The Miami Dolphins entered Phase 3 this week of the offseason program and held their first full-team practice open to the media.
Here is a look at which players are rising and falling in Miami this spring:
1. Health of Dolphins’ receivers: Organized team activities provided a welcome site for Miami as previously injured receivers Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson and Armon Binns all participated in practice this week. They are all working their way back from knee injuries last season and appear on schedule. Binns was full-go in practice this week, while Hartline and Gibson were limited. Barring any setbacks, it appears the Dolphins could have their full complement of receivers in training camp.
2. Dion Jordan, defensive end: No Dolphins player made a bigger physical transformation this offseason than Jordan. Miami’s 2013 first-round pick was noticeably bigger to start OTAs. Jordan said he spent a lot of time in the weight room and bulked up to about 265 pounds this offseason. Jordan said his main goal was to improve his strength to better combat offensive linemen. Last year, Miami’s coaching staff used him only on third downs because Jordan was a risk to get pushed around against the run. Jordan wants to make a jump in Year 2, and getting bigger is a good start.
3. Dannell Ellerbe, linebacker: The Dolphins didn’t get the expected returns from Ellerbe after signing him to a $35 million contract last year in free agency. Ellerbe struggled against the run as a middle linebacker, and the group overall was inconsistent. The Dolphins decided to shake things up this offseason and move Ellerbe to outside linebacker. This is a move that could allow Ellerbe more freedom to fly around and make plays. Koa Misi was moved to middle linebacker and now has the responsibility of lining up the defense. This is an interesting experiment to watch develop.
1. Dolphins’ offense: Miami first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor was candid about his group following Tuesday’s practice. Lazor said the Dolphins’ offense has a long way to go, which was a true statement. Miami’s defense won a one-sided matchup in the practice open to the media this week. The Dolphins’ offense, led by third-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill, had poor execution and looked like a group still working to master the playbook. That’s expected at this point in the offseason. However, it does raise concerns of how long it will take for Miami’s new offense to jell. The Dolphins cannot afford to have one side of the football lagging behind to start the season, especially with the reigning AFC East champion New England Patriots coming to town in Week 1.
2. Knowshon Moreno, tailback: Although it’s probably a ploy by Miami’s coaching staff, it was noticeable to see Moreno starting OTAs as the third-team running back behind Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas. Moreno was one of the team’s major free-agent signings and an expected Week 1 starter. But this week proved he has a long climb up the depth chart. Miami head coach Joe Philbin is giving his holdovers – Miller and Thomas – the inside track. Moreno will have to work twice as hard this spring and in training camp.
3. Mike Pouncey, center: As usual, Pouncey looks like a beast on the field. He showed up this week in tremendous shape and essentially looks game ready. But Pouncey’s comments this week may have put himself in the crosshairs of the NFL league office once again. Pouncey said he doesn’t need psychological testing following his involvement in the Jonathan Martin bullying case. Pouncey is awaiting word on a possible suspension to start the season, and it’s best to lay low. A mental health evaluation with a medical professional will be required by the NFL in order Pouncey to play this season. So it’s best for Pouncey to stay quiet, regardless of how he feels, and go through the proper protocols.