LIVE Miami Dolphins Practice Report from Tuesday’s OTA 8

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill at training camp. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

We are live in Davie, as the Dolphins are winding down their spring practices. Here are some things we noticed:

• Veteran guard Josh Sitton is not at practice. We do not believe there is reason for great concern.

• Wide receiver Leonte Carroo (knee), safety Jordan Lucas (injury) and wide receiver Thomas Duarte (shoulder) are not practicing.

• Running back Frank Gore got in some work today, presumably to get used to some handoffs from Ryan Tannehill.

• Tony Lippett pick-sixed Brock Osweiler.

• Isaiah Ford caught a contested touchdown in the end zone from Bryce Petty.

• If you play in a fantasy football PPR league, I think Kenyan Drake is going to get a lot of receptions.

• Robert Quinn has had a really good spring. He looks quick.

• Ryan Tannehill is having a really good practice. Deep TD’s to Danny Amendola and Kenny Stills.

• Dolphins continue to practice really fast tempo. They’re really going to try this again.

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Could Stephone Anthony be under-radar answer for Miami Dolphins?

Stephone Anthony has all the physical tools needed to play in the NFL. (AP)

DAVIE — All this talk about three-safety formations (which the Dolphins haven’t really practiced yet) and about the return of linebacker Raekwon McMillan and the drafting of linebacker Jerome Baker.

Completely lost in the shuffle was former first-round linebacker Stephone Anthony. Anthony is still here, and actually as of right now, he’s a starting Dolphins linebacker.

Anthony is still young and still fast and still strong and still has the potential to make a positive impact.

“He earned it by the same way all guys earn it,” Dolphins defensive coordinator Matt Burke said of Anthony taking many spring reps at starter. “He’s been working hard. It’s always difficult to come in the middle of the season, come from a different scheme and pick things up. He works really, really hard. He’s a big athlete. He’s almost 6-foot-3. He’s 240-something. He can run and we like those body types.”

Burke believes a full offseason with Miami will really benefit Anthony, who was criticized in New Orleans not for his physical tools but his ability to consistently diagnose offensive plays. The Dolphins consider Anthony, 25, a part of their 2018 draft class, as he was obtained for a fifth-rounder.

“We’re trying to really overload him a bit and give him a full offseason, a full year of coaching with us, and see what he can do,” Burke said. “I think we’re doing the same thing at linebacker. I think a lot of our other linebackers are younger guys right now. So Steph’s been here. He has a little bit of history in the scheme, so I think there’s just a little bit of comfort level with him in terms of knowledge.”

The Dolphins have shown in the past that they want rookies and newcomers to earn their playing time and starting statuses. So it’s completely possible that by the time the season starts or say, Week 5 of the 2018 season, rookie Jerome Baker has surpassed Anthony as Miami’s third linebacker.

But from a physical standpoint, there’s no reason Anthony can’t contribute when called upon. And right now he’s a starter.

“Stephone is another guy that he can do it all,” Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso said. “He can drop into coverage, play the run. (He’s a) high-energy guy. He’s another guy that (is) a playmaker.”

Fastest Miami Dolphin debate roars on. Will it be settled?

Miami Dolphins coordinator on Kalen Ballage: ‘You draw them up like that

New Dolphins DE Robert Quinn bending minds with flexibility

Miami Dolphins’ Charles Harris modeling game after Robert Quinn

Ryan Tannehill: Miami Dolphins rookie TE Mike Gesicki has ‘flashed’

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Dolphins rookie Minkah Fitzpatrick moves past big contract, ready for ‘great legacy’

Minkah Fitzpatrick will get $16.4 million over the next four seasons. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

DAVIE — For a kid who grew up in a blue-collar home with his father being a mechanic and his mom working in a warehouse, signing a $16.4 million NFL contract must have been surreal.

Dolphins first-round pick Minkah Fitzpatrick finalized his rookie deal last week and is set to make the aforementioned amount of money over the next four years. That’d be a landmark in anybody’s life, and he knows that, but he was relatively low-key when discussing what it meant to him.

“It was a good feeling,” he said. “Any time you see your hard work paying off, it’s a blessing. Me and my family, we worked real hard to be in this position, but you’ve just got to keep telling yourself, ‘This is not the end goal.’ It is a goal but it’s not the end goal.

“I didn’t come here just to be a first-round pick. I wanted to be a great player here and establish a great legacy here, so you’ve just got to keep on pushing it. Again, it’s an honor, it’s a blessing that we got that money and all of that stuff, but we’ve just got to keep on moving forward.”

Fitzpatrick said he didn’t really celebrate the financial windfall. Instead, he “just signed the contract and that was it.”

The deal was delayed because Miami was waiting until additional salary cap space freed up June 1, and now most of its draft picks are under contract. Tight end Mike Gesicki, a second-rounder from Penn State, is the only one who hasn’t signed.

One reason Fitzpatrick might not have allowed his head to start spinning over his rookie money is that he’s in the middle of trying to secure a role. He’s battling veterans Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald for playing time, and he’s off to a great start in that effort.

The Dolphins are three weeks into offseason practices, which end after four Organized Team Activity sessions next week. Then they break for about a month before reconvening for training camp.

[Kenny Stills is exactly what the NFL needs, so why is it alienating him?]

[Who wins a race between Albert Wilson, Jakeem Grant and Kenny Stills?]

[Marjory Stoneman Douglas football team visits Dolphins practice]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook.

Fastest Miami Dolphin debate roars on. Will it be settled?

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jakeem Grant runs past Malcolm Butler at Hard Rock Stadium in a game last December. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

DAVIE — The Miami Dolphins have the potential to be one of the fastest offenses in the NFL this season.

What this has led to is an exhaustive debate that permeates the locker room and the practice fields. It’s a controversy that may never truly be resolved, because, frankly, NFL players don’t test in the 40-yard dash after the draft.

All fast people think they’re the fastest, which is part of the mindset of running so fast.

To bring you in on the conversation that is happening this spring at Dolphins camp, let’s do just that:

Vincent Taylor (6-foot-3, 296 pound defensive lineman): I guess they’re having a debate right now who’s the fastest out of Jakeem Grant, Kenny Stills and Kenyan Drake. But Jakeem’s a special player. He played at Texas Tech and I played at Oklahoma State, so I remember playing him my last year. We played up there. The opening kickoff, he took a kickoff right to the crib, so that just goes to show you what kind of player he is. Jakeem’s very fast.

Jakeem Grant (has tested at 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash and says he is the fastest player on the team): Me, of course. Hands down. Neither one of them – not Albert Wilson, Kenny Stills, neither one of them. No. It doesn’t matter. You pick the race. It doesn’t matter.

Albert Wilson (has tested at 4.43 seconds in the 40-yard dash and says he is willing to participate in a race to settle the debate): Oh yes, definitely. I’ll win.

DeVante Parker (has tested at 4.45 seconds in the 40-yard dash and says Grant is the fastest, he’s second and Stills is third): The GPS tracker says I was second. With the GPS I was at 20.9 miles per hour and somebody else had one time faster than that. Yes, I think I am getting ripped off. But it’s fine. It’s alright.

Kenny Stills (has tested at 4.38 seconds and says receiver Malcolm Lewis actually posted the top speed this spring): We keep seeing that. You guys should ask the head coach because we have these little things that are on our shoulder pads that track the speed for practice. You guys have to ask coach about that. So we know and the coaches know.

Adam Gase (who is intrigued by the discussion): I was looking at that today actually, because I saw that Kenny said that. I don’t know. We can line them up and let them decide. It depends what routes you’re running. If somebody is running the type of routes where they’re stopping a lot, then they’re not going to get the high miles per hour that they’re looking for. Jakeem, it seems like he’s running more go routes than everybody, so maybe it might add up after a while. I don’t want them to really (race.) I don’t know. It would be interesting though, because there’s some legit speed with those guys. I know every one of them will say that they’re the fastest.

Cordrea Tankersley (on the player who is hardest to cover downfield): Man, they all give you a little different taste; but I’d definitely have to say Jakeem. That man be rolling.

Vincent Taylor: Albert Wilson is a pretty fast guy. I’ve seen him run, so he’s pretty fast also. Me? Playing against Jakeem and seeing what he did to us in the Big 12, he’s a pretty fast guy, so I’d probably say him. I know when we played K.C. last year, they’ve got a guy named Tyreek Hill. Practicing against Jakeem Grant, that helped us out as a defense.

Jakeem Grant: I always average every practice in the 20s. That’s my job. We always do it every single day, to see who’s the fastest and who had the fastest miles per hour in the receivers room. I’m always in the top three, so as long as I’m in the top three, I’m good.  Is there a race in the future? If you guys want a race, there could be a race. It doesn’t matter. As long as we’re not running a marathon, a 400 or anything like that, I’m good. Yes, I’m admitting I’d lose the marathon because, I’ve got short legs.

Kenny Stills: We’re all on the same team. We know we have a lot of speed and hopefully that puts some fear into some of the defenses we’ll play.

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Miami Dolphins coordinator on Kalen Ballage: ‘You draw them up like that’

Miami Dolphins running back Kalen Ballage. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

DAVIE — We’ll see what happens when the pads go on and the players are tackling and hitting and — blocking.

We’ll see how rookie running back Kalen Ballage looks when the real NFL stuff starts. But man, Ballage looks good in that number 33 aqua and orange jersey this spring.

“The obvious thing is what you guys see,” Dolphins offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said Wednesday. “When he walks through the door, you draw them up like that. He’s big, he’s good in protection, can catch the ball, can be a matchup issue in the passing game.”

Ballage will always be linked to former Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi, because he was drafted out of Arizona State with the pick acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles for the former Pro Bowler.

But Ballage is taller, heavier and faster. The dude looks the part.

Again, though, Ajayi was a physical, relentless beast on game day. And we don’t yet know how Ballage will react to NFL Sundays.

“Where he needs to grow is the NFL game and nickel protections and learning that stuff, because that’s obviously the biggest transition in the NFL is going in there and you’ve got odd defenses and you’ve got spinners and floaters and trap blitzes and all of those things,” Loggains said. “He’s got to master that stuff. The more exposure that he gets, the better he’s going to get at it.”

Ballage has opened some eyes at open practices because of his impressive size combined with smooth glide. It would be a good bet he was first offensive player off the bus in high school and college. Ballage slipped to the fourth round of the last NFL Draft, but it wasn’t because of a lack of physical ability.

So why did he slip?

“(General manager) Chris Grier could answer that better than I can,” Loggains said. “I liked him and was really fired up when we drafted him.”

The Dolphins have a nice running back tandem of flashy Kenyan Drake and warhorse Frank Gore. But with Ajayi and Damien Williams traded and unsigned, there is an outstanding opportunity for Ballage to enter the season as Miami’s third back.

Drake would tell Ballage to be more ready as a rookie than he was. Because you never know when you’ll be tapped.

“You want guys and you really like a guy that can play on all three downs,” Loggains said. “You don’t want to be limited by smaller stature guys that you’ve got to take out on third down or a guy that … (Kenyan) Drake is a guy that can play all three downs. I think Kalen fits that vision as well. He can catch the football. He can be a weapon out of the backfield; but he’s also big enough in pass pro.”

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Miami Dolphins CB Cordrea Tankersley: ‘It’s my job to lose’

What Miami Dolphins OC Dowell Loggains said Wednesday

Minkah Fitzpatrick on how Nick Saban, Adam Gase compare

Miami Dolphins’ Charles Harris modeling game after Robert Quinn

Ryan Tannehill: Miami Dolphins rookie TE Mike Gesicki has ‘flashed’

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New Dolphins DE Robert Quinn bending minds with flexibility

Robert Quinn celebrates a sack for the L.A. Rams. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

DAVIE — Robert Quinn is 6-foot-4, 250 pounds and he’s strong and he’s fast and yet his most valuable asset is one coaches and players at Miami Dolphins camp have been having a hard time wrapping their minds around.

How Quinn bends.

Defensive ends like Quinn are taught to fire off the ball as quickly as they can, aim toward an outside edge and then at precisely the right moment, stick a foot in the ground and pivot toward the helpless quarterback, crushing and rendering him lifeless.

You can’t just be fast. You can’t just be strong. You have to know how to contort your body. And contort Quinn does.

“He’s a unique athlete,” Dolphins defensive coordinator Matt Burke said. “He bends probably as good as anybody I’ve ever been around. It’s weird to watch sometimes, to be honest with you. He comes off the corner and sometimes you think he’s actually rushing too high and gets past the quarterback, then he just turns his foot and plants it and bends it. His knee is about two feet off the ground and he can really hug it.  It’s pretty fun.”

In a recent news conference, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill brought it up, without even being asked.

“It’s incredible how he bends the corner and his hips are two feet off the ground, but he’s running full speed around the corner,” Tannehill said.

Recent first round draft choice Charles Harris, a defensive end, seemed to speak with reverence, and a tinge of jealousy, about how Quinn is able to control and direct his body.

“Rob, seeing him practice and seeing him going through cornering drills and stuff, it’s just like ‘Dang, how do you do it?’” Harris said. “It’s also motivating. For me, I look at it as I had the most bend on the team. Seeing him going through all of that is like, I’ve got to get my stuff together.”

Quinn dominated the NFL from 2012-2014, with 10.5, 19 and 10.5 sacks. But battling injuries, he took a step back the following two seasons and then recorded 8.5 last year, but never fully grew comfortable with a transition to linebacker.

Quinn is back at defensive end in Miami, and being asked to do one thing really well.

“Get on your aiming point, key the ball and go as fast as you can go as hard as you can go,” defensive line coach Kris Kocurek said.

Miami players are openly raving about how they’re going to attack more this season. Last season, there was so much emphasis on gap integrity and slowing the opposing run with proper reads.

The Dolphins feel to be their best on defense, they’ll need to unleash Quinn, Cam Wake, Harris and Andre Branch.

There hasn’t been any tackling at Dolphins practices yet, of course. But it’s hard to miss Quinn’s speed, athleticism and ridiculous bendability. Is it any wonder he’s been dubbed “Gumby” in the past?

“Flexibility,” Dolphins defensive tackle Vincent Taylor said. He’s very flexible. Just the way I see him bend the corner and how low he gets, and just getting around all of those tackles, he’s a very special player. He’s very flexible.”

Burke, who has seen a lot of special pass rushers in his NFL career, has actually been taken aback by watching Quinn practice.

“He’s another guy that doesn’t really say much,” Burke said. “He just kind of comes out to work. He’s got a smile on his face. But just from an athletic standpoint, to me, he has a rare bend ability. That’s his trait and it’s almost disarming to watch at times, the way he can corner.”

Miami Dolphins CB Cordrea Tankersley: ‘It’s my job to lose’

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Minkah Fitzpatrick on how Nick Saban, Adam Gase compare

Miami Dolphins’ Charles Harris modeling game after Robert Quinn

Ryan Tannehill: Miami Dolphins rookie TE Mike Gesicki has ‘flashed’

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Miami Dolphins CB Cordrea Tankersley: ‘It’s my job to lose’

Miami Dolphins’ Cordrea Tankersley deflects the ball from Atlanta Falcons’ Austin Hooper last season. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/TNS)

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.

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What Miami Dolphins OC Dowell Loggains said Wednesday

Dolphins listening to offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

DAVIE — Here is some of what Dolphins offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said Wednesday:

• It’s a great problem to have with four wide receivers, knowing all might not start. Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson are quarterback friendly. It could be a matchup situation.

• Everything in this league is earned, including rookie tight ends moving up the depth chart. They are finding out what Mike Gesicki and Durham Smythe can do.

• The Bears graded DeVante Parker really high. Loggains thinks he has really good work ethic. He’s spent a lot of time in the building. He is a professional. He is trying to get better. We tell him, ‘keep stacking good days.’

• I see eye to eye with Jakeem Grant. But he is explosive. He’s flashed. He is an excellent returner. There is big time playmaker potential. We keep expanding his route tree. Short in stature but he does not play short.

• Kalen Ballage will need to block to play on Sundays. Ballage looks the part. Ballage is big and strong and fast. And can catch.

• Jesse Davis has made the most improvement from Week 1 to Week 2. He is doing better with his hands.

• Laremy Tunsil vs. Robert Quinn is a joy to watch. Quinn will expose you if you don’t come ready to practice.

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Miami Dolphins’ Charles Harris modeling game after Robert Quinn

Miami Dolphins defensive end Charles Harris celebrates. (Bill Ingram / The Palm Beach Post)

DAVIE — Miami Dolphins defensive lineman William Hayes tried to introduce his teammate Charles Harris to former teammate Robert Quinn last season, when they were all in Los Angeles.

“(Hayes) was telling me ‘That is somebody you need to model your game after,” Harris said Tuesday. “You need to talk to (him).'”

The meeting at Quinn’s house didn’t happen. But less than a year later, Quinn was traded to the Dolphins.

“I’ve got somebody to learn after,” Harris said. “(Quinn’s) a big-time great player, great guy… So far he’s been a great guy to go to for any questions. He’s a really low key humble guy and he just does his job. He’s a great mentor.”

Earlier Tuesday, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was asked about Harris and folded a remark about Quinn into the conversation.

“(Harris is) moving well,” Tannehill said. “I think our rushers, we have some really good rushers. You see Rob Quinn coming around the edge and it’s incredible how he bends the corner and his hips are two feet off the ground, but he’s running full speed around the corner. You can point it out with Charles (Harris)’ speed. Cam (Wake) and his presence that he has out there on the outside. We have a deep group of rushers. Will Hayes is going to come in and play strong. I’m really excited about our d-line group and how they come off the ball, especially on the outside with the pass rush.”

On paper, Miami should have one of the best group of pass rushers in the NFL. But sacks don’t happen on paper. Harris had only two sacks as a first-round rookie. And though he won’t disclose specific goals, he has lofty ones.

“You’re going to see them,” he said.

Harris did say he feels like a much different player than he was one year ago.

“The guy here today, I know who I am,” Harris said. “There are a lot of voids coming out of college that go into being a real adult. There are a lot of voids and a lot of things you have to do to find yourself. There are a lot of things you have to go through. I feel like this past year, I went through all of those and I know who I am and I know who I want to be. I feel like once you find that security and once you find the anchor in something, can’t nothing else waiver you. I feel like my mindset, my spiritual side, my emotions, just everything is just at a point that I’ve never been in my life.”

Harris talked about how Miami has so many defensive linemen they have “Alpha,” “Bravo” and “Charlie” packages. Even in practice, the competition is fierce.

Quinn, as Tannehill noted, has incredible bend on his end rushes.

“’Rob,’ (Quinn) seeing him practice and seeing him going through cornering drills and stuff, it’s just like ‘Dang, how do you do it?’” Harris said. “It’s also motivating. For me, I look at it as I had the most bend on the team. Seeing him going through all of that is like, I’ve got to get my stuff together. He shows that it’s possible.”

Quinn added that veteran Wake challenged an unnamed rookie in a pop-up drill on Tuesday.

“He just had to show him who he was,” Quinn said. “It’s motivating to see your old head just come out and be like, let me take this little guy out.”

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Ryan Tannehill: Miami Dolphins rookie TE Mike Gesicki has ‘flashed’

Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki must learn quickly. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

DAVIE — The Dolphins drafted Mike Gesicki in the second round because of his incredible athleticism.

It’s something quarterback Ryan Tannehill is excited about already.

 “He’s flashed a couple of times,” Tannehill said Tuesday. “I think it was last week, he made a great one-handed catch down the sideline on a deep pass. He’s young; he’s learning. He’s going to take his bumps along the way, but he works really hard. He’s locked in and trying to get better each and every day, and that’s what we want. He has all of the talent and the athletic ability and once he catches up to knowing what we’re doing, he’s going to be a big weapon for us.”

Gesicki can make acrobatic plays. He can split the seam. He can be a threat in the red zone.

But sometimes Tannehill will need Gesicki to run a very precise short route in which he turns around and Tannehill has already released the ball. There is a trust factor that must develop between veteran and rookie.

On an excellent video feature recently produced by the Miami Dolphins social media team, a wired Tannehill literally runs the route for Gesicki, verbalizing exactly what he needs the rookie to do.

“Sell the takeoff,” Tannehill is telling Gesicki, as he demonstrates the route. “Once you get to eight, step in the ground. The ball should be in the air.”

After they run the play successfully, Tannehill tells Gesicki: “Good work. Keep doing it. You’re getting better each and every day. Have your notes on what you want to hit. Come out here and work on it. That’s what this time of year is for, to get better. A little bit better, each and every day. Keep it up.”

Replies Gesicki: “All right, boss. Appreciate you.”

Tannehill was, of course, a very successful wide receiver and quarterback at Texas A&M.

“I was nowhere near the route-runner that any of these guys are, so I can’t say that I can do it any better; but I have been in their shoes so to speak of feeling how a practice is, feeling how the heat affects you through a practice and can kind of relate a little bit,” Tannehill said. “As far as coaching guys up on what I’m expecting in routes, I think when you get in the first year of an offense, it’s a little tougher because you’re learning the offense yourself. You’re trying to understand what the coach wants, how you see it and how that blends together. As you move to Year 2 and Year 3, you can really take ownership of it and say ‘Okay, this is what I want. I need you to be right here at this time.’”

Rookies like Gesicki, Durham Smythe and Kalen Ballage will be leaning heavily on Tannehill. Production from the tight end position would be a nice help. Due to injuries and failure to live up expectations, tight ends Jordan Cameron and Julius Thomas did not provide much of a threat for Tannehill over the past two seasons.

“Guys are going to have to come in and play well,” Tannehill said. “Like I said, accountability is huge – being in the right spot at the right time. We brought in some young guys who are really athletic. We have MarQueis Gray, who has done a good job for us. A.J. Derby is athletic on the outside. It’s really up in the air right now who’s going to come out of that group and really lead the group; but we have some veteran guys, we have some young guys. We’re expecting somebody to really step up and make big plays with us.”

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