It’s Cordrea Tankersley’s job to lose — but what if Tony Lippett gets healthy for Miami Dolphins?

Dolphins cornerback Cordrea Tankersley deflects a pass away from Atlanta’s Austin Hooper, which resulted in a Reshad Jones interception to seal a win for Miami. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/TNS)

(Note: This continues a series in Daily Dolphin spotlighting members of the team individually. In addition to reliving highlights and lowlights of the past season for each, we’ll provide analysis and criticism, plus take a look at how each player fits — or doesn’t fit — into the team’s plans for 2018.)

CB Cordrea Tankersley

Height, weight: 6-1, 200

College: Clemson

Age: 24

Experience: Second NFL season, both with Dolphins

Acquired: Third-round pick in 2017

Contract: In second year of four-year, $3.2 million rookie contract

Pro Football Focus rank: 93rd out of 121

In 2017

Stats: Started 11 games; had 31 tackles and seven passes defensed

Notable moments: Broke up a Matt Ryan pass that Reshad Jones intercepted with 47 seconds left to clinch a comeback win in Atlanta. … Had six tackles and two passes defensed vs. Bucs.

Straight talk: Tankersley says he’s not looking over his shoulder. The Dolphins don’t want him to.

Tankersley said he considered it a “no-brainer” that “it’s my job to lose” — before coach Adam Gase said he wanted Tankersley to look at it that way.

It’s entirely possible that it will become more of a competition if and when Tony Lippett, the 2016 starter, rebounds after tearing his Achilles during the 2017 preseason. More on Lippett in a moment.

First, Tankersley. He never had time to catch his breath when making the leap from a big-time college program to the NFL, which is a luxury you’d prefer with cornerbacks.

Gase gave a lukewarm review of what he saw last season: “It’s hard to say. 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.”

Now, it’s Year 2.

“My next step is to become one of the best corners in the league,” Tankersley said.

Prospects for 2018

Xavien Howard has the other cornerback spot nailed down. The wild card is Lippett, the converted receiver who started 13 games in 2016 and had four interceptions.

Lippett clearly had a way to go health-wise in the spring. Gase said the approach was to get Lippett “feeling as 100 percent as he possibly can for training camp.”

Lippett wasn’t necessarily pointing toward getting his starting job back. It was too early for that.

“Right now I’m just taking it one day at a time,” Lippett said. “Just getting better. Knocking off the rust.”

Lippett has gotten advice from ex-Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes, who overcame the same injury and made the Pro Bowl.

***

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‘New tradition’ needed? Miami Dolphins say White House visits can be a thrill

President Donald Trump honors the national championship team, the Alabama Crimson Tide, during a White House ceremony in April. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

DAVIE — When the Alabama Crimson Tide visited the White House after winning last season’s national championship, Minkah Fitzpatrick was nowhere to be seen.

Controversy?

Hardly.

Fitzpatrick was on a pre-draft visit with the 49ers in San Francisco.

“It was scheduled in,” Fitzpatrick, a defensive back drafted by the Dolphins in the first round, said Tuesday. “Not lined up very well.”

If not for the visit, it appears likely Fitzpatrick would have been mingling with teammates, coach Nick Saban and President Donald Trump. Fitzpatrick had been to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. once before, after his freshman season, and enjoyed meeting Barack Obama.

“It was cool,” Fitzpatrick said.

“We flew up to the White House, got a little tour of one of the wings of the White House. We sat in his library, checked it out, looked at some books and Obama came into this one room. I shook hands with him. He talked with us for a little bit, took some pictures and then there was like a little ceremony at the end. Overall, it was a great experience.”

But it’s one the Philadelphia Eagles won’t have, now that Trump canceled the traditional visit and some Eagles players indicated they weren’t going to attend anyway. It has caused a national flap over what for years had largely been a traditional, non-partisan celebration of American sports.

“I would love to do that because it’s the result of you winning a championship,” Dolphins cornerback Tony Lippett said.

“But the rest of it, I don’t really know,” Lippett added, referring to the political controversy between Trump and NFL players who kneel during the anthem to protest social injustice. Ironically, none of the Eagles was kneeling during the anthem last season.

Dolphins defensive end Charles Harris said he doubts many athletes consider White House visits motivation during a season.

“I’m trying to win each and every day,” Harris said. “So that’s not a part of anybody’s mental (approach). That’s something that comes with it. After you get to the highest platform and you win, then that’s on your mind.

“But when you’re on the bottom, you aren’t thinking about that.”

We’ll start to learn soon enough if the nixed Eagles trip is an aberration. The Stanley Cup Final is nearing a conclusion, so imagine if the Capitals close out the series with Las Vegas but aren’t invited for a crosstown celebration ceremony.

Imagine if this tradition is ending, period.

“I don’t know,” Lippett said. “Guess you’d have to find a new tradition, I don’t know.”

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

After rough 2017 season, Dolphins secondary aims to be among NFL’s best

How good can Reshad Jones’ crew be in 2018? (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

DAVIE — Few teams were easier to pass against than the Dolphins last year, and their defensive backs are insistent on changing that.

Looking around that corner of the locker room, there seems like there should be enough talent to turn things around. Miami has three promising options at safety, plus a host of good cornerbacks bent on becoming great.

The problem is that most of those players were here last year when the Dolphins finished bottom-10 in the NFL in opponent passer rating (94.8) and completion percentage (64.2). The total damage, 225 yards per game, was 16th in the league, but that number likely would’ve been worse had the team not spent most of the year trailing.

[RELATED: Don’t miss our exclusive photos from Dolphins OTAs]

“I think we gave up too many big plays last year,” safety T.J. McDonald said. “That’s the biggest thing you don’t want to do is let the ball get over your head. Going into this season, that’s a big emphasis for us.

“We’re just working. We want to be the best that we can be. We want to be the best in the league. We’re putting the time in right now.”
It didn’t help the secondary that the defensive line was unable to put much pressure on opposing quarterbacks and finished 26th in the league with 30 sacks. The defensive backs’ jobs will become significantly easier if Miami’s redesign up front, mainly the addition of Robert Quinn.

In coverage, the Dolphins have McDonald and Reshad Jones returning as the starting safeties along with first-round pick Minkah Fitzpatrick. They also have Xavien Howard angling to become a true No. 1 cornerback, plus Cordrea Tankersley, Tony Lippett and Bobby McCain.

They’re guided by new leadership, too, with the arrival of defensive backs coach Tony Oden and assistant Renaldo Hill.

McDonald has already seen strides from the defense in the first two weeks of Organized Team Activities.

“We’re just hungry,” he said. “Our camaraderie as a group is better, I feel like. I feel like we’re growing week by week. We’re working harder than we did last year. All the guys can feel the upping the momentum through practice. We’re setting the standard right now. That can only pay off in the future.”

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Parkland school shooting: Dolphins send delegation to vigil for victims

People attend a candlelit memorial service for the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people on February 15, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. (Greg Lovett /The Post)

PARKLAND—Amid the grieving at a vigil for the 17 people killed in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, roughly a dozen members of the Miami Dolphins’ organization were on hand to pay respect and offer comfort to a community in mourning.

Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills, T.J. McDonald and Tony Lippett arrived at Pine Trail Park with no fanfare and participated in the event quietly. They talked with and encouraged students and families reeling from the tragedy.

To read The Post’s full story on the candlelight vigil, click here.
“It’s unspeakable,” Landry said. “I’ve been speechless. This area has never been affected by something like this. I can’t say enough about the community and all the people that came here tonight to try to bring the community together. This is something that could bring the world together.

“Everybody’s trying to take as much positive out of (the vigil) as possible. You have people in the community spreading love and kindness and being that support for each other. That is huge. That goes a long way.”

In addition to the four players, several other former Dolphins and staff members were on hand, including Nat Moore, Sam Madison and senior vice president Jason Jenkins.

Stills, the team’s most active player in South Florida communities over the past two years, and felt compelled to join those in mourning.

“People talk about situations like this hitting close to home because it’s happening in our backyard,” Stills said. “You’ve got to start to understand that anytime this happens, it’s wrong regardless of where it happens, regardless of if it’s people that you know or somebody you have a connection to. We’ve got to find solutions to stop it and make sure it doesn’t happen anymore.”

Stills also seemed to advocate for stricter gun laws in the United States, which was mentioned many times by speakers and attendees at the vigil.

“I didn’t grow up with guns,” he said. “My mom never allowed us to have toy guns, water guns, anything. I didn’t have any desire for them. I just think it’s a no-brainer.”

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Miami Dolphins feeling confident in cornerback situation for 2018 season

Xavien Howard is the crown jewel of the Dolphins’ cornerbacks. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

MIAMI GARDENS—No other position on the Dolphins’ roster has been a more volatile stock than the cornerbacks. From moment to moment, they go from looking like one of the deeper units on the team to one of its chief liabilities.

The group is surging, at least it appears that way, after some developments late last season gave Miami cause for optimism.

Second-year man Xavien Howard looks ready to be a No. 1 corner who can shadow the opponent’s top threat, Cordrea Tankersley held his own as a rookie and slot corner Bobby McCain is as reliable as ever. Add in the return of 2016 starter Tony Lippett, and the Dolphins look like they have what they need.

“We have a great room and we have a lot of talented guys, a lot of guys that can play good football,” McCain said at the organization’s annual Dolphins Cancer Challenge last weekend. “It’s exciting to have talent, and you can never go wrong with too many corners.”

That’s something coach Adam Gase says often, which means the idea of pursuing cornerbacks in free agency or taking one in the upcoming draft can’t be ruled out.

And even if the Dolphins do feel confident in their personnel, they have concerns. Gase and defensive coordinator Matt Burke fired defensive backs coach Lou Anarumo, who had been with the team since 2012, and replaced him with Tony Oden. Longtime NFL safety Renaldo Hill also joined the staff as Oden’s assistant.

Miami’s pass defense was mediocre or worse for most of last season, but diagnosing the problems goes deeper than analyzing the cornerbacks. A better pass rush would’ve lessened the burden on them in coverage, and they could’ve used more help behind them from the safeties.

Taking all of that into account, the Dolphins were middle of the pack in total pass defense, but that number likely would’ve been somewhat worse if not for the fact that they spent so much time trailing. Miami allowed 7.2 yards per attempt, which was tied for ninth-worst in the league.

The Dolphins also allowed a 94.8 passer rating, fifth-highest in the NFL, and managed to get their hands on a mere nine interceptions. That’s one pick every 58.7 attempts, and it was a major factor in the team’s minus-14 turnover differential. Only Denver and Cleveland were worse.

“Just being consistent and winning ballgames,” McCain said when asked what the next step for his unit is. “Doing whatever it takes—no matter if it’s turnovers or regardless of what it is. As a secondary, we’re going to have a big part in that.”

Howard illustrated the group’s potential impact beautifully with his two-interception performance in the upset of New England late in the year.

In a game in which the Dolphins held on to win by a touchdown, both of his picks were in Miami territory, taking scoring chances away from the Patriots, and they led to a touchdown and a field goal. At minimum, that was a 16-point swing in his team’s favor on a night when it was badly needed.

Howard, a second-round pick in 2016, led the Dolphins with four interceptions (coming over back-to-back games) for the year. McCain and safety Reshad Jones each had two, and McDonald added one. That was it. In 10 of 16 games, Miami did not intercept a pass.

Howard finished the year with 13 pass breakups, 48 tackles and a sack. He had a near-perfect night against Brandin Cooks to beat the Patriots, and the week before ran home with a pick-six against Denver.

“That’s my boy,” Lippett said. He stepped up a lot. He grew up this year. He made plays that we know he can make and we’ve seen him make plenty of times (in practice). I was happy for him.”

Pro Football Focus rated him the 92nd-best corner in the league for the season, but that was weighted by his inconsistency early. His overall trajectory is trending upwardly, and he’s still just 24 years old with 22 career starts.

He’ll be locked into one starting cornerback spot, and the other likely will be a battle between Lippett and Tankersley. Ideally for Miami, it’ll be a tough decision between the two, plus a few quality options behind them.

“I think we’re a good, young group,” Lippett said. “We’re gonna compete and make each other better and help each other out. We’re committed to winning. That’s the main thing.”

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Miami Dolphins CB Tony Lippett healthy, ready for spring workouts

Dolphins cornerback Tony Lippett is ready to contribute again. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

MIAMI GARDENS—When Dolphins cornerback Tony Lippett lost his season due to a torn Achilles tendon last August, he didn’t let it get him down.

Lippett, who was coming off a strong year and was expected to be a key figure in the defense last season, stayed upbeat throughout his rehabilitation and will be on the field to resume his role in Miami’s secondary when offseason workouts begin.

“I was just going up regularly to make a play on the ball, and I came down and something wasn’t right in my foot,” he said today at the Dolphins Cancer Challenge. “I had to refocus myself, get my mind back right and attack this just like I was gonna attack the season.

“It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. I thought I’d be miserable being out. I wasn’t that miserable. I was just grinding and thinking about the whole process. That’s what I’m still doing. I’m gonna be ready.”

This was the first time Lippett has spoken publicly since his injury six months ago.

Lippett, 25, started 13 games for Miami in 2016 and led the team with four interceptions. This will be his third season with the team and it’s a big one career-wise with unrestricted free agency awaiting him next spring.

He was with the team all last season for his rehabilitation and was part of the close-knit defensive backs corner of the locker room. He enjoyed watching the development of young corners Xavien Howard and Cordrea Tankersley last year and is eager to rejoin them.

He’s also met with his new coaches. The Dolphins replaced Lou Anarumo as defensive backs coach, which seemed to disappoint Lippett, but he had a good conversation with replacement Tony Oden. He also has history with assistant defensive backs coach Renaldo Hill, who played at Michigan State and was around in a limited coaching capacity during Lippett’s time there.

Lippett will get going with that group when Organized Team Activities begin in May and has no doubt he’ll be at full strength for those practices as he builds toward a comeback this season.

“It’s been intense, it’s been good,” he said of his road back. “I’ve learned a lot of stuff about my body and I’ve just been grinding and getting better each day.”

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Miami Dolphins’ Adam Gase: Many injuries this camp are ‘things that you can’t control’

Dolphins linebacker Raekwon McMillan is helped up after being injured early in the pre-season game against Atlanta Falcons at Hard Rock Stadium. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

 

DAVIE — The Dolphins have a training staff, a medical staff and a sports science staff.

They have gone through an entire training camp with as little tackling as humanly possible.

And still, the results from an injury perspective have been devastating.

You won’t see Ryan Tannehill, Raekwon McMillan or Tony Lippett this fall. With three preseason games still to play, the list of key players out for the year already is too lengthy.

It’s logical to ask if more can be done to minimize future risk. Coach Adam Gase, for one, wasn’t second-guessing himself this week when asked about those already lost.

“It’s just an unpredictable factor of the game,” he said. “A lot of the injuries we’re having are things that you can’t control.”

[RELATED: Another one? CB Tony Lippett tears Achilles, will miss season]

Critics would question whether the Tannehill case fits that profile.

After Tannehill was hurt late last season against Arizona, the decision was made to go with rehab over surgery. All spring and summer, everyone insisted he looked like the same old Tannehill until that morning when he came up lame on a non-contact play. It’s fairly obvious that every month surgery was delayed was a lost month in Tannehill’s career. But remember, the ultimate call is Tannehill’s, not the Dolphins’. It’s his knee. Besides, if he had surgery in December, he may have missed half this season anyway.

Next, McMillan blew out a knee, robbing the Dolphins of their second-round pick and a linebacker who could have helped their porous run defense.

Tuesday we learned that cornerback Lippett tore his Achilles, which means he’s racing the clock to be ready for light drills when the 2018 training camp arrives. One bad step, one bad landing, is all it takes.

“He jumped up and then came down,” Gase said of Lippett. “No one touched him. That was it.”

The Dolphins were only slightly more fortunate with Ted Larsen, who likely would have started at guard. Larsen tore a biceps and is expected to miss half the season.

To be fair to those charged with minimizing risk for the Dolphins, we’ll never know how many other injuries their work may have prevented. DeVante Parker, for one, no longer seems brittle.

Moving forward? Who’s to say how much will change — or needs to be changed? From the outside looking in, the reasonable expectation is that those inside the building continue to ask themselves that question.

“We haven’t had a ton of soft tissue injuries, which really that’s the biggest thing you’re preparing for,” Gase said. “A lot of our injuries have been ACLs, biceps,  things that … it’s a part of football. It’s the worst part of it, but there’s nothing that you really can do to prevent it.

“You do everything you can physically in the weight room and try to prepare yourself and try to schedule practice right and not fatigue your guys to the point where their bodies are breaking down. But at the end of the day, training camp is meant to be hard. It’s meant to harden you up. It’s meant to get you in condition. So you’re not going to prevent everything.”

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Dolphins practice report: Jay Ajayi out of concussion protocol; Kenyan Drake in

Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi (23) talks with Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry (14) during Miami Dolphins minicamp at Baptist Health Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Florida on June 14, 2017. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

DAVIE — Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi is out of the concussion protocol.

Ajayi had been practicing recently, yet his status for Thursday night’s preseason game against Baltimore remains uncertain.

Running back Kenyan Drake, who took a blow in Monday’s practice, is in the concussion protocol, and it’s unlikely he would play Thursday.

Other notes from early Monday:

• Cornerback Tony Lippett (foot) and center Mike Pouncey (hip) did not appear to be working.

• The Dolphins signed wide receiver Trey Griffey, tackle Sean Hickey and wide receiver Rashad Lawrence.

• Miami let go wide receivers Jordan Westerkamp and Francis Owusu and offensive lineman Kwayde Miller.

• Miami had a light practice in its indoor practice facility on Tuesday.

• The Dolphins starting offensive line at practice was Laremy Tunsil-Anthony Steen-Jake Brendel-Jermon Bushrod-Sam Young.

More to come later in the day.

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Tony Lippett’s quick transition to DB for Miami Dolphins a bit of a shocker

Tony Lippett intercepts a pass intended for Tyrell Williams of the San Diego Chargers in November. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

(Note: This continues a series in Daily Dolphin spotlighting members of the team individually. In addition to reliving highlights and lowlights of the past season for each, we’ll provide analysis and criticism, plus take a look at how each player fits — or doesn’t fit — into the team’s plans for 2017.)

CB Tony Lippett

Height, weight: 6-3, 194

College: Michigan State

Age: 25 as of July 2

Experience: Entering third season, all with Dolphins

Acquired: Fifth-round draft pick in 2015

Contract: Due to earn $668,691 in 2017 as part of his four-year, $2.49 million rookie contract

Pro Football Focus rank: 74th out of 111

In 2016

Stats: 16 games, 13 starts, 67 tackles, four interceptions

Notable moments: Had five tackles, two interceptions and two passes defensed in victory at home over Jets. … Had seven tackles and two interceptions in victory at San Diego.

Straight talk: When the Dolphins drafted this Spartans wide receiver late in the 2015 draft with the idea of making him a cornerback, they couldn’t have envisioned he’d not only make the transition to the secondary, but do so as a starter in one year.

Timing seems to be everything with Lippett. As the 2016 season started, he’d gained enough confidence in coaches that when injuries struck presumed starting cornerbacks Byron Maxwell and Xavien Howard at various points, Lippett was inserted to the tune of 13 starts out of 16 games.

“That’s a shocker to you?” Lippett said.

It frankly would have shocked anyone, especially after the Bengals’ A.J. Green had 10 receptions for 173 yards in Lippett’s first career start. Not all of that could be blamed on Lippett, but enough was.

All along, coaches said with Lippett’s size and the ball skills he developed playing offense, there was real potential in this project pick. The main element lacking was experience.

They were right.

Two games stand out. In the home victory against the Jets, Lippett had two interceptions, including a fourth-down pick in the end zone against Ryan Fitzpatrick as time expired. A similar thing happened against the Chargers, when his first career interception came in the end zone against Philip Rivers with 12 minutes left. That’s two touchdown-saving plays against two veteran passers.

Lippett finished the season with four interceptions, which tied for 11th in the NFL.

“I’m still getting comfortable with everything I’m seeing out there,” he said late in the season. “That’s when I’m going to have my little bumps and bruises. But I’m going to continue to learn from that. Continue to grow as a player and continue to be there for my team the best way I can.”

Prospects for 2017

There’s no reason not to expect Lippett to continue his steady progress in the secondary, although the return of Howard will affect his playing time. Given the number of dropped interceptions we see each week in the NFL, it’s refreshing to know the Dolphins have someone back there who can make quarterbacks think twice about throwing balls up for grabs.

Best of all, packaged with Howard’s skills and the arrival of third-rounder Cordrea Tankersley, the Dolphins can hope they’ll be set at cornerback for the long haul after Byron Maxwell retires.

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‘Thrown in the fire,’ Miami Dolphins CB Tony Lippett avoids getting burned

Defensive back Tony Lippett at Dolphins training facility in Davie on May 31, 2017. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

If you want one play that summed up the day that ended the Dolphins’ 2016 season, this is as good as any.

The Steelers had lined up for a 36-yard field goal that would have given them a 26-6 lead when out of nowhere, Tony Lippett came flying into the picture, leaping over the line of scrimmage, trying to block the kick but instead giving Pittsburgh a cheap first down for encroachment.

“I thought it was a good idea the whole time,” Lippett said of a tactic called by the coaches but since banned by the league. “I mean, when I jumped over and nobody moved, I didn’t think it was a good idea.

“You live and you learn, man.”

Isn’t that the story of Lippett’s brief NFL career — not the part about filling blooper reels, but living and learning?

Bobby McCain (28) and fellow Dolphins cornerback Tony Lippett (36) after practice on May 31, 2017. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Lippett arrived in 2015 as an ultimate project, a fifth-rounder pegged as a cornerback even though he primarily was a receiver at Michigan State who occasionally started in the secondary. Teams’ attention span for projects in today’s NFL isn’t what it used to be. So when Xavien Howard went down with a knee injury that cost him nine games last season, Lippett the student was faced with a pop quiz.

“Going what I went through, and just being kind of thrown in the fire, I think, kind of helped me,” he said Wednesday.

Playing opposite cornerback Byron Maxwell, Lippett was an obvious target for quarterbacks but held his own, making 67 tackles, tying for the team lead with four interceptions and recording 10 passes defensed. His first career interception came against the Chargers’ Philip Rivers, a fourth-quarter grab in the end zone.

“Looking back on it, I didn’t really have a choice to respond any other way,” he said. The situation was basically one of “all right, get out there and play,” he said. “That’s what you’ve got to do. It’s your job.”

Lippett neither marvels nor frets on his performances. Or that Howard is healthy. If that weren’t enough to complicate his path toward significant playing time, there’s also the presence of Clemson’s Cordrea Tankersley, the Dolphins’ third-round pick.

At least Wednesday, the mix was working — perhaps too well in the eyes of Adam Gase, the offensive-minded head coach who watched as all the chatter came from defensive backs talking trash while stifling the offense.

Tony Lippett intercepts a pass intended for Tyrell Williams of the San Diego Chargers in November. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

“Oh, yes,” Gase said. “They took it to the offense today. Everything they said, that was pretty much true.”

What was said?

“I wasn’t trying to pay attention too much because then they start talking to me,” Gase said.

Cornerback Bobby McCain “won’t stop talking,” said Lippett, who describes himself as the type to “talk a little bit here and there. I’m not much of a talker at all.”

He likes to think of himself more of a listener. During offseason workouts under Pete Bommarito, who runs an enclave that attracts scores of NFL players, Lippett is constantly leaning on veterans.

“Every day I’d pick somebody’s knowledge — what they’re thinking on this, what they’re thinking on that,” Lippett said. “It helps you at the end of the day. Nobody’s going to be selfish enough to hold information and things like that. If they’re going to give it to me, I’m going to ask them every day. A little tip, something. ‘What’d you see out there? You’ve been playing 12 years, so obviously, you see more than I do. So whatever you see, I can learn from that and I can incorporate that into my game, how I think on the field.’ ”

Lippett said he entered the league with the same attitude. Even running with the scout team, his goal was to “get 3 percent better at something” each day. Midway through his rookie year, he began thinking of himself as a defensive back rather than a converted receiver.

“When the ball’s in the air, I try to go get it, but I’m not a wide receiver anymore,” he said.

With a 6-foot-3 frame, Lippett has the size the Dolphins covet in their secondary. He had a pick-six earlier in OTAs that triggered a range of emotions for Gase: “Happy for Tony for about one second and then I’m mad at him because he figured out what we were doing and jumped the route.”

Said safety Reshad Jones: “Tony Lippett is playing probably the best ball he’s been playing.”

In other words, he’s learning.

Check out staff photographer Allen Eyestone’s photo gallery from Dolphins OTAs

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