Miami Dolphins mixing linebackers, maintaining mystery

Adam Gase says the Dolphins aren’t being unnecessarily secretive about their plans at linebacker for the upcoming season. According to him, it’s not that the staff is hiding something, it’s that they don’t know yet.

Miami Dolphins mixing linebackers

But he’s certainly not doing anything to clear up the mystery or give any hints as to which way he’s leaning. He’s stuck by the refrain that all the linebackers will play inside and outside and it appears the players have been instructed to keep quiet as well.

When newcomer Lawrence Timmons was asked simply what spot he was at for his first snap of an Organized Team Activity practice this week, he dodged it with a non-answer of, “We don’t know. I’m being interchangeable and just trying to get to know everything and get adjusted, taking it day by day.”

With that as a starting point, it might be months before the Dolphins reveal anything about where they intend to play Timmons, Kiko Alonso, Raekwon McMillan and others. All of them rotated in Thursday’s open practice. The only thing Gase was willing to say about it was, “We’re just moving guys around.”

Gase would likely argue that it doesn’t matter much who plays where because the Dolphins want all of their linebackers trained to play multiple positions, plus they will frequently be in nickel coverage with one linebacker being scrapped in favor of an extra defensive back. Timmons and Alonso both have experience playing outside and have said they’re willing to do so.

“We’ll go through the process and see what happens,” Gase said. “It’s hard for me to say who’s playing where. I know they’re all going to play linebacker, so that’s the best I can give you right now… There’s a lot of moving pieces we’ve got to figure out.”

One reason for that is the overhaul. No position changed as much for the Dolphins as linebacker did this offseason, which seemed inevitable after they set a franchise record for most rushing yards allowed and were third-worst in the NFL. They let starting outside linebacker Jelani Jenkins leave in free agency, and former backups Donald Butler and Spencer Paysinger remain unsigned.

At this point, Miami’s top two linebackers are Alonso and Timmons. It signed Alonso to a four-year, $28.9 million contract and brought Timmons in for $12 million over two seasons on a deal that’s almost fully guaranteed. Alonso was asked in March about moving to outside linebacker because of Timmons’ arrival and said he was fine with it.

“It’s a little different; you play some different techniques,” he said. “At the end of the day, linebacker is linebacker. You run and hit.”

McMillan, a second-round pick from Ohio State, will battle for playing time with Neville Hewitt, Mike Hill, Trevor Reilly and possibly Koa Misi. The Dolphins have four other linebackers behind them hoping to make the roster.

Misi, who exited with a neck injury after three games last season, isn’t ready to practice even in the non-contact environment of OTAs.

“We’ve still got some time before we get him out there,” Gase said. “We’re going through the proper medical procedures with him. We’re not going to rush a guy that had the type of injury he had.”

Miami isn’t counting on Misi this year, but it’s hoping he can be a contributor. After seven years with the team, he restructured his contract this offseason to keep from being cut. In those first six seasons, he started 70 games and averaged 55 tackles. That was promising enough for the Dolphins to build special packages for him going into last season, but didn’t get many opportunities to use them before he went out.

This season, Miami Dolphins Football the plans won’t be as concrete. The Dolphins want to have as much flexibility as possible at linebacker, which is a big part of why they’re mixing things up so much in OTAs.

Source : www.palmbeachpost.com

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