Miami Dolphins rookie safety Jevon Holland did something this week that no one has been able to accomplish since the first day of practice at the team’s 2021 training camp: he picked off Tua Tagovailoa. Holland’s interception on Wednesday came on a high throw from Tagovailoa — so the big play was aided by some inaccuracy. But nevertheless, Holland has steadily been working on proving to the Dolphins coaches that he deserves the role of free safety on this defense and being in position to make that play while running with the first-team defense was the team’s reward for letting him rep into that spot.
But practice interceptions aren’t how Holland is being measured by his coaching staff. The Dolphins are looking to see how Holland assimilates into being the quarterback of the defense — a job that often needs relentless communication before the snap to make sure the Dolphins’ defense is properly synced up.
So while Holland’s highlight play earlier in the week is great, don’t use that to spotlight how he’s doing in camp. Or at least to head coach Brian Flores.
“I would say (Holland is) doing a lot of good things. He’s smart, he’s tough, it’s important to him. We’re asking a lot of him – multiple positions. I think he’s doing a nice job. But it’s not necessarily the interception – and that’s a good play, one that everybody sees – but it’s getting guys lined up, getting himself lined up, being in the right position, being in good position to make a last line of defense tackle, communication with the corners, with the linebackers, down and distance situation. There’s a lot that goes into that position,” said Flores on Friday.
“I think he’s taken on that responsibility and been very – let’s call it forthright and trying to do a good job as far as taking on that leadership or signal-caller spot, which is hard for a rookie. I would say to step in there and tell somebody else what to do – that’s what the position calls for. He’s growing. He’s getting better. There’s still a long way to go.”
Indeed, camp is still young. But if Holland is “doing a lot of good things” at this juncture and beginning to push for more time with the 1st-team defense, it seems as though he’s well on his way to being the player Miami was hoping for when they drafted him early in the 2nd-round of this year’s NFL draft. And if he does indeed take the field as a starter in Week 1 versus New England, know it will because of all the little things you didn’t see him do this summer — not necessarily a handful of splash plays at practice.
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