DAVIE, Fla. -- The new-look Miami Dolphins held another practice this week that was open to the media. The AFC East blog was live in attendance to catch all of the action.
Here are some notes and observations from Wednesday's practice:
It was a dominant day for the defense. Miami’s defense came out on top across the board on the first- and second-team during drills. The biggest play of the day came during 11-on-11 practice when outside linebacker Koa Misi recorded a pick-six off starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Just a couple plays earlier, Miami linebacker Philip Wheeler nearly picked off Tannehill. Backup quarterback Matt Moore also threw an interception to safety Kelcie McCray in the two-minute drill. "It looked like the defense had the upper hand. ... I saw Ryan before I came down as I stepped off the elevator and he said, ‘Well, it wasn’t one of our better days,'" coach Joe Philbin said.
Last week it was receiver Armon Binns. This week, the star receiver was Rishard Matthews. The 2012 seventh-round draft pick had three touchdowns in team drills, including two nice catches in the red zone. Matthews is trying to make a crowded roster at wide receiver. He caught just 11 passes for 151 yards last season but made a good impression on Wednesday.
Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes said his Achilles feels fine and he doesn’t have any mental hurdles with his return. Grimes’ season ended early last year due to injury, and he’s returning to the field for the first time during OTAs. Miami is counting on Grimes to stay healthy and be the team’s No. 1 corner. “I’m doing well and building strength every day,” Grimes said. “I’m getting stronger and I got plenty of time before the start of the season.”
The notable absences from practice Wednesday were defensive tackle Randy Starks (contract) and No. 1 receiver Mike Wallace (undisclosed). Starks is upset over the franchise tag, and Philbin did not explain why Wallace wasn’t present when asked.
Projected starting running back Lamar Miller believes he’s ready to handle the load. Miller shined last year with just 51 carries and led the Dolphins with 4.9 yards per carry. But injuries and durability have been concerns for Miller dating back to college. Being Miami’s starting running back could require 200 carries or more. “I think I can be that [type of player],” Miller said. “It’s all about being in better condition and just staying healthy and treating your body well."
Former Dolphins and New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington was in attendance. Pennington played three seasons in Miami and was the last quarterback to lead the Dolphins to the playoffs (2008). Philbin said it was good to have another voice stop by and work with the quarterback group.
Receiver Brandon Gibson remains a work in progress playing in the slot. He mostly played outside at receiver with the St. Louis Rams, but the Dolphins need him inside following the departure of Davone Bess. Gibson is projected to be the No. 3 receiver with Wallace and Brian Hartline on the outside. “He’s a good player,” Tannehill said of Gibson. “I think he’s still learning, still adjusting to all the nuances of the offense. It’s one thing to sit in a meeting room and learn it on paper. But all the adjustments and hot throws and stuff that you pick up over time we’re still getting adjusted to.”