Bobby McCain Jersey

With the NFL draft a little over a week away, the Dolphins could give a clear indication of where Fitzpatrick will line up, and their insight into the group of defensive backs already on the roster heading into training camp.

“I think my preference is to see what he can handle and see what he does that will help the team win,” Flores said during the NFL meetings last month in Phoenix of Fitzpatrick, who played nickel, safety and as a cover cornerback after being Miami’s 11th overall pick in the 2018 draft.

“If that’s multiple positions, then that’s multiple positions. If that’s one spot, then that’s one spot. … I think versatility is going to be very important, and he’s a very versatile player. He was last year. We’re excited to work with him.”

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Fitzpatrick lined up at safety on Tuesday, the first day of the Dolphins’ three-day voluntary minicamp, in place of Reshad Jones, who “made a decision to train somewhere else,” according to Flores.

Here is what the Dolphins should do with Fitzpatrick and their secondary moving forward: they should start Fitzpatrick, their most versatile defender with significant upside, opposite Pro Bowler Xavien Howard, and see if he can mature into a starting NFL cornerback.

If Flores and his new coaching staff believe Fitzpatrick is a better fit at safety or in the nickel, Miami will have to consider drafting a cornerback in 2020.

The Dolphins may not use the No. 13 overall pick in next week’s draft on a player like Georgia cornerback DeAndre Baker or LSU cornerback Greedy Williams, who could be the first defensive back off the board.

But in later rounds, cornerbacks like Temple’s Rock Ya-Sin, Clemson’s Trayvon Mullen, Notre Dame’s Julian Love or safeties like Florida’s Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Miami’s Jaquan Johnson, Washington’s Taylor Rapp or Virginia’s Juan Thornill are considered among the best defensive backs in the draft and could receive significant consideration from the Dolphins.

Flores plans to run a hybrid defensive with a mix of 4-3 and 3-4 principles, and will opt at times to have an extra defensive back or two on the field in the secondary instead of an extra linebacker or lineman in certain sets.

The Dolphins already have a lockdown cornerback in Howard, who intercepted seven passes, which was tied for the NFL lead last season, garnering his first career Pro Bowl appearance after his third season. Miami continues to work on signing Howard to a long-term contract extension.

If Flores and his new coaching staff believe Fitzpatrick is a better fit at safety or in the nickel, Miami will have to consider drafting a cornerback in 2020.

The Dolphins may not use the No. 13 overall pick in next week’s draft on a player like Georgia cornerback DeAndre Baker or LSU cornerback Greedy Williams, who could be the first defensive back off the board.

But in later rounds, cornerbacks like Temple’s Rock Ya-Sin, Clemson’s Trayvon Mullen, Notre Dame’s Julian Love or safeties like Florida’s Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Miami’s Jaquan Johnson, Washington’s Taylor Rapp or Virginia’s Juan Thornill are considered among the best defensive backs in the draft and could receive significant consideration from the Dolphins.

Flores plans to run a hybrid defensive with a mix of 4-3 and 3-4 principles, and will opt at times to have an extra defensive back or two on the field in the secondary instead of an extra linebacker or lineman in certain sets.

The Dolphins already have a lockdown cornerback in Howard, who intercepted seven passes, which was tied for the NFL lead last season, garnering his first career Pro Bowl appearance after his third season. Miami continues to work on signing Howard to a long-term contract extension.

If Jones is on the team as Grier predicts, Fitzpatrick likely would be the second-best boundary cornerback on the roster behind Xavien Howard. Bobby McCain appears best suited to play slot cornerback, though nothing is set. Besides Jones, T.J. McDonald is Miami’s other veteran starting safety.

Fitzpatrick said in December that one reason he wanted clarity on his position by February was to know what weight to play at. “I lost 10 pounds playing cornerback because I moved faster, chasing guys around,” he said in December. “If I’m playing safety, maybe 8 to 10 pounds more [is better] so I have a little extra thud.”

He said Wednesday that he’s handling the uncertainty by staying at the 204 pounds he finished last season. “I’m sitting in the middle, just in case I’ve got to lose weight or gain weight,” he said.

But Fitzpatrick sees positives in cross-training at multiple positions.

“The type of defense we’re projected to run, you have to be versatile,” he said. “You got to move around. I don’t think anyone in the secondary will be sitting in one spot. You could be in one spot in one game and in the next week, be in a different spot. No matter who you are, you have to move around, you have to cover guys in the slot, cover guys outside.

“It adds value to myself, to play different spots on the field. It adds value to me. It may be extremely tough and hard and taxing, but it’s worth it in the end. It’s worth it because you make more plays.”

He said when he asked which Patriots defensive backs he should watch, he was told “to watch all of them. All of them moved around. There was no guy who just sat in the box or just moved around.”

Jesse Davis Jersey

Ypsilanti Lincoln boys basketball coach Jesse Davis had high expectations for Emoni Bates heading into his highly anticipated freshman season.

With Bates, the top-ranked player in the 2022 class, scoring 32 points in his high school debut and finishing the season averaging 28.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per game for a state-champion Lincoln squad, “surprised” was the last adjective that came to Davis’ mind.

The 6-foot-9 Bates has been named The Associated Press Division 1 Player of the Year in a vote of sportswriters from across Michigan.

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Bates, who also was named the Gatorade Michigan boys basketball Player of the Year, has already drawn comparisons to current NBA stars such as Kevin Durant. The hype is warranted, Davis said, because of the 15-year-old forward’s work ethic.

While most of his teammates were celebrating a district title after the Railsplitters’ 61-49 win over Saline last month, Bates went back to the Lincoln gym to work on his game after a rare off-night shooting, finishing 4 for 19 from the field.

The next game, Bates hit the game-winning triple in the final seconds of a 58-55 victory over Ann Arbor Skyline. He followed with a game-winning tip-in at the buzzer against Detroit Catholic Central in a regional championship.

“I have never had a player to do that,” Davis said. “He went right back to the gym. He also shoots more before a game than anyone I’ve seen. He is a different kind of kid.”

Davis, who was named Division 1 Coach of the Year, said he first knew Bates was a special talent when he was in the fifth grade.

“I was working with him on footwork stuff,” Davis said. “He was working on his jab step and was making shots, too. I’m like, ‘Man, this is the stuff I learned in college, and he is in the fifth grade.’

“I just knew he would be special because he caught on to it easy.”

With three years of high school basketball remaining, Bates is just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential, Davis said.

“I would say he is top three in the state for sure, if not the best,” Davis said. “Some of the players are a little more seasoned because they are older, but I wouldn’t call them better.

“He just needs to continue putting in the work, add to his game, try and be a little more versatile. I would like him to increase his assists a little bit more. I just want him to continue to develop. He is a great basketball player, but he can be a lot better than he is right now.”

Denton City Secretary Rosa Rios confirmed Friday afternoon that she finished her review of Jesse Davis’ application for the District 3 ballot and concluded it was complete.

Fellow District 3 candidate Diana Leggett challenged whether Davis had provided the city his home address, which is required of any candidate for an application to be valid.

In a news release, Leggett said she considers the matter resolved unless she receives new information to the contrary.

“I regret my challenge may have temporarily distracted voters in District 3 from other issues in this campaign,” Leggett wrote in the prepared statement. “However, I look forward, as I always have, to a robust debate among all candidates concerning the issues that are important to District 3 voters.”

Davis said he was focusing his campaign on ways to move the city forward together.

The Dolphins intend to add a starting right tackle, among other offensive linemen, in the next two months.

For Tuesday’s first practice, players confirmed that Zach Sterup lined up as the first-team right tackle opposite left tackle Laremy Tunsil, with Kilgore at center and Jesse Davis and former Jaguars player Chris Reed as the starting guards.

There are only four other offensive linemen currently on the roster: guards Isaac Asiata and Michael Dunn, second–year center Connor Hilland and tackle Joey Jones-Smith.

Dunn and Jones-Smith signed with Miami last week from the defunct Alliance of American Football.

Tunsil said the line naturally needs time to be put be together.

“It takes time, guys,” he said. ‘We’re just starting to rebuild. It’s only April.”

When Tunsil learned Ja’Wuan James had left for a four-year, $50 million contract with Denver, was his first reaction sadness about losing his friend and teammate or happiness for James?

“Both,” he said. “He got that bag [of money], yes he did.”

How does Miami replace him? “Damn good question,” Tunsil said. “Ask coach Flo about that one.”

On Flores, Tunsil said: “He’s a good dude. Great guy, came from a great program, the Patriots. He’s looking pretty good so far.”

Kenyan Drake Jersey

Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake took to the airwaves yesterday, hopping on SiriusXM radio to talk about Miami’s start to the off-season program and head coach Brian Flores.

The early returns are glowing. Drake was quite liberal with his praise of coach Brian Flores when asked what first impressions were like inside the Dolphins’ organization. With players now in the building, this initial “getting to know you” phase can go a long way in setting the tone of which Dolphins players will be here after the rebuild is complete.

“It hasn’t been necessarily him saying much, because he didn’t necessarily say much. He just kind of has this air about him where people are already ready to run through a wall for him.”

That certainly aligns with what everyone in the front office has had to say about Flores. There’s an intangible factor to Flores’ personality that seems to get everyone aligned.

With that said, no matter what your individual coaching style is, winning is the only thing that keeps things sustainable in the NFL.

So while it’s great to hear Drake, who butted heads with Adam Gase after being hand-selected by Gase as the heir to Jay Ajayi, heap praise on Brian Flores, it is important to remember that this is the honeymoon phase.

We won’t know for sure just how good Flores is until this team gets on the field and loses a few football games. If this team responds well and stays positive, then Miami might be on to something.

Miami started its first offseason program under Flores’ direction last week.

“He’s very personable, but he’s a very serious guy about the game of football,” Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake said about his new coach during a Monday appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio’s “SiriusXM Blitz.” “One thing that I definitely noticed the first week being in the building is just the respect that he commands from the players, the staff, everybody around the building and the respect that he kind of gives at the same time.

“Meetings start at 8 o’clock every morning. Everybody’s already in their seats at 7:55, ready to go.”

Flores’ team has only two running backs on its roster — Drake and Kalen Ballage.

Drake is preparing for his fourth NFL season since joining the Dolphins as a third-round draft choice from Alabama’s 2015 CFP national-championship team. Ballage was a fourth-round selection from Arizona State last year and recorded 191 yards and one touchdown on 36 rushing attempts and nine receptions for 56 yards as a rookie.

Drake is Miami’s leading returning rusher and passer. In 2018, Drake ran for 535 yards and four touchdowns on 120 carries and caught 53 passes for 477 yards and five touchdowns. Frank Gore, who led the Dolphins with 722 yards on 156 rushing attempts, joined the Buffalo Bills in free agency last month, and wide receiver Danny Amendola is now with the Detroit Lions after catching 59 passes for 575 yards and one TD for Miami in 2018.

In 2017, when Drake led the NFL in rushing yards over the final month of the season, he netted 114 yards on 25 carries in Miami’s 27-20 victory over New England on Dec. 11. Last season, Drake ran the final 52 yards of the 69-yard Miami Miracle as the Dolphins beat the Patriots 34-33 on the last play of a Dec. 9 game.

“I think Drake is an explosive player,” Flores said while attending the NFL’s annual meeting in March. “I’ve seen it first-hand, unfortunately. He’s a talented player. He catches the ball well, good runner, runs hard, does a lot of really good things.”

The NFL’s efforts to make the NFL Draft a bigger fan experience than ever have reached new heights. Having special guests on to announce picks isn’t a new concept for the event, but the league has fully embraced it at part of the production for this year’s event in Nashville.

Not only will Dolphins legend Richmond Webb announce the team’s 2nd-round pick, current Dolphin running back Kenyan Drake will be live in attendance to announce the team’s 3rd-round pick, currently slated at 78 overall.

Xavien Howard Jersey

The Dolphins began their offseason workouts yesterday and Xavien Howard was among the players who showed up. There had been some speculation whether the Pro Bowl cornerback would holdout, since he is entering the final year of his rookie deal. Howard is arguably the Dolphins best defensive player and should do all they can to keep him here.

You can check out that story here, and the rest of the day’s round-up below.

Xavien Howard shows up for first day of Dolphins’ work – ProFootballTalk
Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard wants a new contract, and deserves one. But he’s not withholding services in an attempt to get that deal. Via Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, Howard was in attendance during the first day of the Dolphins’ offseason program Monday.

Miami Dolphins News 4/1/19: Brian Flores Thinks Highly Of Ryan Fitzpatrick – The Phinsider
Welcome to the Splash Zone, the quickest way to get your day started off right. We bring you a rundown of Miami Dolphins news from the last 24 hours.

Offseason workouts set to begin later today for new look Miami Dolphins – The Phinsider
No, this is not some crude April Fool’s joke.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, eight teams will begin offseason workouts today. And one of those teams is the Miami Dolphins.

What is allowed during NFL offseason training programs? Why can Dolphins report early? And no holdout from Xavien Howard – The Phinsider
The Miami Dolphins are back in the team’s training facilities today, opening their offseason training program and starting to prepare for the 2019 season. Miami is one of eight teams that can open

That was Dolphins general manager Chris Grier’s response to being asked if the team could get star cornerback Xavien Howard signed to a long-term contract before the start of the 2019 season.

The urgency is present now, believe it or not, for the Dolphins to get this done before next winter. Even though Howard has a year remaining on his current contract, allowing Howard to enter 2020 without a new deal is just begging for trouble. Should he near the open market, Howard is then tempted by the allure of the open market, where good players get paid like great players and great players get paid obscene amounts.

At this point in his career, Howard is a great player. So do the math.

The good news, according to Grier, is that there have been some productive talks towards an extension that prevents Howard from getting to that point.

“…We’ve been talking to his agent back and forth a little bit and they’ve been very good to work with. Xavien wants to be here and wants to be here long term.”

Grier didn’t tease the signing as imminent, but he did offer that there would be more in play than just re-signing a good player.

“It would be important because I think it could send a message – which we want – that we want our good young players to be here. So we’re trying to get something done.”

This mentality is cause for rejoicing among the Dolphin faithful. Good teams not only draft good players, but they retain their drafted talent (within reason). The Dolphins creating that expectation for their young players will further help to re-shape the culture of a program who has been known to outsource their star search.

For now, it’s back to business hammering out some details and signing on the dotted line.

One of the most popular—or at least one of the most common—exercises that we see within the NFL reporting community in the offseason leading up to the draft is the notion of a ‘draft re-do’, in which people pose an alternate NFL Draft with the benefit of hindsight.

ESPN recently posted a variation on this exercise in which their local reporters for each team selected one pick from the past five drafts that the team they cover would desperately like to have a second crack at after having experienced the aftermath of their decision.

It shouldn’t be a great surprise, or really any surprise at all, that the selection made by Jeremy Fowler was the Steelers’ first-round draft pick in 2016. The front office used that pick on junior Miami cornerback Artie Burns after they saw the Cincinnati Bengals take William Jackson III off the board right in front of them.

Burns started by the middle of his rookie season, recording three interceptions, but he had taken significant steps back the past two years, culminating in his being benched last season. He is in danger of not even making the team heading into the 2019 season three years into his career.

The alternative player that Fowler suggested for the Steelers is Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard, who was selected early in the second round that year. Howard made the Pro Bowl in 2018 with a league-leading seven interceptions (with 11 in his career) as Burns lost his role in the secondary.

Fowler essentially said the same thing in his entry, so there’s really no point in directly quoting him, but the reality is that this was the easy pick to do over. Burns is the only first-round pick in the past five draft classes who is not in the starting lineup and at least contributing at a reasonably competent level.

Add in the fact that the Steelers only had eight interceptions as a team, and you can see why it might be nice to have a player at the cornerback position who is even physically capable of intercepting seven passes in one season. It’s been a long time since the team has had that.

If the Steelers had Howard, they wouldn’t have had to go out and spent $25.5 million over three years on former Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Steven Nelson, for one thing. And they would still control Howard for two more seasons after inevitably picking up his fifth-year option, which they will assuredly not do for Burns.

While this isn’t the only pick screaming for a do-over (how about 2015 second-rounder Senquez Golson or third-round pick Dri Archer?), it is certainly the one that could have the biggest impact in changing the team’s fortunes in one shot. Low-hanging fruit, but Fowler was on-point all the same.

Laremy Tunsil Jersey

With two weeks to go before the 2019 NFL draft, quarterback remains the Miami Dolphins’ biggest question mark, but it’s far from the only one. That’s the life of a rebuilding team trying to take a step back in order to escape the heavy cloak of mediocrity.

The Dolphins lost four of nine 2018 Week 1 starters from along the offensive and defensive lines this offseason (Ja’Wuan James, Josh Sitton, Cameron Wake and Robert Quinn), and none of those positions has been adequately addressed through free agency. Miami needs to find four new starters (at minimum), plus improve in other areas of the trenches with its returning players.

Picking four strong starters in the draft is not a realistic task, and that’s why the Dolphins have been honest about the rebuild taking multiple seasons.

With two weeks to go before the 2019 NFL draft, quarterback remains the Miami Dolphins’ biggest question mark, but it’s far from the only one. That’s the life of a rebuilding team trying to take a step back in order to escape the heavy cloak of mediocrity.

The Dolphins lost four of nine 2018 Week 1 starters from along the offensive and defensive lines this offseason (Ja’Wuan James, Josh Sitton, Cameron Wake and Robert Quinn), and none of those positions has been adequately addressed through free agency. Miami needs to find four new starters (at minimum), plus improve in other areas of the trenches with its returning players.

Picking four strong starters in the draft is not a realistic task, and that’s why the Dolphins have been honest about the rebuild taking multiple seasons.

“We’re going to obviously have an emphasis on offensive line in the draft,” coach Brian Flores said. “The O-line and the run game and protection, that’s near and dear to me as well. I think it’s something we’re definitely going to invest in, in the draft and moving forward. We’re going to build this offensive line because we’ve got to run the ball and we’ve got to protect the quarterback. … We’re not there yet. I think it’s pretty clear that everyone knows that. But we’re going to get there.”

Dolphins general manager Chris Grier has made it clear he considers the offensive and defensive lines the team’s “building blocks.” Left tackle Laremy Tunsil is the only established blue-chip building block in either of the trenches.

The bottom line: Miami is preparing to feast from the draft’s meat and potatoes.

If the Dolphins do want their pick of trenches players, there are 10 who could be available when Miami drafts No. 13 overall: Ed Oliver (Houston, DL); Montez Sweat (Mississippi State, edge); Clelin Ferrell (Clemson, edge); Brian Burns (Florida State, edge); Rashan Gary (Michigan, edge); Christian Wilkins (Clemson, DL); Jonah Williams (Alabama OT/G); Jawaan Taylor (Florida, OT); Andre Dillard (Washington State, OT); and Cody Ford (Oklahoma, OT/G).

Miami should have its choice of multiple linemen in this group, and it would be a surprise to see the Dolphins pass on one unless they fall in love with a quarterback. A couple of those players could also be available if Miami trades back, say four or five spots, and collects more picks.

The cliché that games are won and lost in the trenches is a philosophy Grier largely believes in, and attacking the trenches in the draft isn’t new for Miami. Just in this decade, the Dolphins have used their first-round pick on an offensive or defensive lineman six times (out of nine total selections). In fact, 2018 was the first Dolphins draft since at least 1966 when they didn’t draft at least one player in the trenches.

But it’s hard to look at the 2018 stats and 2019 roster and say that it isn’t the right place to start rebuilding.

The defense gave up the most yards (6,257) in franchise history last season, finished 29th in the NFL in sacks (31) and 31st in run defense (145.3 yards per game allowed). They lost their top three pass-rushers (Wake, Quinn and Andre Branch), and their most significant addition was cornerback Eric Rowe.

Miami’s top edge rushers are disappointing 2017 first-round pick Charles Harris and a collection of futures and AAF signings. The cupboard is empty.

So what are the Dolphins looking for? Defensive-line coach Marion Hobby said he wants players with “natural toughness” and an ability to play well against the run and the pass. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said he wants guys who are heavy-handed with good knee bend, leverage and eye discipline.

First-round prospects such as Oliver, Sweat and Wilkins check most of those boxes.

The offensive line isn’t in good shape, either. The unit allowed the fifth-most sacks (52) in the league last season. Tunsil is strong, and veteran center Daniel Kilgore has the upper hand to start, but there are at least two other positions (at least one guard spot and likely right tackle) that need to be filled.

Flores has prioritized versatility, and he plans to cross-train multiple offensive linemen to see their best position. One player that will affect is Jesse Davis, who could start at right tackle (because of the loss of James in free agency) or guard, where he started for much of the past two seasons.

Dolphins offensive-line coach Pat Flaherty said the most important thing for him is being “the most physical unit on the field” and “able to will our power on opponents.” That bodes well for adding first-round prospects such as Taylor and Ford.

Don’t be surprised if the Dolphins double-dip at both offensive line and defensive line in this year’s draft. The holes are apparent, and Grier values the trenches more than any position other than quarterback.

Filling up on meat and potatoes isn’t exciting, but expect Miami to take on this method in the draft to get healthy where it’s needed most.

There’s a good chance Howard’s next contract comes in between $13.5 and $14.5 million per season, which would put him among the eight highest-paid corners in the league.

Miami is about to undergo a massive rebuild and retaining talented youngsters like Howard and left tackle Laremy Tunsil is imperative. Grier really wanted to retain right tackle Ja’Wuan James, but he received a gargantuan deal from the Broncos, becoming the highest-paid right tackle in the NFL.

“Losing Ja’Wuan, as you know, was a blow,” Grier said. “It just creates another piece that you have to fill.”

The Dolphins have glaring holes at left or right guard and/or right tackle, defensive end and cornerback.

Raekwon McMillan Jersey

Coach Brian Flores and the rest of the Miami staff have talked a lot this winter about how they want to be “multiple” on defense. How being able to change what you do on a week to week basis is their dream scenario, one they hope to see materialize on the field.

It’s great in theory, right? Depending on opponent strengths, any team would love to run odd fronts, even fronts, nickel, two-gap concepts, penetration. But ultimately, a team would need quite an impressive set of defensive talent to successfully showcase and implement so many different philosophies on a single unit.

Ultimately, teams have to play what their players are capable of. What does that mean for Miami? The Dolphins will be challenged either way, barring hitting a home run in this month’s NFL Draft. The team simply lacks the pass rush needed to shine in any alignment. But there are some pieces who would certainly benefit from one type of look more than another.

Image result for Raekwon McMillan

The group that comes to mind is the defensive interior of Vincent Taylor, Davon Godchaux, Raekwon McMillan and Jerome Baker. This group has the makings of a solid foundation of a base odd (3-4) front seven.

Neither Taylor or Godchaux are potent penetration players who will create the kind of havoc expected from a 3-technique in an even front (think Fletcher Cox and Geno Atkins). Neither is a physically overwhelming player in the A-gap as a nose tackle, either. But if you tasked them with playing “4i” alignment and stuffing up blockers in the B-gap, suddenly you’re a stout nose tackle away from having a ton of run for your linebackers to run free.

Of course, this doesn’t solve the pass rush dilemma, but that is a fight for another day.

With an odd front and three down linemen, Miami could flip flop McMillan and Baker to the open side of the field: McMillan’s range is good, but he’s best between the tackles.

Baker, on the other hand, has tremendous burst, range and pass coverage capabilities. Baker could handle zone coverage reps into the open field or be free to scrape cleanly because of the stout presence of both Taylor and Godchaux, provided Miami finds a nose tackle.

Missing from this equation? Kiko Alonso. The Dolphins linebacker had his moments (good and bad) in 2018. But he’s also turning 30 prior to the start of the 2020 season, in which he carries less than $2M in dead cap space should the Dolphins decide they want to move on after this year.

Odds and ends from the ninth annual Dolphins Cancer Challenge, which drew 5,000 participants and raised an estimated $5 million for the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center:

▪ Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills, who cycled the 14 miles from the team’s training facility to Hard Rock Stadium Saturday, acknowledged he had some doubts about his future with the organization after seeing the team’s roster upheaval this winter.

“Yeah, every offseason you kind of have those questions,” said Stills, who is due $8 million in base salary in 2019. “You can get moved at any point. Definitely it came across my mind, people asking me about it, but like I said, all I know is I can handle myself, making sure I’m healthy, making sure I’m ready to play. I haven’t played my best football yet.”

Stills caught just 37 passes for 553 but did have six touchdowns in 2018. His cap number is $9.8 million, of which the Dolphins could save all but $3.3 million by cutting him.

Assuming he does return for the 2019 season, Stills will catch pass from a new quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick) called in by a new coach (Brian Flores) and offensive coordinator (Chad O’Shea).

“We still a lot of roster spots open,” Stills said. “I have faith in coach and Chris [Grier] to make sure we get the guys we need to win.”

“I don’t believe anyone in our organization likes using that word or that term or even talking about it,” Stills said. “We’re not preparing to lose games. [Flores] is going to continue to set the standard for us and I look forward to playing with him.”

Added McMillan: “I’ve never went on the football field and told myself we’re trying to lose this game. I don’t know where all that talk is coming from. As a team, we’re going out there and trying to win some ball games.”

▪ Curious about where McMillan will line up in the new Dolphins’ defense? The mystery will last at least a few weeks longer, as McMillan shed no light on the subject Saturday. He presumably will be assigned one of the inside linebacker spots in a 3-4, but the Dolphins plan to use multiple formations, and how they deploy McMillan — now entering his third season — is a fascination.

“All the coaches are going to put me in the best position possible to make plays,” McMillan said. “And they’re going to use all the players that we have to put in the best position possible to play defense. … Whatever my coach asks me to do, I’m going to go out and do it.”

Logic suggests we will see the best version of McMillan yet this fall. For the first time in his career, he has a full offseason to prepare for the season. He was still rehabbing from major knee surgery this time last year.

Jason Sanders Jersey

Jason Sanders had a decent season as a solid fantasy starter. He was the #217 ranked fantasy player this season and the #25 K. Even though he missed a few games he played enough so that his overall fantasy rank was better than what it was based on average fantasy points (#36 K). He showed improvement from his start of the season to the middle of his season, but then his production dropped off. In his middle 5 games he averaged 9.2 fantasy points which was higher than his start (4.2 FP) and his ending average (4 FP). He is young, so his late season drop-off should not be an indicator of an overall downward trend heading into next season. Using standard deviation as an indicator of consistency, Sanders is relatively inconsistent capable of very high highs and equally low lows. He averaged 5.7 FPs, but on any given day his projected ceiling is as high as 13 fantasy points. Jason Sanders (2019 Season Projection: 19-22 FGs, 1.4 FG50, 0 XPs) is projected to take a slight step downward in the upcoming fantasy season. His rank based on total projected fantasy points has him as the #30 player at his position.

Dentons has hired nine lawyers in Phoenix from Steptoe & Johnson LLP, which is closing its office in the Arizona capital, the firms said Monday.

Steptoe’s Phoenix office opened in 1987 and by midday Monday still had 15 Phoenix-based lawyers listed on its website. A spokeswoman for the Washington, D.C.-based firm said in a statement that maintaining an office in Phoenix “is not aligned with the strategic direction of the firm.”

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The lawyers headed to Dentons are all in the firm’s litigation department and are led by partners Karl Tilleman and Paul Charlton.

Tilleman, a first-chair trial lawyer, is a former clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Warren Burger. He also played on the Canadian National Basketball Team in the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games.

Charlton, who joined Dentons’ white-collar and investigations group, was formerly the U.S. attorney for Arizona from 2001 to 2007.

Also joining Dentons as partners are Erin Bradham and Quintin Cushner. Two counsel joined the firm from Steptoe, including Doug Janicik and Jason Sanders, as well as three associates, Dentons said in a release.

“We could not be more enthusiastic to have made the move to Dentons,” said Tilleman in a statement. “The U.S. and global footprint is critical to the growth and expansion of our practices.”

In a statement explaining the firm’s decision to retreat from Phoenix, a Steptoe spokeswoman said the firm’s strategic plan focuses on growth “in priority practices in key regulatory and financial markets in the United States, Europe and Asia.”

“This decision was reached at a time of renewed strength for Steptoe, which recorded its best financial year ever in 2018,” the statement said. “Revenue, revenue per lawyer and profits per partner all set new records. In recent months, the firm has also added several new partners in our other offices, and that growth will be continuing in 2019 with several new partners in the pipeline.”

In January, Steptoe added former Boies Schiller & Flexner partner Robyn Crowther, who is now co-managing partner of Steptoe’s Los Angeles office.

As for Dentons, the global firm has been busy building out its U.S. presence. The firm has added 40 litigators to its national practice in the past 18 months, Dentons U.S CEO Mike McNamara said in a statement.

The news of Steptoe closing its Phoenix office was first reported by legal news website Arizona Attorney, and the Dentons hires were initially reported by Phoenix Business Journal.

Dentons, the world’s largest law firm, today named four partners, two counsel and three associates to its Phoenix office as members of its Litigation and White Collar practices. Karl Tilleman, Paul Charlton, Erin Bradham and Quintin Cushner join Dentons as partners. Doug Janicik and Jason Sanders join the Litigation practice as a counsel. Three associates also join the Firm.

Tilleman and Bradham, who join Dentons Litigation practice, focus their work on high-stakes litigation for corporations, insurance carriers and financial institutions, with an emphasis on aviation, healthcare, antitrust, RICO, intellectual property, and class actions. Charlton and Cushner, who join the White Collar and Investigations practice, represent Fortune 500 companies and executives in high-profile litigation, internal investigations and white-collar criminal defense.

“We are very pleased to welcome these extremely accomplished litigators and strategists to our leading disputes and investigations practices,” said US CEO Mike McNamara. “Over the past 18 months, we have added the litigation bench strength of more than 40 litigators nationally, from the East Coast to Hawai`i, which only further deepens the trust we enjoy in representing clients in some of the most high-profile and front page cases and investigations in the US.”

Tilleman is a veteran first-chair trial lawyer with nearly three decades of experience who handles high-stakes litigation for many of the nation’s largest corporations, insurance carriers and financial institutions. Among his high profile representations are his current work on behalf MD Helicopters, Inc., and the successful defense of the Harlem Globetrotters, major universities, Cancer Treatment Centers of America and the country’s largest insurance companies. Prior to entering private practice, he clerked at the Supreme Court of the United States for Justice Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice Warren Burger. In addition to his legal career, Tilleman is an Olympic athlete who played on the Canadian National Basketball Team in the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games, setting a record for three-point shooting that has never been broken. He earned his JD, summa cum laude, from Brigham Young University, where he was the editor in chief of Brigham Young University Law Review, and his BA from the University of Calgary.

Charlton is known as a seasoned trial lawyer who successfully defended corporations and high-net-worth individuals who were the subject of state and federal investigations. A former career prosecutor, he ended his nearly 20 years of public service as Arizona’s United States Attorney. Charlton also works in Native American Law and successfully advocated for Native American tribes and tribal leaders on nationally reported leaders. He is sought-after and often-quoted media commentator on litigation in the news, and, with his wife, owns and operates a cattle ranch. Charlton earned his JD from the University of Arizona, where he was the note and comment editor for the Arizona Law Review, and his BA from there, as well.

Bradham focuses her practice on complex commercial litigation, with an emphasis on disputes involving aviation, healthcare, insurance and class action allegations. She has extensive experience defending clients in state and federal courts, and has served as trial counsel in multiple lawsuits, including a two-week jury trial that resulted in a defense verdict in her client’s favor. Committed to pro bono service, Bradham has successfully secured asylum and other immigration relief for over a dozen clients fleeing political persecution or harm in their home country. She earned her JD, magna cum laude, from Duke University, where she was the editor of the Journal of Law and Contemporary Problems, and her BA, summa cum laude, from College of William & Mary.

Cushner focuses on white-collar defense criminal defense and civil litigation including the successful representation of individual and corporate clients across the state and on American Indian tribal lands. Most recently he led public corruption investigations and served as a special prosecutor in Indian Country. Previously he served as a clerk to US District Court Judge Stephen McNamee. Cushner earned his JD from the University of Arizona College of Law, magna cum laude, where he was a member of Order of the Coif and managing editor of Arizona Law Review, and holds a BA from Oberlin College.

Jerome Baker Jersey

The most prolific pass rusher in the short-lived Alliance of American Football is now a member of the Miami Dolphins.

Outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott, who was tied for first with 7.5 sacks in eight games before the AAF suspended operations, officially signed with the Dolphins on Tuesday.

Elliott, 27, who signed with the San Antonio Commandeers of the AAF in December, brings three seasons of NFL experience, all with the Green Bay Packers. He hadn’t played in the NFL since 2016 before his stint in the new league.

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Elliott went to training camp with the New Orleans Saints in 2018 before being among the cuts down to the 53-man roster.

After playing defensive end at the University of Toledo, Elliott joined the Green Bay Packers as a rookie free agent in 2014. He earned a roster spot as a 3-4 outside linebacker after leading the NFL in the 2014 preseason with five sacks.

In three seasons with the Packers, Elliott appeared in 38 regular season games and had four sacks, including three in 2015.

Dallas traded for Elliott on Sept. 3, 2017, but he didn’t play a game for the Cowboys.

This was the description of Elliott’s off-the-field contributions: “This past offseason, he was one of the six current and former players that took part in the 2016 Green Bay Packers Tailgate Tour. The 11th annual five-city tour made stops throughout central and southern Wisconsin raising monies for local non-profits. He also participated in the Green Bay Packers “GiveBack” Celebrity Bowling event that helped benefit the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Student Emergency Fund and has been a supporter of the March of Dimes by donating a dinner to help bring awareness and support to the organization.

“He has been a regular at Packers Partners Fan club events and has been involved with speaking to the cadets that are part of the Challenge Academy, which is an alternative education program designed to help at-risk youth. He has also attended the Children’s Heart Foundation Golf outing in Fond du Lac and the first Breast Cancer Awareness high school football game between De Pere vs. Bayport, with all proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society.”

Elliott becomes the ninth linebacker on the Dolphins roster, joining Kiko Alonso, Raekwon McMillan, Jerome Baker, Chase Allen, Mike Hull, Quentin Poling, James Burgess and Sam Eguavoen.

“Fourteenth Street used to be the epicenter of a community of artists, a place for the cross-pollination of ideas,” says Mark Kelner, a D.C. artist who lived through the transition. “As D.C. has become too expensive for artists, the community has gotten a lot more fragmented.”

In a three-day event called Umbrella, D.C.’s scattered art community is coming back together this weekend. The artists are taking over a building complex just north of 14th and V streets NW that’s slated for demolition and filling it with pop-up art galleries, immersive installations, a black box theater and a beer garden.

Down the hall, visitors to Umbrella will find a former gymnasium bathed in eerie light — an installation by Pierre Edwards, also known as District Dodger. Edwards is lighting the room with yellow incandescent light and ultraviolet light, and projecting abstract computer animations onto the walls. On Friday evening, DJ Jerome Baker III will add a hip-hop soundtrack to the installation.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The names of the suspect and victim in a fatal weekend stabbing have been released.

Christopher Lee Adams allegedly stabbed Ronnie Jerome Baker after a verbal altercation turned physical. The two had been drinking for several hours, according to authorities. The incident took place at Adam’s home, near West 9th St. and North Evergreen Drive, at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. Family members of Baker were also at Adam’s home. They told neighbors what happened after the alleged stabbing took place. Neighbors then called authorities.

Baker suffered two stab wounds to the chest. Responding crews attempted to save Baker’s life upon arrival, but were unable to do so. Adam’s attempted to flee the scene, but was located “a couple blocks” away. Adams used a “typical folding knife” to stab Baker. The knife’s blade was anywhere from 3 to 4 inches long. The knife has been located.

Adams is being lodged in the Minnehaha County Jail on charges of Murder in the 2nd degree, and Manslaughter in the 1st degree. He’s being held on a one million dollar bond.

Adams will be in court later this afternoon, stick with KDLT News for further updates as they become available.

“It was two totally different players, just very hesitant, very slow, not really triggering my first game,” McMillan said. “But the game against Jacksonville, I feel like I played how I should have been playing the whole season.

“The knowledge I gained throughout the season last year, I started off kind of slow, but as the season progressed, I kind of got a feel for how the game speed was going and how intelligent the players were, where you were going to try to attack us as a defense and as a team and what we can do throughout the week to enhance our knowledge and keep it from happening.”

McMillan and his teammates have been getting their first work experiences this week with new Head Coach Brian Flores and his staff, including new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham and new linebackers coach Rob Leonard.

“Coach Flo, he came in and gave us this speech, he came in and just implemented the things that he would tolerate and things that he wouldn’t tolerate as a head coach,” McMillan said. “He wasn’t real pushy, real shovy with it, just told me his expectations for this team and his staff and how he’s going to coach things and how everything is going to go.

“Coach Graham is a very energetic guy. He came in and basically did the same thing Coach Flo did and gave us his expectations as a defense. You can tell he’s real loose as a coach. He wants his players to go out there and play fast and play energetic and be confident in what you’re doing and then Coach Leonard, a very smart, smart coach. I’ve only had two days with him, but getting to know him, he seems like a real good guy.”

While his coaches are new, McMillan is gearing up for another season with 2018 fellow starting linebackers Kiko Alonso and Jerome Baker, who also was his teammate at Ohio State University.

The three of them will face the challenge of learning and mastering a new defense in 2019, but McMillan says playing alongside familiar faces will make the task easier.

“We’ve got experience with each other out there on the field,” McMillan said. “And any guy that has experience with somebody, even though you’re changing the defense, changing concepts, you can pick up on it faster and you can play faster as players.

“It was great seeing both of us (Baker and McMillan) progress as players. It was a big learning curve for both of us, but I feel like toward the end of the season we got things rolling for both of us and hopefully we can progress off that this season.”

When he wasn’t working out, McMillan spent time since the end of last season traveling to visit family and friends in places like New York, California, Ohio and his native Georgia.

He’s planning for a much longer trip during the players’ time off between the end of the offseason program and the start of training camp in late July, with target destinations including Africa and Bali.

Mike Gesicki Jersey

The NFL will continue this year its tradition of having current and former players announce draft picks, and a former Dolphins Pro Bowl regular and a current member of the roster will be doing the honors.

Six-time Pro Bowl selection Richmond Webb will announce the Dolphins’ second-round pick, which will be the 48th overall, and current running back Kenyan Drake will announce the third-round selection (78th overall).

Webb was a first-round pick in 1990 when the Dolphins made the offensive tackle the ninth overall selection out of Texas A&M. Drake was the first of two Dolphins third-round picks in the 2016 NFL draft when he was the 73rd overall selection.

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Dolphins Hall of Famer Dwight Stephenson announced tight end Mike Gesicki as the team’s second-round pick last year, while safety Reshad Jones announced the selection of linebacker Jerome Baker as the Dolphins’ third-round pick. Members of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School football team announced the picks on the third day of the draft, from Rounds 4 to 7.

Tip of the hat to the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero, who put out a terrific piece this morning highlighting what ails the Miami Dolphins and how to fix it. As Salguero points out, there’s no magic pill, secret sauce or grand scheme that will bring Miami back to the top of the mountain.

The team’s execution in talent acquisition needs to improve, plain and simple. The trade up for Dion Jordan, the targeting of Mike Gesicki followed by zero plan to implement him effectively, the Charles Harris selection – there’s a laundry list of offenses in recent years that should be cause for concern. But there’s also hope, with Chris Grier fully in control of the decision making.

Eliminating other variables (an Executive VP or a meddling head coach, for example) allows a singular focus on the task at hand. Too many cooks in the kitchen can create conflict, which in turn waters down efforts to excel at the task at hand: drafting good football players.

Considering the variability of the NFL Draft, getting an average of two strong starters per draft class is a good start. We don’t know what influence others in the building have had in these picks, but generally speaking Miami’s direction in talent acquisition (minus the Charles Harris pick and potentially the Mike Gesicki pick) has been strong enough to be optimistic with a master plan that involves focus on added draft capital.

The signing of Walford adds yet another tight-end to a unit that has two returning rookies from 2018, Durham Smythe and 2nd round pick Mike Gesicki as well as Nick O’Leary. Last week the Dolphins also added former Patriots TE Dwayne Allen as a free agent.

Miami opted not to tender A.J. Derby or Marquies Gray who was coming off a season ending injury sustained during the Dolphins 2018 pre-season.

Walford is entering his fifth NFL season. He played his first three seasons with the Oakland Raiders before joining the Jets in 2018. He played in one game with the Jets.

Over his career he has 70 receptions for over 700 yards and six touchdowns.

It will be intersting to see what direction the Dolphins take with their tight-ends in 2019. Chad O’Shea who will run the offense is used to the two tight-end sets that Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels use in New England. If the Dolphins are going to attempt to run that style of offense they will need to quality tight-ends.

In 2018 Mike Gesicki was not very impressive. Most TE’s struggle in their first NFL season and Gesicki was no different. Whether the result of the NFL learning curve, poor play, or poor inclusion in the offens by Adam Gase, the Dolphins need Gesicki to be much better.

The signing of Dwayne Allen to a two year deal made some sense. He is a very good blocking tight-end that could help with the development of Gesicki and Smythe. The signing of Walford is ineteresting as it clearly wasn’t a need for the Dolphins. The lack of experience at the position is likely more the reason than anything else. Combined the three holdovers from last season have five years experience.

Ryan Tannehill’s days in Miami were numbered when the season ended and today they ended for good. Miami has traded the oft maligned and greatly criticized quarterback to the Tennessee Titans.

The Dolphins will ship Tannehill and a sixth round draft pick in 2019 to the Titans for a 4th and 7th round draft pick in 2020. It is a decent deal for the Dolphins that is at least comparable to the trade Denver made for Joe Flacco.

In Tennessee Tannehill will not likely be given a chance to start but given the injury history of Marcus Mariota, Tannehill will likely see plenty of opportunities to play with the Titans. Over the last seven years Tannehill was an iron man until the end of the 2016 season when he tore his MCL/ACL on a hit against Arizona.

Tannehill missed all of 2017 and missed five games in 2019 due to a shoulder issue. He returned but was not the quarterback he many had hoped to see. Tannehill was never able to take the next step in his development.

Last year head coach Adam Gase said that Tannehill had yet to reach his ceiling. The comment brought a lot of jeers from the fan base and a lot of laughter but one thing is certain, Tannehill left everything he had on the field. His short comings were more a result of bad coaching, bad line play, and talent that was never realized.

The Dolphins are obviously moving in a new direction but where the Dolphins turn to find their next quarterback is anyone’s guess at this point. We will have more on this over the weekend when I am back in the country.

Minkah Fitzpatrick Jersey

When the Miami Dolphins drafted Minkah Fitzpatrick in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft, one of the things the coaching staff was most excited about was his versatility. That versatility got used to the fullest in 2018 as Fitzpatrick played every position in the secondary due to injuries or bad performances by other players.

Needless to say, Fitzpatrick being used in all the ways he was in 2018 kept him from really nailing down one position that he could potentially thrive at, which actually limited his ability to decide what he should focus on improving in the offseason.

“I gotta know what I’m gonna be playing first.” Fitzpatrick said back in December.

And up to this point, there has been little indication as to where the Dolphins plan to have Fitzpatrick play in 2019 and beyond, and plenty of speculation by fans and analysts who go around in circles, debating whether Fitzpatrick should play as a boundary corner, in the slot, or as a free safety alongside Reshad Jones and/or T.J. McDonald.

But on Monday, the answer came one step closer to being revealed, as GM Chris Grier dropped some information regarding where the coaching staff projects to have the former Alabama standout.

“I think position flexibility is always important; but I think especially with young players, if you can put them at one spot and let them sort of master that one position instead of each week, bouncing around … It’s hard to do.” Grier said. “To his credit, he did a very good job of it last year; but I think just letting him – especially when he’s young – stay at one spot, I think that’s what Brian and the coaching staff are focused on.”So while we may not know exactly where Fitzpatrick will be lining up on defense just yet, at least now we know that Flores and the defensive coaching staff plans to keep Fitzpatrick at only one spot if they can help it.

If an emergency comes up, then perhaps Fitzpatrick could be moved again in a pinch. But at this point, it’s safe to assume that he won’t be moved out of position again simply because another player isn’t doing as good as the staff would like. Instead, they seem intent to focus on putting Fitzpatrick in the best position to succeed, while shoring up the weaker positions by other means.

“That’s the unique thing about Minkah, he can do a lot of stuff. I think they have a position where he’s going to be locked in but I would rather have Coach Flores tell you guys that if that’s what he wants to do.” Grier said. “But I will say they really enjoy watching the film as we did, and I think he can still get better from what he was as a rookie and we’re excited about his future.”

The Dolphins see Minkah Fitzpatrick as a safety long term, but the contracts of Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald complicate the team’s short-term plans. General Manager Chris Grier said last week the Dolphins would like to keep Fitzpatrick at one position after he played all over the secondary last season.

So new coach Brian Flores was asked where he sees Fitzpatrick playing this season.

“Minkah’s a football player,” Flores said at the coaches’ breakfast last week. “I think his strength is that he can handle a lot of different positions. He’s versatile. Free safety, strong safety, corner, Star, ‘backer. You can do whatever you want with him. He’s a guy we spent a lot of time thinking about how we’re going to use him. I’m not going to give up the goods on how we’re going to do that.”

Fitzpatrick’s versatility is one of the qualities that led the Dolphins to make him the 11th overall choice last year. He played 944 snaps as a rookie, seeing time at free safety, slot corner and boundary corner.

Flores sounds as if he will have to see where Fitzpatrick best fits his defense.

“I think my preference is to see what he can handle and see what he does that will help the team win,” Flores said. “If that’s multiple positions, then that’s multiple positions. If that’s one spot, then that’s one spot. If he can long snap or kick field goals and that helps us win, then that’s what we do. Obviously, I don’t think he can long snap or kick field goals — let’s be clear on that — but maybe he can. We try to find out what every player can do and how they can help us win. How can they improve the team? I think versatility is going to be very important, and he’s a very versatile player. He was last year. We’re excited to work with him.”

He would step in for Winston again in 2018 when the former No. 1 overall pick was benched. Fitzpatrick played in eight games with seven starts, finishing with 17 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and completing 66.7 percent of his passes — the highest completion percentage of his career.

Fitzpatrick’s greatest issue is stringing consistent games together over long stretches of time, as he struggled with interceptions when former Bucs coach Dirk Koetter moved him into a starting role.

Fitzpatrick, who has also played for the Rams, Bengals, Bills, Titans, Texans and Jets, has thrown for 29,357 yards with 190 touchdowns and 148 interceptions in 141 games. He could become the first player to throw passes for eight NFL teams, breaking a tie with six other players, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

He also becomes the second owner of the “FitzMagic” nickname on the Dolphins roster. In September 2018, defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick filed a trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to own the nickname in hopes of selling merchandise and apparel.

Minkah Fitzpatrick, who said he had the nickname since high school, had his trademark request denied in January.

ESPN’s Jenna Laine contributed to this report.