DAVIE, Fla. — North Augusta product Matt Hazel was one of three draft picks to sign with the Miami Dolphins Friday. The receiver starred at North Augusta High School before a record-breaking career at Coastal Carolina. He was selected in the sixth round of the NFL Draft by Miami.
In addition to Hazel, the Dolphins also announced the signings of linebacker Jordan Tripp, a fifth-round selection out of Montana; and seventh-round defensive end Terrence Fede out of Marist. That brings the total number of draft picks signed to four out of eight and general manager Dennis Hickey is confident the rest will be in the fold in a timely manner.
“We’re slowly working through that and (executive vice president of football administration) Dawn Aponte and (manager of football administration) Ryan Herman are doing an outstanding job with that,” Hickey said. “We’re excited and each one gets more exciting so we’re eager to get them all signed up and ready to go.”
Several Dolphins rookies took the field for the first time Friday, while coach Joe Philbin missed the session to attend to a personal matter.
“He’s just taking care of a family situation,” Hickey said after confirming Philbin will be back at practice today.
Sixty-six rookies practiced, with 36 of them there on a tryout basis. First-round draft choice Ja’Wuan James of Tennessee, projected to be the Dolphins’ starting right tackle, didn’t seem bothered at all by the heat and was working on the blocking techniques with new offensive line coach John Benton.
Billy Turner, the third-round pick out of North Dakota State, also made an impression along with LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry, a second-round pick.
With Miami trying to replace four of the five starting offensive linemen from last season, James and Turner expect to be pushed along faster than most rookies. Both big men felt good about their first day and are confident in their abilities.
“I haven’t played football in a long time because we’d been practicing to be track stars for this whole draft process so it was good to go out there and compete,” James said. “I just want to show steady improvement and tomorrow I want to show them that I can take my corrections from the film room into the next day just getting it right.”
That unit was the focal point of the bullying scandal that led to the firing of offensive line coach Jim Turner and the departures of starters Richie Incognito and John Jerry, both of who were named in the Ted Wells report. The team is trying to move on from that story.