Iron sharpens iron, a phrase that has been used many times regarding how the best players get better by going against the best players. Usually, this happens during the regular season, in one or two games. Still, the Miami Dolphins have a great advantage, and it begins in training camp—Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle versus Jalen Ramsey and Xavien Howard, speedy receivers against shut-down cornerbacks. 

Sure, this may seem like an easy assessment to make, but if you dive deeper into the intricacies of what this means, you’ll start to see how beneficial the daily matchups will be. Let’s first start by identifying the players themselves and what they are capable of: 

Tyreek Hill is highly touted as a potential First-Ballot Hall of Famer; he holds 4 First Team All-Pro selections, one Second Team All-Pro selection was selected for the NFL 2010s All-Decade team, and has a Super Bowl championship. Hill finished 2022 with 119 receptions(2nd) for 1,710 yards(2nd) and seven touchdowns (15th), completing what would be Hill’s best season as a pro. Jaylen Waddle is entering his third season and is also coming off of a career year, finishing with 75 catches for 1,356 yards and eight touchdowns. Waddle led the league in yards per reception at 18.1, and during his rookie season, he broke the rookie reception record with 104 catches. 

Turning to the defensive side, Xavien Howard is the longest-tenured Dolphin currently on the roster, and for good reason. Howard has 28 career interceptions, the most since 2016, when he was drafted. Howard has been selected First Team All-Pro and Second Team All-Pro one time each, has 4 Pro Bowl appearances, and led the league in interceptions twice (2018 and 2020). Coming off of a season that he admitted was a down year, he looks to make waves in the Dolphins’ new-look defense under Vic Fangio. Jalen Ramsey, like Hill, has First-Ballot Hall of Fame potential, flaunting a Super Bowl championship, 3 First Team All-Pro selections, and 6 Pro Bowls. He might not have Howard’s interception numbers, but that’s because opposing quarterbacks learned very quickly not to throw the ball in his direction. 

Now, let’s set the scene; head Coach Mike McDaniel is now in his second year as the play caller for the Dolphins, and it’s safe to say he’s worked out some of the kinks he faced last season and will be more comfortable in his role. Plus, the offense is now in its second year in this system, which should allow everyone to perform at their full potential. The Dolphins added new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio to the mix, giving us more iron to sharpen. With McDaniel scheming plays for the talent he has in Hill and Waddle and Fangio drawing up coverages that will feature the best qualities of Howard and Ramsey, the Dolphins have a glorious opportunity. 

If you’re a player in the NFL, and you go through practice all week facing the top players at their position, you’re likely to overcome any challenge that will be laid out in front of you by an opposing team. Hill and Waddle will be shown different coverages and will be asked to consistently beat the likes of Howard and Ramsey, who in turn will be asked to cover two of, if not the fastest players in the entire NFL. Howard has always been known to bait quarterbacks into thinking a receiver is open before making a quick break on the ball and coming away with a pick or at least batting the ball down. Ramsey has always been synonymous with the term “shut down corner.” 

When these four players line up against one another, they should be smiling due to the chance they have in front of them. Hill against Ramsey, Waddle against Howard, or vice versa, these daily matchups will help them to hone their skills, and when they hit the field on Sundays, they’ll be ready for everyone and everything the other team can throw at them. Some days, the receivers might win, and the corners will win others, but there is little doubt that these guys, the caliber of players they are, will learn from each rep and find a way to win the next time. For those who plan on attending any of the training camps open to the public, keep an eye out because these individual battles will surely be the talk of the town and possibly the whole league.