Isaiah Ford – May 6, 2017 Download PDF version

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Wide Receiver Isaiah Ford

(What’s been the most eye-opening thing right now? I know you’ve only been here for 48 hours or whatever but your first impressions and the most eye opening thing?) – “I’ve been really excited with the whole process. Really, this whole thing is more so an orientation for us. So it’s kind of just coming in and learning how they operate here and just fitting in and being open to everything.”

(What areas do you feel you can help this team?) – “Whatever the coaching staff decides that they want me to play. I’m coming in here to compete and work as hard as I can, and try to help this team win games any way that I can.”

(What is the best advice that you’ve gotten so far from other receivers or other veterans on the team, if you’ve had the chance to speak with them?) – “I actually haven’t gotten a chance to speak with them yet.”

(What do you consider to be your strengths and what do you think you need to work on the most?) – “I think that one of the strengths of my game is my route running. That’s something that I take a lot of pride in, paying attention to the little details, especially in this game. Getting open is a gift. If that’s something that you can do, then you can play for a long time. That and just making a play. When the plays present themselves, I’ve always been kind of dependable and reliable in that sense.”

(What do you think of the parts of the offense that you’ve seen so far? Is it anywhere close to what was being run at Virginia Tech?) – “My freshman and sophomore year, we had more of a pro-style system. So it’s kind of closer to the system we ran my freshman and sophomore year; but not close to the one we ran last year, no.”

(What were your initial impressions of Head Coach Adam Gase and his personality and his style?) – “I liked him. I liked it a lot. When the first meeting that we had, he came in and he told us it doesn’t matter if you were drafted first round, seventh round or undrafted, we’re going to play the best players. And if you do your job, if you’re accountable and we can rely on you, then you’ll play.”

(Do you have any special teams experience?) – “I don’t. In high school, I returned punts. In college, my freshman year, I was going to return punts but we had a pretty good returner as well. So I always backed up the punt returners. I never got anything in college, but I’ve always been open to it.”

(Was there any thought in your mind that at that point in the draft where you went that you were thinking ‘Maybe I should be undrafted and make my own decisions as to where I go?’) – “No, not at all. To be drafted, no matter when you were drafted, it’s a blessing. That’s something that every little kid dreams of, having that moment when your phone rings. To think about going undrafted – or saying no to a phone call or anything like that – never came into my mind because I always felt like all I needed was an opportunity to get my foot in the door, and then I knew I was going to work my tail off.”

(How would you describe your game? Is it comparable to any of the current players, current receivers that we have on the Dolphins roster?) – “I don’t want to compare myself to anyone. I think I have a unique game in my own. I’ve always tried to implement and pick parts of things that I like in other people’s game. But I think I have my own game, I guess.”

(One of our anchors is a Hokie so he watched every down. He says you were a steal in the seventh round. He expects big things from you. What do you expect?) – “I expect to come in, to compete and to work as hard as I can. My work ethic is something that I’ve always taken a lot of pride in because I think that’s something that can’t be graded, like a 40-yard dash or a vertical, something like that. You can’t judge work ethic. You can’t judge heart, as well. So those are the two things I pride myself in and that’s what I want to give this organization.”

(Have you played against CB Cordrea Tankersley?) – “I did actually. We played them. He was to the field the majority of the game and in college, I played on the boundary the majority of the game. But I went against him a couple of plays.”

(How did it go? Do you remember anything significant about that?) – “Nothing significant. I had a couple catches. He had a pass deflection as well, so I remember that.”

Cordrea Tankersley – May 5, 2017 Download PDF version

Friday, May 5, 2017

Cornerback Cordrea Tankersley

(We know it’s very early in the process, but how has your experience with the Dolphins and Head Coach Adam Gase been so far?) – “I’m enjoying it. We just got here, so we’re still learning a lot of things; but I’m just loving this atmosphere, loving this facility. I’m just happy to be here finally.”

(How do you think you would best be utilized with the Dolphins? Is it mostly man-to-man? Things like that? What would play best to your abilities?) – “Whatever the coaches ask. Like I said, coming from Clemson, I played a lot of man, but whatever the coaches want me to do, that’s what I’m willing to do. Obviously, we probably do a lot of different things and stuff, but I’m willing to adjust to.”

(What jersey number did you get?) – “I have No. 30 right now.”

(What number do you like?) – “I want something in the 20s, but if I have to take 30, that’s what it is. (laughter)”

(What do you feel like your strengths are? What do you think you bring to the table and what do you want to improve on?) – “Of course, I consider myself as a man corner, a hard-nosed corner; but I think I can adjust well to playing off in zone and stuff like that. Of course, there is a lot of technique-stuff I would love to clean up. That’s why I’m here. We’ve got the coaches that can help me improve on that.”

(Did you get a chance to meet CB Byron Maxwell yet or talk to him at all?) – “I talked to Byron my first day here – yesterday. We talked for a little bit. He’s just happy for me to get here. (I am) ready to learn after him and ready to compete with those guys.”

(Did he thank you for the 2017 Clemson College Football Playoff National Championship?) – “Of course! (laughter) He asked did I bring the ring. When I came on my top 30 (visit), he saw it. He acted like he had never seen it before when I got here yesterday. (laughter)”

(What was it about your experience at Clemson – making two championship games, winning one – that taught you about the process of being a winner and what it takes to win a championship?) – “(I think) hard work (and) just always being prepared, not taking (any) game for granted (and) going out and competing every week. I think we found each other after we lost that game against Pittsburgh and everybody was wondering how we were going to respond that next week. I think it’s a lot (about) how our team responded every week in and out. We came and competed and won a national championship.”

(What have been your first impressions of Head Coach Adam Gase?) – “I love Coach Gase. (He has) a lot of energy. He wants the best for his players, obviously, from watching him and being around him. Obviously he’s a young coach, but he brings a lot of energy to the staff.”

Vincent Taylor – May 5, 2017 Download PDF version

Friday, May 5, 2017

Defensive Tackle Vincent Taylor

(What do you hope to accomplish during these three days?) – “Really, just to come in here (and) get familiar with the new system. Last night, I was going over the playbook and talking with my parents, letting them know that it’s new. It’s new, but once I get familiar with everything, I think I’ll be pretty comfortable with it.”

(The experience of walking into an NFL facility. Can you talk about that and what it meant to you? Was it a lot better than walking into Oklahoma State the first time?) – “This level of play is way different from college. Me coming from high school to college, I was first amazed walking into a college locker room than I was high school. And that’s kind of how it is right now walking into an NFL locker room rather than walking into a college locker room. It’s different; it’s strictly business. I’m just looking forward to coming in here and learning.”

(Your experiences with Head Coach Adam Gase so far – what sticks out about him to you?) – “Just the way he is as a coach. Me being here for two days, he’s very straightforward with us. I like the two rules that he has. It’s pretty simple, an easy thing to follow. Just do the right thing and be on time, and I think you’ll be pretty fine.”

(Tell me about going to San Antonio. You and I went to the same high school. I went like 40 years earlier than you. [laughter] I lived in Valley Ford. My parents are still there.) – “Do you still know the school song?” (laughter) I don’t really want to sing it, but I know it.”

(Tell me about moving after Hurricane Katrina and being uprooted. I know a whole bunch of people did. Was it a traumatic experience? Tell me about that.) – “It was a nightmare for me being a 10-year old boy seeing dead bodies, seeing everything that I had, get lost. At (that) time, me and my family, we’d just bought new furniture. My mom worked at the DoubleTree Hotel, so me, my dad and my brother, we always heard of a hurricane coming to New Orleans, but we never took it seriously. When Katrina came, we thought we’d ride it out, and we wound up getting a bad end of it. Being stuck in New Orleans without no food and power and now I’m here today, so it’s just a blessing every day I wake up and go to sleep and pray and thank God for where I’m at today, because me going through all that at a young age, it was hard for me.”

(You seem to have vivid memories of it even though you were 10 years old, correct?) – “Right.”

(Do you still think about that to this day and that’s why you’re so grateful?) – “I’m very grateful. One thing most people don’t know (is) I got the Louisiana map tatted on me with the date that Hurricane Katrina hit. It’s something that’s always going to be with me every day.”

(I spoke to Oklahoma State Defensive Line Coach Joe Bob Clements. I don’t know anybody else named Joe Bob. He said you have really strong hands. Tell me about that. How big are they? How do you use them? What do you try to do with your hands?) – “At the Combine, they measured my hands at 10½ (inches). (I) blocked five field goals (and) my hands played a huge part in that. I think my hands are pretty big. I’m coming in here and looking forward to finding ways to get them stronger.”

(Five blocked field goals?) – “Yes, sir.”

(Did you jump or did you just put your hand up?) – “Both. Some of them … Looking at film, (on) one of them I jumped and two of them I was able to get my hand on them. So, it turned out for the best.”

(Do you know anyone who has bigger hands?) – “I’m pretty sure me. I haven’t met (Ndamukong) Suh yet, but I’m pretty sure his hands would be probably bigger than mine (laughter).”

(Both you and DT Davon Godchaux talked about wanting to pattern yourselves in games after DT Ndamukong Suh. Have you gotten to talk about play like Suh, but you’re not Suh yet?) – “I haven’t. One thing I can say is I could never try to be like him. I can only be the best Vincent Taylor that I can be. But I’ll try to get some things from him and learn from him to try to make my game better.”

(When was DT Ndamukong Suh first on your radar?) – “I would probably say really when he was at Nebraska. When I was transferring from high school into the college level, looking at how he was training and how he went back to Nebraska for his senior year and what he was doing to get ready for the Combine, that’s when I went on YouTube and looked him up, and that’s when he became one of my favorite players.”

(You mentioned the blocked field goals. What’s your vertical? What’s that like?) – “At the Combine, they got me for 28½ (inches), so that’s my vertical.”

(Did they talk about playing you at receiver at all?) – “I’m hoping they can play me anywhere. Really, I’m just trying to find a way to contribute to the team any way I can.”

(DE Charles Harris talked earlier about how he’s going to try to be like a little brother around DE Cam Wake and shadow him around. Are you looking at trying to do that with DT Ndamukong Suh – be a sponge and learn what you can?) – “I am. Like I mentioned, I’m looking forward to trying to take some things from his game to add to my game. Not just from Suh, but also from Jordan (Phillips). Him coming from the Big 12, I’m familiar with who he is. I’m looking to learn from both of those guys.”

(Did you play some offense in high school?) – “In high school my freshman year, on freshman team you have to play both sides of the ball. So, I did play a little offense.”

(What did you play?) – “Offensive tackle. That’s it.”

Raekwon McMillan – May 5, 2017 Download PDF version

Friday, May 5, 2017

Linebacker Raekwon McMillan

(Good thing you didn’t get drafted by a team with blue.) – “No, I wouldn’t have been wearing much of it. (laughter) No, I’m just playing.”

(Now that you’ve had a little time, can you go back to when you were picked? When we were on the phone with you, it was very emotional. Can you set that scene for us a little bit?) – “Yes, I was actually in my house, getting madder and madder about each pick that went by. As a competitor, you think you’re the best. So in my mind, I’m the best linebacker in the nation, coming out of college, in my mind. I was just in my room. My family was in the living room area in my apartment and I was in my room by myself just trying not to pay attention to the draft and just waiting on my phone and see what happens. I actually missed the first call by the Dolphins and my heart dropped because I thought I had just missed my chance to get drafted. (laughter) But they called me right back and it was a tremendous blessing. My mom walked into the room while I was getting drafted. Like you said, I was very emotional because I’ve been playing football all my life and all of my dreams came true, or are coming true. I have the opportunity to fulfill the rest of my dreams out in the NFL with the Dolphins.”

(How did you possibly miss the call that you’ve been waiting on for two days?) – “I was texting my little brother Richard LeCounte III, who plays for the University of Georgia. He had texted me prior and said, No. 54 to the Dolphins. He had texted me about two hours prior and predicted that I would go No. 54 to the Dolphins. And I was texting him like, ‘Yeah, we’ll see, we’ll see, we’ll see.’ I was mid-text and then the call popped up on my phone and I hit the red button on accident. (laughter)”

(So you didn’t miss the call, you hung up on them?) – “Yes, I kind of hung up on them. (laughter)”

(When your brother texted you No. 54 to the Dolphins, was that well received by you or were you angry that he was saying that late?) – “Yes, because it was Thursday when he was saying No. 54 to the Dolphins. I was like ‘Aw man, hopefully it is a little bit higher than that,’ But it would be a blessing if I got chosen by the Dolphins.”

(This team was No. 30 in the league last year in run defense. Can you talk about what you bring to the table in that area?) – “Yes, like everyone around here is talking about, wherever coach needs me to play, I’ll go out there at the linebacker position and do my job. They brought in some vets, (Lawrence) Timmons from the Steelers, Kiko (Alonso) and some of the other guys here. It’s a team effort. It’s not just one guy going out there and trying to make a big difference. It’s us all out there playing together and putting up a team effort to stop the run.”

(You talked about how mad you were getting as the picks kept going by. How much of a chip are you coming in with to prove that you should have gone higher?) – “Yes. Every day I think about why I should’ve been the No. 1 linebacker taken in the draft. I can’t do much talking about it. It’s about me going out on the field and showing you all what’s up.”

(Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer talks about how you are one of the favorite players he has ever coached. Have you heard that before, and what did you do at Ohio State, in your opinion, to give him that impression?) – “I was kind of a team leader out there. My freshman year, I kind of sat back a little bit because it wasn’t my place, it wasn’t my time. But my sophomore year, going into my sophomore year, I wasn’t a team captain but I was the leader of the defense. My junior year, I was a captain of the program. Everything that Ohio State stands for, you can see through me. As I walked around campus on and off the field, I presented myself to show good representation for The Ohio State University.”

(DE Charles Harris said that he’s going to pretty much follow DE Cam Wake everywhere that he goes. That’s the guy he’s going to try to emulate. Is there anyone on this team that you’re going to look at and say ‘I’m going to watch what that guy does?’) – “Not any one player, but there are guys that I’ll deal with more than others. I’ll have to deal with the linebackers more than others. I’m not saying anybody in particular because I can learn from everybody. I can learn from somebody who came in with me. Sometimes you have to sit back and watch to learn. That’s what I’m doing right now, sitting back and observing and finding my position to where I can help this organization out.”

(You’re regarded as a very good tackler. What makes you so effective, so efficient?)  – “It’s something that we practiced a lot at Ohio State. We practiced a different tackling style – the eyes through the thigh, wrap and roll, sweep the ankles tackle technique. We went over it every day in practice. Even though we weren’t allowed to have a bunch of contact, we always finished in football position, in tackling position. It helped us and it showed out there on the field, rarely missing tackles.”

(Tackling, is that more technique or more desire?) – “I’d say it’s a little bit of both. First, you have to get there. If you don’t have any desire or effort to get there, then you’re not going to make any tackles. So yes, you have to have some desire to get to the football, see ball, get ball, have some instincts. Then when you get there, you have to finish.”

(Is it true or is it an internet rumor that you were named after Raekwon from Wu-Tang Clan?) – “No, that’s true. That’s true.”

(Did you ever get a back story on that, on why?) – “My mom just liked the name, I guess. He’s tweeted me. We’ve tweeted back and forth every now and then. He DM’d (direct messaged) me when I declared for the draft. That’s as far as the relationship goes.”

(Your early impressions of Head Coach Adam Gase?) – “Charismatic. Real cool. (He) really cares about this organization. (He’s) passionate about winning and he’s going to lead this organization in the right direction.”

Davon Godchaux – May 5, 2017 Download PDF version

Friday, May 5, 2017

Defensive Tackle Davon Godchaux

(What would be your ideal role here with the Dolphins that would play to your skills? Run stopper or three-down player? What do you think?) – “Basically, just kind of like whatever position they want me to play. Whatever role they want me to play, I’m going to play it. I’m going to play it to the best of my abilities.”

(What are your best assets as a football player?) – “I feel like a run stopper and a pass rusher. I could do both. Like I said, whatever role they need me to play, I’m willing to play whatever to contribute to the team.”

(What have been your first impressions of Head Coach Adam Gase and his personality, his style?) – “Very cool, very laid back. (He doesn’t) have too many rules but the rules that he does have, he expects you to abide by them. So that’s what I like about Coach Gase.”

(Did you ever go against T Laremy Tunsil in college?) – “Not really go against him but we played against him. (It was) more like a defensive end was going against him. I was playing kind of a three-technique against them, but he’s a very athletic, strong guy.”

(Have you interacted with any of the veterans here at all by phone or by running into them? Have you gotten any kind of sense from them about what this is like?) – “Yes, I talked to Ndamukong Suh after the draft. I talked to Ryan Tannehill. Somebody told me that Jarvis Landry was looking for me, but I talked to Suh and Tannehill after the draft.”

(What did DT Ndamukong Suh convey to you?) – “Basically just be ready to come in, play, do your role and learn – shut your mouth up and learn.”

(What about C/G Anthony Steen? Did you get the best of him when it was Alabama-LSU?) – “No comment on that one. (laughter)”

(So it’s obvious that DT Ndamukong Suh would reach out to you but the quarterback of the team, was that a little surprising to you?) – “No, because that’s his job. He’s a leader. He’s a leader. He leads all of the guys. Everybody (follows) after the quarterback, so I wasn’t surprised at all.”

(Did DT Ndamukong Suh text you or call you?) – “He texted me and told me to call him and I gave him a phone call. We chatted on the phone for a little bit.”

(Was it friendly?) – “Yes, it was very friendly. I was surprised. (laughter)”

(LSU Defensive Coordinator Dave Aranda, I texted with him and he said that you bought into the style of play as it relates to run technique and fundamentals. Can you tell me about how you evolved as a player during your college career?) – “First of all, Coach Dave Aranda is a great guy. He’s probably the best defensive coordinator I played with in college football, just his scheme and everything he did. A lot of people didn’t see all of the stuff that I did but I freed up Duke Riley and Kendall Beckwith a lot to make a lot of plays with their abilities, just the run scheme, getting off the ball (and) being a pass rusher in a 3-4 defense. It was a lot of reading and then attacking, but it was a 3-4 defense in Coach Aranda’s defense. I did a lot of great things.”

(Is it unusual coming here and not getting on the field, just being in a classroom….) – “That’s the job now. (We’re) just learning the playbook and getting around the coaches, learning the strength and conditioning, just learning all of that. It’s your job now. Either do it or go home.”

(Have you thought about or have you and DT Vincent Taylor talked about … It’s a unique opportunity you have here. You’re both third-day picks and yet you’re going to a team that doesn’t have a ton of defensive tackle depth. Have you and Vincent talked about that? Have you thought about it? How exciting is that?) – “I haven’t thought about it but everybody’s going to compete. I’m here to compete with everybody, just to play with my teammates and get the best of out of each and every one.”

(Leading up to your interactions with the Dolphins before the draft, you had an off-field incident last year. How thoroughly or how deep did they go with you trying to investigate that?) – “I’m pretty sure everybody went deep because you’re investing millions of dollars into a player. So I’m pretty sure everybody went deep and had to find out the details; but that’s the past. I’m past that situation. I’m just ready to move on and be a Miami Dolphin.”

(Have you signed yet?) – “No, sir.”

Adam Gase – May 5, 2017 Download PDF version

Friday, May 5, 2017

Head Coach Adam Gase

(As the draft was unfolding and the team kept going for defensive players, how was your inner offensive coordinator reacting?) – “I was good. I wasn’t worried about that. I felt good about where we were at on offense. There were a couple of pieces we were looking to add, but if it didn’t happen, I wasn’t going to be in a panic. It was just more about seeing how it fell and not trying to run up the board and go grab somebody that we shouldn’t at the wrong time.”

(And what’s your reaction to what you came away with?) – “I was very happy with how everything unfolded. There were a couple of moments where we were … It got to a point on a couple of picks where we weren’t really sure what we were going to have to do because the guy that we wanted, he was really the last one left before we picked, and a couple of times where we had a couple of different options, and it worked out the right way.”

(Regarding DE Charles Harris, do you have a role in mind for him? Is he third-down pass rusher? Is he a three-down player and does it matter to you to have a role for him right now?) – “No. He’s been here for about 36 hours. He’ll be on the field at some point this year. When we have a general idea of what we want to do and we’ll see how everything plays out … We’ve got a long ways to go. To say that we know how many snaps he’s going to play and exactly who’s doing what right now, that’s ridiculous to think that way.”

(What kind of an impact do you hope the top three picks can have with a longer lens?) – “That’s hard for me to think that far down the road. We’re focused really right now on getting those guys better in this rookie orientation. For me to think how it could be two years down the road, I can’t even put myself there.”

(Did you have a good feel for DE Charles Harris before the draft? Do you know him at all? How much do you get to talk to him?) —   “We spent time with him at the Combine and then our scouts do a really good job. They dig probably deeper than any group that I’ve been around. It just seems like they almost have personal relationships with a lot of these coaching staffs and when these kids are coming out and at the Pro Day, I always see our guys kind of lingering over there and talking to them. You feel really comfortable when our scouts put their stamp of approval on a guy. You don’t really question that.”

(You have a lot of options now at linebacker. How do you see that shaking out?) – “We’ll go through the process and see what happens. It’s hard for me to say who’s playing where. I know they’re all going to play linebacker. So that’s the best I can give you right now. (laughter) We’ll figure it out as we go and we’re going through our meetings with the vets, and then once the rookies come back, then we can figure out where everybody’s going to be at and who fits best where and who is going to play where in base (packages) compared to sub (packages). There’s a lot of moving pieces we’ve got to figure out.”

(I know you’re 0-0 and last year doesn’t count. I know that. And you haven’t played and you haven’t practiced. But do you feel like you have more talent at your disposal now than you did last season or last year at this time?) – “I don’t know if I would say talent-wise … Any time that we get a chance to add more players – younger players – that we feel really good about, I think that’s a good thing for us as coaches; but I think the different feel for myself and a lot of the guys in the building, even the players is, you know our routine a little bit. There’s a little different swagger about what our guys have right now in a positive way. There’s no indecision as far as what they’re supposed to do, how they’re supposed to do it, what they’re responsible for. I mean guys are really … kind of can get from point A to point B really quick and there’s no issues with any kind of gray in our building right now. Guys are really wired in on what we want to do. I know that’s not really what you want to hear, but there’s a different feel with what we’ve got going on right now with our day-in and day-out.”

(And does that make you better?) – “I think it does because you know what you’re supposed to do. You know your responsibility. You know how things are supposed to be done around here. It allows you … I look at it as it’s going to allow us to play faster (and) make less mistakes. We had a lot of guys get so much experience last year that you never really thought would get experience. When you look at our depth chart right now, you start seeing a lot of guys played last year. That’s a good thing for us.”

(The experience of having gotten to the playoffs for a lot of these players and that taste of postseason play, how does that affect your expectations going into this year for yourself and for the team?) – “We don’t really … we don’t talk about it like that. We are so focused on what we have to do in the spring. Just looking back at last year, I think what hit me more than anything was after that last game, just seeing the emotion our guys had. You could tell it meant something to them and they were all disappointed that we didn’t play as well as we thought we would and that it was over. So really, it’s going to come down to how does that transfer over once we hit OTAs and then training camp and then the preseason, to see if we have that ‘Oh, I’ve got it attitude,’ or if it’s a legitimately one day at a time, get better type of team. Right now, our main focus has been one day at a time again, and hopefully we stay that way.”

(TE Julius Thomas had his best years in Denver. If he’s healthy, how much can he add to this offense?) – “I think any time you have a tight end that can really cause issues in the passing game, especially down the middle of the field, it benefits the run game and the other players on the field. Any time you can single a guy up and there’s a matchup problem there, whether it’s a safety or linebacker on him, now you’ve got man-to-man and if he can win, there are some big-time issues. We had a lot of success doing that and teams quit doing it against us. The next thing you know they’re playing Cover 2 or some kind of quarters and then we start running the ball and then the next thing you know, you’ve got a 1,100-yard back that nobody thinks can run the ball.”

(When you have a chance to address rookies, whether it’s in a group setting in a room like this or individually, what is a part of the key-central message that you want to make sure you impart to them?) – “Just learn the way we do things, respect people in this building and really come to work every day and understand it is a one day, one day at a time league. If you go outside of that and you start worrying about things you can’t control, that’s where you get in trouble. I think the biggest thing we emphasized yesterday was that this is a prove-it league. It doesn’t matter what round you were drafted – if you were drafted – nobody really cares. If you can play, you’ll be out there. If you’re a rookie over a 10-year guy and you’re better, you’ll play. No one cares. I think when you’re a rookie, if you hear that, then you know to get to work and see where these chips fall.”

(Talking to General Manager Chris Grier last weekend, it seemed like Charles Harris was kind of a no-brainer, especially when he was there at No. 22. Why? Why was he such a consensus pick?) – “I think when you watch him, the way he gets off the ball is a unique trait. I mean, that’s what you look for. That’s what we talk about with Cam Wake all the time about how tackles have such trouble getting to him because he comes off the ball just at the right time. He has a similar trait in that, and I really like the feel he has as a pass rusher. I know that was something that we kept talking about compared to some of the other guys, that we felt like he had a game plan going in there. His football intelligence was very impressive to us. He’s the type of guy that we like a lot of what he already brings to the table and we feel like there are some areas we can help him get better.”

(What is the biggest thing you want to accomplish during this three-day minicamp?) – “For us, it’s really get them acclimated to what we’re doing (and) what we expect of them between lifting (and) meetings. We try to educate them on all of the things that can help them. Our sports science group speaks to them; player engagement does. We usually have a couple of players (and) ex-players come in here to talk to them about what they’ve experienced. So we’re trying to get ahead of it. That was the one reason why we did this. We always just felt like when we have these rookie minicamps and you’re practicing, you’re coming back in, you’re installing more, you’re watching practice. By the time they leave here, they don’t remember anything. So our biggest goal was how do we get these guys to where we can get them to leave here, come back and have an idea of what what they’re going to go through in the next phase, but also retain some information and really try to catch up to the vets as much as possible. We felt like last year it did matter for us, because when we hit OTAs, our guys knew what to do. They knew where they were supposed to be. They were able to actually contribute and practice. They weren’t just standing in the background just watching.”

(Can you give us some specifics on what you’re seeing from QB Ryan Tannehill as far as where he’s at right now physically?) – “He looks normal to me. He just looks like he did last year. The difference is he’s got a better grasp of the offense at this point compared to last year. He moves around fine. He’s got a good edge that I like to him right now. You can tell that he wasn’t real happy about getting hurt last year. I like the way he’s working right now, and we’ll just keep doing what we’ve been doing. I know he’s really trying to make sure that he’s one of the reasons that we’re taking the next step. He’s really been pushing himself.”

(Is there any level of uncertainty for you that you just don’t know until you actually see QB Ryan Tannehill out there?) – “No. Nope.”

(You’re fully confident with QB Ryan Tannehill?) – “I’m good.”

(To clarify, physically QB Ryan Tannehill is 100 percent?) – “I don’t know all the percentages and stuff. All I know is he looks good to me.”

(Is C Mike Pouncey doing as much as the others or is he being brought along …?) – “No, he’s going to be brought along slowly. I know we kind of joked about this in the past about how I’m going to handle him this coming season; but our goal is to make sure that he plays every game plus more. So if that means that he doesn’t practice as much, I have no issues with that.”

(T Ja’Wuan James, the fifth-year option was picked up on him. What has he done to earn that in your eyes?) – “I think he’s worked … Where we were at, at the beginning of the season, and as we moved along, I think he’s done a good job of trying to head in the direction we need him to head. I still think we have a lot of room to where we can help him, and I think there are some things that he can help himself on, to where he can make … There are still big strides for him to make. I don’t think we’re even close to where his ceiling is. I don’t even think we’ve even come close to reaching it. I see a guy that’s really coming every day and he does, he has a little bit a different look to him trying to do what we’re asking him to do. It will start in OTAs, and that’s really not the best time to really evaluate our offensive and defensive lines; but once we hit training camp, that’s really what those guys are preparing for; to make sure when they hit that, it’s reactionary. They’re not thinking. They’re doing what they were trained to do. If we can get him better, that’s going to be real beneficial to the entire line.”

(General Manager Chris Grier said when G Isaac Asiata was drafted and he addressed the media, he talked about his toughness. Are you excited to see if this guy fits that bill as much as Chris Grier was talking about just how tough he is?) – “Any time that you can add pieces that increases the toughness of our team, no matter what position they play, that’s a positive. When you have a bunch of hard-nosed, never-die type of players, you’re always going to want those type of guys, because that’s how all this league is. It comes down to the last drive of the game, one side or the other to win or lose. Whether its physical toughness or mental toughness, those are going to be critical factors. When we evaluate guys, we’re looking for that.”

(So as you bring C Mike Pouncey along slowly, what do you do at center?) – “Well we’ve got four guys that play guard/center. So we’re just rotating these guys through and we just keep working. I guess we’re kind of in the boat of we did it so much last year that nobody’s really affected by it. We just move around and whoever pops in there, the quarterback has been really comfortable. He’s done a good job. We’re able to kind of do a couple things where we work some – really everything’s on air – but just kind of the mechanics of running plays and protections and things like that. It has been a smooth transition.”

(Between the moves that you made in the draft on the defensive side of the ball and in free agency, how much more improved do you feel your defense is?) – “I don’t know if we could go much further. We could, but not too much further down. Both sides of the ball, we were just bad. We were bad statistically, however you want to look at it. We had a rough stretch there with five games – or five or six games – where we were just terrible. We had a couple of rough ones versus some good teams. We have a lot of room to improve, which is a good thing for us.”

(I’ve got to ask you this one, but if we were to go back to a couple of years ago when you were in Chicago and I told you QB Jay Cutler would be going into TV work, what would be your reaction?) – “I wouldn’t be surprised.”

(Why wouldn’t you be surprised Bears QB Jay Cutler would be going into TV work?) – “I guess I know a different guy than what everybody else portrays. I think a lot of things that have been said about him in the past have really been (BS).”

(Are you surprised he didn’t latch on with a team?) – “I don’t want to speak for him. I really don’t know all the situation with what happened with him.”

Isaac Asiata – May 5, 2017 Download PDF version

Friday, May 5, 2017

Guard Isaac Asiata

(Did you hear how General Manager Chris Grier describe you when he addressed the media after you were picked?) – “Yes, I heard. And that’s pretty cool that the GM says that about you. I plan on living up to that. I hope that I can keep that identity with myself throughout my career.”

(Which part of the way that he described you did you enjoy the most? He said you are tough.) – “Oh yes. I feel like as an offensive lineman, you have to do both. Where I come from at Utah, the defense is kind of the identity. Everybody knows Utah football for their defensive line and how physical their defensive line is. And when my o-line coach Jim Harding came in there, he wanted to change that. He wanted the o-line to be like that and he wanted us to have that kind of play – just not play patty cake, do our assignments, be assignment-sound and be okay with it. He wanted us to play whistle-to-whistle, sideline-to-sideline and finish our blocks. Being tough and playing physical, that was kind of our trademark that we established this last year and I hope to continue that.”

(General Manager Chris Grier said don’t be fooled by the tears that we saw when you got drafted.) – “Oh yes. You guys saw when I walked in, I’m really a happy guy. I’m very excited to be here. I love being here and I’m a very cheerful guy but, like you said, don’t get it twisted. When it’s time to put the helmet on and strap it up and go, that’s not me anymore. Now if we win, maybe. If we win a Super Bowl or something crazy like that, I don’t know, I’ll probably cry. Maybe. (laughter)”

(The face painting, is that…) – “I’ve been doing that since little league. That’s like the … I don’t know. It started out just kind of my deal. I loved it. That’s kind of my trademark thing. There’s no real reason behind it. I did just a line across my face because my high school mascot was a ‘Don.’ It’s kind of like a ‘Zorro,’ and he wears that mask. That was really the only inspiration behind that. And then I kind of just did more traditional war paint and some other stuff around my eyes. But the fans like it and I like it. It’s kind of an identity thing.”

(Are you going to keep the face painting  up?) – “Probably. I feel like now I’m a rookie. Those are the kind of things you have to earn. I can’t just show up and expect everything to just come to me. Those are things you have to earn. They put me in 68. I plan on earning that jersey number. Just because they give me something doesn’t mean I’m going to take it without earning it.”

(Some folks thought you were going to be drafted a round or two higher. What have you learned or what do you suspect is the reason that maybe you ended up going a little lower?) – “To me, I wish I would’ve went in the third (round). All it really is, is just to get you in the door. Third, first, seventh (round), I don’t really care. I was happy to be here. It was important to me because I came here on my 30-visit and I fell in love with this place. I fell in love with the coaching staff, (Head) Coach (Adam) Gase, the o-line coach, the players. I knew that if I was going to go there in the first round or the seventh round or undrafted, that this is where I wanted to be.”

(What is it about them that made you fall in love…) – “So when I went to the University of Utah and I took a trip out there when I was in high school, what was appealing to me was the kind of guys and the atmosphere of family. I know that football, it’s huge now that guys are kind of, not necessarily about themselves but it’s a job. You have to provide for your family. It kind of takes the aspect from the team. I’m not saying that guys take away from the team but guys who generally care about each other, guys who are willing to go through a wall for each other, that’s not everywhere I guess. When I came here, I felt the same way I did when I went to Utah in high school. I felt that camaraderie, that brotherhood. You can just tell that everybody in the building loved their job. They loved coming here because they care about each other. They want to be successful. They want to win games. That’s a really attractive trait to have, so I fell in love with that and the culture that they’re trying to build here, (Head) Coach (Adam) Gase is trying to build here, and I’m looking forward to being a part of that.”

(What’s your first impression of Head Coach Adam Gase?) – “He’s awesome. He’s not your traditional head coach. A traditional head coach is kind of a stern, hard dude, and I’m not saying that’s not Coach Gase, but he’s a guy. You can relate to him. He’s very open. He’s a really approachable guy. It’s kind of intimidating for players, and I feel like players know that when you walk past a head coach or somebody in the hallway, it’s kind of intimidating. You don’t want to do one thing wrong. You don’t want him to think a certain way about you; but I just passed him on my way in here. And he just … like I said, he’s an approachable guy. I love him as a head coach. I’m excited to be working for him.”

(Did you know any of these other guys? Other rookies?) – “Other rookies, no. I reached out to some of them. I knew Vincent Taylor. We trained together at EXOS in San Diego. I kind of reached out to some of the other guys, Isaiah Ford and Charles (Harris) and them, and kind of start, as rookies, to build that bond, I guess.”

(What have your conversations with them been like or what have you picked up from some of those guys in your first few hours of knowing them?) – “Just that they’re ready to work. The draft’s over. All these Combine workouts and these evaluations and stuff like that, they’re all behind them. I can tell that they’re ready to work. I’m ready to work and we’re excited to get after it this year.”

(Head Coach Adam Gase said he told the rookies it doesn’t matter where you were drafted. It doesn’t matter that you’re a rookie. If you’re better than some 10-year veteran, you’re going to start. How will that impact your approach to maybe compete to start?) – “I think it’s a great mentality to have here and in a program. A lot of the coaches talked about it last night that he said that and he really means that. They gave some examples throughout this rookie orientation about how he really means that because some guys will say it, but they don’t mean it. I think it’s awesome. It just brings up the elevation of competition and competition brings out the best and the best are going to play.”

(What has been your experience with zone blocking and how do you feel like you fit in to that?) – “Like I said, at Utah we ran a spread offense. We ran heavily on inside-zone and gap schemes. We also ran a little bit of outside zone – not that much this last year, I guess; but in years past I’ve had, I want to say, like three or four different offensive coordinators. A lot of them were zone-base schemed. I’ve had some experience in the past. I know I have to learn some new things that they want and what they’re expecting from me and I’m looking forward to the challenge of that.”

(You went away for two years on a mission with your church. Did you learn anything more about yourself when you were doing that and why did you do that?) – “Well, what I learned about myself was that I was a punk kid who thought he had everything figured out when he was 19 years old. I got a nice reality check. I grew up. The mission for me was to go and serve the Lord, but most importantly, people. It’s not really for me to just go out there and say, ‘I’m a missionary. This is about me.’ It’s about serving others. It’s about spreading the Gospel and that’s what it was for me. It was to go out and mature and develop and become a better person.”

(On Sundays, which most people go to church, you view it as ‘I’m going to work.’) – “I have to go to work. Steve Young is probably the biggest example. Steve Young is Latter-day Saint – same as me. I don’t know if anybody is familiar with that, but he talked to a person in our church and they said it’s okay. So I’m going to play football on Sundays and I’m okay with it. My wife’s okay with it. My mom’s okay with it. So I think I’m in the clear. (laughter)”

(What part of your experience told you that you were “a punk kid?”) – “Well I came in, I approached my freshman year of college the wrong way. I rubbed a lot of the veteran guys the wrong way. I thought I was something special. I thought I was coming in to start I guess. I knew I had a lot of things to learn. It was kind of a time for me to step back away from everything that was going on in my life and to look at the bigger picture of life and about caring about other people and helping out other people. So that was nice for me to kind of take a selfless perspective on life.”

(Against that backdrop, how did you feel signing your contract and how would you have felt signing it maybe four or five years ago? Did that change you?) – “Yes, it did. I’ve grown. It did. I believe the mission for me was something that was a real humbling experience. Like I said, it helped me get out of my element, step back and kind of look at things that I might’ve been wrong about and cared too much about myself. It’s more about caring about other people. Life’s about relationships, how you treat people and being a good person. That’s what I believe in. Now signing my contract, I was excited. It’s a nice, exciting thing in life. Now that that’s done with and like I said, the Combine and all that stuff is done with, I’m excited to look to the future and go to work.”

(Would it be fair to say or kind of say that maybe before you would’ve signed that contract and felt it was about you but now you feel it’s about everybody who helped make you?) – “Yes, I mean back then, like I said, (I was a) 19-year-old kid who thinks he has figured out life and thinks he knows more than he actually does. Now I’m pretty old – not old, but I’m 25 this fall – being married and kind of experiencing life with and without my wife, this is the bigger picture. I’m the one who’s going to be playing football, but this is for my wife, this is for my kids, this is for my grandkids and the legacy that I can leave behind.”

Charles Harris – May 5, 2017 Download PDF version

Friday, May 5, 2017

Defensive End Charles Harris

(What do you hope to accomplish from these three days?) – “(I hope to) really get acclimated to the system. There’s a difference between collegiate and professional. (I’m) just really taking after the guys (and) learn the system. (We’re) getting acclimated to the workouts, to the schedule (and) the routines. (We’re) getting to know all of the staff (and) making sure all of the resources are being utilized.”

(Since you landed in Florida, what’s been an eye-opening or cool moment for you?) – “I guess the change in temperature. I think that’s the biggest thing – the humidity and everything like that. Coming from Missouri, it was 40 degrees and raining when I got on the plane. Now, I stepped out here and it was 80 degrees and hot and sunny. So that’s probably the biggest change.”

(Can you talk about that transition of the circus of the draft and then getting here and how that transition has been for you?) – “It’s been real smooth. I believe Miami did a great job of making sure everything’s easy and well going. It wasn’t hectic; it wasn’t overwhelming or anything like that. I’m glad the cameras and everything is over with the whole draft and stuff is over with. So now, it’s all about work. Behind these doors, we’re all going to work and that’s what it’s all about.”

(Have you talked to DE Cameron Wake?) – “I haven’t. He texted me though. That’s the biggest thing I got. I think I’m supposed to speak to him later on today, so that’s pretty exciting just to finally meet the legend in person.”

(Through training camp and through the season, is DE Cameron Wake a guy you’re just going to observe and what he does?) – “Hands down. I’ll be that little brother. You can’t get away from me – the little brother that mom’s tell you ‘He has to go with you up the street.’ That’s what I’m going to be. In every way, shape or form, I’m going to make sure I take after him. That’s a guy everyone around here pumps up and hypes up and I want to be the best so I’m going to learn from the best.”

(Anybody you know back home underwater or are you away from that? The flooding?) – “No, I do not. I haven’t gotten any news of anybody that I know personally. But it is a pretty bad situation either way, so prayers up, for sure.”

(Head Coach Adam Gase was just in here and said, ‘We’re going to get DE Charles Harris better?’ What is it that you need to get better at?) – “Whatever coach wants me to get better at – whether it’s stopping the run, whether that is parts of my pass rush, technique, stance, all shapes or forms. Whatever they want me to improve at, that’s what I’m going to do – on the field, off the field, things like film study. Things like that, that you can’t improve in if you don’t really know about. All coordination, in terms of training, strength and conditioning. All phases of the game, (I want to) make sure I get better.”

(What are your initial impressions of Head Coach Adam Gase now that you’ve gotten to meet him and his style?) – “(He’s a) real laid back coach. (He’s) on you when he’s on you. You can tell he’s got that other side of him that he’ll snap on you. So far, he’s been real cool, real laid back. He told us his rules. He told us his demands. It’s up to us to meet them. So that’s kind of what it’s all about.”

(We hear a lot about your first step as a pass rusher. How quick is your first step?) – “I think it’s one of the best you’re going to see, for sure.”

(Have you seen anyone with a faster first step?) – “I don’t know if I can compare and contrast, but you’re going to see when I’m on the field, for sure.”

(What did Defensive Coordinator Matt Burke say that he hopes you bring?) – “He didn’t say anything specifically. Of course, (he wants me to bring) a humble mindset and willingness to learn. I think things are going to be a lot different coming into a new system so an open mindset and willingness to learn and to adjust.”

(You keep saying ‘to learn’ but you’re also quoted as saying, ‘I’m going to dominate.’ What makes you believe that?) – “That’s the part. I’m willing to learn and I’m also willing to apply. I think I’m easily motored. I can play any way the coach wants me to play. Once I get everything down, the basics of the game and the system and the defense and things like that, everything else is just second nature. That’s when our athletic ability comes over. So once I learn the plays, once I learn the system, learn the technique and all that stuff, the rest of it will be cake for me.”

(Do you feel pressure to start, to be a three-down player, to live up to whatever first-round expectations people might have for you?) – “No, I have no expectations for me. I feel like everything is repeating itself. So coming out of high school, I was a zero star. I know how it feels to be at the bottom. I have the same mindset now. I feel like I’m not in the first round. I don’t feel like a first-rounder, second-rounder or anything like that. I feel like another player, another rookie that just came in – we just had a rookie meeting just a few hours ago – and working my way from the bottom. We’re on the same level across the board in terms of our knowledge of the game and our experience on a professional level. Coming into this level, it’s a whole other game. I can’t come in with that mindset, ‘I’m a first rounder. I’m this. I’m that.’ Like I said, I’m willing to learn, willing to adjust and just get better.”

(When I spoke to your former position coach and University of Miami Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line Coach Craig Kuligowski … Have you seen him yet?) – “I haven’t.”

(University of Miami Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line Coach Craig Kuligowski is not far away. But I asked him why you have so much success on the field and he said because it’s important to you. Can you explain why football, performing well, why is it important to you?) – “It’s just intrinsic. I want to be the best. Nobody told me to. I didn’t have a father or mother tell me to pick up the ball or go run as fast as you can. That’s just me. I feel like I’m blessed with a mindset to want to be the best. I just want to get better. That’s why it’s important to me. I have the opportunity, why not capitalize on it? The Miami Dolphins took a chance on me so it’s time to make their investment pay off.”

(General Manager Chris Grier was saying right after the Dolphins selected you that the team kind of played it cool so that, I guess, they didn’t let other teams know how interested they were in you. Looking back, did you sense some of that?) – “I didn’t. At the Combine, I had a meeting with them. It was a great meeting – probably (one of) my top three, in terms of the feel of the atmosphere, the feel of the room, the feel of the coaches. Post-Combine, I didn’t really have any contact with them. Shoot, they just selected me. I was surprised when I got the call, but I was also happy.”

(The Dolphins talked about maybe moving … I know you just got here. But they said that you’re capable of going inside on pass rush downs. That could be pretty cool if it’s DE Cameron Wake, DE Andre Branch, DT Jordan Phillips and you. How comfortable do you feel with the inside on third down stuff?) – “Anything. Whatever gets me to that quarterback. Whatever it takes for us to get off that field and for us to win a game. At the end of the day, whether I have to play three-technique, two-technique, five, nine … It doesn’t matter what it is. I’m going to do what I have to do. Whatever coach asks me, I’m going to do, for sure.”

(Have you thought about this yet? this is early … You play the Patriots twice. QB Tom Brady back there. Have you thought about…) – “I haven’t, but shout out to all of the Miami Dolphins fans telling me over and over ‘You have to hit Brady.’ But I’m going to take it one game at a time for sure – one quarterback at a time. They’re all the same at the end of the day. It doesn’t matter if it’s Tom Brady or the bottom of the bottom, it doesn’t matter who it is. We’ll take it one game at a time. We have Tampa first and we have to handle that.

(But you did smile when you said hit Patriots QB Tom Brady.) – “Oh yes, you have to.”

(Speaking of looking far ahead, the Dolphins are in Kansas City on Christmas Eve. Are you aware of that? You’ll kind of be back at home, right?) – “I’m aware but, like I said, there’s not any more importance to that game than it is the first game of the season or the last game of the season. I feel like when you start stacking chips on one game, that’s when you start looking towards them and you don’t focus on other ones. So I’m going to take it one game at a time, for sure. Of course it’ll be a blessing to play in my hometown, my home city; but the Chiefs are my enemies. I can’t have no love for them at all.”

(What number did you get?) – “I got number 90.”

(How do you feel about it?) – “I feel great. I feel great.”

(Have you ever worn that before?) – “I haven’t. Mr. Wake got 91, so I’m going to take one step down. But I guess it’s alright, I’m the little brother. Number 90, number 91.”

(You see some of these first-round picks get cars for their moms and things like that. Do you have any plans to do anything like that?) – “Yes, I’ve got something in the works. I can’t really say right now because she’s probably going to be seeing this. But I have stuff lined up for my family, for sure.”

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