DAVIE, Fla. — With training camp barely underway, Miami Dolphins rookie receiver Jarvis Landry has already showed an ability to catch the ball and the boss’ eye.
When team owner Stephen Ross was asked what player he’s most eager to see this season, he named Landry, a second-round draft choice from Louisiana State.
"Jarvis Landry is somebody I think everybody is really excited about, speaking to the coaches," Ross said. "I think he’s really going to be somebody that’s going to surprise a lot of people and really bring some excitement to this team."
Landry was overshadowed at LSU by his close friend Odell Beckham Jr., a first-round pick by the New York Giants. Landry’s draft stock slipped because of doubts about his speed, and the Dolphins traded down twice before taking him with the 63rd overall pick.
But during offseason drills, the 5-foot-11, 202-pound Landry consistently got open and seemed to catch everything thrown his way. That was the case again Saturday during the second practice of training camp.
Afterward, Landry was the last player doing drills on the field, catching passes from a ball machine when his teammates had already gone inside. He takes pride in his work ethic.
"It’s one of the things I’ve developed to get me to this point, and why stop now?" he said. "It’s time to put your foot on the gas and make an impression."
The receiving group is the deepest, most competitive unit on the Miami roster. Landry will try to claim a place on the depth chart behind returning starters Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline and slot receiver Brandon Gibson.
But with Dolphins expected to throw a lot under new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, they’ll likely give the rookie plenty of opportunities.
"He seems to be kind of an instinctive football player," coach Joe Philbin said. "He picks things up well. I think he reads coverages quickly and accurately, he has a knack of finding a way to get open, and so far he has displayed very good hands. He’s off to a very good start."
Among those watching Saturday’s workout was A.J. Duhe, a former Pro Bowl linebacker for the Dolphins and an LSU alum. Duhe said he was thrilled when the Dolphins drafted Landry.
"All the talk was about Odell Beckham Jr., but Landry always seemed to be the guy they threw the ball to when it was money time," Duhe said. "His hands are exceptional. I saw him make a catch today where he snagged one 4 or 5 inches off the ground. Nowadays you need guys who can get open and make the catch when you need a catch made. He’s going to fit that mold."
Hampered by a hamstring injury, Landry ran a 4.77 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, but allayed concerns about his speed with a 4.51 at Louisiana State’s pro day. Even so, he’s not as fast as Beckham — or Jerry Rice, his hero as a youngster.
Landry wore No. 80 in Rice’s honor at LSU, but veteran tight end Dion Sims has that number with the Dolphins. So Landry now wears 14 for the year "when all my hard work paid off."
Landry’s also a fan of New York Jets receiver Eric Decker, and said he’s styling parts of his game after Hartline and Wallace.
"I try to take bits and pieces from everybody," he said. "I call it changing the standard of what a receiver should look like. I’m blue collar. I do all the dirty work. I’m selfless and very team oriented. Whatever is best for the team, I’m willing to do."
That’s what the Dolphins want to hear, and what Ross is eager to see. Landry was pleased to learn he had the owner’s attention.
"That’s a great compliment from such a prestigious guy," Landry said. "For him to give me a plug, I hope I can fill those shoes."