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Dolphins' defense shines; Tannehill vows to be better prepared

The SportsXchange

DAVIE, Fla. -- During Wednesday's OTA workout, the Miami Dolphins defense stole the show, as it were, with four interceptions, two of which would have been returned for touchdowns. It was a welcome sight for a defense that's lacked big time play-making ability for years.

But most likely their success was because of a sneaky trick -- they used schemes unfamiliar to their offense.

"The defense threw a lot of stuff at us we hadn't even talked about in the offensive meeting room," QB Ryan Tannehill said. "It's different. You prepare for a defense in a game situation, you look at game tape, you study it, you pretty much know what they're going to bring.

"Out here they're installing stuff day-by-day so we don't really know what's been put in. They put in a lot of new stuff today and we weren't really prepared for it and on the same page as an offense. We'll look at it and be prepared tomorrow."

Among the players who recorded interceptions were linebackers Koa Misi and Alonzo Highsmith, cornerback De'Andre Presley, and safety Kelcie McCray.

Although it is only May, the takeaways are a positive sign for the Dolphins. They only had 16 takeaways last season, which was tied for 29th in the 32-team NFL.

Coach Joe Philbin emphasized many times last season his defense needed more takeaways and perhaps their recent overhaul of talent -- Miami could have as many as five new starters on defense, seven if you count nickel and dime defensive backs -- is helping.

But one of those new players, cornerback Brent Grimes, discounted what happened Wednesday.

"What is it? May?" he asked. "This doesn't really matter. We're just coming out here doing what we've got to do. Some days the offense is going to make a lot of plays, some days we're going to make a lot of plays, but that's part of practice. They word is practice. We come out there trying to get better every day."

Tannehill seemed a bit more bothered than Grimes, but he also recognizes it's way very early in the process.

"Today wasn't our best day," Tannehill said of the offense, "but we had a lot of new guys out here. We'll get on the same page and that's what practices are for. We'll look at the tape, see where we messed up and use this time to get on the same page. That way when it gets to September, we're good to go."

--Wide receiver Mike Wallace wasn't at Wednesday's OTA and Philbin, as is his policy, didn't offer an explanation for his absence.

"I'll gladly answer any questions about any of our players that participated in practice today, as usual," Philbin said.

The Miami Herald reported Wallace was tending to a family emergency.

--OTAs are voluntary.

Defensive tackle Randy Starks, who signed the franchise player tender but is believed to be unhappy because he hasn't been offered a multiyear contract, hasn't been at any OTAs.

Safety Reshad Jones, in the final year of his rookie deal, missed the first day of an OTA earlier this month presumably as a protest of not getting a multiyear deal, but he's attended every day since that time.

Jones is due to make $1.323 million this season, which could make him the team's lowest-paid starting defensive back and one of the lowest starters, depending on how the depth chart plays out.

A fifth-round pick out of Georgia in 2010, Jones has been an important part of the defense, starting 28 games the last two seasons. Last year he led the team with four interceptions, recovered two fumbles, forced two fumbles, had one sack and was third on the team with 74 solo tackles.
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