The Miami Dolphins’ run game will be a critical component of the team’s success offensively, and it still remains somewhat of a mystery how coach Mike McDaniel will split touches with his running backs.
McDaniel has one of the league’s deeper backfields that will figure to play out like a committee. The Dolphins signed running backs Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert in the first week of free agency and added Sony Michel later in the offseason. They also have Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed as holdover running backs from the Brian Flores era. Youngsters in 2021 seventh-round pick Gerrid Doaks and undrafted rookie ZaQuandre White are also competing for an opportunity.
Out of respect for the nature of the competition two weeks into training camp, McDaniel stopped short on Sunday of revealing any vision he has for how to divvy up running back reps once games are played.
“For me to sit here and say every practice is important, every rep is important and it’s a constant competition, the only way that I can really follow through with those words, is I have to consciously — which I do — consciously refrain from doing that,” McDaniel said.
“I don’t want to limit an opportunity by having a preconceived notion. There’s guys that really got our running scheme, really got it early, maybe they’ve had a history in it, but you don’t shortchange the process of learning, nor do you really allow to get ahead in the predictive future.”
Mostert has previous experience in McDaniel’s system from time together with the San Francisco 49ers.
McDaniel is letting the process play out, but he also expressed optimism over how the running backs have performed in camp.
“My mindset is really just to coach guys and see what they do with it,” he said. “I’m very, very happy with that room. One of my favorite rooms I’ve been around. The competition is fierce, but they’re bringing the best out of each other. They get along.”
Healthy going into joint practices
The Dolphins are healthy ahead of next week’s joint practices with the Buccaneers in Tampa on Wednesday and Thursday.
“We’re fortunate enough right now that every bump and bruise and slight issue is not long term,” McDaniel said. “That is something that doesn’t always happen, but right now, we feel very fortuitous in that regard.”
McDaniel said it’ll be “case by case” with how he handles different veterans’ workload in joint practices in Tampa next week. He added there are veterans that “need to chill out [Sunday]” in the team’s final intrasquad practice before facing the Buccaneers.
—McDaniel touched on Dolphins second-year tight end Hunter Long, whom Miami selected with a third-round pick in the 2021 draft.
“Hunter is a player that we had on our radar when I was on [the 49ers],” McDaniel said. “He is a young player that fits what we do, so been very excited with him.”
This story will be updated.