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    Inside the Miami Dolphins’ Mentorship of Patrick Paul

    The Miami Dolphins hope rookie offensive tackle Patrick Paul can contribute in 2024. Here's what it will take to happen.

    Patrick Paul, in just three years at the University of Houston, earned his bachelor’s degree in retailing and consumer science. But the true education for the Miami Dolphins‘ rookie offensive tackle won’t begin until later this month.

    Paul is only three weeks away from his first NFL training camp. Which means he’s only four weeks away from tangling with NFL-caliber defensive players while wearing pads.

    Miami Dolphins’ Patrick Paul Training Camp Primer

    The test will be nothing like what Paul faced in the American or even Big 12 conferences. And how he handles that early challenge will reveal a lot about whether Year 1 as a pro will be a redshirt season for the gifted but raw second-round pick.

    Paul got a small taste of what to expect in a half-dozen or so OTA and minicamp practices this spring, but shorts and helmets cannot replicate the power and precision involved at this level.

    In the course of 31 days beginning July 24, Paul will be on the field for 19 practices (including four joint sessions) and three preseason games. At the end of that month, both Paul and his coaches will have a far better feel for whether the Dolphins can count on him in 2024.

    “I’ve had a short time with Patrick so far. I’ve seen some great things on the field, impressive for sure,” said Dolphins Pro Bowl tackle Terron Armstead, whom the Dolphins drafted Paul to eventually replace.

    “Got a lot to learn, a lot of areas to improve in, but you see it — for sure, you see the potential. You see why he’s here. Smart young man, but any and everything that I can possibly give, show, say, see is going to be offered to him.”

    Terron Armstead’s Dual Roles

    Armstead has two jobs this summer: Prepare for his 12th NFL season. And help Paul prepare for his first.

    Armstead has been a willing mentor to his youngest position-mate, and Paul — a three-time all-conference selection — has been a willing pupil.

    “I’ve watched him throughout his career,” Paul said. “I love watching offensive tackles, and he’s one that I studied in college. It’s surreal being here right now.”

    Armstead said he plans to provide Paul “every tool that exists for him to be successful and successful for a long time is what I’m going to give him and everybody else in that room.”

    It won’t be a one-man job, however. Offensive coordinator Frank Smith and Dolphins O-line coach Butch Barry also will play significant roles in Paul’s development.

    Butch included Paul — who is officially 6’7″, 331 pounds — on a very short list of biggest linemen he’s ever coached. The only one that comes close? Former Buccaneers lineman Demar Dotson, who was 6’9″ and 315.

    “You can see that he’s got great length and great athleticism,” Barry said during Dolphins minicamp. “A guy that wants to learn, a guy that wants to be the best that he can be. I think that we have quality veterans that can really help in that.

    “But he’s got so much upside for us to work with, and we just have to keep honing in.”

    Paul will likely begin camp as the Dolphins’ No. 4 tackle behind Armstead, Austin Jackson, and Kendall Lamm. But he has a real chance to leapfrog Lamm and become the team’s swing tackle in 2024 — which, as 2023 showed, is an important job.

    Lamm last year logged 613 snaps (seventh-most among all Dolphins offensive players) as Armstead and Jackson’s top backup.

    “To the observer, you might see what looks like a good play there or a bad play here,” Smith said. “But inside of it is like, we can see the build of the fundamental things that we think are going to be necessary.

    “And he’s done that through the process where, hey, you learn sometimes as a rookie through negative plays as much as you learn positive plays. So his approach has been awesome so far and really excited to continue this growth now that we’ve seen through spring to when we get back to camp and really build.

    “Especially when you get to get pads on, because that’s really where linemen learn, like you’re hitting a surface that maybe isn’t what reality is going to be when the training camp comes. So it’s like you’re trying to make sure you teach the habits that are necessary when the real surface comes.”

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