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.

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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 NFL.com 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.

Kenny Stills Jersey

He’s made a difference on Tuesdays all season long, tirelessly giving back to the community on his day off. Now, he’s back doing it on Sundays as well, evidenced by his season-best performance against the Patriots.

Things are coming together nicely for Kenny Stills and if you know him, if you follow his path and understand his priorities, you’ll quickly realize he deserves everything he’s getting. The accolades. The passes. Everything.

It’s been a few days since Stills has been named the team’s nominee for NFL Man of the Year and with the game against the Patriots occupying so much of our attention, I haven’t had a chance to properly weigh in, until now.

The decision to award this honor to Stills for the second year in a row has slam dunk written all over it. Look at this way: There are players that give back and then there is Kenny Stills.

Nobody does more than he does. Nobody gives up every single off day to spend time in the community, helping, advising, counseling and in some cases putting a kindergarten girl on his lap and reading: “Duck, Duck Goose.”

That’s what Stills did on one of his recent Tuesday visits at Miami’s Scott Lake Elementary and while so many people have written about his battle against social injustice, his work with police departments and the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) and his passion to help those less fortunate, it is the time he spends with children, and the look in their eyes, that seem to affect him most.

For them, Kenny Stills isn’t a football player, but simply a nice, friendly, warm young man who wants to add a little brightness to their lives.

“It’s different when you’re with (kids) because they’re just straight up with you,” Stills said. “They’re very honest. They’re not shy about anything. I love spending time with them and I know that, I hope that, I can be a positive influence in their lives.”

Like he has already for so many people, regardless of age. See, Kenny Stills is all about giving. Every chance he gets. To every person he meets. It is his passion, his purpose and the underlying story of his journey.

“Like I tell the kids,” Stills said. “If you can do one good deed a day it can change the world.”

The Dolphins have had three previous nominees—Dwight Stephenson, Dan Marino and Jason Taylor—win the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award. I’m sure there are inspiring stories in every city, stories that clearly depict why their nominee is most deserving. This isn’t something, after all, that can be judged by statistics or game changing plays. This is about measuring heart and commitment.

And when it comes to those two areas, it’ll be hard to find someone more qualified than Stills.

Then there’s the football part of his story, a player who of recent has had a major impact on this offense and who is coming off his finest performance of the season against the Patriots with 8 catches for 135 yards and a touchdown. With all the injuries at receiver, Stills has become the focal point of this passing game and remarkably has produced six touchdowns in just 32 receptions.

He came here from the Saints back in 2015 as primarily a long ball threat, but has become much more than that. Nine of Ryan Tannehill’s 19 passes last Sunday were directed toward Stills. One moment, though, he’d rather forget, a second-and-16 play in the fourth quarter where Stills slid to a stop after 15 yards, thinking he had reached the marker. A play later, Tannehill was sacked, the Dolphins were forced to punt and that led to a Patriots’ field goal and a 30-28 lead.

“My awareness was bad on that,” Stills said. “I figured I’d got the first down. I was trying to protect the ball.”

This explains why Stills fell to his knees in thanks when the Dolphins pulled off that dramatic final play touchdown. You never want to be the reason you lose a game, certainly a game of this magnitude.

Didn’t hurt any either that Stills played an important role in that final play, getting the pass from Tannehill and then lateraling to DeVante Parker. It’s a play they practiced so many times before. “Sometimes,” Stills says, “it is like, ‘Why are we doing this?’ And now we know why.”

You just know Stills will be relied upon heavily over these final three regular season games. He relishes that. Has been waiting much of his career for it. But he never complained when the ball didn’t come his way, always taking the high road, knowing deep down his chances would come.

“It’s all about winning games,” he says. “That’s always been my mindset.”

Truth is, Kenny Stills doesn’t need to win football games to be a winner. What he does off the field, how he embraces the community and all the lives he has touched has already made him the most impressive kind of winner, the kind that will never be judged by a scoreboard but instead by the smiles on people’s faces.

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills turned heads Thursday afternoon when he commented that he couldn’t throw the ball to himself.

Stills has just six catches for 91 yards and a touchdown on 13 targets since Week 6, so his concern carried merit when looking over the past five games. Stills dealt with a groin injury in Week 8 and did not play against the Houston Texans.

“I couldn’t tell you exactly why I’m not getting more targets,” Stills said, via The Miami Herald. “I can tell you that I’m getting open and I’m trying to take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way.”

“There isn’t much that can pull this team apart,” Stills said. “There’s no single person that you can point the finger at.”

Stills, who had 847 yards receiving and six touchdowns in 2017, enjoyed a good start to the 2018 campaign, totaling 12 catches for 224 yards and a touchdown on 19 targets in the first four games.

After missing five games, Tannehill returned to action in Week 12, but targeted Stills once.

While Stills might not have intended to stir the proverbial pot, the Dolphins might have a squeaky wheel to deal with. Whether he said enough to get the necessary grease in the form of more opportunities to catch passes remains to be seen.

Excuse it however you’d like, and Miami’s coaches have gone about it a couple different ways – blaming a groin injury, the types of routes he’s running, the game plan for each week, the defensive calls, the quarterback change – but Kenny Stills has been nearly invisible since the first month of the season.

Stills, a four-year starter for the Dolphins, has caught eight passes for 108 yards and one touchdown the past six games.

“I couldn’t tell you exactly why I’m not getting more targets. I can tell you I’m getting open and trying to take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way,” said Stills, who has 20 catches for 332 yards and four touchdowns in the 10 games he’s played. “I try to control the things I can control…It’s frustrating. It’s a team game….When the ball comes my way I have to make plays with it….I’m the team guy I always have been.”

Stills admitted this stretch of games, which has coincided with Miami’s offensive struggles, has been personally frustrating, then he points out “I can’t throw the ball to myself.”

Stills later specified that he wasn’t blaming Miami’s quarterbacks.

“I feel like I can get open from anywhere,” he added. “It’s a matter of protecting [the quarterbacks] and getting the ball out there.”

In fairness to Stills, who is considered a deep-ball specialist, the former University of Oklahoma standout was thrown six passes during Brock Osweiler’s five starts as Ryan Tannehill’s replacement.

Last week Stills caught one of the four passes Tannehill throw his way, contributing 6 yards.

“Teams know where Stills is,” Dolphins offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “Sometimes the coverage is going to take the ball [to him] and sometimes it’s not.”

More will likely be put on Stills’ plate this week, especially if Danny Amendola is sidelined by the right knee injury he suffered in Miami’s 27-24 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. DeVante Parker is already playing with a shoulder injury, and has been platooning in and out of the game.

Reshad Jones Jersey

The lower picks are a chance to uncover a surprise. Bill Belichick has used those picks for years to fill out the bottom third of his draft with good depth and find an occasional gem. Case in point: Trey Flowers, a fourth-round pick, who just signed a big deal with Detroit.

So do the Dolphins have enough to trade for Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray? That depends if Murray goes first overall, of course. It also comes down to the particular trade partners, too.

But let’s play out the fantasy of trading for Murray by using the Philadelphia model of trading up for Carson Wentz:

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The Dolphins, like Philadelphia in 2016, have the No. 13 pick. They swap up with a team trying to win now like Detroit at No. 8 by giving their 13th pick, safety Reshad Jones and, well, Kiko Alonso — plus some negotiated millions to help cover their contracts (see: the Dolphins paying $5 million of Ryan Tannehill’s Tennessee deal for a fourth-round pick).

OK, here’s an equally difficult trade to foresee: The leap to first overall. Would a team like the Dolphins want to pay more than Philadelphia did in leaping to No. 2?

The effective cost would be that No. 8 pick, plus the first- and second-round pick next year (again, following the Philadelphia model). And, remember, the Dolphins are expected to be one of the worst teams in the year next season and there are three top quarterbacks probably waiting to be drafted in 2020.

The question: Do they rank Murray better than all of them? They privately worked him out after his Pro Day a couple of weeks ago. The Raiders just worked him out, too. And Arizona had dinner with defensive end Joey Bosa in Fort Lauderdale this weekend (via ESPN’s Adam Schefter).

Bottom-line: It’s hard to see the Dolphins jumping up from 13th to get Murray this draft – assuming Murray goes at No.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — When it comes to the history of the NFL and where players rank among the all-time greats, Gil Brandt and Ernie Accorsi provide a unique, credible perspective based on their longevity, success in evaluating personnel and résumés of helping build competitive teams.

So when it comes to Rob Gronkowski …

“If I were to put him where he belongs, if you take the top five tight ends ever, he is probably right there in the middle at three,” said Brandt, the longtime vice president of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys (1960-1988) who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2019. “I think [Tony] Gonzalez is probably better. I think [Kellen] Winslow is probably better. But I think when we hash it out at the end, he’ll be right up there with the top three to five players.”

“I don’t know where you put him — there’s always opinions — but he’s one of the greatest to play the game, if not the greatest. There’s no question about that,” Accorsi said before noting the similarities between Gronkowski and late Green Bay Packers tight end Ron Kramer (1957-1967).

“Same type of player — ran over people. If you go back and look at the film of the 1961 championship game when the Packers beat the Giants 37-0, [Kramer] was the hero of that game, scored two touchdowns,” Accorsi said. “Gronkowski [6-foot-6] is a little bigger. [Kramer] was 6-3 and an all-around athlete who won nine letters at Michigan. He’s in the College Football Hall of Fame and could be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was so much like Gronkowski.”

Accorsi said some of the things that separate Gronkowski from others are his performance in the clutch, the matchup issues he presented defenses and how he was open even when he was covered.

“His last big catch, in the Super Bowl, defines who he is to me,” said Accorsi, who served as an assistant general manager or general manager from the mid-1970s to 2007 with the Baltimore Colts, Cleveland Browns and New York Giants. “It was a sluggish offensive game, nobody could really get anything done, and it was no surprise to anyone that [Tom] Brady is going to come up with a touchdown to win it, and who makes the play? Gronkowski almost willed himself down the field to make that catch that set up the winning touchdown. That’s him.”The great ones, to me, are Mackey, Ditka. But Mackey was shorter. Mackey was probably faster but didn’t have the hands Gronkowski had — even though he never dropped the ball. He knew he was a body-catcher, and that was keeping him out of the Hall of Fame for a while. Winslow, who was more of a receiver. Gonzalez, obviously, caught a million passes, and he’s in there, too. Ron Kramer.”

This year, Gonzalez became the ninth tight end to earn induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, joining Dave Casper (1974-1984), Ditka (1961-1972), Mackey (1963-1972), Ozzie Newsome (1978-1990), Charlie Sanders (1968-1977), Shannon Sharpe (1990-2003), Jackie Smith (1963-1978) and Winslow (1979-1987).

The list serves as a reminder of how the tight end position has changed over the years.

“Gonzalez played a long time and caught a lot of passes. Winslow came along, and he brought the new era to the tight end,” said Brandt, who compares Gronkowski’s style of play most to Ditka’s. “We looked at Mackey — and yeah, he was a tight end and caught a touchdown pass to win a game against the Cowboys in the Super Bowl — but he was really, No. 1, a blocker first and a receiver second. I think in Gonzalez’s case, he was a receiver first and a blocker second.

“It’s hard comparing [Gronkowski] to John Mackey, because we throw the ball so much more to tight ends. We do so much more to get them open than ever before. The tight end used to line up at the end of the line, and really, his first job was to be a blocker, not a receiver. Now, we play two tight ends and both of them can be equally as good as blocking and receiving, and it destroys the tendencies that the defense has of playing strongside and weakside.”

No one, arguably, has fit that bill more than Gronkowski.

“I don’t have a vote, but to me, he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer and there’s no question about it,” Accorsi said. “With all the great plays he’s made, I love people who make the play with the championship on the line. I just think that last catch typifies his career.”