What Dolphins rookie Channing Tindall learned in first NFL game

·3 min read

TAMPA — Channing Tindall had just completed his first NFL game and yes, it was just a preseason game, but he stood in front of his NFL locker with the biggest smile.

"Honestly just going out there stepping on the field, I got a little bit of goosebumps," Tindall said. "Just being out there dreaming as as a kid, growing up just being out there, it's just amazing."

Tindall, a linebacker, was the Dolphins' top pick in the last NFL Draft. Tindall has played on the biggest stages of the SEC, including in the College Football Playoff for Georgia.

So how did suiting up for Miami at Tampa Bay on Saturday night compare to a national championship game?

"It's the NFL," Tindall said. "It's about the same feeling."

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Tindall is 22 years old. Though he was a key contributor at Georgia, he was not a starter. So Miami views the third-rounder as a developmental prospect with upside.

"We've seen some flashes," Dolphins defensive coordinator Josh Boyer said recently.

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"He’s young, but you can see all the potential," Dolphins linebacker Jerome Baker said after a recent training camp practice.

On Saturday, Tindall played 25 snaps. He recorded two tackles as well as one on special teams.

"I just saw him flying around making plays everywhere and I think that’s kind of his game," Miami linebacker Jaelan Phillips said in the locker room after the game. "He’s a real fast guy, and a great effort guy and he’s really talented."

According to Pro Football Focus, Tindall graded as Miami's second-best defensive player on Saturday. They noted he was targeted twice, allowing just 5 yards.

After the draft, Dolphins general manager Chris Grier noted Tindall's speed and his ability to blitz, cover running backs and tight ends and spy quarterbacks.

Boyer mentioned that right now Tindall is learning the entire defense. Things will come a bit easier for the rookie when things are dialed back to specific packages.

"Focus on this," Boyer said he will tell Tindall at some point. "And this will be the chances for you to get out on the field."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end JJ Howland is stopped by Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Tindall. [JASON BEHNKEN/AP]
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end JJ Howland is stopped by Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Tindall. [JASON BEHNKEN/AP]

In Baker, the Dolphins have a speedy linebacker who can stay on the field for all three downs. Miami has a run-stopping thumper in Elandon Roberts.

And the Dolphins also have more experienced players with speed and the ability to blitz and cover in Duke Riley and Sam Eguavoeon.

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So what Miami coaches will want to see from Tindall is steady progress.

"You get to the point where guys are answering questions quicker and that's exciting," Miami linebackers coach Anthony Campanile said. "And it's encouraging."

Campanile noted that Tindall has been committed both in the classroom as well as during and after practice, putting in extra work.

Tindall knows he has a lot to learn. What did he learn in his first game?

"The NFL is bigger, faster, stronger," Tindall said. "And guys are smarter. There's about five or six things I learned today."

Joe Schad is a journalist at the Palm Beach Post part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. You can reach him at jschad@pbpost.comHelp support our journalism. Subscribe today.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Miami Dolphins rookie linebacker Channing Tindall flies around