Five new ideas from Dolphins offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains

Dowell Loggains is here to save the day. (The Post)

DAVIE — The Dolphins’ offense has been one of the worst in the NFL the last two years, which is maddening for coach Adam Gase since that’s his specialty.

After two choppy seasons and a significant reworking of the roster, he’s looking for a breakthrough this year. As part of that effort, he opted to bring in former colleague Dowell Loggains as offensive coordinator to help get this right.

[Photos: Miami Dolphins rookies report to minicamp]

Loggains spoke to the media this morning for the first time since Gase hired him in January, and here are five notes about what he intends to do here:

1. His job is to coach Monday through Saturday.
Loggains was a curious hire because he’s got experience as an offensive coordinator, yet he comes into a situation where Gase calls the plays. He’s fine with that. Loggains sees his role as a deputy who helps Gase through “the process of getting to game day.” He said they have a common offensive philosophy and a great working relationship.

“Just the process of game day and getting through game day and going through the game-planning process,” he said, describing his role. “Help clean up and get to game day with some of those things and obviously helping the quarterback room as much as I can.”

2. He wants to run no-huddle, uptempo offense.
Gase has talked about it since he arrived here, but Loggains is determined to finally get this team running a fast-paced offense that includes some no-huddle. Ryan Tannehill’s return is essential to that plan, but it also helps that Loggains believes he has fast, smart, well-conditioned skill players like Albert Wilson, Kenny Stills and Kenyan Drake.

3. He likes the player leadership on offense.
The Dolphins already had Stills as a perfect example of how they want players to approach practice and they’ve kept Tannehill completely involved in everything they do despite him being out the last year-plus with a knee injury. They also brought in Danny Amendola, a 10th-year veteran, and Loggains has already noticed younger receivers trying to mimic some of the small things he does.

4. He sees a wealth of speed, which is exciting.
Not only has the Dolphins’ offense struggled, it’s been uninteresting. Loggains doesn’t see why that should be the case this year with weapons like DeVante Parker, Jakeem Grant, Kalen Ballage, Stills, Drake and Wilson. “The thing that showed up was speed,” he said of his initial assessment of the skill players. He also thinks he has a quarterback in Tannehill who is capable of maximizing those pieces.

“When I walked in … the thing that got me excited was the skill guys,” Loggains said. “All of a sudden you’ve got these skill guys that can run. They all have different traits and different qualities. I think they’re a fast group that, as their knowledge of the offense grows and going back to no huddle, they’ll play faster. Knowledge builds confidence, confidence allows you to play fast.”

5. New left guard Josh Sitton is running the offensive line.
Loggains coached Sitton for two years in Chicago and loves him. “He’s surly, he speaks his mind and he’s really intelligent,” he said. “You guys are going to have a lot of fun with him.” He’s the new leader of the line, replacing Mike Pouncey. Loggains is energized by seeing talented young linemen like Laremy Tunsil and Ja’Wuan James learning from him already in the short time he’s been here.

[Kenny Stills is the Dolphins “homerun” hitter for 2018]

[Takeaways from the Yahoo! Sports scouting series on the Dolphins]

[Parkland-Douglas football team makes Miami Dolphins draft announcements]

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Dolphins go into 2018 with the roster Adam Gase wanted all along

Adam Gase has the roster he wants, but is it a winner? (AP)

DAVIE — Adam Gase probably wouldn’t call this the roster of his dreams, but the 2018 version of the Dolphins looks like the one he’s been wanting since he took the job two years ago.

For better or worse, and he absolutely believes it’s for the better, this is the group Gase wants. The team has unloaded players he found problematic in terms of attitude, inconsistency or disproportionate salary cap numbers, and he senses a change in the environment that he thinks will translate to on-field results.

“When I look at it — You kind of look at how does that group get along for that year?” he said. “How do they work together? Do they push each other? Are they all pulling in the same direction? Are guys going to quit on you? Are they going to push forward when things get hard?

“I feel like the way that we’re assembled right now and the way that our personnel department has put that locker room together, I like our makeup right now.”

[Photos: Miami Dolphins rookies report to minicamp]

Clearly some of the answers Gase was getting to those questions over the last two seasons were unsatisfactory. Among other issues, he’s expressed that he thinks some players basically quit on him late last season when the Dolphins were scrapping for a playoff berth.

While the roster overhaul certainly had financial factors and helps the team smooth out its salary cap situation for 2019 and beyond, there’s no thought from Gase that this is a throwaway year. The Dolphins might very well end up picking high in the draft next spring, but that’s not their intention.

The biggest names gone are Jarvis Landry, Ndamukong Suh and franchise mainstay Mike Pouncey. Those three are now with the Browns, Rams and Chargers, respectively, and their collective 2018 cap hit is $35.8 million.

Gase has been raving about his new wide receiver room in particular. Kenny Stills, possibly his favorite player on the entire team, is the leader of that group. It also includes newly added 10th-year veteran Danny Amendola, who at 32 is the oldest, most experienced receiver the team has had during Gase’s run with Miami.

“I think when you’ve got a guy that’s been in a lot of big games, has won a lot of games, made plays in big games and the professionalism, you just see it,” Gase said. “The way he walks around, there’s just something about him that guys kind of gravitate to.

“I think between him and Kenny… those guys lead that group and have an effect on the other guys in the locker room in a positive way. That’s a big thing for us.”

The Dolphins did something similar at running back by bringing on Frank Gore, who will be a mentor to Kenyan Drake and rookie Kalen Ballage.

Overall, they almost certainly haven’t had a 1-to-1 replacement of the talent that’s exited, and that’s what will make this year so interesting.

While many point to the departures and call this offseason a net loss for the Dolphins, Gase is defiantly saying the opposite. He’s either going to crash and burn with a roster full of guys that are good in the locker room but just OK on the field, which could put his future in jeopardy, or he’ll look brilliant as he proves everyone wrong.

“I think we wanted to create the roster of what was the right fit for this locker room and for this team,” he said. “Sometimes you get put in a position where you have to make a decision, whether it be free agency or you feel like you’re in a situation where a number might be too high for you — or where you’ve got an opportunity to have a player that makes less money but you feel like the talent isn’t that big of a swing.

“That’s where we’re at right now. We like the makeup of our roster. I like our players. I like where our locker room is right now. I like watching these guys work. I’m excited to see these guys compete in OTAs and get this thing going in training camp and then see how we grow as the year goes on.”

[Miami Dolphins’ 2018 salary cap spending shows their priorities]

[Takeaways from the Yahoo! Sports scouting series on the Dolphins]

[Parkland-Douglas football team makes Miami Dolphins draft announcements]

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

Dolphins see limitless role for refined version of RB Kenyan Drake

Drake can do it all, but will he? (AP)

DAVIE — Adam Gase has always envisioned Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake as a player who could be an overwhelming threat in his offense if he could get his act together. Now that he has, apparently, it’s time for him to live up to that.

Drake, in his third year, is taking over as Miami’s primary running back with an eye on making his name as one of the most versatile and dangerous skill players in the NFL. Based on the progression Gase has seen, that’s a realistic aspiration.

“I think we just have a guy that’s really looking to bust out,” he said today.

Gase has never spoken this confidently about Drake. He’s been far more measured in his words until now.

Why the change? Drake’s changed. He’s no longer an easily distracted rookie with a slipshod approach to practice. The mental side has caught up to the ever-impressive physical repertoire, according to Gase, and that’s a huge gain for a Dolphins team that needs some fireworks offensively.

“I think he’s matured a lot, whether it be (with) the playbook or just him personally,” Gase said. “When you’re in this league, after you get through that first year, in the second year sometimes there’s a little bit of a feeling out process. You’re trying to figure out who you are.

“You’re starting to get older and you really realize this is a job and it’s different than college. I see a different guy in the way he prepares (and) knowing the situation he’s coming into this year. It’s been a good process to watch his maturity level on and off the field.”

Drake spent most of his first year and a half stuck on the bench behind Jay Ajayi, then shifted into a shared backfield with Damien Williams. That was short-lived because Williams suffered a season-ending shoulder injury, setting up Drake with a precious opportunity to finish the year as the man.

He seized his chance post-Ajayi and put together a promising second half of the season. He opened with 260 total yards and two touchdowns in four games in the part-time role with Williams, then erupted for a league-high 444 yards rushing, 150 yards receiving and two touchdowns as a solo act over the final five games.

The next phase is for Drake to become a more consistent runner, something Gase thinks will be aided by the arrival of 14th-year veteran Frank Gore, and to emerge in the passing game.

Running backs — not just here but everywhere — always talk about developing into pass-catchers, but it often doesn’t happen. Ajayi was all about it last offseason, then caught 14 balls in seven games. A dozen backs caught at least 50 passes last year, led by Le’Veon Bell at 85, and the Dolphins haven’t seen one produce like that since Ricky Williams’ 50 catches in 2003.

So what determines whether all the talk about being a receiver materializes into anything meaningful?

“Well, I mean, you want to be able to catch the ball,” Gase said sarcastically. “That’s a good start for it.”

That is crucial, but pretty much any skill player who steps on the field is decent at catching a football that hits him in the hands.

“It depends,” Gase continued. “Some guys make a living just catching checkdowns and being able to get yards after the catch, some guys you’re able to flex out and get one-on-one matchups.

“I think we’ve got a guy that can do multiple things. You could put him in the slot if you wanted to. You can use him in empty, you can use him from the backfield. You just can create a lot of different matchups. He has a really good feel for a lot of different types of routes, which there’s a lot of value there, because now linebackers, when they cover him, they’re not really sure what he’s going to do. He’s not tied into one thing or two things.”

There’s little question Drake has the ability to do everything Gase described, and now that he’s taking things more seriously, it’s time to amaze.

[Miami Dolphins’ 2018 salary cap spending shows their priorities]

[Takeaways from the Yahoo! Sports scouting series on the Dolphins]

[Parkland-Douglas football team makes Miami Dolphins draft announcements]

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

Miami Dolphins’ next big star in 2018: Running back Kenyan Drake

Kenyan Drake could be a 2,000-yard weapon this season. (Getty Images)

The bad news for the Dolphins is they’ve lost a lot of stars over the past year.

The good news is that the stage is wide open for a new one to step in, especially on offense.

Running back Kenyan Drake is a good bet to be next.

Miami drafted Drake in the third round, No. 73 overall, in Adam Gase’s first offseason as coach and everything is aligned for him to have a breakout year. He will be the team’s primary running back this season and he’s the most versatile threat the offense has.

The Dolphins drafted Drake to be kind of dual-purpose back Gase insists upon for his offense, but he didn’t get the chance to hold that role full-time until they traded Jay Ajayi last October and lost Damien Williams to a season-ending shoulder injury the next month.

Once they were down to just him, Drake closed the season with ferocity and showed how high his ceiling is.

Over the final five games, he rushed for a league-best 444 yards at an average of 4.9 per carry. He also chipped in 150 yards on 17 catches. That’s more than he produced over his first 27 games as a pro and it projects to roughly 2,000 all-purpose yards over the course of a full season if he can keep it up.

The Dolphins could use it, certainly, after saying goodbye to receiver Jarvis Landry (4,157 total yards and 23 touchdowns in four seasons) and having an offensive lineup full of question marks.

Kenny Stills has been very good, but can he tip the 1,000-yard mark and be a true No. 1 receiver? DeVante Parker was supposed to be a star, but hasn’t come close yet. Albert Wilson has potential, but it’s still just potential for now. Tight end is the ultimate grab bag — a position in which recent second-round pick Mike Gesicki is the favorite over a few mostly unrecognizable names.

Drake’s nothing more than potential at this point, too, but the combination of his speed and Gase’s approach looks like it’ll be explosive.

One of Gase’s favorite players was longtime Bears running back Matt Forte, whom he coached in 2015. Forte had six seasons of 50-plus catches, including a team-best 102 for 808 yards the year before Gase arrived in Chicago.

Drake has that kind of ability, but the question has been whether his work ethic and mental makeup could match someone like Forte’s. There have been times in the last two years when Gase wasn’t sure.

“I want to possibly hurt Drake every once in a while, but he’s my guy,” Gase said after Drake’s rookie year. “He does so many good things but he always does one thing — whether it be on or off the field — that will test me every once in a while.”

It was one of those joking-but-kinda-not-joking comments. The truth is it hasn’t been smooth sailing for Drake with Miami and there have been legitimate doubts about whether he’d get it right.

Gase noticed a different approach from him, though, once he was the only option. Whether it was the realization that the team was counting entirely on him at running back or personal opportunism, something clicked for Drake in the second half of last season. Gase didn’t have to yell nearly as much and he believed he was witnessing a professional blossoming on the practice field.

Part of his desire to sign 14th-year veteran Frank Gore this offseason was to make sure that change was permanent. Gore isn’t entirely a symbolic signing, not after rushing for 961 yards last season, but his biggest contribution to the franchise might ultimately be his influence on Drake.

“I think he’s a great guy for us to have in that locker room and that running back room,” Gase said. “I think he’s a great guy for Drake to see work day in and day out.”

That’s putting it carefully. The expectation of Drake is that he will treat Gore like a mentor and glean everything he possibly can from how he handles his business. On the flipside, there were huge concerns internally — fair or not — that Ajayi was nudging him in an undesirable direction.

The Dolphins want to merge Drake’s incredible talent with Gore’s undeniable approach. That’s the perfect mix.

If that’s what they get, Drake is poised for a big season. With Miami searching for firepower on offense, a breakthrough by him will be just as good as any free agent acquisition could have been.

[Miami Dolphins’ 2018 salary cap spending shows their priorities]

[Takeaways from the Yahoo! Sports scouting series on the Dolphins]

[Parkland-Douglas football team makes Miami Dolphins draft announcements]

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

2018 NFL Draft: Fourth-rounder Kalen Ballage is Dolphins’ most exciting pick

The Dolphins have two young running backs now that they’ve pickedd up Kalen Ballage to pair with Kenyan Drake. (Getty Images)

DAVIE — This is the most exciting pick the Miami Dolphins have made in this year’s NFL Draft, and it’s unusual to say that about a fourth-round pick.

An offense that’s been dangerously low on electricity got a big jolt of it by choosing Arizona State running back with the No. 131 overall selection. He’s a thicker back at 6-foot-2, 228 pounds and he’s still got enough speed to clock a blazing 4.35 in the 40-yard dash at his pro day.

Much of the Dolphins’ draft to this point had been about filling crucial needs, which is important, but Ballage is the first pick that brings the thrill of posing a big-play threat at all times.

“I don’t believe there’s 130 guys better than me, and definitely not 11 other running backs,” Ballage said.

This is a guy who once scored eight touchdowns in a game against Texas Tech, and anybody who can do that is worth the attention. Last year, as a senior, he put up 669 yards at a rate of 4.3 per carry and scored six touchdowns.

Ballage also possesses the pass-catching ability Adam Gase covets as he tries to assemble Miami’s backfield of the future. Kenyan Drake will be the primary back this year and has put together convincing evidence that he can do damage as a runner and receiver, and Gase’s imagination will run wild with ways to use him and Ballage together.

As a nice bonus, he’s already well-versed in special teams and could be a big factor for Miami in the return game.

Take a look at the skill players Miami has now, and the offseason departure of Jarvis Landry hurts a little bit less.

The Dolphins have exceptional speed at receiver in Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson, plus the potential that always comes with DeVante Parker if he can get it together as well as a steady veteran in Danny Amendola.

They’ve got two new tight ends, one with the athleticism and leaping ability of an NBA wing player and one who made his name as a gritty blocker. The former, Penn State’s Mike Gesicki, could provide Miami with the red-zone target it’s been badly missing the last two years.

And the backfield now has dynamic speedsters in Drake and Ballage, both of whom will learn from one of the all-time greats in soon-to-be-35-year-old Frank Gore.

“Frank Gore is one of the best running backs ever,” Ballage said. “It’s cool to be able to learn from him.”

That’s a perfect attitude for Ballage, who admitted he’s raw and could use some guidance. He endured plenty of turnover on the Arizona State coaching staff during his time there and comes to Davie ready to be molded by Gase’s staff.

He also comes in with low mileage after getting just 450 carries in four years with the Sun Devils. That’s part of why Ballage thinks he got overlooked and drifted all the way to the late fourth round, but he won’t be short on opportunity when he joins the Dolphins.

In Gase’s economy, being a big-play threat is worth more than anything, and finding one this late in the draft is great work by Chris Grier and the Dolphins.

[Vote: Grade all of the Dolphins’ draft picks]

[PHOTO GALLERY: From the NFL Draft in Arlington, Texas]

[Miami Dolphins stuck without a QB in Round 1 of NFL Draft; Will it cost them?]

[What the Dolphins think of skill players in this year’s NFL Draft]

[Frank Gore’s on a mission with Miami Dolphins]

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

2018 NFL free agents: Latest on Dolphins’ possible pursuit of C.J. Anderson

C.J. Anderson is a free agent who could fit the Dolphins. (Getty Images)

DAVIE—It’s an open secret that the Dolphins like former Broncos running back C.J. Anderson. It’s really not a secret at all, actually, since they tried to sign him two years ago.

Anderson, who played for Adam Gase in Denver in 2013 and ’14, agreed to an offer sheet with Miami as a restricted free agent, but the Broncos matched the four-year, $18 million deal and kept him.

Given his history with Gase, who was offensive coordinator when he made the Pro Bowl in 2014, he’s an obvious candidate for the Dolphins.

“We’ll certainly see what happens once we get after the draft with any free agents, and we’ll see where we are,” vice president Mike Tannenbaum said. “We’ve got to get through the draft here first. That’s the next opportunity and then we’ll look at other things once we get through that.”

Miami currently has Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore in line as its top two running backs. Drake is expected to be the starter and primary back, which is a landmark opportunity for him heading into his third season. Gore averaged nearly 1,000 yards per season the last three years, but turns 35 next month.

The other two running backs on the roster, Senorise Perry and Brandon Radcliff, have minimal experience. Perry has eight career carries, and Radcliff has never appeared in an NFL game.

Miami has the fifth-cheapest running back room in the league at just under $3.7 million in salary cap, according to Spotrac.

Whether the Dolphins pursue Anderson depends on the draft and his market value. If they select someone like Derrius Guice next week, there probably isn’t room on the roster for Anderson, nor enough of a role to entice him. Miami is also extremely tight on cap space until some of Ndamukong Suh’s money comes off the books in June.

Anderson isn’t at a point where he’s likely to take much of a discount just to reunite with Gase. He’s 27 years old and coming off a season in which he rushed for a career-high 1,007 yards to go with three touchdowns, plus 224 yards receiving. He’s made an estimated $10.7 million over his first five years.

[A look inside the Dolphins’ process for making draft picks and who makes the final call]

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[Frank Gore’s on a mission with Miami Dolphins]

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

Adam Gase: Miami Dolphins’ housecleaning triggered by loafing in Buffalo

Adam Gase says, ‘We just did not have enough guys’ giving all they had in Buffalo last season. (Getty Images)

It’s one thing to criticize poor play in the NFL, quite another to rip a team for effort.

Thursday morning, coach Adam Gase went after effort, blasting some of his players for going through the motions in a 24-16 loss at Buffalo that essentially ended the slim hopes this team had of turning around its season.

The Dolphins were coming off a resounding 27-20 upset of New England when they traveled to upstate New York and were flattened by the Bills, triggering a three-game losing streak as a 6-10 season ground to a halt.

“That game at Buffalo just seemed like a 20-hour game,” Gase said on Joe Rose’s show on WQAM-560AM. “I was just waiting for us to turn the corner and really get going and nothing was working for us. There was no swagger, no attitude, and it was disappointing to see. It wasn’t everybody. You turn on that tape, there are guys that stand out noticeably as far as their effort and their play that was extremely high, and they were giving everything they had. We just did not have enough guys doing that.

“That’s why we felt like we needed to change some things around.”

It was a stinging swipe by Gase, the likes of which we hadn’t heard since he blasted players’ study habits following the 40-0 shellacking at Baltimore in October.

Since Gase did not mention names, it’s natural to wonder whom he was criticizing.

The ironic part? Several of the departed were the team’s statistical leaders that day.


‘There was no swagger, no attitude, and it was disappointing to see.’ — Adam Gase, on some of his players’ lack of effort in Buffalo last season


Jarvis Landry, for example, was targeted 13 times and made 10 catches for a season-high 99 yards. Cody Parkey kicked field goals of 28, 41 and 26 yards and accounted for 10 of the 16 points. Ndamukong Suh had seven total tackles, including three for loss.

Other performances of note: Jay Cutler was 28 of 49 for 274 yards, was sacked three times, threw three interceptions, fumbled four times and had a passer rating of 47.5.

Among players still on the Dolphins, Kenyan Drake had 16 carries for 78 yards and a touchdown, DeVante Parker was targeted 12 times and had six receptions for 89 yards and Kenny Stills was targeted six times, finishing with one catch for 8 yards. Jakeem Grant had a 16.5 average on two punt returns. The other top tacklers were Kiko Alonso (10) and Reshad Jones (seven).

The game got away from the Dolphins immediately, which ought to sound familiar. Buffalo drove 81 yards in 10 plays to open the game, ending with a 1-yard touchdown run by LeSean McCoy. By halftime, it was 21-6, Bills.

In the grades I issue after every game, I ripped quarterback play (Grade: F) and manufactured the phrase “confoundingly erratic” to describe Cutler. I also took it out on linebackers, giving them a D, which, coincidentally, was the same grade I gave the coaching staff, saying it was “short on answers” after Buffalo took the lead. I said coaches exercised poor clock management late.

Pro Football Focus gave highest marks to Dolphins scheduled to return: T Sam Young (85.3), T Laremy Tunsil (81.9), DE Charles Harris (78.5), Parker (77.7), Drake (76.6) and LB Chase Allen (75.9). All are 25 or younger except Young, who is 30.

For amateur sleuths trying to sort culprits from innocents, there are scores of players no longer with the Dolphins who can’t be blamed because they were out injured that day, including Damien Williams, Jermon Bushrod, Michael Thomas and Nate Allen.

Mike Pouncey and Julius Thomas (two catches, 15 yards) started the game, Terrence Fede (two tackles) saw limited duty and Neville Hewitt saw spot duty. Matt Moore was inactive. Lawrence Timmons was in on 44 plays, 70 percent of the time, and finished with four tackles.

“We had a lot of good guys in that locker room that gave it everything they had and no matter what happened they never wavered and they just kept plugging away and we feel like we added good pieces to that group,” Gase said.

Here’s the bottom line: Next year at this time, neither Gase nor GM Chris Grier nor football operations chief Mike Tannenbaum will have any excuses. No one will care about “yeah, but” narratives. They’ve reshaped the roster as they wish. They’ve jettisoned some, put stock in others. Ditto for Gase’s assistants.

No, nobody should expect miracles following a 6-10 season, given the amount of talent lost. But if there aren’t tangible reasons for optimism on April 5, 2019, that’s a problem.

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Miami Dolphins: RB Frank Gore more than just Kenyan Drake’s mentor

The Dolphins don’t think Frank Gore is done yet. (Getty Images)

ORLANDO—Adam Gase was just a low-level assistant for the 49ers in 2008, not even a position coach, but what he saw from running back Frank Gore that season stuck with him for a decade.

Gore was in his early prime then, plowing through defenders for one of his nine 1,000-yard seasons, and already had the professionalism of a veteran. That, along with the technical mastery and studious approach he remembered, is why he wanted to bring him to the Dolphins despite being almost 35 years old.

“Seeing Frank Gore, that gets me going,” Gase said. “It’s been 10 years since we were together. I mean it seems like forever. The guy looks exactly the same. Just everything about him. I’m excited to see what he can do to help us.”

That role will be multi-pronged. He’s on the team to mentor 24-year-old Kenyan Drake, but this is more than a symbolic signing. While Gase believes Gore is the right guy to “help Drake take his game to the next level,” he also views him as the ideal power back for the Dolphins’ offense.

They signed him to a one-year, minimum salary contract as opposed to bringing back Damien Williams, who signed for $1.5 million on a one-year deal with the Chiefs.

In an era where running backs are thought to be obsolete once they hit 30, Gore is one of the NFL’s greatest anomalies.

In 13 seasons, he’s played 196 of a possible 208 games and hasn’t missed one since 2010. He’s a five-time Pro Bowler who ranks No. 5 in NFL history in rushing, and the numbers he’s posted in his 30s are impressive: five seasons, 5,187 yards (3.9 per carry), 52 rushing touchdowns, plus 1,041 receiving yards and seven touchdown catches

At arguably the most violent position in sports, he’s somehow ageless. Just last season, playing for a brutally bad Colts team, he was a mere 39 yards short of 1,000. That’s promising for the Dolphins, who fully intend to give him a solid share of the carries in order to keep Drake’s workload reasonable.

“I wouldn’t doubt Frank with anything,” Gase said. “I know a lot of people are looking at his age but with him, it’s irrelevant. He’s a different dude… When you watch him run, the physicality he plays with, pad level, the way that he’s able to drive defenders when they’re hanging on him and carrying them still, he’s a good fit for us.

“I think he’s a great guy for us to have in that locker room and that running back room. I think he’s a great guy for Drake to see work day in and day out, and those two guys kind of being able to do their thing together. That’s going to be a fun thing to watch.”

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

2018 NFL free agents: Damien Williams’ curious departure from Miami Dolphins

Damien Williams made some plays for the Dolphins, and they might miss him. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

The departure of running back Damien Williams seems like little more than a footnote on the Dolphins’ busy offseason. Considering they’ve dumped Jarvis Landry, Ndamukong Suh and Mike Pouncey over the past month, that’s no insult to Williams.

He leaves after becoming quite a success story for general manager Chris Grier and the organization after making the roster as an undrafted free agent in 2014 and putting himself in position to take over as the starting running back last season. Kansas City signed him to a one-year, $1.5 million contract Thursday.

Things really took off for Williams when he met a coach who knew how to use him. One of Adam Gase’s first undertakings after taking over the Dolphins in January 2016 was to sift through the roster for hidden gems. At Ryan Tannehill’s suggestion, he explored whether Williams had been underutilized by the previous coaching staffs.

He played a career-high 17 percent of the offensive snaps that year and had 115 yards rushing, 249 yards receiving and a career-high six total touchdowns. That was third on the team behind Kenny Stills (nine touchdowns) and Jay Ajayi (six).

Gase spoke of Williams as one of “his” guys and was drawn to his confidence and enthusiasm.

“That’s a guy who loves this sport,” Gase said in November 2016. “He loves competing. He loves practice. When you find a guy who practices the way he does, it’s hard to find that.

“Practice gets monotonous, especially at this point in the season, but he’s always the same guy. He’s always competing, always talking, gives a hard time to the linebackers. He’s a fun guy to be around every day.”

Williams’ relationship with the organization grew complicated in the ensuing offseason, when he wasn’t thrilled about the prospect of playing on the team tender of $1.8 million coming off what he felt was a promising season.

He visited the rival Patriots as a restricted free agent that offseason, but did not come away with an offer sheet. When the deadline passed for other teams to get involved, he deliberately put off signing his tender in protest of the Dolphins not giving him a better deal.

He eventually moved on, though, signed the contract and reported for all of Organized Team Activities, minicamp and training camp. Williams said last season any frustration about the way things went in Spring 2017 were behind him.

“We’re all good,” he said in December. “I’m all good.”

He took it another step by saying he had every intention of remaining with the Dolphins, though at the time he declined to delve too deeply into that because it was during the season and all his attention was on trying to come back from a separated shoulder.

That wasn’t surprising from Williams, who was a frequent recipient of the team’s War Daddy t-shirts. Those are awarded for team-first, gritty performances in games.

When Miami traded Jay Ajayi at the end of October, Gase installed a two-man backfield of Williams and Kenyan Drake that looked like the ideal combination of running backs he wanted. Both are fast and both are better receivers than Ajayi.

Williams, who still worked on special teams as well, was the starter and had 202 total yards and a touchdown in three full games before suffering the shoulder injury against New England on Thanksgiving weekend.

He wanted to return as quickly as possible, but was unable to do so. The Dolphins held him out of the final game of the year, which was meaningless because they’d already been eliminated from the playoff race.

Drake was tremendous once he took over the bulk of the snaps at running back and closed the year with 594 total yards and two touchdowns over the final five games. During that run, Williams was one of his biggest supporters in the locker room and on the sideline.

Williams also appeared to have a good relationship with Gase until the end. A month ago, he pointed back to Williams’ consistent support of Drake, and vice versa.

“Both those guys did a really good job,” Gase said. “They fed off each other. They were happy for each other when they had success.”

Williams had surgery on his shoulder after the season and could miss Organized Team Activities and minicamp for the Chiefs this offseason. While that almost certainly lowered his market in free agency, he is expected to be fully recovered in time for training camp.

Whatever the reason, the Dolphins opted to sort through cheaper running backs near the end of their careers this offseason rather than re-sign Williams. They brought in DeMarco Murray for a visit and ultimately signed Frank Gore yesterday. Gore turns 35 this spring, which is 10 years older than Williams.

While this might not have been the only factor, Gore is a bit cheaper for the cash-strapped Dolphins than Williams.

Even with him taking a pay cut from $1.8 to 1.5 million from last year in signing with Kansas City, that’s a bigger salary cap hit than paying Gore the veteran minimum. Gore will get $1 million in salary, but his cap hit will be even smaller. Last year’s cap hit for the veteran minimum on players with 10 or more years of experience, for example, was $615,000 with the possibility of an $80,000 bonus.

Perhaps that savings was worth it to Miami’s management now, but during the season, Gase might lament that one of his favorite weapons slipped away when it wouldn’t have taken much to keep him.

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2018 NFL free agents: RB Frank Gore visits Miami Dolphins

Frank Gore looks like he still has something to offer. (Getty Images)

As the Dolphins sift through the second wave of free agents, they are hosting veteran running back Frank Gore. Gore is at the team facility in Davie today, a source said, and could be a significant addition to Miami’s young running back corps.

Gore, a homegrown talent who starred at the University of Miami, turns 35 this spring but hardly looks like it. He’s coming off a season of 961 yards and three touchdowns on 261 carries for the Colts.

The Dolphins appear to be headed into the season with Kenyan Drake as their top running back, and the backups under contract are Senorise Perry (eight career carries) and Brandon Radcliff (zero career NFL appearances). With $2.6 million in cap hits scheduled for 2018, they are currently spending the third-lowest amount on running backs in the NFL.

They have explored other options at running back, including hosting DeMarco Murray for a visit. The Dolphins have also been linked to Denver running back C.J. Anderson, who signed an offer sheet with them two years ago but returned to the Broncos when they matched it. Denver is thought to have Anderson on the trading block.

Drake, 24, was the Dolphins’ third-round pick in 2016 and took over as the lead back last year after they traded Jay Ajayi and lost Damien Williams to a shoulder injury. In nine games after the Ajayi trade, Drake rushed for 619 yards (five per carry), had 232 receiving yards and four total touchdowns.

Gore is one of the most accomplished running backs in NFL history and currently stands fifth on the all-time rushing list at 14,026 yards. He could surpass No. 4 Curtis Martin (14,101) this season and is about 1,200 yards behind Barry Sanders for third.

He was a five-time Pro Bowl selection with San Francisco, last making the game in 2013, and has topped 1,000 yards in nine of his 13 seasons. He played for the Colts the last three years, totaling 2,953 yards and 13 touchdowns on 784 carries. Not bad considering running backs are supposed to be done when they hit 30.

That’s not exactly shocking from Gore, who has defied doubters throughout his career.

He came back from a torn ACL while playing for the Hurricanes in 2002 and ’03 and nearly hit 1,000 yards as a senior. The 49ers drafted him in the third round, and he announced himself with an outstanding second season in which he rushed for 1,695 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 5.4 yards per carry.

His durability might be the most impressive thing about his pro career. Gore played in 196 of a possible 208 regular-season games during his time with the 49ers and Colts. He has not missed one since 2010. He’s carried the ball 3,226 times, including 261 last year (eighth in the league).

Gore should be a fairly affordable addition if the Dolphins decide to sign him. He played on a three-year, $12 million contract in Indianapolis, and the market for him now would likely be a one year at something close to that annual salary. His career earnings are estimated at close to $60 million.

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