McDaniel on when he knew Tyreek Hill was ‘different.’ Plus Byron Jones, other injury updates

Al Diaz/adiaz@miamiherald.com

The Miami Dolphins knew Tyreek Hill was special before he moved to South Florida.

That’s why they offered the Kansas City Chiefs five picks for him and gave the six-time Pro Bowler a $120 million extension. But the moment Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel realized the magnitude of Hill’s talent came on the fourth day of organized team activities.

“I’ve been fortunate to be around Andre Johnson in his prime, Julio Jones in his prime, Josh Gordon, Pierre Garçon lead the league in receiving,” McDaniel said Wednesday. “All of these great players. And he [Hill] is different. We knew then.”

In 2013, McDaniel served as the Washington Commanders’ wide receivers coach and created a route, which Leonard Hankerson ran against the then-San Diego Chargers. McDaniel described the route as one with a “deeper out-break … that not all that many people can run because [of] the timing of the play to push it that deep. You don’t always have protection for it.”

The route got the most play with Jones in Atlanta, where McDaniel served as the Falcons offensive assistant coach in 2015 and 2016.

He had Hill run the route during OTAs. McDaniel’s reaction: “Whoa.”

“Exceptional speed, depth, intent.”

Another moment came after Hill recorded the fifth-fastest tracked time in practice. McDaniel said he teased him, congratulating the wide receiver known for his speed (see the nickname “Cheetah”), calling the ranking a “great achievement.” McDaniel turned to the quickest player that day and said, “Man, you’re the fastest player on the Dolphins. This is awesome.”

The next practice, Hill topped out somewhere around 23.48 miles per hour, McDaniel said, for the highest speed ever recorded in a Dolphins practice.

“‘OK, yeah, he’s different,’” McDaniel said of his reaction to Hill’s response. “On the field, off the field, it’s not happenstance that he’s able to have success.”

Hill, with 1,104 receiving yards, has accrued the most receiving yards in league history through the first nine games of a season and is on pace for the NFL’s first 2,000-yard season.

McDaniel on Byron Jones’ status

Cornerback Byron Jones has been on the Dolphins physically-unable-to-perform-list since he underwent an offseason surgery on his lower leg. Undrafted rookie Kader Kohou has assumed the starting role in Jones’ place.

Might it be safe to rule Jones out for the remainder of the year, considering he’s officially missed the first half of the season, or is it still reasonable to expect his return?

“That’s still open,” McDaniel said. “I react. I don’t try to dictate the future. My crystal ball is broken.”

Cracraft returns to practice, Jackson sidelined again

Wide receiver River Cracraft, who missed the past two games with a neck injury and then illness, returned to practice Wednesday. He was limited in the session, according to the team’s injury report.

Four Dolphins didn’t practice: offensive tackles Terron Armstead (toe) and Austin Jackson (ankle/calf), cornerback Xavien Howard (vet rest) and tight end Hunter Long (concussion protocol).

McDaniel said Jackson, who was activated to the 53-man roster from injured reserve last week, is “day to day” with an ankle and calf injury. Jackson, who was limited participant last Friday, hasn’t played since sustaining an injury in the team’s season opener on Sept. 11.