DAVIE—When Jay Cutler woke up this morning in a hotel room near the Dolphins’ practice facility, it took him a moment to remember where he was. In a matter of days his life flipped from a part-time TV job to the unrelenting demands of NFL training camp.
There was no regret, though, about diving into football again. It set in that he was heading to practice for the first time in months, and it wasn’t long before heard Adam Gase harassing him just like old times. Once he jumped into drills and started firing away, this unusual situation seemed fairly normal to him.
“It felt right,” Cutler said after taking a modest share of reps. “Going to work and getting here and going through the motions of the practice, it felt good. I told Adam thanks for bringing me in. It’s fun to be back out.”
He’ll get at least another week before he’s thrown into a game. The Dolphins open their preseason schedule Thursday against Atlanta and will likely use Matt Moore as the starter. Cutler has an eye on playing Aug. 17 against Baltimore, but that will hinge on how he feels physically and how ready the team believes he is.
His initial practice went well, and his arm looked live for a guy who spent most of this year chasing his kids, helping with football camps and playing pickup basketball.
Most of today’s work came easily to Cutler, who knows the majority of the Dolphins’ offense from when he played under Gase two years ago with Chicago. There are subtle differences in terminology and pass protection—the biggest change for him is in Miami’s running scheme—but is biggest concern is getting acclimated to football again.
“The offense is gonna come,” Cutler said. “It’s just sitting in the pocket, getting my feet underneath me, just the timing of the game, the rhythm. That stuff is just gonna take a little bit of time, but hopefully it comes back quickly.”
He took his snaps behind a makeshift offensive line that’s missing starters Mike Pouncey, Ted Larsen and Laremy Tunsil. The Dolphins had their full complement of skill players, though, and Cutler connected on some sharp throws to DeVante Parker and Julius Thomas.
While it’ll take time for him to learn the nuances of his new targets, Cutler’s familiarity with Gase and the offensive system set up Miami for a smooth transition as it shifts from Ryan Tannehill to Cutler. Gase doesn’t see it as a reset whatsoever, but rather a continuation of how things were going before Tannehill went down.
“I didn’t see a problem,” Gase said of Cutler’s first day. “Guys just keep doing what they’re supposed to do.”
Cutler described his first 24 hours getting back into Gase’s playbook as a crash course, but “a crash course if you already took the course before.” He spent extra time working with quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree on some run plays that are new to him, but he’s already mostly fluent with the terminology and route progressions.
“He remembers basically everything with the offense,” Gase said. “The biggest thing for him was just kind of getting that feel with the rush. To get in there and be able to take some reps with the line in there and just be able to see everything kind of develop and our players’ body language and how they run routes, that’s the biggest difference for him.
“He said he felt good and he’s not going to sugarcoat anything with me. So it was good that he fell just right back in it.”
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