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FFL: Preseason | NFL: Week 1

Coach Flores says Dolphins are heading in right direction

Wed May 29 3:48pm ET
By STEVEN WINE
AP Sports Writer

Players: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Chandler Cox, Josh Rosen

FILE- In this May 14, 2019 file photo. Miami Dolphins quarterback Josh Rosen (3) talks to head coach Brian Flores, left, during NFL football practice in Davie, Fla. As Brian Flores settles into his job as coach of the Miami Dolphins, he's trying to establish a culture and choose quarterback. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)


In this May 14, 2019, file photo, Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores speaks before NFL football practice in Davie, Fla. As Flores settles into his job as coach of the Miami Dolphins, he's trying to establish a culture and choose quarterback.(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)


DAVIE, Fla. (AP) Brian Flores loves fullbacks as a coach because he hated them as a linebacker.

That small but illuminating revelation came Wednesday, helping a bit to answer the biggest question around the Miami Dolphins these days: What is the new coach like?

Fans and players won't really know until Flores and the Dolphins start winning and losing this fall. Flores acknowledged he's still in the early stages of a multiyear rebuilding effort ordered by owner Stephen Ross, and one phase ends next week with the conclusion of offseason practices.

''We're moving in the right direction,'' Flores said. ''We've got two weeks left. We need to finish strong. That's the challenge to the group.''

For Flores, who took over a team that doesn't have a postseason victory since 2000, the challenge is to establish a winning culture. He's trying to do that in ways large and small.

''It's ongoing,'' he said. ''It's something new every morning. I can't give it all to them every day, so I try to give it to them in bits.

''We're trying to build a culture that is about improvement, hard work and competition, but also about honesty and humility. Those are core values of mine. When you're not doing those things, that's when I get a little bit upset.''

Flores was hired following 15 seasons with the New England Patriots, and four months into the job, his stamp on the Dolphins' battered brand is becoming increasingly evident.

One example: a wall in the corner of the practice field that bears the initials TNT, for ''takes no talent.'' Players called out for mistakes during practice must run to the wall and back as punishment, a way of bringing discipline to a team that lacked it last year.

''The expectations when we step on the practice field have been set right away in terms of the hustle and the competitiveness,'' said well-traveled quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has experienced the difference between good teams and bad. ''We're going to practice the right way. That has been a point of emphasis, and it's something I enjoy.''

Flores has said every starting job is open, and while that's probably not true, players embrace his emphasis on competition and discipline.

''Competition creates chemistry,'' cornerback Bobby McCain said. ''When you're out here and you're balling and the loser does push-ups, no one wants to do push-ups.''

While the team adjusts to Flores, he's adjusting to being a head coach for the first time. Check back after he has lost on a last-second field goal, but so far he enjoys the job.

''I love coaching,'' he said. ''I'm passionate about it. It's just a bigger group I get to impact. Challenging them and being demanding is important to me. That's how you bring out the best in people. I love being in front of a big group.''

A big spotlight comes with that. Flores will be under a microscope this year for his development of potential franchise quarterback Josh Rosen, who was acquired from Arizona last month and is competing with Fitzpatrick for the starting job .

More immediately, Flores must deal with the potentially polarizing status of two-time Pro Bowl safety Reshad Jones, who was unhappy about his playing time under departed coach Adam Gase and is skipping the offseason organized team activities , which are voluntary.

When asked about Jones' playing time this year, Flores said it's to be determined.

''There are no sacred cows, not in this game,'' the coach said. ''You've got to earn what you get. That's the case for everyone on this team.''

Even at fullback - although the Dolphins are likely to keep one on the roster, perhaps seventh-round draft pick Chandler Cox of Auburn.

''I value that position,'' Flores said. ''It brings a toughness and grit I like in my team. I played linebacker, and I've had to deal with fullbacks. It's not always the easiest thing to do.''

Player Notes
Ronald Jones II Aug 5 3:10pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II was called "the main guy" in the running back room by his coach Bruce Arians. Arians said he is confident in Jones II and that the other guys are fighting for roles. The other guys include third-round draft pick Ke'Shawn Vaughn, who will lose valuable practice time after he hit the COVID-19 list, and veteran running back LeSean McCoy, who won't challenge for a lead back role at this point in his career. Jones II looks the part after an offseason spent bulking up and catching hundreds of passes to address a weakness in his game. The 23-year-old has RB2 upside in the 7th round but it's likely that Vaughn and McCoy cut into his ceiling in 2020, despite what Arians said.

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Travis Benjamin Aug 5 9:23am ET

San Francisco 49ers WR Travis Benjamin has opted out of the 2020 season.

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Maxx Williams Aug 4 6:33pm ET

Arizona Cardinals TE Maxx Williams (undisclosed) passed his physical Tuesday, Aug. 4, and was taken off the Physically Unable to Perform list.

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D.J. Hayden Aug 4 6:33pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars DB D.J. Hayden (knee) passed his physical and was removed from the Physically Unable to Perform list Tuesday, Aug. 4.

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Ukeme Eligwe Aug 4 6:23pm ET

Updating a previous story, Las Vegas Raiders LB Ukeme Eligwe was placed on the Reserve/Opt-Out list Tuesday, Aug. 4.

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Allen Hurns Aug 4 6:23pm ET

Updating a previous story, Miami Dolphins WR Allen Hurns was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday, Aug. 4.

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LeSean McCoy Aug 4 6:13pm ET

Updating previous stories, free-agent RB LeSean McCoy (Chiefs) officially signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tuesday, Aug. 4.

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Vincent Taylor Aug 4 6:03pm ET

Buffalo Bills DT Vincent Taylor was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday, Aug. 4.

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Devontae Booker Aug 4 6:03pm ET

Las Vegas Raiders RB Devontae Booker was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday, Aug. 4.

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P.J. Hall Aug 4 5:43pm ET

Updating a previous story, Las Vegas Raiders DT P.J. Hall was released after failing his physical with the Minnesota Vikings and the trade was nullified.

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Trenton Cannon Aug 4 5:23pm ET

New York Jets RB Trenton Cannon was claimed off waivers by the Carolina Panthers Tuesday, Aug. 4.

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Ukeme Eligwe Aug 4 5:23pm ET

Las Vegas Raiders LB Ukeme Eligwe opted out of the 2020 season Tuesday, Aug. 4.

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Mohamed Sanu Aug 4 5:13pm ET

New England Patriots WR Mohamed Sanu (undisclosed) passed his physical and was activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list Tuesday, Aug. 4, according to a source.

Fantasy Spin: Sanu won't warrant much fantasy consideration heading into the season regardless of who is under center for the Patriots. He may become a streaming option later in the year.

From TheHuddle

P.J. Hall Aug 4 5:03pm ET

Oakland Raiders DT P.J. Hall (undisclosed) failed his physical with the Minnesota Vikings Tuesday, Aug. 4, and reverts back to the Raiders. They intend to cut him.

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Cordrea Tankersley Aug 4 4:43pm ET

Miami Dolphins CB Cordrea Tankersley was waived Tuesday, Aug. 4.

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Jimmy Garoppolo Aug 4 4:23pm ET

San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo provided an update on his knee Tuesday, Aug. 4, saying the difference has been night-and-day from last season and 'it's able to do whatever it needs to do.'

Fantasy Spin: Garoppolo didn't seem to be hindered too severely while guiding the Niners to the Super Bowl, and he has never provided much in terms of fantasy contributions via rushing yards. Perhaps an improved ability to scramble would help him cut back on last season's 13 interceptions. He should be viewed as a low-end QB1 or high-end QB2.

From TheHuddle

Allen Hurns Aug 4 4:13pm ET

Miami Dolphins WR Allen Hurns opted out of the 2020 season amid COVID-19 concerns Tuesday, Aug. 4, according to head coach Brian Flores.

Fantasy Spin: Hurns had been penciled in as the starter opposite DeVante Parker. Look for Preston Williams to play a larger following his surprising rookie season as an undrafted free agent.

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Matthew Stafford Aug 4 4:13pm ET

Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford was removed from the COVID-19 list and placed back onto the active roster Tuesday, Aug. 4. His positive test for COVID-19 was determined to be a false-positive.

Fantasy Spin: Any concern over his status and availability for the regular season should be gone. He's a strong target as a low-end QB1.

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Rashaad Penny Aug 4 2:53pm ET

Seattle Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny (knee) was placed on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list Tuesday, Aug. 4.

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Ben Roethlisberger Aug 4 1:10pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told ESPN reporter Aditi Kinkhabwala that his arm "feels really good" in a Zoom call on Tuesday. Roethlisberger missed almost all of the 2019 season after tearing three flexor tendons in his right elbow. The veteran quarterback also stated that he has thrown way more than usual during the offseason and is in tremendous shape entering his age-38 season. Many signs point to a revitalized Pittsburgh offense this season with Roethlisberger back under center, although there is at least some concern as he's entering his 17th NFL season and has a long injury history. That being said, he's still a huge upgrade on offense over Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges from a year ago. Draft Big Ben as an upside QB2 in fantasy drafts this month.

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