PHILADELPHIA -- Most players and coaches agree that joint practices are beneficial. It breaks up the monotony of training camp, gives teams a chance to face different looks, and generates an intensity level that’s tough to create when it’s teammate against teammate.
The Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins held their first of two joint sessions at the NovaCare Complex in South Philly on Monday. It’s fair to say that, given the circumstances, no one got more out of it than Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler.
“I think situations like this are really good for me,” Cutler said after practice. “I think situations like this are really good for me, the receivers, the O-line, of just knowing how we’re going to react in game-type situations.”
Cutler looked sharp manning the first-team offense against the Eagles. The ball exploded out of his hand and for the most part was on point. He zipped one to receiver Kenny Stills in the back of the end zone for a “touchdown” with safety Rodney McLeod tight in coverage and later threw a dart to Leonte Carroo that still had plenty of velocity as it reached its target downfield.
“I feel fresh. I think whenever you go through a whole spring you’re throwing, throwing, throwing, your body gets a little torqued,” said Cutler. “So right now I feel really balanced and fresh, which I guess is a good thing.”
It’s been two weeks since Cutler ended his brief retirement and signed with the Dolphins following the injury to starter Ryan Tannehill. He described the experience since as a “whirlwind” as he’s worked to acclimate to a new environment. A big reason why he felt comfortable postponing his broadcasting career to play in Miami, though, was the presence of head coach Adam Gase, who served as Cutler’s offensive coordinator in Chicago. That allowed for a “plug-and-play” situation, as Cutler put it.
“Playbook wise I think he’s good,” said Gase. “I think it’s more of feel in the pocket, getting used to that again, and then really a lot of it is alignment in his throws, his footwork and just kind of get his mind right on all those things.
“I’ve got to make a couple changes from some of the things that we were emphasizing with Ryan compared to him. Every day, that’s why it’s a great learning experience for us, and today was another one, get us a few different coverages, some different fronts, some different looks, some different pressures. Everything he can see ... the more we can put him out there, the better.”
It wasn’t all roses for Cutler -- he threw an interception to Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby at the end of practice -- but had a good outing overall and didn’t exactly look like a QB who just got back into the game a couple of weeks ago.
Speaking with reporters following Monday’s practice, he seemed grateful to be back in a football setting.
“There was never a week that went by [during his time away from the game] that I didn’t think about playing football: Did I make the right decision? Did I not make the right decision? I think that’s kind of in life, there’s always situations that come up that you’re not for sure which direction to go, you just have to pick one and roll with it,” he said. “I was just lucky enough that something like this happened for me.”