We’re now eight practices and one intrasquad scrimmage into Miami Dolphins’ training camp. It’s still early and plenty of work is yet to be done, but first impressions have been made.
The 53-man roster is a long way from taking shape, but some players have begun to put themselves in the driver’s seat for a spot on this team. And early favorites have emerged in the few position battles on the roster.
With that said, let’s recap which players have helped their cause and which players have hurt their cause the most in the first week-and-half of camp with our first installment of Stock Report.
Jason Taylor, OLB: Not many expected Jason Taylor to return to Miami after his one-year hiatus with this franchise’s biggest rival in New York. Even less expected Jason Taylor to not only sign with the Dolphins, but start opposite Cameron Wake.
While, that’s certainly no lock at this point, JT has lined up with the starting defense the last two practices and again in yesterdays scrimmage. Not only has he got the nod over Koa Misi, he’s actually showed flashes of the Jason Taylor of old. He reportedly was explosive rushing the passer yesterday.
Jimmy Wilson, SS: Even as a seventh-round pick, safety Jimmy Wilson came into camp with a mild level of expectations. As a player with mid-round talent that saw his draft stock drastically diminished by his murder case, many foresaw Wilson making a legitimate push for a roster spot. He hasn’t disappointed thus far.
Wilson has been physical as an in-the-box strong safety and projects to be a difference maker on special-teams. According to a source close with the team, Wilson has already all but won a roster spot.
Reshad Jones, FS: His stock was essentially elevated when Tony Sparano hinted that the free safety battle will be decided by playmaking ability. While, Chris Clemons has speed and rarely makes mistakes, Reshad Jones is clearly the more productive playmaker.
Jones’ interceptions have tailored off some the past few days, but he made a strong first impression out of the gates by reeling in a few picks to kick off camp. He was rewarded with first-team reps in yesterday’s scrimmage.
Chad Henne, QB: It was a rough first few days of camp for Chad Henne, culminating with the infamous boos/Kyle Orton chants last Monday night at Sun Life Stadium. A lot has changed in only a week. Henne hasn’t had a lackluster workout since and seemingly had his best practice as a pro with a dazzling three touchdown performance in yesterday’s scrimmage.
A great showing in a scrimmage won’t mean anything come September, but it’s a nice step in the right direction. I’ve maintained that this is Chad Henne’s job to lose in regards to any competition with Matt Moore. Certainly Henne is vulnerable to being replaced with any prolonged struggles in the season, but he appears close to sealing the deal as the Dolphins’ starting quarterback to begin the year.
Lydon Murtha, OT: When Vernon Carey was moved inside to guard last week, the right tackle position instantly opened up for the taking. Marc Colombo is the favorite to land the job, but Lydon Murtha is at least making him sweat it out.
Murtha has been solid so far in camp and has gotten the best of Jason Taylor at least twice, pancaking the future Hall of Famer. Sparano reportedly wants to decide on a starting line shortly after the first preseason game, so this week in practice and Friday’s game should make or break Murtha’s chances at cracking the starting unit.
Will Allen, CB: It’s unclear what is wrong with Will Allen- the Dolphins’ top corner from ’06 to when he tore his ACL in ’09- but he’s missed the past three practices. Maybe his knee is acting up again. Regardless, it doesn’t appear that he’s going to challenge Benny Sapp for nickel corner duties. That may spell the end to his tenure in Miami and ultimately his NFL career.
Nate Garner, OG: Garner’s value on this football team isn’t going to change. He’s bar none the most versatile lineman the Dolphins have. It just doesn’t appear that Sparano is giving him a chance to compete for a starting role.
Many projected that Garner would get in on the competition at one of the guard spots, but he’s been exclusively lining up with the second team to begin camp. Garner would undoubtedly like to be a starter, but the Dolphins will surely benefit from his ability to fill in anywhere on the line if someone goes down.
Koa Misi, OLB: This isn’t really an indictment on Koa Misi. He’s been solid and appears to have improved in the pass rushing department. But once a sure bet to start, Misi has been replaced, temporarily or not, and is seemingly getting outplayed by Jason Taylor.
Tyrone Culver, SS: With Jimmy Wilson making a strong impression, Tyrone Culver is looking more and more like a long shot to make the team. Wilson is younger, cheaper, and if he can prove to be better, there really isn’t a spot for Culver. Unless of course, the Dolphins keep five safeties for special teams purposes.
John Jerry, OG: Heading into camp we expected the Dolphins to give John Jerry an opportunity to compete for the starting right guard spot. Even before Vernon Carey moved inside, Jerry wasn’t getting much of a look with the first team.
Speculation has it that Jerry showed up to camp somewhat out of shape and apparently hasn’t taken many strides since underwhelming as a rookie. Jerry now faces an uphill battle to make the team.