAVIE — Kenyan Drake has only known Frank Gore for a few months now, but he’s already learned the most important thing.

“He’s definitely one of the most genuine people I’ve ever known,” Drake said Tuesday.

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Gore is 35 years old. And Drake is 24 years old.

“We both have the same almost type of personality where it’s laid back, not really too flashy type of deal,” Drake said. “I feel like we definitely feed off each other and I can see how he’s been the way he is for so many years, with just the way he puts his head down and works. I think that’s something I definitely want to mold into my game just because obviously of his longevity.”

No running back in the NFL had more rushing yards than Drake over the last five weeks, an impressive statistic he downplays because Todd Gurley of the Rams rested one week.

But Drake is a willing sponge for all the knowledge that he knows Gore can provide.

“He works out like he’s a first-year, second-year guy,” Drake said. “Comes in with that same attitude. I feel like if I could have just half the success that he’s had. That would be a win in my book. Because he’s definitely the epitome of longevity in this league.”

Drake said players need to listen to coaches because they’ve earned their roles. He added that players also listen directly to other players who have earned their respect.

“Obviously, seeing somebody that you grown up watching since you’re whatever old, it’s kind of like, when you get into the same room as him at the same time, it’s like you’re kind of like caught up in yourself,” Drake said. “But when they come to your team, you’re like, ‘This is Frank Gore, who has done this and has done that,’ you see he’s a regular guy. Then he goes out and puts the work in and he’s diligent with everything he does.”

Drake laughed about the idea that when Gore came into the NFL, he was in the fifth or sixth grade.

“He obviously looks at me and he wants to compete with me too, because we’re on the same team but he’s like, ‘You’re young, man. You run around fast. I can’t keep up with you,'” Drake said. “He’s 35, but he goes out there and he’s right behind me if anything. Obviously, he’s not as fast as me, but at the end of the day, he does what he does. I’m like, ‘You’re 35. I don’t even know if I’ll have that drive or that will to keep up with some 24-year-old. It’s cool just to see it for myself.”

Drake does believe he can sustain his late-season success over a long period, and be one of the top rushers in the league.

“Yeah,” Drake said. “I feel like with the people I have around me. And how coach Gase and everybody calls the game on offense. With the receivers, the o-line revitalized. I feel like the sky is the limit. Me and the rest of my guys we’re going to take it one day at a time and when that comes that comes. But we’re definitely moving in the right direction.”

Drake has taken significant steps in the area of maturity since entering the NFL in 2016, according to his coaches.

“I mean honestly it’s just about growing up,” he said. “Everybody has to take that step to be the man that they want to be. Obviously I’m nowhere where I want to be as a man and as a football player. I feel the sky is the limit for me.”

And all involved think Gore’s presence is only going to help Drake be even better.

“It’s interesting to see how long he’s really been the back he is,” Drake said. “And you know just to have him on this team is going to help not only the running backs. But everybody on this team. If you could see if you take the right steps. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime type of player, especially at this position. To have this type of wear and tear. But he does it right every day. I feel like he doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.”

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What to expect when Miami Dolphins start spring practices Tuesday

Ryan Tannehill looks sweet in those throwbacks, no? (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)

Almost one year ago to the day, Ryan Tannehill was declaring himself and his knees “100 percent” and “totally normal.”

Tannehill made it through organized team activities, but did not last through training camp, his season ending with an anterior cruciate ligament torn in practice. But this year is different.

Tannehill’s knee has been surgically repaired. And there is every indication that while doctors feel outstanding about his recovery, everyone in the organization wants to make sure to protect Tannehill from his own competitiveness.

The first of 13 important spring practices begin Tuesday in Davie. Tannehill is planning to participate. But coach Adam Gase has warned this may also be a great opportunity to get a close look at the David Fales-Brock Osweiler backup battle.

In part it’s to evaluate them, but also to ease Tannehill back, as he’s not the type to ever ease himself back into anything.

Miami needs Tannehill healthy to have any chance to exceed expectations this season (five-to-six wins, says Vegas). And so really, there is absolutely no need to push him in these organized activities. Tannehill already has the advantage of an extra year of mental reps in Gase’s offense.

“I’m a coach and not a doctor,” Dolphins offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said last week. “I trust our medical staff here, they’ll tell us everything we need to know about that with coach Gase. We’re in the process of putting together a good plan for him coming up with OTAs. What I’ve been able to see from him is that he’s a good thrower that can make all of the throws.”

When Tannehill is under center, he’ll be taking snaps from a new center (Daniel Kilgore), be protected by a new Pro Bowl guard (Josh Sitton), handing off to a new Pro Bowl center (Frank Gore) and passing to new receivers (Albert Wilson, Danny Amendola) and tight ends (Mike Gesicki and Durham Smythe).

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Gone are security blankets Mike Pouncey, the center, and Jarvis Landry, the receiver. But Tannehill is perpetually positive and non-controversial. So while he may be saddened by their departure, surely he’ll stress excitement about the new additions. Dolphins media and fans have not heard from Tannehill since his latest injury, last August.

So when Tannehill speaks, it may be enlightening.

Tannehill wears a headset, to communicate with Gase. And getting up to the speed of offense Gase and Loggains plan to operate this season will be interesting to watch unfold.

On defense, linebacker Raekwon McMillan had planned to wear a headset and lead Miami’s defense as a rookie. All eyes will be on #52, as he makes his return from a season-ending knee injury sustained on his first and only NFL preseason game play.

The Dolphins have been encouraged by the progress of Tannehill, McMillan and cornerback Tony Lippett (Achilles), and all three will be on the field in some capacity next week. It is still uncertain how much work all three will actually do, however.

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Miami will need improved pass rush from a group of players with high pedigree — Cam Wake, Charles Harris, Andre Branch and newly acquired Robert Quinn. How those four players perform against Miami’s first-round offensive tackles, Ja’Wuan James and Laremy Tunsil, bears watching.

So too, will watching how Miami’s two rookie tight ends perform, especially when matched up with tight-end stopping rookies Minkah Fitzpatrick and Jerome Baker.

Miami’s organized team activities are closed to the public. But don’t worry. You’re all invited to training camp this summer.

And more great news: The Palm Beach Post’s Daily Dolphin will be reporting from the select spring practices open to the media.

We’ll be charting every catch from Amendola, Wilson, Gesicki and Smythe. And of course, every single move made by Tannehill, in his official return to the field and as the leader of Miami’s offense.

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2019 NFL Draft: Miami Dolphins could revisit quarterback position

Drew Lock could be the top quarterback in next year’s NFL Draft. (Getty Images)

Long before this year’s NFL Draft, Dolphins coach Adam Gase said he was comfortable with the prospect of not taking a single quarterback. It seemed obvious that Miami would take somebody at the position, but he warned against assuming that.

In the end, the team wrapped up the draft Saturday with eight draft picks and not a single quarterback among them — not even a seventh-rounder who could be a developmental project.

And that might not be a big deal.

The Dolphins are all-in on Ryan Tannehill as their starter this year, and any quarterback they took in the draft might not be ready to work as a viable backup this season anyway. It’s not an enormous problem for Miami to revisit the quarterback position a year from now.

If they do, Missouri’s Drew Lock is the early leader in that class. He’s 6-foot-4, 225 pounds and offers an array of skills as a pocket passer.

Lock, who is coming back for his senior season in the fall, led the country with 44 touchdown passes last year. He completed 57.8 percent of his passes, averaged 304.9 yards per game and had just 13 interceptions out of 419 pass attempts as the Tigers went 7-6.

Former Florida dual-threat quarterback Will Grier should be near the top of most draft boards, too, Now at West Virginia, he will be 24 years old when he hits the 2019 draft.

Grier has good mobility and terrific accuracy. He completed 64.4 percent of his passes, averaged 317.3 yards per game and had 34 touchdowns against 12 interceptions last year. He also ran for two touchdowns.

There are many other candidates, including Michigan’s Shea Patterson, Clayton Thorson of Northwestern and Jarrett Stidham from Auburn, but the upcoming class isn’t thought to be as strong as this year’s.

Led by Baker Mayfield at No. 1 to Cleveland, last week’s draft saw five quarterbacks go in the first round. That’s the most since Dan Marino’s 1983 class.

Mayfield and Sam Darnold (No. 3) were well out of Miami’s reach, but a somewhat unexpected opportunity emerged when Josh Allen and Josh Rosen slipped past Denver at No. 5. The Dolphins could have traded up to get either of them, but were content to stay at No. 11 and didn’t want to give up future assets.

For an idea of what the price might have been, take a look at what the three teams who traded up to get top-10 quarterbacks paid.

The Jets gave up three second-round picks to go from No. 6 to No. 3 last month. On draft night, Buffalo spent two second-rounders to jump from No. 12 to No. 7 so it could grab Allen. Then, one spot ahead of the Dolphins, Arizona traded up from 15th to 10th for the cost of a third and a fifth.

That last one wouldn’t have been an overwhelming sacrifice, but Miami was never totally sold on Rosen and was thrilled to get Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick so late when it had him graded as a top-six player in the draft.

At the tail end of the first round, Baltimore put together a package to swap its No. 52 pick (second round) with Philadelphia’s spot at No. 32. The Ravens exchanged fourth-round picks with the Eagles, moving Philadelphia up seven spots, and sent over a 2019 second-round pick. Essentially, they gave up a future second-round pick so they could take Lamar Jackson.

There’s nothing wrong with Miami’s aversion to get involved in those bidding wars, and delaying the quarterback pick to next year has some logic to it.

Perhaps Tannehill has a gigantic comeback season and continues the progress he showed under Gase in 2016, and there wouldn’t be much motivation for the team to plan for a post-Tannehill future if he’s a 30-year-old Pro Bowler this season. And it’s possible Gase knows how to unlock something in David Fales or Brock Osweiler, both of whom are 27.

Maybe all the Dolphins’ plans, including betting so big on Tannehill, will backfire and send them spiraling toward a 3-13 year. In that case, they’d have a significantly higher pick with which to address the quarterback situation.

The Dolphins’ patience made sense this time around, and it’ll take a year to see how well that decision plays out. If it doesn’t, they’ve got good options next spring.

[Dolphins’ NFL Draft week a success with smart picks, restraint on trade calls]

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