Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill lacked an elite receiver to throw to last year. With speedster Mike Wallace now on the practice field, Tannehill is learning to let it fly.
“I think the first couple of days, I didn’t completely under-throw him, but I made him slow up a step,” Tannehill said Tuesday as the club began a three-day mini-camp.
“When you have a speed guy like that, you don’t want to slow him up. You want to let him hit that last gear and separate at the end. That’s the thing I’m working on right now with him.”
Wallace said he understands that it takes time for a new quarterback and receiver to jell.
“Everything is not going to be on point. It’s not like we’re game-planning for this or that,” said Wallace, who spent the last four seasons catching passes from Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger.
“(Offseason practices are) for me to get the ball and for me and him to just develop chemistry. … I think after training camp we’ll be fine.”
Starks returns: Pro Bowl defensive tackle Randy Starks returned to the field after missing three voluntary offseason practices.
Starks signed the team’s $8.45 million franchise tender in the offseason but is looking for a long-term contract. He sat out the voluntary practices in protest.
He didn’t get any practice reps Tuesday but said the defense should be improved this year. Last year the Dolphins gave up the 12th-most yards per game in the NFL.
“It looks good right now but everything looks good on paper until the pads come on, so we’ll see,” Starks said. “I’ve got to get in there and get some reps with some of the guys and we’ll see how it turns out.”
Coach Joe Philbin wouldn’t commit to giving Starks more reps this week.
“We’ll watch the tape and see how he looks,” Philbin said. “He’s been away from us for a while. We just wanted to get him acclimated to practicing football again.”
Sturgis impresses Philbin: With few starting positions up for grabs this offseason, the kicking competition between rookie Caleb Sturgis and veteran Dan Carpenter has become a hot topic at camp.
Teams don’t usually draft kickers to cut them so Sturgis, a former Florida standout and fifth-round draft pick, is considered the favorite. He’s also the cheaper option with Carpenter counting for $3 million against the salary cap. Sturgis would play on a rookie contract.
Philbin praised Sturgis’ professionalism.
“I like the way he moves around the building,” Philbin said. “He’s quiet. He seems to be a hard worker. He seems to have a pretty strong leg.”
But Philbin also praised Carpenter, saying he’s “done a very, very good job around here for a long time.”
Rookie DB signs: Cornerback Will Davis, a third-round pick out of Utah State, signed a four-year rookie deal Monday night. That leaves fellow third-round pick Dallas Thomas, an offensive lineman, and first-round pick Dion Jordan, a defensive end, as the team’s only unsigned rookies.