The Miami Dolphins will begin their 2014 training camp on Friday amid many expectations following last year’s 8-8 season. This is an important season for many within the organization, starting with head coach Joe Philbin and quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who are both 15-17 the past two seasons.
ESPN.com’s Dolphins blog will be there every step of the way for Miami’s training camp. Here are some things we will be monitoring closely as practices begin:
1. Dolphins' plan at center
The Dolphins have been mum on their contingency plans at center since starter Mike Pouncey underwent recent hip surgery. Pouncey initially was expected to miss approximately four to six games. But the Miami Herald reported Wednesday that Pouncey could be out as many as eight weeks. Friday’s first practice will reveal what Miami’s coaching staff has in mind. It could be Sam Brenner or Nate Garner at first-team center. Maybe guard Shelley Smith moves to center. But what happens Friday might not stick two weeks from now or in Week 1 against the New England Patriots. However, this is a valuable time for Miami to start figuring out how to replace its Pro Bowl center.
2. Ryan Tannehill's development
All eyes will be on Miami’s third-year quarterback as he tries to put together his first winning season. Tannehill is learning a new, up-tempo scheme under first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. There were some growing pains in organized team activities and minicamp, with a mix of good and bad practices from Tannehill. He must put together a strong and consistent training camp, starting Friday.
3. Rookie development
In an important season, the Dolphins cannot afford to have a repeat of 2013 with their rookie class. Miami needs valuable draft picks such as Ja’Wuan James, Jarvis Landry, Billy Turner and Walt Aikens to immediately contribute and find roles. The Dolphins got very little from last year’s draft class, and it was a significant reason they were unable to get over the hump. For Miami to reach its potential, the Dolphins must get quality production from both their first- and second-year players.