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.”

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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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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.”

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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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Nobody is rushing Miami Dolphins CB Tony Lippett, or making any predictions

Miami Dolphins DB Tony Lippett is working his way back. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

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.”

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Adam Gase: Ryan Tannehill thought ‘Don’t waste the draft pick’ on QB (via MMQB)

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill listens to offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains at training camp in Davie. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Ryan Tannehill knew every time the Dolphins were visiting with a quarterback draft prospect, in Davie or in their town, because coach Adam Gase kept him aware of every visit.

According to Albert Breer of MMQB, Tannehill had a clear perspective on the possibility.

“I really think his thought was—don’t waste the draft pick,” Gase said, according to Breer. “He focused on work and bringing the same intensity he does every day. He’s very competitive. He’s not going to bat an eye at any of those things. He just keeps going. If there’s some kind of internal thing going on, you’re not going to know. He’s not going to show his cards. So I never worried about it.”

Gase wasn’t worried about Tannehill’s approach. But should the Dolphins be worried about not drafting a quarterback?

Not only did Miami not land a top quarterback in the first round — Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen were all selected before they chose Minkah Fitzpatrick — but they didn’t take a quarterback at all.

The idea of selecting a quarterback was never just about replacing Tannehill. It was also about creating legitimate competition at the position, to push Tannehill (Gase would say he does not need pushing) and also to add depth.

As of now, unproven David Fales and underachieving Brock Osweiler are Miami’s backups. That’s not idea;. Of course, Miami’s entire season rides on Tannehill staying healthy for the first season since 2015 anyhow.

“Just being around him, this being my third year [as head coach], the guy competes as hard as anyone I’ve been around, especially at that position. And it’s a good feeling as a coach when we’ve got him back out there,” Gase told MMQB.

Everyone is happy Tannehill is back. Probably even Kristin Cavallari.

Gase spoke more about culture in his conversation with MMQB, praising Danny Amendola, Albert Wilson, Robert Quinn and Frank Gore for competitiveness, conditioning, motor and grit. Those are all good things.

If defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, Miami’s first-round pick, is a candidate for defensive rookie of the year, well, yeah, that won’t have been a wasted draft pick. And it will look even better, of course, if Ryan Tannehill stays healthy.

Then Tannehill and the Dolphins will have been completely right.

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5 Players to watch at Miami Dolphins mandatory mini-camp this week

Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki can be a weapon. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

The Miami Dolphins have had outstanding participation at voluntary organized team activities this spring, unlike a certain team up north. But hey, the Dolphins have plenty of ground to make up.

For three days this week, all players are actually required by an NFL and NFLPA agreement to show up and work. And so they’ll do just that on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, in Davie.

According to the agreed-upon rules, players and coaches can work together for up to 10 hours each day, instead of six. The teams can even be on the field up to 3.5 hours each day. So a lot of work can get done.

Who are us media types watching closely at the open practices?

  1. Ryan Tannehill — Coaches say Tannehill’s mobility is already up to par and he’s converting a plethora of unscheduled plays. Has Tannehill really picked up where he left off when he was playing great ball at the end of 2016? Is Tannehill now making decisions so quickly at the line of scrimmage that the Dolphins are finally ready to go at warp-speed pace? How quickly is Tannehill getting on the same page with so many new teammates?
  2. Mike Gesicki — He is a rookie. He is a rookie. He is a rookie. Tell yourself that now and in the summer and early in the 2018 season, because it’s important to remember. There will be mistakes. There will be busts. Probably a key drop or two. This will not mean that Gesicki does not have a great future. It will mean he is a rookie. But it would be a lot of fun to see flashes of explosiveness and athleticism from the second-rounder in this week’s minicamp.
  3. Raekwon McMillan — Coaches say McMillan has been building back the confidence he had soon after arriving as a rookie. McMillan is fully cleared from his knee injury. He comes across as extremely mature and composed. McMillan believes he has a responsibility to be a leader on the field, despite his inexperience. And that he can do so by knowing exactly where he and every other player on the defense is supposed to be.
  4. Minkah Fitzpatrick — It was revealed recently that Fitzpatrick has already nabbed at least two picks this spring. And that’s what the Dolphins need. Turnovers. Game-changing plays. Coaches want Fitzpatrick to focus on adjusting to the speed of the NFL game. And they want him to realize he just needs to do his assignment, not worry about everybody else’s. How much does Fitzpatrick line up alongside Reshad Jones? How much does Fitzpatrick line up in the slot, with Bobby McCain moved to outside corner?
  5. DeVante Parker — Dolphins coaches say few if any players have spent more time in the building than Parker since last season ended. He’s been focused on managing his health as well as studying film. The national and local expectations for Parker have been lowered based on disappointing 2016 and 2017 seasons, which is a good position for him to be in. I did notice Parker running extra routes with Tannehill at a recent practice. How much does Tannehill’s return help Parker?

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