The Miami Dolphins wrapped up their minicamp last week and are finishing OTAs this week before their summer break. A look at some of the emerging storylines:
Banking on Fitzpatrick: Miami needs to be much better on defense than last season, Matt Burke's first as a coordinator under coach Adam Gase. The Dolphins ranked 29th in points allowed at 24.6 per game, and then parted with their best defensive player, five-time Pro Bowl tackle Ndamukong Suh. They added veteran Robert Quinn at defensive end and first-round draft pick Minkah Fitzpatrick at safety. Raekwon McMillan, a 2017 second-round pick, returns to start at middle linebacker after missing his entire rookie season because of a knee injury. And depth appears improved at end, linebacker and safety.
"We don't have any positions set in stone right now," Burke said. "We're rolling a lot of guys at a lot of positions."
Fitzpatrick, for example, is splitting his time at free safety, strong safety and nickelback.
"He's probably about as advertised," Burke said. "He's really sharp. He's thirsty for knowledge. We're trying to overload him, and he keeps taking it. We are moving him around at some different spots and trying to get a feel for what his best fit is. He has responded well."
The Dolphins' investment in Fitzpatrick goes beyond a first-round choice. Fitzpatrick signed a $16.44 million, four-year deal last week.
But he said he didn't celebrate the contract, and doesn't have any plans for the money besides buying a place to live.
"Anytime you see your hard work paying off, it's a good feeling," Fitzpatrick told the AP. "But you've got to keep telling yourself it's not the end goal. I didn't come here just to be a first-round pick. I wanted to be a great player here and establish a great legacy."
Fitzpatrick said the Dolphins are dividing his practice time evenly among the strong safety, free safety and nickel back positions. He said he doesn't have a preference and is happy to move around.
"They trust me to do that," Fitzpatrick said. "They're not putting too much on me, but they know they can put a lot on me."
Tannehill back in command: After missing the entire 2017 after an ACL tear, Ryan Tannehill is healthy.
“I feel fresh,” he told NFL.com. “The knee feels really good. I’m able to move around just like I would have before the injury.”
He thinks the experience on the sideline will be beneficial.
“I got to gain a different perspective last year that I wanted to gain,” he told NFL.com. “... Just being able to take a step back and really just watch and observe how guys prepare, how we install, how I can better help guys throughout the year. So I learned a lot.”
Finding roles for tight ends: Mike Gesicki, the Dolphins’ second-round pick out of Penn State, is taking reps with backups as the Dolphins are figuring out his strengths and weaknesses.
“We’ve got to find out exactly what he can and can’t do and what he can and can’t handle early,” Dolphins offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains told the Miami Herald. “As the season goes and the offseason goes and training camp, his package will expand and his routes will expand as we found out what he can and can’t do."
Gesicki wasn’t the only tight end drafted by the Dolphins, as fourth-rounder Durham Smythe is joining Gesicki for cram sessions with the team’s playbook.
“We’re just trying to simulate the huddle and simulate knowing everything on the fly and not just your job, but knowing everybody’s job because I know for me, personally, I’ve got to know the Y, the F, the X, the Z,” Gesicki told the Sun Sentinel on Monday. “I’ve got to be able to go anywhere and everywhere. There’s a lot to know. There’s a lot to learn.”
Landry takes a shot from afar: Jarvis Landry, who led the NFL in receptions last season and was dealt to Cleveland for the fourth-round pick (which became Smythe) and a seventh-rounder next year, said last week that he’ll see better passes from Tyrod Taylor or Baker Mayfield than from Tannehill and Jay Cutler in Miami.
“It’s a lot better than what I had in Miami,” Landry said. “I’m excited about that.”
How to replace Suh: Suh was on the field for 84 percent of the Dolphins’ defensive plays last season, and it’s looking like a committee approach will be used to replace him. Jordan Phillips, Davon Godchaux, Vincent Taylor, Akeem Spence and William Hayes are all in line to earn bigger roles.