Adam Gase – May 7, 2016 Download PDF version

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Head Coach Adam Gase

(On his three coordinators and which attributes impress him the most) – “Well, we’ve been through three practices so you are kind of putting limitations on … Being around the coaches, players, from what I’ve seen so far, (Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Darren) Rizzi obviously brings an energy level. (Rizzi brings) the experience, his background in game management (and) being an assistant head coach in the past. (Offensive Coordinator) Clyde (Christensen and) the experience (he brings). We were really coming from very similar backgrounds in offense. Like I always say, we kind of hijacked what they were doing in Indianapolis and he was a big part of putting that thing together. His experience in the past of calling games and being a part of great offenses, just that experience and our guys being around him, that’s been very valuable for our players. And then (Defensive Coordinator) Vance (Joseph), I always told him we were together in 2008 in San Francisco and I felt like he was the one guy I was always battling with. We would walk out of the building and he was always there. He was always working on something. He was a grinder. We both kind of did it a little different, being on offense and defense, but our work ethics were very close. Going against him over the last few years, he was probably the one guy that would drive me nuts. I know he gave us tons of fits when we played him when we were in Houston. And then two years ago when he was in Cincinnati and we were in Denver, it was a tough matchup. I think his DBs picked us off four times. His knowledge of defense and what he brings to the table and his ability to really go after an offense, as far as really teaching his guys what’s going on, it’s very impressive.”

(On his interactions with G/T Laremy Tunsil) – “I think he’s just happy to be back to football. When you go through that whole process … I’m sure if any of us went through that on draft day, it’d be interesting to see how everybody else reacted. I thought he handled it great. He did a good job last week in the press conference. I think he’s just happy to be back in the building, getting back to football (and) doing what he loves. You can just tell – when you see him in a meeting, when a guy is engaged in as many meetings as we’ve done over the last day and a half – he’s really engaged and you can tell he’s really excited to get going with football stuff.”

(On G/T Laremy Tunsil lobbying to play tight end) – “That started about 10 minutes after we drafted him. (laughter)”

(On what he thinks about G/T Laremy Tunsil’s desire to play tight end) – “We’ll worry about the o-line part first and then we’ll move out.”

(On what has stood out to him so far about this rookie minicamp) – “I think the fact that these guys are taking to it and listening to what we’re talking about. The presenters have done a great job – the people in our building. We had Zach Thomas come in yesterday and then Jason Taylor will come in today. Getting those two guys in front of our players, it’s a different perspective when they talk to them. It’s not like when you talk to the full … when Zach has talked to the full group before, he’s talking about something different. Last night he was able to talk to those guys about being a rookie, what it takes to really survive and become a guy that’s on the team and then contributing during the season. It was a different speech than what he has normally done (with) the veteran players. I can’t wait to hear Jason tonight and see what he has to say. But I think our players have been engaged. I know it has been a grind because it’s not easy to sit in meeting rooms. But coaches have been able to pull their guys and do some kind of a walkthrough. The thing is, they’re in street clothes. So I know they can’t be running anywhere. The coaches know that if anybody gets hurt in this thing, I won’t be in a good place. (laughter)”

(On if he has had a chance to talk with former Dolphins Head Coach Don Shula and how he is doing) – “I have talked to (President and Chief Executive Officer) Tom Garfinkel and I’m going to just leave it at that.”

(On if he has met former Dolphins Head Coach Don Shula before) – “Yes, I have. I think it was maybe two or three weeks after I got here. I went over there and had lunch with him. It was a great visit. He had some good lines for me. He had some advice too. It’s still … A lot of the things that he stood for and what he did with the team here in the past, it still applies today.”

(On if he has been in a situation with a running back group as young as the one he has now and if a veteran will be needed at some point) – “I’ll say it again, we are young everywhere. I think we have one room where I could really say we have veteran presence and I’m pretty sure I just heard somebody ask a question complaining about the ages of our defensive ends. (laughter) What do you want? You’re either young or old. It’s great. The fact that we do have a bunch of young guys, guess what? They’ve got nothing to lose. They’re going to come out here and give us everything that they have. I like that group. I like what (RB) Jay (Ajayi) and the rest of that group bring. We’ll see who steps up and contributes this year.”

Darren Rizzi – May 7, 2016 Download PDF version

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Darren Rizzi

(On how this draft was for his special teams purposes and if he found a lot of quality in this draft) – “Yeah, I mean obviously time will tell. But I think right now, when you look from a special teams standpoint, the background that some of these guys have certainly excites the special teams staff – mostly myself. But yeah, a lot of the skill sets that some of these guys have – you look right on through from the second round on – I think all of these guys’ (have the) skill set (and) have the ability. A lot of them may not have done as many jobs, but certainly guys like (RB Kenyan) Drake and (WR Jakeem) Grant have done the return stuff. (Kenyan) Drake has actually played a lot of core teams as well … Being CB Xavien Howard’s skill set. So right on through, I think that that’s what we’ve been doing these couple of days is just trying to get them caught up to speed on the mental part of it. It looks, again on paper and certainly on film, based on what those guys did in college, that a lot of them should be able to help us, for sure.”

(On if he got anybody on the table) – “On the table is a strong word. You guys know I’m a pretty strong personality. But I’m not afraid to give my opinion so a lot of those guys, like I said, to me – and you guys know that I’ve been around here a decent amount of years now – I’m a big believer in collecting as many guys as you can and having options. I feel like some years in the past, we haven’t had a lot of options in the return game and I think with this draft, we’ve brought a lot more options here, which hopefully will help us.”

(On the value of kickoff returners given the rule changes in the NFL regarding kickoffs) – “That’s a great question. (If you) talked to the other 31 coordinators around the league, I think there’s probably some mixed opinions right now with what’s going to happen with the new rule. I think the intent was to maybe increase touchbacks. I’m not sure that’s going to happen. I think it’s going to be really curious. A lot of guys aren’t going to tip their hand right now but there’s certainly some talk around the league throughout the coordinators on whether or not they’re going to go for the touchback or hit it high and short. So you may actually see more returns. Now, if people are going to try to hit the corners a little bit and try to get you tackled inside the 25 (yard line), that may change our alignments and adjustments a little bit, as well. So having two guys back there, not just us but throughout the league, could be more of a common theme. (When) people are starting to try to go high and deep into the corners, there may not just be one person back there. There could be two. A lot of times you see, (in a) formation, guys will have a lot of linemen in the back, for example, and just one returner. You may see teams starting to put two guys back there. That could change a little bit depending on how people treat the new rule. I don’t personally think the touchback percentage is going to go up dramatically. That’s just myself. We’ll see how it plays out.”

(On if WR Jakeem Grant will work on both punt and kickoff return) – “Yes, that is the vision. We went down and worked him out pre-draft and we felt comfortable about that workout and his Pro Day. He’s a guy that caught punts all the time, but for whatever reason he didn’t do it in games. We felt very comfortable going into the draft that (returning punts) is something he could do. So he’ll definitely be working at both for sure.”

(On the type of speed the team has acquired in the return game) – “I’ve always said this, I, as a coach, I hate going against opposing teams that have a lot of options at returner because you never know which guy you’re going to get – whether it’s a big guy, little guy, quick guy (or) fast guy. The one thing about some of the guys that we’ve acquired is that you have some guys that (give us) different options there. So now, if you’re playing us, you don’t know if it’s going to be … maybe you knew it was going to be (WR) Jarvis Landry back there as a punt returner. That’s not really going to be the case now. I think we have developed some options here that will make us more dangerous (and) make our team (harder) to defend, for sure.”

(On the vision of drafting both RB Kenyan Drake and WR Jakeem Grant) – “(RB Kenyan) Drake doesn’t have a long resume as a punt returner, either. Everybody thinks of him and remembers that one big play he had (in) the national championship game. (It was a) huge play. But he didn’t really … I think he only had 20 kick returns in his college career. (WR Jakeem) Grant had much more experience as a kick returner – a lot more reps, for sure. Again, it’s those options. The more options we have the better we’re going to be. I feel very comfortable in that aspect, with those guys skill sets, for sure.”

(On what it is like working with Head Coach Adam Gase) – “Every head coach has a unique style. I really enjoy being around Adam (Gase) every day. We’re very similar personality-wise. I think we share a lot of the same visions in terms of different things we’re doing, in terms of inside the building, itineraries, schedules (and) things like that. We bounce a lot of things off each other – a lot of ideas. He has been at a lot of great places and has been around a lot of great people. I really like his demeanor around our players. I think they appreciate it. I think he relates very well with today’s athlete and certainly his success, I think the guys really respect that. They respect him certainly as an offensive coach and now as a head coach, just being around him every day. I like being around (him). He’s refreshing. He’s really brought an energy to the building. He has a lot of great ideas. (He’s) very, very ingenious in some ways (and an) outside the box thinker. I think he’s really been a very welcome addition. I’ve seen a lot of things here in the last seven years and he’s the fifth guy, the fifth boss that I’ve worked for. And he’s been nothing but positive. I’ve got really nothing but positives to say. I think he’s brought a lot of new ideas and forced some of the coaches here to think outside the box and I think that’s only going to make us better for sure.”

(On two point conversions and if he favors attempting more two point conversions) – “I think it depends on the game. There’s a lot of factors involved. I think the defense you’re playing (against), to be honest with you, (is a factor). The percentages still tell you that it’s a little bit less than a 50 percent play. Remember that Baltimore situation last year? We had the penalty and then got the ball on the 1-yard line. There’s a big difference. I think getting that PAT back to the 15 (yard line) has changed some of the dynamics, for sure. You look at a great kicker like (New England Patriots K Stephen) Gostkowski misses a PAT in the postseason. (He’s) a guy that had made every one in the regular season. I just think the dynamics will change game-to-game, week-to-week and we’ll talk about those things in our game-manager meetings. There’s always going to be … it’s always going to be on the table. It’s always going to be an option to go for two, like in that Baltimore game, where I think we jumped up 15-0. At the end of the day, that actually helped us win the football game big time. I don’t think it’s ever going to be one of those deals where you’re saying ‘Hey, we’re definitely going to go for two every time,’ or definitely going to go for one every time. I think it is going to be game-by-game, week-to-week, weather … All of those things are going to be involved in the decision making. But I think the thought process, all along, (is) always going to be that (it is) an option that we have, for sure. Again, the percentages will tell you that still, at the end of the day, it will probably be about the same amount of points based on stats.”

(On the type of growth he expects to see from P Matt Darr and K Andrew Franks in their second seasons) – “I want to see a big jump. They say your biggest jump should be from year one to year two. The old NFL adage is from game one to game two, you see teams improve the most. I’d like to see those guys make a big jump this year. Now some people would say, ‘Well gosh, Matt Darr was third in the league in gross punting.’ But there are certainly areas of the game he can improve on. Our net punting could go up better. He did a great job on going-in punts inside the 20. But some things like location, hang time … little things that he can work on. I’d love to see … I think the sky is still the limit for this guy. I still think he could be an elite NFL punter, if he’s not already. Andrew Franks didn’t get a lot of field goal opportunities last year. He missed one from 63 (yards) and then he missed two others. Some people may think the jury is still out on this guy. I saw a major improvement out of him from training camp, this time last year, until we got to game one. He made a huge jump and that’s why he made the team. He has a huge leg. I want to see him become more consistent in everything he’s doing. We missed three PATs last year. One wasn’t on him, it was on the operation. But the makeable kicks are the ones – the makeable kicks that he missed – are the ones we want to see. We just want to see him become more consistent. I’ve seen that in practice. We want to see that translate onto the field, for sure.”

(On if he has a lifetime contract with the Dolphins) – “Nah. (laughter) I’m day-to-day like everybody else.”

(On if there are certain things he likes about K Marshall Koehn) – “I’ve said this before, I really believe that anybody we bring in here … in training camp, has a chance to make team. No different than (K Andrew) Franks and (P Matt) Darr last year. Marshall (Koehn) had a hell of a career in the Big Ten. He kicked in inclement weather. He kicked in some big situations. He made a 57-yard game-winner last year at home. He’s going to definitely compete for the job. No doubt about it. And again, it would be a disservice, in my opinion, to bring anybody in here and not say they were competing. So on a daily basis … He has a great skill set. He has a real strong leg. He reminds me a lot of Andrew (Franks), to be honest with you, coming out last year. The only difference is that
(Koehn) kicked at a bigger school. But they have a very similar skill set and kicking leg.”

(On if WR Jarvis Landry is his best option at returner, will he be returning next year) – “If he’s our best option, then yes. If we’re going into Week 1, Game 1, the best option for the football team is going to be the guy that goes back there. I still will always use the Antonio Brown example. He’s still the Pittsburgh Steelers punt returner and you could argue he’s their best player. You could argue he’s one of the best receivers in the league and he’s still back there returning punts and making game-changing plays. I think the thought process is to get more options on the table. We didn’t have a lot of them last year. We haven’t had a lot of them the last couple of years, (that’s the) bottom line. So at that point Jarvis (Landry) was our best option. I’d like to think moving forward that guys like (WR Jakeem) Grant and guys like (RB Kenyan) Drake and some other guys we’re bringing in are going to now be options for us and now make the decision at the end, ‘Hey, can this guy do it week one?’ But I’ll just keep going back to that same thing, having more options for me and certainly the football team is the best scenario for everybody.”

(On what he has learned about his rookies this weekend and what has been his early impressions) – “We’ve done a great job from the scouting department and coaching staff, as well, of evaluating these guys up through the process. We kind of know their skill set and their athletic ability based on film, combines, workouts (and) all (of) that stuff. What we’re evaluating this weekend is really what they can retain from a mental standpoint. I think that’s really the premise here. I really enjoy what we’re doing. I think this weekend was a great idea. It’s an out-of-the-box idea. But I think its great idea because … it’s just no different to me than anybody starting a brand new job. You start a new job with Apple, what do they do? They send you for a two-week orientation. You start a new job with Google (and) they put you in an orientation program.  They’re not going to just throw you out into the field. To me, it’s no different. We know these guys have the skills. I think our scouting department has done a phenomenal job of drafting and bringing in these free agents. This weekend is more about getting these guys caught up here and (seeing) how much they can retain. They’re getting a lot of stuff thrown at them this week mentally, not only from the football standpoint but from a building standpoint, a resource standpoint. We’re really loading these guys up mentally and we really want to see what they can retain. And so far from what I’ve seen, at least in my meetings, they’ve done a really good job of it.”

(On if the returner competition is close if he would shy away from using WR Jarvis Landry on returns to lessen his injury risk) – “I don’t want to avoid the question, but I think it’s a little bit early for that. Again, you look at what (WR) Jakeem Grant has done in college and if he can bring that same juice and energy and big-play ability. You look what (RB Kenyan) Drake did as a kick returner. If those guys can match what they did in college, then they are certainly going to be great options for us and they’re going to have a chance to do the job. For me to sit here and say who the kick returner or punt returner is going to be in Week 1 is certainly premature. But I will say Jarvis (Landry) is still in the mix, for sure, because at this point right now, he’s the most proven guy that’s done it.”

(On if RB Kenyan Drake will fill in on punt returns) – “Yeah, absolutely. I mean you look at what he’s done in the kick return game and here’s a guy that’s done … You look at his career (and) he’s done a little bit of everything. He’s caught passes. He’s run the ball well. He’s had high yards per carry. He’s caught the ball out of the back field. He’s covered kicks. It’s almost like ‘What can’t this guy do?’ And I’ll go back, (WR) Jarvis Landry never returned a punt in college either. I think people forget that. You look at what Jarvis (Landry) has done the last couple of years in punt returns in the NFL (and) this guy never returned a punt in college. We’ve proven that we can do it with a guy that hasn’t done it (in college). Obviously WR Odelle Beckham was ahead of (Landry at LSU). So certainly I feel very confident with these guys’ ability and the fact that we’re going to have a lot of great options moving forward.”

Vance Joseph – May 7, 2016 Download PDF version

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph

(On CB Xavien Howard, how he sees him fitting in and if he will be a starter) “He’s a guy we liked in the draft. We liked his size. His movement stuff was really good. He’s a press corner on tape. As far as him being a starter, I can’t guarantee that. He’s going to compete with (CB Tony) Lippett and (CB Byron) Maxwell and those guys and the best guy will play.”

(On if he hopes CB Xavien Howard emerges since he was a second-round pick) – “Absolutely, He’s a second-round pick for a reason so he’s going to be in the mix. He fits our prototype, as far as corners. He’s long. He’s got good, long speed. As an off corner, he’s got good movement stuff. He’s a second-round pick so we hope he becomes a guy that can help us win.”

(On why lengthy, press corners are his prototype) – “The receivers in the league are getting much bigger now. Obviously, you look for good players first and if they have the size you want, its prototype. But you want guys who can cover first (and have) quickness, ball skills, good lateral movement stuff and the size is extra.”

(On guys with good size generally not having good hips) – “(CB Xavien Howard) is a second-round pick. When you are drafting guys in the first and second round, you’re hoping (they) have size and the movement stuff. And (Howard) does. Most guys, when you draft them later on, they may have one redeeming quality. It could be size but not movement, but (Howard) does have both. He’s a 6-foot guy with a 5-foot-10 corner’s movement skills. That’s special.”

(On if he pled his case to draft more defensive players) – “To be fair, our draft on defense started with the trade from Philly. We got (LB) Kiko (Alonso) and we got (CB Byron) Maxwell. That’s two penciled in starters. So for me, those were our first two draft picks, along with (CB Xavien) Howard and (CB Jordan) Lucas from Penn State. We’re fine. We signed (DE) Mario (Williams) in the offseason. That was huge for us. So we’re fine. It was a great team draft. That’s what the draft is about – improving your team, not really one side of the ball. Once you go to the draft, it’s hard to guarantee who is going to be there and what is going to happen. It’s a wild card. But our team got better last weekend so that was a plus.”

(On DE Cameron Wake and whether he will be ready for the season) – “Cam looks fine. He has been here every day working hard. Cam is a worker. He’s a great leader. He’s a great worker. He has been here every day. He looks fine. We won’t know (if he will be ready for the season) until training camp starts. But if I’m guessing, he’ll be ready to go Week 1.”

(On CB Xavien Howard and working on his t-step and backpedaling) – “That’s a small part of his game. Some guys t-step; some guys don’t. That’s a personal preference. That’s really small. He’s more of a press corner. When you’re a press corner, it’s more about lateral footwork and having long arms. He has those things.”

(On early impressions of the rookies) – “(CB Jordan) Lucas, he’s a very mature guy. He has played safety. He has played nickel. He has played corner. So, he’s going to fit well for us just being a defensive back for us. I think (CB Xavien) Howard is a guy who’s also a mature kid. It won’t be too big for those two kids. They want to come in and play. Most guys come in, and they’re wide eyed. These two kids are not. They’re ready for the primetime.”

(On his scheme and how it will fit DE Ndamukong Suh) – “Our scheme is going to be an attacking scheme. We’re going to play on our terms. With his size and quickness, (there) shouldn’t be any reason why he shouldn’t be successful inside. Obviously, he’s a three technique, so he’s going to face a bunch of double teams. It’s our job to free him up, and that’s schematically; that’s weekly. We’re going to be an attack front, so that should benefit him.”

(On whether the team has enough cornerbacks) – “Absolutely. Most teams have, probably, three capable corners who they can play and trust. They have, obviously, a one or two and the nickel player. We have three or four guys who can play. It’s really more about the entire scheme and entire defense. Corner is one position (where) if they do their job and play great leverage and stay on top of deep balls, that’s their job. I think we’ve got three or four guys – guys that we know can play – and hopefully three or four more that can help us.”

(On what he has seen from LB Kiko Alonso and whether he can return to his 2013 play) – “Last year’s film was tough. It was a different scheme. They were in a 3-4 defense. But what I’ve seen– in our minicamp, the last couple of weeks – is he has got great instincts. He’s a long, tall, Mike-backer that has great instincts. He covers a bunch of ground with his movement. He has great eyes. He has been a great leader in the huddle, and that has been surprising. He has been very vocal. He has been assertive in the huddle. That was good to see from him.”

(On whether the safeties are athletic enough to get off the hash mark and makes plays on the ball) – “Absolutely we do. Walt Aikens, he has corner movement. He’s going to be a guy who’s going to grow into a pretty good free safety or strong safety. Obviously, Reshad (Jones) is a great player. Mike Thomas is very, very efficient (and) a very sold, smart player. Isa (Abdul-Quddus), he can really run. He’s a low 4.4 (seconds in the 40-meter dash) guy. We’ve got four guys who are very capable.”

(On whether he interchanges free and strong safeties) – “We want those guys to be twins. We don’t want a strong safety who is a bigger body in the box. We want two guys who can play halves, two guys who can cover and two guys who can tackle. If you have that, you play them left and right. If you don’t, you play them strong and free. Hopefully, eventually, we can work to just being left and right safeties.”

(On S Reshad Jones’ participation in voluntary offseason conditioning) – “Right now it is voluntary. It has not really affected us a lot. Because for him, he has played a bunch of ball. It’s really terminology more than it is a difference in scheme. He’ll be fine. He’ll be back in time to have his assignments in writing. He’ll be ready to go.”

(On whether the age of the pass rushers concerns him) – “We’re fine. (DE) Cam (Wake) is a proven pass rusher, and so is (DE) Mario (Williams). I’m fine with those guys. Cam is going to be alright. Mario, in my opinion, he’s motivated. When he’s motivated, he’s pretty good.”

(On how he feels about the linebacker unit’s playmaking ability) – “Between Kiko (Alonso), Jelani (Jenkins) and Koa (Misi), that’s three pretty good athletes. That’s more scheme than it is a personal gift. We have to move those guys around and we have to blitz those guys and allow them to make negative plays.”

(On if he is encouraged by the social media activity surrounding DE Dion Jordan and if he is counting on Jordan in 2016) – “That’s a league issue. Obviously, he was the third pick of the draft for a reason. So if he’s here then I would be excited to have him; but, right now, I can’t speak on it because that’s a league issue.”

Clyde Christensen – May 7, 2016 Download PDF version

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Offensive Coordinator Clyde Christensen

(On whether the offensive line, QB Ryan Tannehill or the running back position is job No. 1 with the offense) – “I think it’s all of the above. It’s teaching a new system. This has been the first week … The last week was the first week we really saw our players. You talk about plays, but you really haven’t seen what anyone can do and what they’re good at. I think it has really been a feeling out period of, ‘What do we have? What can guys do? What are they good at? How does that fit into the system?’ I really think it has been all the above right there. It’s really … Staff-wise, right? (It is about) learning how (Head) Coach (Adam) Gase wants things done, what he likes. What’s he like on third down? What’s he like to run? When’s he going to call the stuff? What are his shots? All those things I think has been really a fun feeling out process. It probably isn’t as focused as (the media) might think it is. It’s really … We’ve been out there in Phase II (of the offseason conditioning program), and I love Phase II, because it’s a skills time. You’re teaching, ‘How do you get out of a curl? How do you teach getting out of a curl route? How do you teach running an out cut? How do you teach running a comeback? What (does) a post like?’ At some places, you head for the near goal post. Some places you head up the near hash (mark). Some places its flat. Some places it’s a steep angle. It has really been more of a skills and discussion and brainstorming type of atmosphere, both with the players and with the coaches.”

(On drafting G/T Laremy Tunsil) – “I was ecstatic. I tried not to watch the (draft). It has always been kind of a work weekend for me. I’ll sit at the desk, but I’ll have it on in the (office) and watch. The further he dropped, I was starting to … I kind of started feeling myself get a little knot in my stomach. I’m going, ‘Don’t get your hopes up. You know better than to do that. Don’t get your hopes up. There (are) five places to go.’ Even when it was one spot away, I’m going, ‘Someone’s trading up. Do not let yourself get your hopes up. You’ve done this before; it’s no fun. You’ll be disappointed.’ When it did happen, I couldn’t believe that it happened. What a great way to start the time here for the whole franchise, for the new staff and the franchise, etc.”

(On why he was excited about drafting G/T Laremy Tunsil) – “He’s such a good player. I don’t think in my wildest dream that I thought we had a chance of him falling that far and us having a chance to get him, especially when we went from (No.) 8 to (No.) 13 early. I didn’t see it as a possibility. I think the other thing is – for us – is to try and build it from the (offensive) line out, to solidify the line to give you some depth and to give you some young offensive lineman was a priority. Now, you start off with arguably the best lineman in the draft – what we thought was the best lineman in the draft. I think for me, personally, that it was, ‘Hey, if we can solidify that and start working out, that’s a great way to build this thing.’”

(On QB Ryan Tannehill) – “I love the way he works. I love the way he’s attacking it. (We are) still way in the getting-to-know-each other process (with) him trying to learn a system. To judge him yet would be unfair, and that’s what I told him. This isn’t an evaluation period as much as it’s a teach(ing) period. Let’s learn how to throw these routes. Let’s learn how the combinations. Let’s learn the progressions. Let’s learn how this thing works. We’re a ton more (adjust) at the line of scrimmage (team) than the average place. Don’t worry about making a team – not in his case – but for these guys … Worry about learning. Just worry about learning, and we’ll teach. The evaluation will come training camp-wise. Training camp, now, you got to be able to apply this stuff. That’ll be the first time I talk to you where I’ll say … But I think he works. He learns. It’s new. He has embraced it. Like everybody else, I think it has been a fun teach. It’s always kind of fun from the ground floor up (for) I think players, coaches, everyone. It’s new. It’s different. For me, it’s a new set of players. Having been in the same place for so long, it’s fun. It’s energizing to me to start from scratch again, if you will. It has really been (about) that more than it has been (about) evaluating. It has been more of a teach mode.”

(On what makes G/T Laremy Tunsil a special player) – “He’s light on (his feet). He’s a good athlete. He’s a good athlete. He has a great disposition for an offensive lineman. He has been very impressive in this camp – how he has attacked the learning. We’ve thrown a bunch at him in this camp. It has been 99.9 percent mental, and he has attacked it. I’ve been impressed with him through the whole process and even with the adversity (and) how he handled it. That could shipwreck you – what he went through for an average, young 20-something year old guy. I’ve been really impressed with how he has handled it, which is a great mentality for an offensive lineman. They just have to keep trucking. There (are) some good pass rushers in this league, and they’re going to get some hits on the quarterback, and you’re going to feel bad and you shake it off and go play the next play. That’s a great characteristic to have for an offensive lineman.”

(On what WR Leonte Carroo and WR Jakeem Grant bring to the table) – “Again, I’d say we haven’t seen them (on the field). We’ll get them out on the field, but I think they’re going to bring some juice. They’re going to bring some versatility. I think anytime … You guys have seen (Head) Coach (Adam) Gase enough to know that he’s aggressive. He likes sticking guys in different positions and giving them different stuff to do and getting into some non-conventional matchups in non-conventional places (where) there’s not a running back on a linebacker coming out of the backfield necessarily. It may be two yards from the sideline out there on a safety doing something. I think this really gives you a couple guys for Coach Gase to brainstorm with. And who knows what he’ll come out of the thing with as you watch these guys. But, I know one thing: you watch his mind tick and I could see it on draft day. He’s going, ‘We could do this and this and this.’ We’re still trying to head for first base here, but that’s how his mind works. It’ll be a fun thing, because they’re versatile guys. They’re really versatile guys.”

(On transitioning from tackle to guard) – “It’s a little bit different. You have a guy on your nose rather … That edge is different. I would say this: you cross train these guys. What’s the difference in blocking a wide three and a wide … You still have to learn how to block wide rushers. You still have to be able to handle an inside charge. You still have to handle some guy trying to run right down the middle of you and knock you into the quarterback. (With) the teaching, there’s a ton of carryover that way. There’s a ton of carryover. Tackle is kind of the easy position, because 90 percent of the time you’re blocking a defensive end. That’s not easy to do, but it’s easier assignment-wise. There’s less going on out there. We would cross train … We cross train as many guys as we can all the time anyway, because of how small these rosters are in the NFL. The more guys you can get trained … Every year you say, ‘Has he ever snapped? Is there any possibility he can snap?’ Because you can’t have enough guys who can snap a football. It’s always hard to get some guys who can slide outside and play tackle. It’s a little easier to find (guys) who can slide inside and play guard. This is going to be probably the most depth at tackle I’ve ever been around that you have four, five guys that have played at a high level (at) left tackle. That’s awesome. The rest will fall into the right spots. You always have trouble (asking), ‘Who’s our backup left tackle? What if we have a catastrophe here?’ You don’t just go open your newspaper and find a left tackle in the classified (ads) right there. (laughter) They’re hard guys to come by. I think that’s part of the excitement during the draft. That’s a hard position, because the percentages say, ‘Hey, there are going to be some weeks and stretches …’ It’s kind of like quarterback (where) it’s hard to find a guy who can come in and win a football game. It’s hard to find a guy who you can throw out there up in New York and play left tackle. It’ll give us some depth there. But the skills are still … We’d cross train them anyway. If you’re only suiting up seven (lineman) for a game, there’s a good chance some guys better know a bunch of positions. It’s not abnormal for us. That would be the rule of thumb, that you’d cross train as many guys as you can. The more positions guys can play, the more likely they are to be dressed on Sunday. It’s really hard for a center who only plays center to get suited. It’s hard to have that guy on the roster, because it’s hard to get him dressed. You can’t react to a problem during a football game. So, this guy (Laremy Tunsil) has a lot of versatility and he keeps telling me he’s a tight end, too. (laughter) We’ll see. We’ll get on the field and see.”

(On finding mismatches in an offense like this) – “Yes, sometimes. Although, I think it makes it easier that (Head) Coach (Adam) Gase does a great job with formations and moving people around; where all of a sudden you look up and you have a linebacker out there two yards from the sideline, well there’s a pretty good chance that it’s man (coverage). That’s a pretty good indicator. So, (there are) a lot of times, moving people to different places reveals what coverages they are (in). It kind of limits what the defense can do. You have to be on your best because of all the pressure. You still have to be able to handle pressure. And the more places you put people, the more people have to understand what’s taking place protection-wise. But it’s a fun problem to have. It’s a fun problem to have. For a coach, it’s hard sometimes (for) you, especially in the no huddle. The no huddle makes it even more important, because you don’t want to sub. In the olden days – when I first came in the league – you had your first and second back and on third (down), in ran a third receiver, out ran the fullback, in ran your receiving tight end. But when you’re no huddle, part of the advantage of this thing is that we want to be able to keep the same bunch on the field. So, they have to be versatile guys. You can’t have a single dimension … It’s harder to have a single-dimension guy, because all of a sudden you don’t want to go into huddle on third down and get a massive substitution. You want to be able to empty out and everyone knows what the concepts are, and you keep rolling with the tempo. It’s really, really accentuated with the no huddle.”

(On Head Coach Adam Gase calling plays) – “I like this situation, and I have been in it quite a bit with (former Indianapolis Colts Offensive Coordinator) Tom Moore. Even at the end of his time there in Indy, there were different roles. I think I told you the first time I spoke to you, that was one of the things that made it attractive. I enjoy that part of it. I enjoy complementing and fitting in a spot and helping tie the thing together, helping set the thing up, if you will. (For) whatever reason, I get a charge out of that. No, it wouldn’t be a new situation for me. I’ve been a positional coach, obviously. I’ve been a coordinator, obviously. But with Tom Moore (I was) a hybrid – if you will – (like) Bruce Arians. (I) remember Bruce and (when Colts Head) Coach (Chuck) Pagano had the cancer, and we were all in … (Chuck Pagano) was in the hospital, and we were all in a hybrid situation. I embrace it. I enjoy that. That’s more fun to me than having the whole thing heaped on your back. It would be, really, a familiar situation for me. There were a lot of years at Indy where it was kind of like that and then even just recently with Coach Arians and with Coach Pagano and the cancer, his bout with cancer.”

Jakeem Grant – May 6, 2016 Download PDF version

Friday, May 6, 2016

Wide Receiver Jakeem Grant

(On his return game and what about it is special) – “Basically, I would say everything that I did in college is special to me – not just the return game, not just (being a) receiver. I feel like I have to be both. I have to be great at all those things in order to make that 53-man roster. The more you can do, the better.”

(On whether he was used as a pitch man on option plays) – “Yes, sir. I was. I was kind of like one of those guys that play every role. I was in the backfield, receiver, kick returner, punt returner – all those types of things. When coach called my number, I was like, ‘Let’s go.’”

(On whether being a returner will help is chances of making the team) – “I definitely feel like (having) a return job is going to help me out in making the team. Also, I do want to play offense. I know there’s a lot of competition there and I’m looking forward to it.”

(On whether he has watched footage of Head Coach Adam Gase’s offense) – “I’ve definitely been watching film. It’s kind of hard going to the next level, getting used to their schemes. In college, it’s a whole different system. The NFL is much tougher, defenses disguise (and) looks much harder. I definitely feel like, (Head Coach Adam Gase is) an offensive genius. I definitely think I can fit into a role being that slot guy or even on the outside. I feel like he would draw something up for me just as (Texas Tech Head) Coach ‘King’ (Kliff Kingsbury) did. I feel like once I get rolling, it’s going to be great.”

(On the rookie minicamp) – “I’m very anxious to get on the field, but also, you got to be mentally ready. You can’t get on the field not knowing what to do. But coming in, I told the coaches, I’m ready to get out there. I’m just ready to play. But like I said, you have to be mentally ready in order to play, in order to get out on the field and do it perfectly.”

(On walking into the building for the first time as a member of the team) – “It was a dream come true. One of our legends, one of our Hall of Famers at Texas Tech, Zach Thomas … Just knowing that he played here, it motivates me to become a Hall of Famer too and be at my best. (It is) a dream come true, that’s what I like to say. Walking in here and seeing the building, it’s a great facility. You couldn’t be at a better place than Miami.”

(On when he decided not to let his height become an obstacle) – “I definitely got that my whole life. That’s didn’t knock me down not one bit. That just created a bigger chip on my shoulder. There (were) a whole bunch of guys saying, ‘His career is not going to last long in the NFL, because of his size.’ But like I always say, ‘You can’t hit what you can’t catch.’ People have seen me take hits in college, and I get right back up. They told me I couldn’t do this against LSU, and then look what happened. Now, I’m here on this big stage. No one believes me until I actually put in the playmaking ability here. Once I do that, then all the critics will be like, ‘Okay, now Jakeem … It doesn’t matter about size.’ That’s my emphasis, and that’s what I’m going to show the world: that size doesn’t matter. If you have the heart and the passion to play the game, that’s all (there) is to it.”

(On when he hit his current height) – “I stopped growing, probably, (in) middle school. I was taller than everybody and all of a sudden, people are still growing and I’m like, ‘Dang!’ (laughter) It’s all good.  I’m not blessed with the height, but the one thing I’m blessed (with) is speed and quickness. It has its pros and cons to it.”

(On the pressure of returning kicks and whether making the team depends on that) – “I feel like it’s a lot of pressure – not just being a punt returner or a kick returner. I feel like (there is) pressure just trying to become a great (player) and earn that job and be on that 53-man roster and be able to dress out. It’s great pressure. I want to be … like Zach Thomas. That’s the pressure I feel. I feel like I want to be up there with him, recognized right beside him, because he is a Texas Tech player, and so am I. Being up there with him is like a dream come true.

(On his Twitter handle, “The Dream is Here,” and what it refers to) – “The dream is … I use that nickname for me, because it’s a dream for guys my size to play in the National Football League. Being faced with obstacles, telling people … Guys telling us ‘We can’t do this, we can’t do that,’ and going out there and proving them wrong. There are only things that us short guys dream of. So, when I made my Twitter handle – The Dream is Here – it’s making a statement, saying, ‘No matter how much you knock me down, I’m here and I’m going to make a play no matter what.’

(On being an inspiration to smaller players) – “I take a lot of pride in that. I feel like there (are) a lot of guys looking up to me just as I looked up to Darren Sproles and all those guys that paved the way before me. It’s my turn to pave the way for them. I want to be great because of my family and those guys that look up to me. It’s not just for myself. Yes, it’s for myself. I make myself last because I feel like if I pave the way for those guys, one day, we will be looked at as a standard receiver. And not just because we’re short and we’re looked at as gadget guys. We’ll be measured on the same level as regular receivers.”

(On if he has always been confident) – “Yes. That confidence has always been there. I just feel like (the) more people doubt me, the harder I play. I’m basically self-motivated and I want to be the best … the best person on the field. Whether that’s at running back, quarterback, it doesn’t matter what position I’m at. I want to be the best man on the field. When you look at – on the field – defense or offense, you (can) say, ‘Jakeem Grant, that’s the best player on the field.’”

(On whether running track was a consideration for him) – “Yes, sir. Coming out of high school, I did (consider running track). My mom was heavy on track; she pushed us to it. Then my senior year, I learned not to be big-headed. It was my junior year, and I (had) never lost a track meet. I never lost a track race. I was second in the state of Texas. I ran a 10.32 (seconds) in the 100 (meter dash) so I was all big-headed. I got to the end of the finish line, and I was talking trash, telling everybody they’re slow. All of a sudden, I get to district and all I had to do was just win. I didn’t even have to run as fast as I could. I went to district. I jumped the gun, didn’t make it to state. Basically, it killed me. I was like, ‘That’s what they were telling me.’ My track coach, he told me, ‘Don’t be big-headed. Stay a humble guy.’ And that’s why … That was a life lesson I learned to this day. That’s why I’m so humble. I just feel that there’s a time for (when) trash talking is necessary, and there’s a time to be humble. I definitely wanted to run track in college but the coaches didn’t want me to run track. I wanted to run the 60 meter (dash like) Trindon Holliday (who) I looked up to in the 60 meter. I told myself, ‘If I can get a chance to run track in college, I will break his record.’ I always pride myself on speed. If I were (to have) gotten (invited to) the Combine, I would’ve broke Chris Johnson’s record. That’s how I feel. Track is definitely a big issue. I’d love to do it, but in the end, I have to focus on football. Football is my pride and joy.”

(On what enables a smaller receiver to win outside) – “Just being quick and (being smart about) releasing and being able to recognize the coverage. It’s not necessarily the size difference. What if you get a 6-3 corner, 200-something pounds and he gets ready to put his hands on you? Okay, use your strengths. You don’t have size. Okay, use speed and technique. Give the illusion that you’re going somewhere that you’re not. That’s how I feel. I feel that just because I don’t have size, doesn’t mean that a 6-3 corner is just going to come down and jam you up. I’m going to use my strengths to maneuver around them.”

(On his family’s reaction when he started playing football) – “It was basically … I came from a single-parent home. So, my mom she … I didn’t even think about playing football. I was at Broadway’s skating rink and they played a game called sharks and minnows. It’s when four people are on skates and all the (other) people are in the middle. I was the last one to get out. My mom came early to pick up me and my brothers, and I was the last one to get out. This guy was like, ‘Hey, I got him.’ And he’s on skates; just remember that. I’m thinking in my head, ‘Dude, there’s no way you’re going to touch me with skates on.’ So, I made him fall on skates, and my mom was like, ‘Wow, I’m going to throw you in football.’ The rest was history. I just fell in love with football ever since then.”

(On whether he takes pride in having excelled in the Big 12 Conference) – “Yes, sir. I do. Like I said, I was always a smaller guy. They were telling me, ‘Jakeem Grant is not going to have the success (like) all the receivers before him like Michael Crabtree.’ And I’m like … I looked at them and was like, ‘Man, you can’t tell me what kind of success (I’ll have). I’ll pave my own way.’ I told my mom (that) one of the goals of mine (was to) break Crabtree’s record and have a Crabtree moment against Texas, too. I accomplished both of those things. I feel like it’s a big burden trying to become one of those top receivers in the Big 12 … in the nation. I think I was top in the nation at receiving. They didn’t give it to me. Well, statistically I was, but they didn’t give (an award) to me because of my height. I continued to go out every day and prove that size doesn’t matter.”

(On not getting awards because of his height) – “I feel like my numbers didn’t lie. Coming out of college, my numbers definitely didn’t lie. I feel like they said, ‘Jakeem, he’s too short. He’s not a top receiver.’ That’s basically what they did, and I feel like that’s what they used against me in (the) combine. So, I wasn’t talked about until after (my) Pro Day after I ran the 40. Everybody loves speed, I guess, so that was my whole preparation. Since I’m not tall, I guess you all like my speed. I was angry. I was upset because like I told you previously before, I wanted to break Chris Johnson’s record, because Chris Johnson is one of my top favorite players and because I pride myself on speed. And that 4.24, I told my mom, ‘I’m going to break that record.’ Letting my mom down … I feel like I let her down, because I didn’t get invited (to the Combine). I wanted that record as bad as I wanted to be a great football player and to be up there with Zach (Thomas). All that … sometimes it gets overwhelming. But then again, it’s just me. I love doing the impossible.”

(On whether he has met Zach Thomas before) – “I have spoken to him at Texas Tech when he came back to speak to us. (I said), ‘Actually, I really look up to you. I love your work ethic,’ and just the fact that he was an undersized linebacker. Looking at that, I was like, ‘Zach did it, so why can’t I?’ Yes, he was on the other side of the ball. Yes, he is tackling (players), and I’m making defenders miss. I felt like Zach, he pushed forward that movement as well. Everybody didn’t think he could do it, because he’s an undersized linebacker. And what did he do? He came out and proved people wrong. I feel like that’s the same thing I’m going towards. I definitely want to be recognized with him.”

(On whether Zach Thomas has reached out to him since being draft) – “No, sir. He hasn’t.”

(On dealing with criticism about being a small receiver) – “I’ve definitely heard every joke in the book. I use that fuel to my fire. I just go out there and tell them, ‘You can say I’m short, I’m this, I’m that. But when it all comes down to (it), you can’t stop me at the end of the day.’ You can say, ‘Jakeem, grow a little more.’ (I would say), ‘Dude, I stopped growing in middle school.’ That’s all you’re going to get right here. I always tell them, ‘At the end of the day, if it’s man-to-man, I’m going to win the battle.’ That’s what I look towards. I feel like once the ball is in my hands, there’s nobody that can stop me. I’ve been feeling like that my whole life.”

Leonte Carroo – May 6, 2016 Download PDF version

Friday, May 6, 2016

Wide Receiver Leonte Carroo

(On what the experience is like for him to finally be part of an NFL team and live out his dream) – “It’s a great experience. After the season, you pretty much train for two months and then you go into things like the Senior Bowl and the Combine. So to finally be here and to be with an organization and to get picked, it’s a great feeling. It’s just a blessing to be here and (you’re) just excited to be with your rookie class and your future team.”

(On if he feels added pressure because the team traded future draft picks to select him) – “No, not at all. Our special teams coach (at Rutgers, Joe Rossi) has a saying, ‘Just do your 1/11th.’ I’m just here to do my job. I’m blessed and thankful for the opportunity that the Dolphins … that they did that for me and that they traded up. I’m here now and I’m excited to be here. I’m just here to do my 1/11th.”

(On if he has a chip on his shoulder) – “Yes. There were, I think, nine receivers that were drafted ahead of me. (With) what I accomplished in college, I felt like I was the best receiver in this draft class. Now that I’m here, I’m just excited. All that stuff is behind me. I’m just going to do my 1/11th and show what I can do on the field.”

(On if he had any troubles sleeping in anticipation of reporting to the team) – “No, not at all. The one thing that the Dolphins organization (did) is that they made it very comfortable for us as a rookie class. It wasn’t very intense when we got in here, as far as coaches yelling at us. (Head) Coach (Adam) Gase did a great job of introducing all of the coaches to us and the support staff here. It was good to put a face with all of the names and now we’re just playing football. We’re doing what we’ve been doing since we were five years old. So I didn’t lose any sleep last night. I just woke up and treated it like every other day.”

(On if it is weird to not practice during a rookie minicamp) – “Honestly, this is my first rookie minicamp. I don’t know how any other team does a rookie minicamp. To me, this is what the Miami Dolphins do. I don’t know how any other team does it. I’m just here to do whatever they ask and our job, whether that’s on the field, (in the) weight room, in the classroom or (with the) media. I’m just here to do my job.”

(On if he has seen what Head Coach Adam Gase’s offense will be like and if he feels like the receivers can be versatile in this offense) – “Yes. He’s an offensive genius. He creates a lot of mismatches for a lot of defenses. I feel like, with this offensive system, it allows playmakers to make plays. He’s going to move guys in different spots. That’s why our wide receivers coach (Shawn Jefferson) is big on making sure that we learn the whole concept instead of guys just learning individual routes or what they do. So that’s what I’ve been focused on so that way I’m able to move in different spots, if necessary.”

(On a specific trait he brings to this wide receivers group) – “Kind of a lot like (WR) Jarvis (Landry), I’m a very physical receiver but I’m also fast for my size. I had three career drops in my whole entire career so I catch the ball very well. That’s what I look to do – stretch the field; and, if necessary, I can be in the slot and catch the underneath routes as well.”

(On if he specifically remembers those three drops) – “I remember two of them. I forgot the third one. All I know is that I only had three (drops).”

(On how he decided on playing college football at Rutgers) – “I chose Rutgers because I had a pretty unique situation in high school. My high school was an hour and 10 minutes away from my actual home so I decided to live with a host family for four years in high school. I had a little sister at the time (that) … I was a very important person in her life. I didn’t want to pretty much be out of her life for eight years so I decided to just stay home. (My hometown of) Edison is two minutes away from Rutgers so I stayed home and was able to go to her basketball games and things like that. So that’s the reason that I stayed home.”

(On his arrest and if he thinks it impacted the draft process for him) – “I do believe it probably did hurt me. But at the end of the day, it’s behind me now. The Miami Dolphins obviously believed in me since Day 1 and believed that it wasn’t true, which it wasn’t. I was exonerated and I was back on my team two weeks after the incident happened. I’m just happy that that stuff is behind me and I’m ready to play football now.”

(On the experience of living with a host family) – “It was awesome. It was a little weird at first, me being a 13-year-old little boy. And I’m here, pretty much out of my comfort zone because I’m from a pretty bad neighborhood and now I’m in Ramsey, New Jersey, which is a pretty wealthy neighborhood. I’m not used to some of the things. But that family made it very welcoming for me. They had three kids of their own and they allowed me to stay with them. They treated me as if I was their son for years.”

(On his sister) – “Her name is Kenisha. She’s a freshman in high school now so she was in elementary school when I left. I’m her big brother. It was a time … I played three sports in high school so I didn’t go home much at all. I was living a college experience in high school. So when it was time to make my decision, I was a U.S. Army All-American, so I had scholarship (offers) everywhere. So I said why not stay home so I could continue to be a part of her life, watch here grow up, and also try to do something that’s never been done and that’s bring a championship back to Rutgers.”

(On what he expects to get out of this rookie minicamp) – “Learning how to be a pro. This is the first time any of us are officially a pro. So one, you have to learn how to be a pro, learn how to take care of your body, and also learn how to be a Miami Dolphin. (You have to) learn the offenses, make your way around the building (and) get to know people. They have the connections here for us to not only be a great player but a great person. So we just have to take advantage of it.”

(On what he attributes to having just three drops in college and if catching the football comes natural to him) – “It’s actually not natural. My junior year (of high school), kind of like what (WR Jakeem) Grant was up here saying, I was a little big-headed. I had (18) touchdowns up until the state championship game my junior year. And I think in my junior year state championship game, I think I dropped six touchdown passes in that one game. It was something I took a lot of pride in. I came back my senior year and worked on my hands every single day. I did rice bucket and sand bucket (exercises) and caught JUGS and I dropped one pass my senior year. I (went) to college and, from that junior year experience, I told myself that I was going to try not to ever drop a pass again because it was just embarrassing. I just focused on my hands every day. Every morning, before anybody else got into the building, I caught JUGS, 100 balls a day (and) 100 balls after practice. That’s what I’m going to continue to do here, continue to do what I do best and that’s catch the ball.”

(On if he won that state championship game his junior year) – “We won. We almost lost though but we ended up winning. I never lost a game in high school.”

(On how he dropped six touchdowns in one games) – “(It was) just a lack of focus. Not to make any excuses, (but) it was freezing cold. My coaches put me in the best situation to score touchdowns. I actually lost a lot of scholarships off of it. Like I said, I was rolling. I had (almost) 20 touchdowns in that season. Up until that state championship game, I thought I was the man. That week I wasn’t practicing as hard. It was a lifelong lesson for me. I learned from it and now I take advantage of every opportunity. (During) game week, I still make sure that I stick to my routine so that I won’t ever drop a pass again.”

Kenyan Drake – May 6, 2016 Download PDF version

Friday, May 6, 2016

Running Back Kenyan Drake

(On the experience of being drafted) – “The process was tedious in itself. Going from as soon as the national championship (game) ended, straight into finding an agent to going down to IMG (Academy) and training in Bradenton, Florida to getting ready for the Combine, Pro Days, flying out to different teams – things of that sort … So once I got time to actually sit down with my family for the last few days leading up to the draft, it was … I guess it was more relaxing than anything, because it was the first time that I really got to chill with my family through this whole entire process. I just took that all in with them. Once I got drafted by the Dolphins, obviously, it was a very fulfilling moment in my life, because it’s a lifelong achievement that I’ve always wanted to accomplish. I’m glad to be a Miami Dolphin.”

(On what trait makes him a running back that doesn’t need a lot of carries to make an impact) – “I guess my versatility, in general. I don’t necessarily have to be in the backfield to make a play. I can be lined up out wide in the special teams game, not necessarily just (to) return the ball, but kickoff, run down, (and) make a tackle on kickoff. I feel like I try to make the most of every opportunity that I have on the field (and) play every play like it’s my last play. I give every effort – my maximum effort – in every play and just go with it.”

(On if he wants to line up in multiple positions with the Dolphins) – “Of course. I want to come here and definitely display my versatility. Not necessarily in my game specifically, but if I can cause a mismatch and make a defense play to me, that leaves somebody else open and we have a multitude of weapons on this field that can be utilized. That just opens (up) a game plan even more for everybody else.”

(On whether he expected to be the third running back drafted) – “Yes, of course. I feel like – in general – (with) my skill set … In my eyes, it allowed me to be the best back in the draft. I want to continue to prove that throughout my NFL career.”

(On playing against G/T Laremy Tunsil in college) – “I’ve played him – I guess – three times in my career, because he’s a junior, and I’m a senior. But he’s a very polished athlete at the offensive lineman position. Watching film on him up to the draft with all the analysis on him, he definitely didn’t give up many sacks, (he has) no technique flaws or anything. He’s just very polished, very firm in his technique. I feel like he will definitely bring that to the league and be a contributor right away.”

(On watching G/T Laremy Tunsil on film) – “When you see it on TV, the analysts break things down. Obviously, they’re going to show the best plays. And his best plays were great plays.”

(On whether he feels fresh because he did not have many carries in college) – “I guess you could say (that) in a sense. But we haven’t … I haven’t played a down of football since January, so I feel like anybody in their right mind would feel fresh, regardless. Like I said, I just want to come here (and) help this team win any way possible.”

(On the strengths he brings to the table) – “I guess reiterating on my versatility, my ability to be an every down back in my personal opinion, continue to improve on things I need to work on such as my pass protection, third down, things of that sort, but also being able to line up out wide and create mismatches against linebackers (and) safeties.”

(On whether he believes he has a chance to start) – “I’m just coming here to help the team win any way possible. I’m focused on rookie minicamp right now, going into OTAs, going into (training) camp and let the chips fall where they may at that time. I’m going to continue to work hard and be the best player I can be and help this team win a championship.”

(On playing behind RB Derrick Henry at Alabama and how you have to suppress your ego in a role like that) – “I don’t necessarily look at anything in that sort, because I played behind a multitude of backs at Alabama from the Eddie Lacys to the T.J. Yeldons to Derrick Henry. We didn’t necessarily see it as playing behind each other – playing in front of each other – because we were all in one room trying to obtain one goal, and that was to be the best we could be. Anytime they made a play, I was happy for them. We were together anytime I made a play, and vice versa. That’s what I’m going to bring here to this team is selflessness and a willing to go out and win in any way possible.”

(On whether there were times he was concerned that not being the featured back in college would affect his draft stock) – “Of course not. Because at the end of the day, GMs and everybody, they look at specific abilities. Just because you didn’t get the play doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not a great player. Obviously, the Dolphins proved that with drafting me.”

(On being compared to great NFL running backs that were backups in college) – “Just to be mentioned in names with such great backs is very humbling. But I have to go out there as Kenyan Drake and do what I have to do personally. I loved, personally, what they did, but I have to put the work in to make my name a household name, too, like theirs.”

(On whether there is a particular run play that he enjoys) – “Any run play. It doesn’t matter. Inside, outside, sweep, inside zone from the gun – it doesn’t matter. I’m willing to stick my nose in there, get the yards (we) need to get, bounce it outside, take it the distance. It doesn’t matter.”

(On what the first morning of minicamp was like for him) – “I’m just glad to be back to work, honestly. Just to get back to football is definitely something I’ve been urging to get to. We’re not practicing or anything, which actually … Ironically, I actually looked forward to actually being back into pads, but this is definitely something … I definitely believe (Head) Coach (Adam) Gase has the best interest in us as players … with how we’ve come through this entire (draft) process, and how our bodies have worn down up to this point, and to focus mentally on the game plan, and becoming pros and being a Miami Dolphin is the best situation for it.”

(On how playing at Alabama prepared him for the NFL) – “I just felt like practicing against, honestly, the best players in the country on a daily basis, would give me an edge in any regard, first and foremost. The process of being in that kind of situation – (a) pro-style offense – I come in with a good understanding of not necessarily the terminology – because terminology can be different – but every base pro-style offense is going to be the same. So, that gives me an edge over whoever else didn’t have that opportunity. At the same time, going to Alabama and being under that kind of culture – that winning culture – I expect nothing less out of my teammates and out of myself. That’s why I’m going to come here and try to help this team win a Super Bowl any way possible.”

(On his best story of Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban) – “Next question.” (laughter)

(On being polished as a route runner and whether that is something he learned at Alabama) – “With (Alabama Offensive Coordinator Lane) Kiffin, he allowed me to go into their offensive meeting rooms and then go out with the receivers and learn formations and things of that sort. I feel like the last two years when I was with Kiffin and his offense, it definitely gave me a broader knowledge of the game and the offense as a whole, because now when I come into these meeting rooms with the coaches and they ask me to give a formation or a personnel (grouping) – things of that sort – I’m not just looking at my position as a whole. I can see the field and have a broader, wide range of how to understand the offense as a whole.”

(On whether understanding the receiver position gives him an advantage) – “Yes, exactly. Having that ability to understand, not just my role but (the) receiver role … They can insert me into that position – and things of that sort – (and) I feel like (it) gives me an edge and gives my teammates an edge, because I have the ability to have that knowledge.”

Xavien Howard – May 6, 2016 Download PDF version

Friday, May 6, 2016

Cornerback Xavien Howard

(On his size, how he fits into the team’s scheme and if he thinks that is why he is here right now) – “Yes, I feel like I fit the scheme they have going on. (I’m a) press corner. I’m six (feet tall). I’m a physical corner, a ball hawk, and I feel like I fit the scheme that (Defensive Coordinator) Vance Joseph has going on.”

(On how practicing against former Baylor WR Corey Coleman helped him) – “It helped me a lot. Me and (WR) Corey (Coleman), we stay competing. Every time we played each other, it was always good or bad. So we competed against each other (and) made each other better.”

(On if it means anything to him that he’s being talked about as a possible starter) – “I really don’t look at it like that. I’m just coming in here to make plays and hopefully be a starter. I love that they’re talking about it but I’ve got to live up to my expectations that I have for myself.”

(On what he thinks about not practicing during rookie minicamp and what he hopes to get out of this weekend) – “I plan on getting immensely prepared for it. (I plan to get) prepared for the NFL, the speed, the tempo and how the things go; and really learning the defense.”

(On his football background) – “I realized I was good at football in high school. In my freshman year, I had played basketball. I didn’t play football in my freshman year. (I did play football) my sophomore year. I got back into it. My junior year (was) when I started playing quarterback – my junior and senior year. I started really cornerback my senior year. So I feel like I had made some plays. I had a lot of interceptions in high school and that’s when I knew I was ready for college. So I got accepted to Baylor then I redshirted my freshman year. There was some stuff I needed to work on – technique and getting ready for the (college) game, the Big 12. Then after that, my redshirt sophomore year I had won a starting job and my redshirt junior year. I was just improving each year. As I left as a redshirt junior, now I’m here in Miami.”

(On if he agrees with the comparison to CB Byron Maxwell) – “Oh yeah. I had watched him when he was at Seattle and (with) the Eagles. I like his game. I feel like he’s a good comparison.”

(On how important it is for a cornerback to always know where his help is) – “It’s very important because you have to know where everybody is on the field. So knowing what’s going on and just being mentally prepared for it – like how they have us (learning) now – It’s just learning (where the help is and) learning defense.”

(On playing at Baylor and helping put the school on the map) – “When Coach Briles came in from (the University of Houston) he had started (to turn things around) at Baylor, going to a bowl game and stuff like that. As we had different players coming in (and some) top recruits coming in, we just worked hard over there at Baylor. And just competing against teams like OU, OSU, TCU, it was very important because everybody wanted to be the Big 12 Champs and we were the Big 12 Champs back to back. And we knew TCU, OSU and a lot of teams wanted to beat us.”

(On what area he feels he needs to improve and grow) – “I need to chill out with a lot of penalties that I had in college and really my technique. (I need to) get better in my technique. Not false stepping and stuff that my coach used to tell me in college. That’s really, basically it. I’m improving on everything around but I (have) good ball skills and being physical but I (have) to clean stuff up and make me an NFL corner.”

(On his first conversations with Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph) – “When I came in, he had talked to me about learning the defense. Getting the mental (part) down and just know what everything going on.”

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