AFC East: Miami Dolphins

DAVIE, Fla. – The Miami Dolphins continue their preparation for Saturday’s preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Here are some notes and observations from Wednesday’s session:
  • Miami running back Knowshon Moreno and stating tight end Charles Clay continue to make progress from knee injuries. Both members of the offense took part in Wednesday’s practice in full pads, which is a good sign. Moreno showed good body lean and low pad level running near the goal line, and Clay made a pair of nice catches for first downs in team drills. It appears there's a good chance at least one of these players will suit up for Saturday's "dress rehearsal" game against the Dallas Cowboys. The Dolphins won't officially determine playing time for another day or so.
  • The Dolphins are doing a lot of mixing and matching at nickel linebacker in an effort to find the best duo. Linebackers Dannell Ellerbe, Koa Misi, Philip Wheeler, Jordan Tripp and Chris McCain are among those getting a look on the first-team and second-team nickel defense. Most teams on Miami's schedule have an extensive spread package on offense, which means the Dolphins must find success in the nickel with the right players. “In regard to how soon, we’re still going to look at some other combinations this week,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said. “But the sooner the better.”
  • Miami’s defense put together a good day rushing the passer in this full-padded practice. The Dolphins brought various blitzes and confused the offensive line, both starters and backups. Defensive tackle Jared Odrick and linebackers Misi, McCain and Tripp were among those who recorded sacks in team drills.
  • The running game has been a major emphasis in practice this week. The Dolphins had minus-5 rushing yards in the first half last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, when starters and key backups were in the game. Miami must run the ball better -- starting Saturday against Dallas -- for the offense to reach its potential. "It hasn't been to where we want it to be," Tannehil said. "I think that we have the talent, we have the ability, the up-front blocking and the backs to make big plays in the running game. We haven't shown that so far on the game tape."
  • Philbin said it’s hard to set a specific goal for Miami’s new offense under offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. But one thing he’s believed in was success comes with scoring 25 points per game, which equates to 400 points per season. The Dolphins struggled to score consistently last season and averaged just 19.8 points per game.
The value of the Miami Dolphins has held steady in recent years. According to Forbes magazine, the Dolphins are currently worth $1.3 billion.

The Dolphins are ranked 16th in total value. Current owner Stephen Ross bought the Dolphins for $1.1 billion in 2009. The Dolphins also got approval this year from Miami Dade-County to renovate Sun Life Stadium, which could increase the team's overall value.

Forbes' values on the other AFC East teams: the New England Patriots were No. 2 at $2.6 billion; the New York Jets were No. 6 at $1.8 billion, and the Buffalo Bills were No. 31 at $935 million.

Miami Dolphins Stock Watch

August, 19, 2014
Aug 19
The Miami Dolphins are halfway through their preseason, and we’ve seen both good and bad.

Here is a look at whose stock is rising and falling in Miami:


1. Dallas Thomas, guard: Thomas earned his way into the starting lineup with a strong spring and summer in Dolphins camp. But he erased many of those good vibes with an awful outing Saturday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Thomas was manhandled by Tampa Bay defensive tackle Gerald McCoy in Miami’s 20-14 win. Thomas allowed a sack, a tackle for loss, another hit on the quarterback and had a false start. Thomas has yet to start a regular season game and now has major questions if he’s ready to handle the grind of a 16-game season. Other competition for Thomas’ position include rookie third-round pick Billy Turner and veteran free-agent guard Shelley Smith.

2. Running game: Two weeks into the preseason, it’s still unknown if Miami has improved its 26th-ranked running game from a year ago under new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. The Dolphins are getting little push up front and running backs are being hit early near the line of scrimmage. Miami starting running back Lamar Miller finished with 3 yards on three carries against Tampa Bay. The Dolphins as a team had minus-5 rushing yards at intermission when starters and key reserves were in the game. Miami’s passing game is having success this preseason. But if opponents eventually figure out the Dolphins can’t run effectively, that will make Miami very predictable and easier to stop on offense.

3. Secondary’s tackling: Miami’s secondary, in general, is not a concern. However, the poor display of tackling raised some eyebrows and particularly caught the attention of Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin. Starting safeties Jimmy Wilson and Louis Delmas both displayed poor tackling on Saturday. Some of it was due to poor fundamentals and some due to overaggressiveness. Delmas said after the game that Miami’s defense will have a chip on its shoulder. This group must shake the tackling rust before the regular season.


1. Matt Moore, backup quarterback: Give Moore a lot of credit. Last week, the Dolphins shook things up by adding competition (Brady Quinn) for the No. 2 quarterback job. Moore, who suffered from a shoulder injury most of training camp, didn’t seem all that thrilled by the addition. But Moore responded like a true professional by going out and having a strong preseason game against Tampa Bay. Moore led a pair of scoring drives and was 13-of-19 passing for 158 yards with one touchdown. Moore virtually solidified the No. 2 quarterback job behind starter Ryan Tannehill with one preseason outing.

2. Receiver depth: Something has to give at receiver for Miami. The depth has this position has shown up constantly during training camp, and we also saw it in the Dolphins’ second preseason game. Backup receivers Brandon Gibson, Jarvis Landry, Rishard Matthews, Damian Williams and Armon Binns combined for 11 receptions Saturday night. Not everyone in this group will make the team. The Dolphins might want to consider trading one of these backup receivers in order to gain depth at a weaker position. Wide receiver should not be an issue for Miami this season.

3. Terrence Fede, defensive end: Fede makes this list for the second week in a row. He continues to flash to the point where I believe the rookie seventh-round pick will make Miami’s 53-man roster. Fede recorded two tackles, a sack and a tackle for loss against the Buccaneers. He also is showing his worth on special teams as an athletic big man who can run the field. The motor and athleticism are there. If Fede can get his technique down, he could develop into a contributor.

Miami Dolphins' projected roster

August, 18, 2014
Aug 18
Examining the Miami Dolphins' roster:


It remains to be seen if Miami keeps three quarterbacks. But the addition of Quinn, a former first-round pick, makes this an interesting decision.


Williams returned from injury and showed toughness. Health permitting, he could steal a roster spot the next few weeks from veteran tailback Daniel Thomas.


All these receivers have a chance to be productive. Should the Dolphins consider a trade here to help another position?


The third tight end spot remains in the air. Brackett, Arthur Lynch and Michael Egnew are all close.


The Dolphins still haven't decided on their starting five, particularly at right guard.


Fede and Johnson have both made their presence felt and should make the 53-man roster.


I still don't have a ton of confidence in this group. This could be a weakness on the team.


The Dolphins must stay healthy here. But they also have some safeties with position flexibility.


It's Wilson's time to shine in the starting lineup with Reshad Jones' four-game suspension looming.


Sturgis' groin injury is making things interesting. Free-agent pickup John Potter kicked well against Tampa Bay.

Dallas Thomas now on the hot seat

August, 17, 2014
Aug 17
The NFL can be a cruel proving ground -- and Miami Dolphins guard Dallas Thomas found that out the hard way this weekend.

 Thomas drew the tough assignment of Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy in Saturday’s 20-14 exhibition win. It was a chance for Thomas, who has zero career starts, to prove he can handle the starting job at right guard against some of the league's best defensive linemen.

However, Thomas failed that test considerably against McCoy. He allowed a sack and fumble by McCoy, another hit on Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill and a tackle for loss. Thomas also jumped offside in the second quarter when McCoy was not in the game. Things got so bad that "#DallasThomas" was trending on Twitter during the first half.

Thomas worked his way into the starting lineup with a good offseason. But he hasn't secured the job, and Saturday’s performance could put his starting spot in jeopardy.

Granted, McCoy gives plenty of guards trouble. But Thomas’ lack of resistances makes you wonder if the former 2013 third-round pick can hold up this season against other quality defensive tackles.

This is the NFL, and the Dolphins will face a stud defensive lineman or two every week during the regular season, including Pro Bowlers Vince Wilfork (New England Patriots) and Kyle Williams (Buffalo Bills) in Week 1 and Week 2, respectively. Miami’s coaching staff must know if Thomas can handle the grind before the games count in the standings.

The Dolphins have other options. Rookie third-round pick Billy Turner is one possibility, as well as veteran free-agent pickup Shelley Smith. Head coach Joe Philbin said after the game against Tampa Bay that he hasn’t decided on a starting lineup. Therefore, Turner and Smith could get a look in practice this week.
MIAMI -- The Miami Dolphins still have unanswered questions as they prepare for Saturday's second preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

However, Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin was ready to make a fairly bold statement on Friday.

"We have the best roster that we've had in the three years I've been here," Philbin told Dolphins fans confidently at the team's annual luncheon in downtown Miami.

Expectations are as high as they've ever been in Philbin's tenure. The Dolphins went 7-9 and 8-8 in Philbin's first two seasons. The feeling around the team is Miami must improve and make the playoffs this year to avoid potential repercussions from owner Stephen Ross.

Philbin's statement Friday makes it clear that there are no excuses. The Dolphins have talent at a lot of positions. However, it will be up to the coaching staff to maximize the talent, which has been an issue during Miami's five-year playoff drought.

The Dolphins received good fan support during their annual luncheon. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, receiver Brian Hartline and defensive linemen Cameron Wake and Randy Starks spoke at the event. There was even a session where Philbin showed off some not-so-great dance moves, which were funny and unexpected.

Philbin and players also urged fans to support the team at Sun Life Stadium, which has been an issue. According to Dolphins president Tom Garfinkel, ticket sales are up about 15 percent compared to this time last year.

“It means everything to know that we have the backing,” Dolphins rookie receiver Jarvis Landry said Friday. “It means everything to know that all our hard work doesn’t go unnoticed as a team. We’re trying to accomplish something here in Miami and bring back a championship.”
The Miami Dolphins completed their 2014 training camp on Thursday. The feeling of getting through the grind of hot, physical practices never gets old for players, whether they're a rookie or a 10-year veteran.’s Dolphins page attended all 15 training camp practices for Miami this summer. Here are five things we learned about the Dolphins:

1. Bill Lazor is a good addition

Analysis: I really like Lazor’s approach on offense. It is refreshing to see the route combinations, fast tempo, quick decisions and pre-snap motions all put in to confuse a defense. A lot of what Miami’s offense is doing just makes sense. That hasn’t always been the case in the past two years under former Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman. It remains to be seen if Miami’s personnel can handle all the things Lazor aims to accomplish. Lazor is pushing his players -- and particularly quarterback Ryan Tannehill -- hard in training camp. At some point, Lazor will have to scale back once he figures out the mental and physical capacity of his players. But after seeing this offense up close almost on a daily basis, the concepts are solid.

[+] EnlargeMiami's Bill Lazor
AP Photo/Alan DiazBill Lazor has been pushing Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins offense hard.
2. Linebacker experiment doesn’t look promising

Analysis: The Dolphins’ defense was 24th against the run last season. Much of the blame went towards the linebackers, which couldn’t stop the run and also struggled against play-action passes defending tight ends and slot receivers over the middle. With the Dolphins tied into high-priced, multi-year contracts, they were stuck with the trio of Philip Wheeler, Koa Misi and Dannell Ellerbe as their 2014 starters. The only solution was to rearrange the positions. Miami’s coaches moved Misi to middle linebacker and Ellerbe to outside linebacker in hopes of getting better play from both linebackers. This experiment hasn’t looked good. The tackling remains suspect and neither linebacker is great in coverage. The Dolphins are hoping another year in the system will result in significant improvement from this trio. There are still three preseason games remaining. But I didn’t see tangible evidence of improvement in training camp.

3. Jimmy Wilson is ready to start

Analysis: The Dolphins received bad news with the four-game suspension of starting safety Reshad Jones for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. But Miami groomed backup safety Jimmy Wilson three years for this moment. Wilson, a former seventh-round pick, has been solid from Day 1 this offseason. He has consistently made plays as the backup safety and nickel cornerback. This week that continued when Wilson was promoted to a starter in training camp. It does not appear the drop off from Jones to Wilson will be large. It will be up to Wilson to take advantage of the opportunity. So far that has been the case.

4. The Dolphins have too many receivers

Analysis: If I’m an opposing team with a need at wide receiver, I would closely watch Miami’s upcoming roster cuts. Multiple receivers have flashed in training camp, and the team could be six or seven deep at the position. I anticipate the Dolphins will cut a receiver (or two) who can make a 53-man roster elsewhere. A player such as Armon Binns, for example, could very well become expendable in Miami but a productive backup elsewhere. In addition, the Dolphins could have solid receivers who don’t see the field. Rishard Matthews and/or Damian Williams could be the final two receivers on Miami’s 53-man roster but won’t get playing time without injuries. The Dolphins should consider trading one of their low-level receivers to see if they can help depth at another position that isn’t deep.

5. Dolphins have cornerback depth

Analysis: It remains to be seen whether veteran cornerback Cortland Finnegan, 30, can stay healthy for 16 games. But the Dolphins must feel good about their depth with the emergence of second-year cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis. The 2012 second- and third-round picks, respectively, are coming into their own this summer. Both Taylor and Davis stayed around the football and made plays in training camp. It has to provide the coaching staff comfort.

Dolphins Camp Report: Day 15

August, 14, 2014
Aug 14
DAVIE, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Miami Dolphins training camp:
  • Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace expects to make his 2014 debut Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Wallace missed last week’s preseason opener due to a hamstring injury but has practiced all this week. The speed is still there. Wallace caught a pretty deep ball from quarterback Ryan Tannehill in practice Thursday over Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes in one-on-one drills. Tannehill and Wallace were criticized last year for not making enough big plays. “Me, personally, I always tell you I don’t care about what nobody says,” Wallace said of the critics. “I know how hard we work every single day. I feel like it’s going to come, it’s going to happen for us.”
  • Miami tailback Knowshon Moreno practiced for a full week, but his status remains up in the air for Saturday. Moreno recently got off the physically unable to perform list and participated in team drills for the first time this week. Although he doesn’t look 100 percent, Moreno made some nice runs and showed solid hands. But the goal is to have him ready for the regular season. “I think [in] the running game, he’s starting to look like his old self,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin. “I don’t know about the passing game just yet.”
  • Dolphins rookie linebacker Jordan Tripp is making an impression. Tripp was used a lot Thursday on the second team – both in base and nickel defenses. Tripp had a fumble and recovery for a touchdown in Miami’s scrimmage and nearly had an interception against the Atlanta Falcons last week. The rookie fifth-round draft pick appears to be a strong candidate for the 53-man roster.
  • Another rookie who is making plays is undrafted running back Damien Williams. He has about two weeks to continue to push for a roster spot. Williams caught a long touchdown pass from Tannehill on a wheel route Thursday and made darting runs in camp. “Playing in the NFL, you gotta make plays, you want to make plays,” Williams said. “My main priority is getting in the end zone.”
  • This was the final official session of training camp. The Dolphins will take the day off Friday in order to travel before Saturday’s game against the Buccaneers. Miami will return to the practice field on Monday.
DAVIE, Fla. -- To booth or not to booth? That is the question facing the Miami Dolphins' two coordinators.

New Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and third-year defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle are undecided where they will coach on game days in the regular season. Both coordinators are experimenting during the preseason by coaching on the sidelines.

Lazor and Coyle spent Friday's preseason opener on the field with their offensive and defensive players, respectively. Each coordinator had their assistants upstairs in the booth communicating to them on the field. They have three more exhibitions to make up their minds.

"I have not made a final decision yet," Lazor said. "It will be decisions based on our staff and how I think the communication works between upstairs and downstairs. Based on our players, I felt like I needed to [spend] the first game on the field to see our players as they came off the field. The look in their eyes, to see what the leadership looked like on the sideline, to see what the poise was on the sideline. I got a lot of questions answered Friday night. I was happy with a lot of what I saw."

Coyle has been a “booth coach” most of his career. But Coyle said there have been communication issues in the past on defense that might be resolved this season by calling plays from the sidelines.

"There are plusses and minuses to both obviously, but the thing I’m experimenting with right now is defensively the ability to get the calls in as fast as possible makes a big difference for our players," Coyle said. "They want to get the call so they can get turned around see the offense coming out, get lined up and play."

Coyle said he will coach from the sideline for the second straight week in Miami’s second preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to feel things out.

Both Coyle and Lazor will consult with Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin before making their final decisions. Philbin was once in their shoes -- he was an offensive coordinator for five seasons with the Green Bay Packers.

Philbin said he preferred the booth as a coordinator, but he’s leaving that choice up to Coyle and Lazor.

"Ultimately, they are the ones calling the plays. They have to be comfortable," Philbin explained. "So I don’t have a strong preference. I want them to feel confident and comfortable wherever they may be."

Dolphins Camp Report: Day 14

August, 12, 2014
Aug 12
DAVIE, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Miami Dolphins training camp:
  • Dolphins starting cornerback Cortland Finnegan returned to practice after missing the past two days. Finnegan hinted on social media that he had a death in the family. However, Finnegan did not want to get into specifics on Tuesday. On the field, Finnegan was back on the first team and also played in the slot on the nickel defense. The Dolphins rotated cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis on the outside once Finnegan moved inside.
  • Miami is making a concerted effort to get new quarterback Brady Quinn acclimated to the offense. Dolphins quarterbacks coach Zach Taylor and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor spent plenty of time in practice giving Quinn personal instruction. The Dolphins signed Quinn on Monday to compete with Matt Moore for the No. 2 quarterback job. Depending on how Quinn develops, he could make his Dolphins debut Saturday in the second preseason game.
  • The play of the day goes to Dolphins safety Reshad Jones. He was demoted to the second team this week after violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing substances. But Jones isn’t going in the tank. He made an impressive, diving interception against Moore in team drills. Jones won't be available for the first four games of the regular season. Jimmy Wilson was promoted to the first team.
  • Miami’s defense did well with blitz packages in team drills. The Dolphins got sacks by cornerbacks Finnegan and Taylor on nickel blitzes, and Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake also beat rookie right tackle Ja’Wuan James off the edge to cause a fumble by starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Miami’s pass protection looked solid in the preseason opener last week against the Atlanta Falcons. But the Dolphins’ offense struggled at times protecting the quarterback on Tuesday.
  • After three consecutive practices, the Dolphins will have their first day off this week on Wednesday. Miami will return to the field on Thursday in preparation for its second preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
DAVIE, Fla. -- The draft-day freefall in 2007 is well documented for quarterback Brady Quinn. But the subplot involving the Miami Dolphins is not well known.

Seven years ago, Quinn was a highly-touted quarterback from Notre Dame expected to go in the top 10. The Dolphins had the No. 9 overall pick and desperately needed a quarterback.

Quinn was projected as high as top 5. But if he fell to the Dolphins nearly everyone -- including Quinn -- thought there was virtually no chance Miami would pass up the quarterback in the first round. Quinn said Tuesday he was told by a "very good source" Miami was going to draft him.

However, the Dolphins -- led by general manager Randy Mueller and head coach Cam Cameron -- made the infamous pick of receiver Ted Ginn Jr. at No. 9. Miami fans were shocked and highly upset. The Dolphins went 1-15 in that season in 2007 and Ginn turned out to be a draft bust for Miami. Cameron also was fired after one season.

Quinn fell to No. 22 overall to the Cleveland Browns, where things also didn't pan out. On Tuesday, Quinn finally put on a Dolphins uniform for the first time as a backup quarterback trying to make the 53-man roster.

"To be honest, I thought I was going to Miami," Quinn reflected after practice. "It's crazy to think [seven] years later now, I finally made it here."

Quinn is not your usual "camp arm" signing for the Dolphins. His is not Brock Jensen or Seth Lobato. This aforementioned pair had little chance of making the 53-man roster or challenging incumbent No. 2 Matt Moore.

Quinn actually comes to Miami with a pedigree, a history. He's a former first-round pick who played in 24 career games. If Quinn can learn the offense quickly, he has the potential to make the regular-season roster and even push Moore for the backup job behind starter Ryan Tannehill.

The Dolphins' signing of Quinn makes a statement. It says the team isn't willing to stand pat at any position. Miami's had the same trio of quarterbacks -- Tannehill, Moore and Devlin -- during head coach Joe Philbin's entire tenure until Quinn shook things up this week.

Moore said after practice Tuesday that he's ready to compete.

"I've been through this so many times, it's nothing anymore," Moore said. "What do you want me to do? I mean, they're going to do what they think they need to do. All I can do is keep going. But it really has no effect. If it does, I'm in trouble. Mentally, I think I need to stay focused and continue to get better."

Quinn's first practice had mixed results. His best throw was a deep ball connection on the sideline to receiver Kevin Cone in team drills. It was a "wow" moment you rarely see from a No. 3 quarterback and showed Quinn's potential. However, Quinn also threw an interception to cornerback Will Davis.

Interest certainly has picked up at the backup quarterback position for Miami. The battle between Quinn and Moore adds more reason to closely watch the second half of Dolphins' preseason games this summer.

Quinn, who put his television career on hold to join Miami, believes he still has good football left in him and can fill a role with the Dolphins.

"It's whatever the team needs me for," Quinn said. "That's the biggest thing is going out and learning the offense and a new system."

Dolphins Camp Report: Day 13

August, 11, 2014
Aug 11
DAVIE, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Miami Dolphins training camp:
  • The Dolphins went full pads for the first time this week. Miami’s coaching staff is putting a major emphasis on tackling and worked on a few full-contact drills. The Dolphins did their version of the "Oklahoma Drill" with linebackers against running backs. The running backs dominated and won a majority of the one-on-one battles. Miami’s linebackers continue to be a concern with stopping the run and covering tight ends and slot receivers.
  • Miami starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill had one of his strongest practices of training camp on Monday. Tannehill made strong, decisive throws and had big gains to receivers Brian Hartline, Rishard Matthews and Damian Williams in team drills. Perhaps Tannehill gained momentum from his strong start to the preseason last week against the Atlanta Falcons. He will try to build on that Saturday in his second preseason game, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
  • Speaking of quarterbacks, one of the big stories in camp today was the Dolphins reportedly working out veterans Rex Grossman, Brady Quinn and John Skelton on Monday. Miami has dealt with quarterback injuries to backups Matt Moore (shoulder) and Pat Devlin (hamstring). Both participated in practice, but have been limited in camp. Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin wasn’t willing to say what the workouts mean for his current quarterbacks. "We’ve had workouts nearly every single day," Philbin said. "This is no different. We’re always evaluation different people are out there."
  • On the injury front, Miami backup running back Damien Williams returned to practice after getting injured in Friday’s preseason game. New injuries Monday included offensive tackle Jason Fox (chest), running back Mike Gillislee (hamstring) and defensive tackle Micajah Reynolds (knee).
  • Finally, the Dolphins will return to the practice field at 8 a.m. ET on Tuesday for their third session this week.

Miami Dolphins' projected roster

August, 11, 2014
Aug 11
Examining the Miami Dolphins' roster:


I'm still not sure Miami keeps three quarterbacks here. But if that's the case, it will be Devlin. Seth Lobato didn't show well in the preseason opener.


Moreno looks closer to coming back from his knee injury. Damien Williams unfortunately was injured, although the severity is unknown.


I added Thigpen this week as a late addition and the team's best kick returner.


Miami could very well keep four tight ends. But I'm still waiting for that fourth player to emerge.


This group played better than expected in the preseason opener against Atlanta.


No issues with this deep bunch.


Freeny is back on the 53-man roster after a solid week of practice. However, he's still fighting for a roster spot.


The Dolphins must stay healthy at corner.

Reshad Jones' four-game suspension last week opens a roster spot.


You can pencil in this trio for the regular season right now.
DAVIE, Fla. -- Players never know when opportunity will knock in the NFL. For Miami Dolphins backup safety Jimmy Wilson, his big chance happened this weekend after a four-game suspension to starter Reshad Jones.

Wilson got first-team reps in training camp for the first time on Sunday. Jones was handed a four-game suspension on Friday after violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, which potentially thrusts Wilson into the starting lineup.

Although the Dolphins haven't made a firm decision, Wilson is the most likely candidate to start in Weeks 1-4 for Miami. He has been the first safety off the bench and the team's nickel cornerback all offseason.

“He’s had a lot of training there,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said of Wilson. “He's gotten a lot of reps at that position over a long period of time. Our defense system has been in place now going on three years. I think he knows the defense very well.”

Wilson, a former seventh-round pick, said he's not sure what this will mean for his role as Miami's nickel corner. It's an important job. But it most likely will be handed over to someone else while Wilson works on being a full-time starting safety. Other candidates for the nickel spot include cornerback Jamar Taylor and backup safety Michael Thomas.

The Dolphins’ first-team defense was inconsistent in Friday’s 16-10 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Wilson was among those players who left some opportunities on the field. Miami is making it a point this week to focus on fundamentals defensively.

“We got a lot missed tackles last week,” Wilson admitted. “We just plan on making sure that we get guys down, use our technique and be better tacklers.”

The Dolphins’ defense is expected to be the strength of the team even with the suspensions of Jones and defensive end Dion Jordan. Players like Wilson must step up to keep Miami’s defense intact to start the regular season.

Dolphins Camp Report: Day 12

August, 10, 2014
Aug 10
DAVIE, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Miami Dolphins training camp:
  • The Dolphins returned to the practice field for the first time since their 16-10 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Sunday’s practice was mainly centered on special teams, form tackling and fundamentals. Miami particularly struggled with tackling in its first preseason outing. “We had a little bit of extra time, we got an eight-day week,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said. “So I felt this was an opportunity to take advantage of it.”
  • Miami running back Knowshon Moreno showed some progress Sunday. After coming off the physically unable to perform list last week, Moreno started with only individual drills. But Moreno did some competitive work in one-on-one passing drills and made several sharp cuts on his knee, which was recently operated on. Moreno also made some nice catches in drills. It is unknown when Moreno will return, but he’s making strides.
  • The Dolphins have narrowed their field on punt returns. Wide receivers Marcus Thigpen, Jarvis Landry and Damian Williams were the three players fielding punts Sunday in practice. Miami has an interesting decision to make. Landry had a 48-yard punt return and appears capable of handling that position. “I just made one cut, got vertical and made a play,” Landry said. “I can’t say thank you to coach [Darren] Rizzi enough for giving me a chance and giving me an opportunity to really do it after not having too much film of doing it.” If the Dolphins can find a kick returner, Thigpen’s spot could be in jeopardy. Thigpen has been Miami’s primary kick returner the past two seasons.
  • On the injury front, Dolphins defensive lineman A.J. Francis will miss multiple practices with a knee injury. Rookie running back Damien Williams also was sidelined after getting carted off the field Friday. But he did some jogging in practice, which is promising. Fellow running back Mike Gillislee also didn’t finish practice. Miami cornerback Cortland Finnegan also was not present but indicated on social media that he had a death in the family.
  • The Dolphins will return to the practice field Monday at 8 a.m. ET for practice No. 13. Miami is preparing for Saturday’s preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.