Training camp for the Miami Dolphins under new coach Mike McDaniel is set to begin with an opening practice on Wednesday after veterans reported to team facilities on Tuesday.
As the Dolphins posted a series of pictures and video clips on social media of players arriving at Baptist Health Training Complex across the street from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, the anticipation for what the Dolphins can be in 2022 only builds. It starts to feel real that it will soon be unveiled what the Dolphins look like with McDaniel leading a revamped offense that added wide receiver Tyreek Hill and left tackle Terron Armstead in the offseason and kept a potent defense intact.
With the regular-season opener against the New England Patriots about a month and a half away, the next several weeks of practice, along with three preseason games, will lead the Dolphins into this pivotal season where the team looks to turn back-to-back winning campaigns into a playoff berth.
McDaniel’s player-friendly coaching style is a pivot from predecessor Brian Flores’ disciplinarian approach. As he wants his players to feel comfortable being themselves, the team enters camp loose.
Nowhere is that more evident than with Hill, who brings his star persona to go with the elite play on the outside as a Pro Bowl in each of his six previous NFL seasons with the Chiefs. Hill has been outspoken throughout the offseason in the media and on his own, recently established podcast in talking up quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Tagovailoa has had every excuse through two seasons for his mediocre passing yardage and touchdown-to-interception numbers. Those excuses — a putrid pass-blocking offensive line, pass catchers that were constantly unavailable, an unsupportive ex-coach, to name a few — have largely all been addressed. After building chemistry with Hill, new slot receiver Cedrick Wilson and returning targets Jaylen Waddle and Mike Gesicki in organized team activities and minicamp, Tagovailoa will immerse himself into a critical camp for his career now that he has the tools around him.
McDaniel, an offensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers in 2021 before arriving in Miami, will surely look to unlock Tagovailoa’s potential in the quarterback’s third professional season. He’ll have to make sure Hill doesn’t see a significant dropoff in production from what he did in Kansas City under coach Andy Reid with quarterback Patrick Mahomes throwing it to him and alongside tight end Travis Kelce.
But maybe most important will be what he can implement in the running game with his wide-zone scheme he brings from the 49ers. McDaniel has the additions of Armstead and fellow free-agent acquisition Connor Williams on the offensive line. A refurbished backfield now has tailbacks Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert and Sony Michel that should create a formidable committee with fullback Alec Ingold lead-blocking.
On the other side of the ball, defensive coordinator Josh Boyer now has the keys to that unit. McDaniel made the decision to keep him and most of the other position coaches on defense while retaining virtually all of the pieces that made the Dolphins’ blitz-heavy defense as successful as it was in the second half of 2021.
Boyer will have to prove he doesn’t need Flores, who had a defensive background from his time as an assistant in New England with Boyer, as a fallback. Signing defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah to a long-term extension and giving cornerback Xavien Howard the new deal he was looking for assured Miami it would return key components to the defense up front and in the secondary. The notable offseason addition on defense, while many believed would come at inside linebacker, instead was on the edge with veteran Melvin Ingram to give the pass rush another boost. The Dolphins’ first draft choice, however, at No. 102 overall late in the third round, was Georgia inside linebacker Channing Tindall.
A number of key position battles will take place over 18 practices — including a pair of joint practices with each the Buccaneers and Eagles — and three preseason exhibitions ahead of the season, most notably at running back and along the offensive line. Players at the edge of any 53-man roster projection and roster longshots alike will compete for those final few spots. Team leaders, either returning or new to the team, will come to light.
The Dolphins’ first few training camp practices are closed to the public while open to media, and the team’s first session open to fans will be on Saturday. The team site says the Dolphins have sold out their training camp tickets.