MIAMI -- Dolphins players and coaches tempered their excitement after Saturday's scrimmage at Sun Life Stadium. After all, you don't want to read too much into the result of glorified practice in early August.
But they all had to be greatly encouraged by what they saw on both sides of the ball among the starters. No one can be sure whether it was playoff-caliber football, but it was as close as the Dolphins have been in training camp.
It should be noted Saturday's scrimmage didn't feature all-out hitting or tackling, but the action was intense enough to give a good indication of where things stand.
The offense, under direction of first-year coordinator Bill Lazor, was all that it promised. It featured lots of pre-snap motion which, as designed, got the playmakers in 1-on-1 situations with defenders on the ground and in the air.
Running back Lamar Miller had six carries for 36 yards, two receptions for 27 yards and one touchdown, that coming on a 9-yard play. He had open running lanes and room to run on receptions.
"We want to be able to spread the field and we want to be able to attack the field in the running game and the passing game," coach Joe Philbin said. "We had some success doing that 1/8Saturday3/8, and that's who we are right now."
And quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who thrived on short and intermediate passes on this day, got the ball out of his hands quickly and into the hands of the playmakers.
"That's our offense, all timing," said Tannehill, who was unofficially 15-for-27 passing for 139 yards, for two touchdowns and a two-point conversion with no interceptions.
"We don't want to be back there holding the ball, we're going to push the ball downfield, but it's still timing. That's a big emphasis."
The first-team offensive line, the subject of so much concern and skepticism, didn't surrender a sack. The first-team offense, going against the second-team defense, drove 78 yards and scored on its first possession. The first-team offense also didn't commit a turnover, and it had no problems with the quarterback-center exchange, something that was an issue during the week.
The first-team defense got off to a slow start. Well, all except for defensive tackle Randy Starks who was an absolute terror during the first few plays.
But the entire defense eventually became disruptive as cornerback Cortland Finnegan had an interception, end Cameron Wake had a sack and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe had a sack. Fellow linebacker Philip Wheeler might have had another sack but the play was blown dead.
"We came out and competed," Finnegan said. "We did everything we needed to do. But there's always room for improvement and that's what training camp is all about."
Counting the contributions of the backups, the defense had two interceptions (safety Jimmy Wilson had the other), five sacks, and a 73-yard touchdown when rookie linebacker Jordan Tripp stripped the ball from running back Damien Williams, scooped it up and ran it in for the score.
"It was good to see us get some takeaways," Philbin said of the defense.
There were a few downers Saturday. A few notable players such as wide receivers Mike Wallace (hamstring) and Brian Hartline (unknown) didn't participate in the scrimmage. Tight end Charles Clay was limited after sustaining an apparent leg injury that didn't seem serious. Third-team quarterback Pat Devlin, playing in place of backup quarterback Matt Moore (shoulder), struggled, going 7 for 14 for 71 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Wide receiver Rishard Matthews, a training camp star so far, dropped a sure touchdown pass from Tannehill that hit him in the chest. Wheeler, surprisingly, got run over by third-team running back Mike Gillislee.
Overall, however, Dolphins fans, players and coaches should be encouraged.
As center Nate Garner said, "I think we did a pretty good job 1/8Saturday3/8."
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