Dolphins’ young cornerbacks get baptized by fire during training camp – The Denver Post
Noah Igbinoghene and Trill Williams started their NFL careers from reversed positions despite playing in the same position.
Noah Igbinoghene has the pedigree of being a former first-round pick and the unfortunate distinction of being a disappointment in his first two NFL seasons.
As an undrafted player the Dolphins claimed the waiver wire last spring, Trill Williams entered camp with no hype or expectations. Still, the former Syracuse standout made the team based on his solid practices.
Oddly enough, these young cornerbacks find themselves in exactly the same place, facing the same adversity this training camp.
As Byron Jones rehabilitates the ankle for which he underwent surgery in the spring and Xavien Howard prepares for the first few weeks of camp, Igbinoghene and Williams undergo a baptism of fire as cornerbacks responsible for covering receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle most of the practice.
Even though the pair have had their share of good plays, like the end zone interception fullback that Williams brought down on Monday to defend a pass intended for Waddle, the majority of their practice reps have gone to playing catch the speedster, with the goal of not getting in the way of Hill and Waddle.
So when those wins come from a deflection, an interception, or a six-pick like the one Williams delivered in the first practice of camp last week, there’s a tremendous amount of pride instilled. And this is often accompanied by a standing ovation from the entire defense.
“A hand too,” Williams said of Monday’s interception. “It’s meaningful because training translates into games. If I can make those plays now in front of the coaches, they’ll have confidence to put me in the game to make those same plays.
And if the pair can stick with Hill, a six-time Pro Bowler, and Waddle, who set the NFL record for single-season rookie receptions, they should be able to keep pace with anyone in the NFL.
“They’re one of the two best receivers in this league, so if you can do well against them, consistent against them, it shows how capable you are of doing against the rest of the league,” said Igbinoghene, who suffered a similar experience last year at this stage of the camp.
While Howard held a hold-in, sitting out the first week of practice before his contract was adjusted in 2021, Igbinoghene worked with starters and struggled so hard he was demoted to third-team defense .
Igbinoghene has done a bit better this time around and credits the pressing technique he learned from former Dolphins legend Sam Madison, his new post coach, and a changed diet, going vegan.
He also changed his mindset, focusing less on the negative, rinsing his early fights like most good cornerbacks learned to chase bad plays.
Looking back, Igbinoghene said he heard the criticism that accompanied his early fights, and it shook his confidence.
But that’s in the past. These days, he’s focused on maximizing every opportunity.
“I look like I’m really dominant against them (Hill and Waddle) so I can be dominant against the rest of the receivers in this league,” said Igbinoghene, who has started three of the 23 games he’s played. contributing 19 tackles, two passing deflections and forcing two fumbles. “It’s a blessing to have these two players in my team and I can’t wait to see what they do, and what this team does too.”
Williams, who has a unique blend of height and athleticism, appreciates the opportunity given to her to prove herself. Last year, this time he was at the bottom of the depth chart and usually took to the field with the third teams.
Consistent practices have promoted Williams up the depth chart, and he hopes they will eventually earn him a contributing role this year.
“I’m really focused on the moment and the situation I’m in right now and I come to work every day. Honestly, I’m not really worried about ‘X’ (Xavien Howard) and Byron (Jones). I worry about myself and this team and getting better at my job because I have a role to play on this team,” said Williams, who played one regular season game last season. “I just want to come to work every day and do my job in the best way possible.”
Sam Madison stressed to both cornerbacks that they needed to improve their physicality, using their size to be more aggressive as cornerbacks.
They’re both working to master the pressing style that made Madison a four-time Pro Bowler and two-time First-Team All-Pro before becoming an NFL assistant.
The hope is that one or both will become a player the Dolphins can lean on when called into action.
Only time and continued development will provide that answer.