DAVIE, Fla. — New Miami Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller sounded pleasantly surprised when giving his impression of quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
“Tannehill has the ability to take a firm grasp on the offense and change a lot of things up,” Keller said Tuesday. “That’s what you want. You want a guy who has the ability to do anything. That’s what the Tom Bradys, the Peyton Mannings are allowed to do.
“It’s just really cool they give him that much leeway.”
The Dolphins also have given Tannehill a revamped receiving corps.
Keller and wide receivers Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson have joined Brian Hartline to form an improved unit that should help upgrade Miami’s passing attack. Tannehill and his receivers worked against defenders for the first time during this week’s organized training activities (OTA).
“We’re still learning but I’m excited by what I see from those guys,” Tannehill said of his receivers. “They’re all getting a grasp on the offense and we’re starting to get a lot of reps with each other.”
The Dolphins offense is nothing new to Hartline, who re-signed with Miami during the free-agent period.
“I’ve always said it’s a passing league,” Hartline said. “You can be multi-faceted but you have to be able to throw the football and do it effectively. To have depth, to have guys that can do many different things brings a lot to the table.”
One hope is that the free-agent acquisitions (Wallace, Gibson, Keller) will bolster Miami’s ability to run a no-huddle attack.
“Being able to move the chains really is the one deciding thing that gets you the opportunity to call more plays and play faster,” coach Joe Philbin said. “To that degree, the more weapons you have on offense you have to believe that helps your percentages to get more first downs and creating that type of (fast) tempo.”
During his first full-squad workouts with his new team, Wallace quickly realized he no longer was in Pittsburgh.
“I thought I was in pretty good shape before today, but today was a lot different going out there,” Wallace said. “Not really getting a break … so up-tempo, so fast-paced, you just have to get used to it.
“When you get fatigued, things happen sometimes. So you just have to get in good shape, good football shape — even better football shape here than I was ever before.”
There are other reasons Wallace understands he’s no longer with the Steelers, with whom he played in Super Bowl XLV.
“It’s a really young team,” Wallace said of the Dolphins. “Everybody has the college mentality around here. It’s a lot different coming from where I came from, with a lot of older guys. Everybody’s hungry, everybody wants to get better, everybody wants to be where we need to be and that’s a winning record.”
— Wallace was asked about going against 5-foot-10 defensive back Brent Grimes:
“It’s a little different going out on a guy so short,” the 6-foot receiver said. “One time Hartline thought (Grimes) was falling down, but he was actually just backpedalling.
“He’s probably one of the most athletic guys I’ve sever seen. He can run, he can jump. He plays a lot bigger than his height.”
— Philbin was asked about the OTA absence of second-round draft pick Jamar Taylor, a cornerback from Boise State.
“For the OTAs, I’m glad to answer any questions about any of the players that were participating in practices,” the coach said. “As we all know, this is a voluntary period we’re in right now.”
— Philbin was asked about Jared Odrick seeing time at defensive tackle and whether the defensive end would be moving inside.
“Not necessarily,” Philbin said. “The OTAs are about creating as many opportunities as we possibly can for the players to compete for playing time. It’s a time to experiment.”
— Tannehill complimented Jonathan Martin, who’s expected to replace departed Jake Long, who signed as a free agent with St. Louis.
“He’s getting back to what he played in college, so he’s comfortable there,” Tannehill said of Martin playing left tackle. “He got to finish out the year last year and he’s been working all offseason on playing the left side. I’m comfortable with him there and I think he’s comfortable as well.”
— Philbin said his ideal starter at running back is a consistent, versatile, elusive performer.
“The defenses are to the point where they make a lot of their calls based on what jersey numbers are in the game,” Philbin said. “So the more multi-dimensional our guys can be … they can catch, they can run, they can block … I think the better that is for us as an offense and tougher it is on a defense.”