Daniel Kilgore Jersey

The Dolphins exercised Tunsil’s fifth-year option on Thursday, ensuring their starting left tackle and staple of their offensive line will remain under contract for at least two more seasons through 2020.

“I just want to help the team in any kind of way,” Tunsil said on Tuesday while participating in Miami’s voluntary offseason workouts.

The Dolphins, under new coach Brian Flores and general manager Chris Grier, have locked up a player who could play a major role in their plans for the franchise.

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Tunsil, 24, has played in 44 of 48 games in his three seasons since joining Miami, and turned in his best season in 2018. He started 15 games last season, allowing just one sack.

Based on the current state of Miami’s offensive line, securing Tunsil’s future was a major concern for the Dolphins, who chose not to wait until May to execute the fifth-year option.

Tunsil, Miami’s first-round pick in 2016, is guaranteed to make $2.1 million in 2019.

The fifth-year option will pay Tunsil roughly $9.7 million in 2020, but it would only be guaranteed if he was unable to pass a physical at the start of the new league year in March 2020.

Tunsil’s deal in 2020 could come off the books if the Dolphins cut him, or he could return on a relatively cheaper contract.

But it is clear the Dolphins believe Tunsil will play a significant role in the future.

“I just have to come in every day, contribute to the team and put in hard work and keep building,” Tunsil said.

The Dolphins are in need of offensive linemen after the departure of right tackle Ja’Wuan James in free agency, and the release of left guards Ted Larsen and Josh Sitton.

Tunsil, Jesse Davis, who played every snap at right guard last season, and center Daniel Kilgore, who started only one game last season, are the only remaining starting offensive linemen from last season.

The Dolphins could draft a potential starting offensive tackle to compete with third-year lineman Zach Sterup for the starting right tackle position voided by James, who signed a four-year, $52 million deal — $32 million guaranteed — with the Denver Broncos last month.

Davis, Sterup and backup guard Isaac Asiata were marked as exclusive rights free agents to remain with the team, while the Dolphins signed guard/center Chris Reed, tackle Joey Jones-Smith and guard Michael Dunn to bolster their unit. Backup center Connor Hilland also remains on the roster.

The team’s top three wide receivers have a nice blend of speed and playmaking ability, and DeVante Parker provides needed size on the outside. Unfortunately, Dolphins fans have waited four seasons for Parker to make an impact worthy of his first-round pedigree, and very little has materialized in that regard. It remains to be seen whether former New England Patriots wide receivers coach and new Dolphins offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea (who was known to get the most out of his receivers in New England), can turn things around for the enigmatic pass catcher.

At quarterback, the obvious change from Ryan Tannehill to journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick signals that the Dolphins are in search of a young gun to take over in the near future. Fitzpatrick is intelligent, a commensurate leader, and can win games. He’ll add some spice to what will likely be a trying season in Miami.

On the offensive line, franchise left tackle Laremy Tunsil is back for what should be another very solid season. Miami would be wise to keep him around for a long time as he’s developed into a top-tier player at one of football’s most valuable positions. 31-year old center Daniel Kilgore is also returning after only playing four games last season. He’s likely a stopgap option at the position given that the Dolphins are in search of younger help on the interior. Jesse Davis is the final returning starter, and he’ll get a shot at keeping his job at right guard. His performance last season was middling and there’s a chance the coaching staff tries him at right tackle as well, a position he’s played in the past.

Isaac Asiata and Zach Sterup have done very little on the field for the Dolphins during their tenure with the team, and they’re just as likely to spend all season on the bench as they are to start. General manager Chris Grier will absolutely bring competition in through the draft along the o-line.

At tight end, the Dolphins brought on Dwayne Allen and Clive Walford through free agency, and though I see the team running two tight end sets, Gesicki should get a chance to start given his draft pedigree and talent level. With that said, Allen should see plenty of snaps, especially in the run game.

Albert Wilson Jersey

The Kansas chapter of the NAACP has spoken out about the principle of legitimacy regarding the Albert Wilson case.

Wilson’s case garnered national attention earlier this month after he was sentenced to over 12 years in prison after being charged with rape. The 23-year-old was also sentenced to a lifetime of probation and registered as a sex offender for the 2016 incident.

In a statement issued to VIBE, Kenya Cox, President of NAACP Kansas State Conference called the case and the sentencing “alarming,” given Wilson had no prior run-ins with police and the rape kit in the case clarified the parties did not engage in sexual intercourse.

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“The case of Albert Wilson, the former University of Kansas student who was convicted of rape and faces 12 years in prison, calls into question the issue of disparity in sentencing across the United States,” the statement reads. The case has drawn many to revisit the Brock Turner case. The former Standford University student was sentenced to six months in jail (but only served three) in 2016 for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. While Turner was found guilty of three felony counts of sexual assault, he was given the benefit of the doubt throughout the case.

“Crimes should be punished, period. Courts must provide survivors the justice they deserve,” she added. “While the NAACP takes all allegations of sexual assault seriously, we are also mindful that the sentencing of those convicted of sexual assault, or any other crime, should be free of any racial bias. It is, therefore, alarming that Mr. Wilson, a black student, was sentenced to 12 years in prison and a lifetime of probation for the crime of rape, but Brock Turner – a white Stanford University swimmer – was sentenced to six months in prison for the same crime. Indeed, Brock Turner only served three months of his sentence. Both of these men were accused of rape, but studies from the United States Sentencing Commission show that Black men are sentenced to much longer sentences than white people for committing the exact same crime.”

Wilson was reportedly given the minimum sentencing guidelines for rape in Kanas by Judge Sally Pokorny. Critics have also pointed to the racial aspects of the case, including the all-white jury and reported racial questions that were asked to prospective black jurors.

“While many are pointing out the inconsistencies between the evidence and testimonies in the trial of Mr. Wilson, what is certain is that the trauma and detrimental effects caused by rape are color-blind to the survivor, punishment for the assailant should be color-blind as well,” Cox said.

Since Wilson’s sentence on April 3, celebrities like Meek Mill and Kim Kardashian have brought attention to Wilson’s case. “No forensic evidence that a rape even happened but the testimony from a white girl to a black kids word is a case closer by far in America!” the rapper tweeted. “Somebody help this kid that’s a shame!”

The Dolphins will have a lot of familiar faces back at wide receiver, with five of the top six stat leaders from last year returning.

That group includes Kenny Stills, Albert Wilson, DeVante Parker, Jakeem Grant and Brice Butler, who was signed late in the 2018 season.

Former seventh-round pick Isaiah Ford is back for a third season with the Dolphins, who recently signed four-year NFL veteran Ricardo Louis and former Alliance of American Football player Reece Horn.

The one wide receiver gone from last season is veteran Danny Amendola, who signed with the Detroit Lions as an unrestricted free agent.

D.K. Metcalf, 6-3, 228, Mississippi: Metcalf generated a lot of buzz before the combine because of a picture on Twitter that revealed a physique more suited to a bobybuilder than a football player. Metcalf then followed that by running a 4.33 40-yard dash in Indianapolis. The son of former Chicago Bears offensive lineman Terrance Metcalf, D.K. left Ole Miss after two seasons, both of which were cut short by injuries. In seven games before being sidelined by a neck injury in 2018, Metcalf averaged 21.9 yards on 26 catches with five touchdowns.

Marquise Brown, 5-9, 166, Oklahoma: The cousin of NFL star Antonio Brown, Marquise goes by the nickname “Hollywood” because of his flashy style but also as a nod to his South Florida hometown. Brown is a dynamic talent who caught 75 passes for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2018, but he sustained a foot injury in the Big 12 Championship Game that required surgery.

Deebo Samuel, South Carolina: Tyshun Samuel, whose nickname comes from a character in the movie “Friday,” is a dual threat as a receiver/returner. He earned first-team All-SEC recognition in 2018 as an all-purpose player and return specialist and second-team honors as a receiver.

Hakeem Butler, Iowa State: Butler was not a highly recruited receiver out of high school, but made himself a second-team All-Big 12 pick in 2018 after finishing in the top 10 nationally in receiving yards (1,318) and yards per catch (22.0). Butler isn’t a fluid route runner, but he’s got great size (6-5) and the ability to make contested catches.

Robert Quinn Jersey

The Dallas Cowboys acquired defensive end Robert Quinn from the Miami Dolphins on Thursday for a 2020 sixth-round pick.

Quinn, who visited The Star last week and also met with the New Orleans Saints, is getting a new one-year deal worth $8 million from the Cowboys and he can earn $1 million more in incentives, according to sources.

Quinn was set to make $11.8 million in the last year of his contract. Earlier in the month, the Dolphins paid Quinn a $1.12 million roster bonus and reportedly were willing to pay some of Quinn’s base salary to facilitate a trade. The Dolphins recently paid $5 million of the $7 million guaranteed to quarterback Ryan Tannehill as part of a trade to the Tennessee Titans.

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The Dolphins, however, are not paying any of the money in Quinn’s new deal with the Cowboys, the sources said.

Like manna from pass rush heaven, defensive end Robert Quinn has landed with the Dallas Cowboys.

In desperate need for a quality speed rusher to bookend with the franchised DeMarcus Lawrence, the Cowboys gave the Miami Dolphins a 2020 sixth-round pick while they were able to cut Quinn’s base salary from $11.8 million to $8 million plus a little less than $1 million in incentives. It’s a one-year deal. Meanwhile, Lawrence will have to make d0 with $20.5 million in 2019 unless he can come to a long-term contract agreement with the Cowboys by mid-July. Both sides say a deal is doable but have yet to arrive at a meeting of the minds.

A bad back and shoulder issues have reduced the 6-4, 257-pound Quinn, an eight-year veteran, from a ferocious force to a reliable rusher. Still, he amassed 6.5 sacks, 15 quarterback hits and nine tackles for loss in 16 games last season. In 2013, perhaps his best season, Quinn posted 19 sacks, 34 quarterback hits and 23 tackles for loss while a St. Louis Ram.

A new defensive scheme implemented by new coach Brian Flores made Quinn, who will be 29 by the start of next season, expendable in Miami where the Dolphins have salary cap issues.

Aside from Lawrence, the only other defensive end on the Cowboys active roster last season had been Taco Charlton, who has yet to mature into the pass rusher the team hoped it was getting when they made him the 27th pick of the 2017 draft.

That’s because Randy Gregory has been suspended for violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy with no known return date. And then there was the uber-talented and mega-troubled David Irving, also suspended for substance abuse and facing a domestic abuse claim by his ex-girlfriend. He had proven more trouble than he was worth. He announced he was retiring from the NFL at age 25 via an Instagram post.

With the addition of Quinn, new Cowboys for 2019 also include wide receiver Randall Cobb, who is penciled in to replace the departed Cole Beasley and safety George Iloka, who will man the position that seemed destined to be filled by Earl Thomas, who landed instead in Baltimore.

Question: By age, Robert Quinn shouldn’t be over the hill at all, but his best production is already a few years behind him. When you watched him on tape, how close is he to the player that could get you — I mean once he had 19.5 sacks — how close is he to a 10-12 sack guy?

Bryan Broaddus: I think he can still get between 8-10 sacks, absolutely.

I think, to me, what’s interesting about Robert Quinn is as he’s advanced in age he’s gotten a better understanding of how he needs to attack blockers. He still has the ability with the first-step quickness to get that arm — as being a right end — to get that left arm underneath a blocker, dip the shoulder and then be able to get to the level where the quarterback is. You don’t see him get pushed behind the quarterback very much. He, generally, will rush at the level he needs to be at. That’s the awareness you have in a player like that.

I think he’s gonna be a guy that’s gonna be able to hold the point of attack as a run player. To me, he’s not a guy who gets washed or anything like that. Really, the difference, [he has] similar traits you have with [DeMarcus] Lawrence, but he doesn’t play the run as well. He is a pass rusher through and through, but I like what I saw from him.

In watching the tape … they were playing the Packers. David Bakhtiari is the Pro Bowl tackle for the Packers there on the left side. The Packers thought enough of Quinn to put a tight end over there and a back over there too quite a bit during that game. The Patriots came back and were chipping a back on him as well. They obviously respect what he can do off the edge.

I think it’s one of those nice gets for the Cowboys. Didn’t really cost them very much as far as the compensation. And to get the salary reduced, I think, was a big thing too.

Vincent Taylor Jersey

The defensive lineman showed tremendous ability in his second year before an injury cut his 2018 season short. Vincent Taylor is a player who will benefit from the scheme change. The change will allow him to show off more of the ability he has. He will get plenty of opportunities to showcase his talent, as his workload will increase as a result of the teardown of the defensive line this off-season.

Taylor was a one-man wrecking crew, when healthy, and the buzz around him will continue to grow when he’s back on the field. For someone his size, the athletic ability he possesses is rare. A preseason sack on a stunt perfectly emulates the ability he has to disrupt plays and push the middle of the pocket back into the opposing team’s quarterback.

By the 2008 offseason, Peters had already established himself as a starter and even made his first Pro Bowl in 2007. He signed an extension in 2006, but quickly outplayed the $4 million average per year that deal was paying him. Peters wanted a new contract and he held out the entire spring and summer of 2008, getting fined about $650,000 by the Bills in the process. The holdout was orchestrated by late mega agent Eugene Parker and Peters’ longtime agent Vincent Taylor of Elite Loyalty Sports. Peters ended his holdout in early September.

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Dick Jauron, Bills head coach 2006-09: He was clearly, if not the best tackle in football, he was well on his way to being that. He had an unbelievable combination of size, strength and athletic ability. Uncanny for a man that big to be that fast, that quick, that tough. It was just a remarkable combination. Clearly, we had no desire to lose this player. From our side, the coaching side, and also from the front office side. They just couldn’t get it done. I’m not into those issues on that (business) side, but the football issues, we had none with him. Except, if he’s not on the field, he’s not helping us. Eventually, we had to do something.

Banner: I actually noticed his development and that he was involved in this contract dispute with the Bills. Went back to Howie and then Andy and said, ‘remember this guy? There might be an opportunity to take advantage of this dispute he’s in. What do you think?’ They said, ‘nothing to lose by calling.’

Mark Gaughan, The Buffalo News: Eugene Parker told me, at the time, that the market needed to be reset at offensive tackle in terms of the top salaries. The biggest deals had been two or three years beforehand. That was their perspective. That if you were negotiating based on the top tackle deals, that’s an off-base perspective because over the next couple of years, the tackle deals were going to take a dramatic jump up, just because of the timing of when the current top tackles in the league had signed. I think, in my opinion, Eugene determined that the Bills weren’t going to be willing to reset the market at tackle, either through early negotiations with them and the Bills’ track record in that time period of not really being a team that reset the market. That was going to be the key to the negotiations.

Vincent Taylor, Peters’ longtime agent: Respectfully, as a business, what he was as a football player wasn’t economically matching up. We just made a decision to not go to camp. We had been trying to get to the point where we could negotiate and we couldn’t get to that point. Just trying to minimize injury and things of that nature. We just came to a conclusion that he would withhold services until we could get it worked out.

Banner: There was clearly a problem. My recollection, which may not be 100 percent, was that our first call came after reading a lot of coverage about how he was determined to get a better deal, they weren’t really getting along, didn’t know if it was going to get worked out or if he was going to hold out. Once he came back on the radar screen, which was really through this contract dispute … Once we started to see the percolation of disagreement publicly, we were very much paying attention and strategizing on how we could position ourselves to get him.

Taylor: It was one of those things where the team said they didn’t want to negotiate if he wasn’t there. So at some point, I mean, he was making money that season that we didn’t want to miss out on. It was smart for us to come back and get that accrued season.

He was the number #123 ranked defensive lineman. He would have been more fantasy relevant if he had played more games. Based on average fantasy points he was the #57 defensive lineman. We split his 8 games into 3 segments (start, middle, and end). He showed improvement from his start of the season to the middle of his season, but then his production dropped off. In his middle 3 games he averaged 4.5 fantasy points which was higher than his start (2.5 FP) and his ending average (2.5 FP). He is still relatively young, so his late season drop-off should not be an indicator of an overall downward trend heading into next season. He averaged 3.2 FPs, but on any given day his projected ceiling is as high as 7 fantasy points. Vincent Taylor (2019 Season Projection: 35 Solo, 16 Ast, 4.7 Sacks, 0.6 PDs) is projected to improve in the upcoming season. His rank based on total projected fantasy points has him as the #60 player at his position.

The Dolphins need more growth from young players beyond this list to complete the rebuild, but these players showing marked improvement in 2019 and staying healthy is step one. Look for many young players to prove to the new regime they belong on the 53 man roster in 2019 and beyond.

MIAMI, FL – DECEMBER 02: Kalen Ballage #27 of the Miami Dolphins heads to the locker room before the game against the Buffalo Bills at Hard Rock Stadium on December 2, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Jakeem Grant Jersey

Brian Flores pulled the escape hatch yesterday when addressing the status of two of Miami’s more explosive offensive weapons, WRs Jakeem Grant and Albert Wilson.

It certainly isn’t time to panic. After all, it is mid-April, training camp is still several months away and the Dolphins aren’t going to play a significant snap for another 5 months. Both Grant and Wilson went under the knife last fall, so it is a little surprising to hear that neither Wilson’s hip or Grant’s foot have healed enough over the last 6-7 months to be considered ready.

The Dolphins, in the meantime, will make due. Even with a new coaching staff, the team is fortunate enough to know exactly what they have in both players.

Wilson, his durability aside, is an explosive slot receiver who has the ability to make big plays in the open field. Just ask the Chicago Bears. The speedy Wilson led the NFL in yards after catch at the time of his injury in 2018 and was one of the booming successes of the speed experiment implemented by the Dolphins last year. But ultimately, his success as a player will be dictated by staying on the field. There’s work to be done, but Wilson is not yet able to focus himself there until his rehab is complete.

As for Grant, his special teams value guarantees him a spot, no matter what. The film shows Grant budding as a legitimate receiver as well, so long as his foot injury doesn’t linger into 2019 and beyond.

Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant, two receivers who accounted for eight of the Miami’s touchdowns before ending the season on injured reserve, haven’t been cleared to participate in on-field work, coach Brian Flores said on Tuesday.

“Those guys are working extremely hard to get back out on the field,” Flores said. “They are doing everything they can to get back on the field.”

Wilson suffered a hip injury in late October during a 32-21 loss to the Detroit Lions, and opted against having his hip surgically repaired, chosing to rehab instead.

Before suffering the injury, he was Miami’s most productive receiver and led the NFL in yards after catch. The former Port St. Lucie High standout finished his first season in Miami with 26 receptions for 391 yards and four touchdowns.

Grant suffered a season-ending left foot injury in a 31-12 loss to the Green Bay Packers in November. He did have a surgical procedure, and has not been cleared by team doctors.

Grant, who also serves as Miami’s primary returner, caught 21 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns, and returned both a kickoff and punt for a touchdown last season.

Without Grant and Wilson, the Dolphins have to make it through voluntary camp with six healthy receivers. Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker, who was re-signed this offseason, are Miami’s returning starters, and Brice Butler and Isaiah Ford are two returning veterans.

The Dolphins signed former Cleveland Browns receiver Ricardo Louis and former AAF receiver Reece Horn last week, adding them to the 90-player training camp roster.

Jakeem Grant is running again! Well, sort of. The diminutive and explosive Dolphins receiver gave us all an update on his rehab as he looks to bounce back from an injured Achilles tendon. And Grant looks good! He’s running on an ‘Alter G’ line of treadmill, which is designed to reduce weight and impact on the user.

Without having any direct knowledge of Grant’s rehab window, it’s impossible to say how close he may be to progressing to running in different conditions, but Grant, who last month said he hoped to be ready to go by training camp, continues to forge onward with his rehabilitation.

Grant has become a fan-favorite here in Miami, thanks to his underdog story and his thrilling contributions on offense with suddenness, toughness and trick plays.

But he did need surgery for the injury, thankfully avoiding the devastating Achilles tendon tear, which would have put him into a much longer recovery window.

With all the changes, it is easy to forget that Ryan Fitzpatrick is coming into an offense that features a well known deep threat in Kenny Stills, a big-time playmaker after the catch in Albert Wilson and another speed-demon in Jakeem Grant. All three of these receivers can give opposing defenders fits, especially Grant and Wilson, in the open field and after the catch.

The Dolphins have their quiet leader in Kenny Stills. Kenny has averaged 15+ yards per catch the past two seasons — with four different starting quarterbacks, no easy feat.

Both Grant and Wilson are currently rehabbing and recovering from 2018 injuries, but they both have time to get back to form.

Remember, Wilson destroyed a great Chicago defense with six receptions for 155 yards and two touchdowns. One of those scores went for 43 yards, the other 75 yards.

When you combine all three, Stills can take the top off of the defense and open up additional spacing for Wilson and Grant to work underneath and create after the catch.

Dolphins fans will have some adjustments ahead — new quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is much more aggressive taking shots down field than Ryan Tannehill ever was. As a result, this offense can make plays.

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.