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Miami Dolphins

6/5 Mandatory Mini-Camp Hits

Travis Wingfield

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There’s nowhere else I’d rather be than watching Dolphins practice in Davie. Since I’m located on the other side of the country, this column (or thread, rather) is a bullet-point style document to keep you up to date on all things Miami Dolphins’ mini-camp.

  • Leonte Carroo and Jordan Lucas are the lone absentees
  • Ryan Tannehill is still going without a brace
  • Tony Lippet is practicing
  • These sessions serve as “summer school.” The team will break for meetings and be back on the field later this afternoon for walkthroughs.
  • Stephen Ross is in attendance
  • Former Canes Butch Davis and Ken Dorsey are in attendance

Last update: 1:25 PM EST

You’ll recall Antwan was on the podcast on Monday. To listen to that episode, click here.

Any contributions from Andre Branch as a rotational rusher and sub-package player is a bonus – which is kind of funny to say for a player making nearly $10M this year.

A rough start for Laremy Tunsil who committed 12 pre-snap penalties last year.

Kicking costs teams games as much as anything else. This is an encouraging start for the untested rookie.

Yesterday Armando wrote that the Dolphins corners were a worry position mentioning Minkah Fitzpatrick’s minimal experience in the slot and Bobby McCain only suited to play inside. Both are factually incorrect, so take these tweets with a grain of salt.

We’ve talked ad nauseam about the added element Kalen Ballage offers in the passing game. Damien Williams replacement from day-one.

This comment lends itself to our idea that the offense is going to be ever-evolving in 2018.

That’s it for now. I’ll be back later this afternoon with a full recap of the day including the pressers.

Update – Fitzpatrick and Gase pressers

Update – Ryan Tannehill speaks

@WingfieldNFL

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Miami Dolphins

Fantasy Football: Which Dolphins Players Could Lead You To Victory?

Chris Kowalewski

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In a matter of weeks, mandatory mini-camp will be over and NFL fans will be entering the darkest days of the football calendar as an uneasy silence reigns over the league from mid-June until the start of training camps in late July.

The stillness is occasionally broken with the news of player injury or arrest and fans eagerly wait through the heights of summer for camp to arrive.

While it may not be the time for on-field action, the virtual world of Fantasy Football begins to bloom during these months and web-traffic fills up with mock fantasy drafts and lists of player rankings for the season ahead.

Year after year the rankings remain remarkably similar with the same handful of players finding themselves among the top of their position on an annual basis, seemingly immovable from their perches of NFL stardom. Those players have such notoriety, reliability and resilience as the kings of fantasy football that, if you listen really closely, you can actually hear Sam Elliott narrating their résumés.

But anyone who has experienced even a single season of fantasy football – whether it was the gruelling lows or the thrilling highs – will be aware that there always seem to be a handful of players who surface from the depths of the mock drafts and countless rankings to save a season. 

It is those players who can find themselves evolving from a late round panic-grab or waiver wire trophy into a key weapon in the battle for the playoffs and a league championship trophy.

Whatever the stakes may be in your fantasy league, the thrill of landing one of those potential players is an exciting prospect. Rather than hedging all your bets on scouring the waiver wire each week, we’re going to have a look at a selection of Miami Dolphins players ay key positions who may be able to help your team this year whether as a hidden gem, or as a clear cut starter each week (Note: There aren’t many of those).

The Miami Dolphins’ roster is widely considered by national commentators to be among the thinnest and least talented in the NFL heading into 2019. It seems like the Dolphins’ injury-riddled 2018 season carried a higher body count than the fiery destruction of King’s Landing and the lacklustre results which followed did nothing to contradict this impression as to the quality of the team’s roster.

But sifting through the broken bones, torn tendons and jammed-up joints of last year is a number of Dolphins players, both veterans and newcomers, who could be the ones to come to the rescue and salvage your fantasy season. Others, you may wish to pick up but would be wiser to leave well alone. 

Either way, let’s dig through the roster and have a look at who those players might be; whether or not you should pick them up; whether they might be able to help and; where you might aim to pick them up when your fantasy draft rolls around.

We’ll assume you’re part of a common 10-team league and, to keep things standardised, use end-of-season stats and rankings using NFL.com’s scoring system.

QUARTERBACKS

We’ll start off short and sweet here. A Dolphins quarterback is likely to be a ‘no-no’ when it comes to your fantasy team. 

Ryan Fitzpatrick may have come out of the gates flying in 2018 throwing for 1,230 yards and 11 TDs and 97.4 fantasy points in the first 3 weeks (!!!) but the FitzMagic soon Fitzzled out (terrible pun, but I’m not sorry) and he quickly came crashing back down to earth in week 4 when he was benched and replaced by the returning Jameis Winston. Fitzpatrick subsequently ended the season as the 28th ranked QB in the league and his history of erratic play is what both prolongs his career and sees him move quickly on, now on his 8th team in 14 years. In addition, he’ll be competing for the job against Josh Rosen which means his position as a starter is uncertain. 

What Should I Do? Leave him alone, but keep an eye on him on the waiver wire if (1) the Dolphins roll with him as the starter, (2) your starter goes down and (3) you want to gamble on Fitzpatrick hitting a hot streak. However, Fitzpatrick should come with a warning sticker and only be used as a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency QB.

Josh Rosen comes to Miami after having been plucked from the rubble in Arizona, where he had been temporarily anointed as the saviour of the Cardinals. Rosen started 13 games on a team devoid of talent at almost every position (Larry Fitzgerald being the clear exception) and looked every part of a rookie in the headlights. With 11 TD and 14 INTs for 2278 passing yards Rosen ranked as the league’s 34th best passer in 2018. He’s likely to grab the staring spot in Miami based on their inevitable need to assess him as part of the franchise’s future, but the unknowns surrounding his talent and ability at the NFL level heavily outweighs any consideration of drafting him in all but 12 team/2 QB leagues.

What Should I Do? Follow the example of the Dolphins front office and spend the season watching how Rosen develops, but leave him off your fantasy team on draft night.

RUNNING BACKS

This is where it gets interesting for Dolphins players and their fantasy-relevance. 

A clear rift had developed during 2018 between Kenyan Drake and former Head Coach, Adam Gase, before his departure. Fans clamoured from the stands about the lack of touches being given to the Dolphins’ most electrifying running back during the season, even as future HOF’er Frank Gore continued on his quest to defy Father Time.However, despite a limited workload, Drake quietly finished the year as the 14th ranked RB with 1,012 all purpose yards and 9 TDs for 206.20 points.

Brian Flores and Chad O’Shea had front row seats to witness the ‘Miracle in Miami’ and reportedly want to establish an offensive scheme which places a heavy focus on their running backs in both passing and ground game. James White (who Coach Flores has specifically asked Drake to study) amassed only 425 rushing yards as part of a busy Patriots backfield but also caught 87 passes for 751 yards and a combined 12 TDs which was good enough to place him as the 7th ranked fantasy RB in 2018.

Although Miami will unlikely field the same caliber of QB, the overall offensive plan will have clear similarities and Drake can expect a highly important role in O’Shea’s creative offense. Reports suggest that the Dolphins will eventually want to move towards a ‘ground and pound’ rushing attack but the O-Line issues, which have been problematic in Miami for far too long, could still provide some obstacles to this. Scheme and planning will therefore be the keys to a successful ground game and in taking some pressure off of the QB.

Dan Orlovsky, former QB and sky-rocketing as a talented football analyst was a guest on the Move The Sticks Podcast with Daniel Jeremiah on Monday this week. He made a valid point regarding Chad O’Shea’s experience at creating schemes to mask the deficiencies in offensive talent and it is certainly not just Dolphins homerism to expect him to find a way to get the most out of Kenyan Drake.

Entering his contract year as the clear starter, Drake will be keen to produce on the field to help in his search for an upcoming payday, whether in Miami or elsewhere.

What Should I Do? Drake is absolutely a target in the draft and one who might find himself sliding down draft boards considering the overall general perception of Miami’s ability to score. Using this to your advantage, you may expect to be able to pick up Drake as low as Round 4 as the 15th to 20th RB off the board, even though his actual value may warrant a significantly higher pick. With any luck you can find phenomenal value here with have filling an RB2 or even RB3 spot and sit back to watch him bring in those elusive points.

Kalen Ballage is the main threat to Drake’s fantasy value on Miami’s roster and he showed his speed against the Vikings with a blistering 75 yard touchdown run in Week 15. Possessing many of the same traits as Kenyan Drake, he’s unlikely to perform much of a power grab in goal-line situations, but in Year 2 his workload is expected to increase which should see him jump from the 87th ranked RB into the early-mid 30’s.

What Should I Do? As the Dolphins move towards heavy utilisation of their RBs, Kalen Ballage is certainly draft-worthy. Although he figures to sit behind Drake on the depth chart in Miami, Ballage should be drafted in the later rounds as a backup in case Drake or your fantasy starters go down with injury. He could end up being a steal as the 4th or 5th RB on your roster may be someone who brings you those much needed points later in the season.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Returning from a hip injury sustained last year, Albert Wilson is likely to be the most exciting WR prospect on the Dolphins from a fantasy POV. Although the severity of the injury is not without its concerns, Wilson’s potential is undeniable.

Taking what were essentially hand-offs to the house against the Raiders and showing his speed and elusiveness in the win over the Bears, Wilson was on pace for a stand-out season when healthy, hauling in 90.18 points in his 6 full games. Extrapolated over a full season, this would have been good for 240.48 points, which would have placed him as the 14th highest scoring WR in the league even with an injured Ryan Tannehill and Brock Osweiler at the helm.

What Should I Do? Wilson’s recovery from a fracture and labrum tear will be something to pay close attention to, but there is some promising potential for Wilson to come in as a WR3 where he could bring some fiery depth to your fantasy roster when injury strikes. Even if fully healthy, Wilson may even come off the board as low as the 40-50th WR and you could find yourself a great value investment which brings in some fruitful returns.

Kenny Stills developed a productive rapport with Ryan Tannehill during the 2016 campaign and demonstrated a talent for hauling in deep passes. Having only recently turned 27, his best football may still be ahead of him and he possesses dangerous speed as a downfield threat. Stills is absolutely due for a bounce-back year, though given the uncertain nature of the Dolphins’ ability to pass-protect, a dink-n’-dunk/ball control style of passing attack may be what we see on game days which would require a slight shift in Still’s game.

What Should I Do? Stills was reportedly taking reps as the slot receiver in OTAs this week – perhaps this is just a sign of WR versatility within the offense, but either way Kenny Stills figures to be a big part of the game plan and will likely find himself as the first Dolphins WR off the board. He will look to improve upon his 59th ranked WR position in 2018 (149.62 points) and would ideally be suited to a WR3 or WR4 spot on your own roster. 

Jakeem Grant is back on the field after suffering a calf/achilles injury in 2018 which unfortunately ended his season early. Jakeem’s speed prior to injury was unreal and only time will tell whether he is able to regain his full quickness, explosiveness and acceleration. Revealed on Tuesday’s OTA is that Grant is lining up at almost every WR position in practice and is expected to feature prominently in the game plan. 

What Should I Do? If the Dolphins are to have any success on offense in 2019, they are likely going to have to get creative and Jakeem Grant will be someone who may be able to help. There may well be weeks where Grant sees significant playing time in creative circumstances and is a playmaker just waiting for his chance. From a fantasy point of view, consistency as to the number of weekly targets may be a concern and unless you have a deep bench on your roster, Jakeem may just be someone you need to watch over on the waive wire.

If you’re a fan of the Dolphins, you’ve probably already learned the hard way that DeVante Parker hasn’t helped your fantasy team to any great degree. OTAs mean it is time for Parker to show the promise which landed him as the 14th overall pick in 2015 but as seemingly happens each year, the hype amounts to little production. Too many stories surround Parker with regards to his immaturity and lack of commitment off the field, perhaps some of which has contributed to a carousel of injuries which keep him on the sidelines for large stretches. Ranked as the 105th WR in 2018 with 60.9 points, Parker’s arrow only really points up but the question of whether he chooses to follow it’s direction remains.

What Should I Do? Parker regularly wins the title of practice MVP. His freakish athleticism and natural talent is obvious but it remains to be seen whether the new coaching regime can help him with the fundamentals necessary for sustained success. If so, Parker could turn into be a point-machine but just don’t hold your breath. DeVante is likely be picked up earlier than he should be based on name value alone – if so, be happy that the pick means someone else may fall to you when you’re on the clock. Stashing him on your bench for depth is fine if you’re one of his remaining believers, but history suggests you are unlikely to get much by way of return if you have to rely on him on a weekly basis.

The dark horse of the receiver group is potentially Preston Willliams. He arrives in Miami as a UDFA from Colorado State where he had 96 catches for 1,345 yards and 14 TDs last season. His boatload of talent, size and physicality could even eventually land him the WR1 role if (and this is a BIG ‘if’) he stays out of trouble and is committed to following a professional training plan to the letter. Miami has been on the search for a true WR1 for years and Williams has a great opportunity in front of him to develop into it. 

What Should I Do? Unless he flourishes during training camp into an obvious starter for the Dolphins, Williams may initially find himself on the practice squad or sitting behind several veterans in a crowded and competitive receiver room. The talent is undoubtedly present, but it is still very early days for Williams’ career – keep an eye on his roster position (especially if injuries begin to mount up) and development for the future, particularly in deep dynasty leagues.

TIGHT ENDS

To say that Mike Gesicki had an underwhelming rookie year would be kind. He was routinely physically outmatched in blocking assignments and the receiving skills which he showed at Penn State were not put to good use in his debut season. From a fantasy perspective, Gesicki finished the season as the 50th ranked TE with 22 catches for 202 yards and 40.2 points. However, TE is notoriously one of the most difficult positions to learn in football and there is still valid and reasonable hope that Gesicki can take one of his giant, bounding steps forward in his second year.

The Dolphins currently have an array of TEs on their roster, including Durham Smythe, Dwayne Allen, Nick O’Leary, Clive Walford and Chris Myarick, making it all the more difficult to recommend drafting any as viable fantasy prospects. Mike Gesicki figures to place himself as the main passing target out of the group and certainly has the talent to do so. A full offseason of professional development and time in the weight room should benefit him greatly. 

What Should I Do? Gesicki will likely go undrafted in most 10 team leagues other than those with extensive bench space, especially considering the Dolphins crowded current TE room. However, he still poses as Miami’s most draft-worthy TE on the roster. His freakish pre-draft combine alone proved that there is a lot of athleticism to take advantage of, and he may make a good backup TE once the season starts if you have space to stash him on your bench. Otherwise keep an eye on his numbers if you tend to stream TEs or need a stand-in when your starter is on his bye week.

DEFENSE / IDP

Despite Brian Flores’ defensive masterpiece displayed in Super Bowl 53, the Dolphins defense/special teams is expected to rank near the bottom of the league after ranking 13th in 2018 with a total of 116 points. They are still young and inexperienced, especially entering their first year of a new scheme and are far from being a complete group. Whilst turnovers will come due to talents in Miami’s secondary, gaining sacks and giving up points is expected to be an issue. Steer clear of picking them to be your staring group as there will almost certainly be better fantasy value available elsewhere.

Having said that, for IDP leagues, there are still some bright, shiny and sparkly pieces on this Dolphins team which may help you increase your point totals on a weekly basis. You’ll likely only carry one of each of these in all but the deepest of leagues, but below are a few players you may want to grab before a run on defensive players begins.

At the top of that list is safety, Reshad Jones, despite an increasing age and a history of shoulder injuries which have cut his season short in previous years. There may be something still to keep an eye on with regards to Jones’ attendance when mandatory mini-camp rolls around but Flores has confirmed he expects Reshad to be there in early June. Reshad’s instagram videos of his boxing workouts should alleviate most concerns about his shoulders and it seems that his previous disagreements lay primarily with the team’s former coaching staff – Jones was publicly unhappy with Matt Burke’s scheme last year, pulling himself out of the game vs the Jets in Week 9. However, if Jones returns to the Dolphins as a happy man, he has potential to revert to his Pro Bowl form on the field and as a vital point machine as a DB on your fantasy team. Always good to rack up a mountain of tackles, a handful of picks, a sprinkle of sacks, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries and the odd TD, Reshad Jones is a top-tier DB in fantasy football when healthy and offers the potential of those elusive extra points needed to give you the winning edge.

Xavien Howard will get his picks on the season, but unless your league counts broken-up passes, swatted balls and quarterbacks generally avoiding throwing his way when at all possible, Reshad Jones should still be the best fantasy option among Dolphins defensive backs.

The blatantly obvious other name to keep an eye on amongst defensive players is Minkah Fitzpatrick, especially when it comes to dynasty leagues. This versatile football junkie is a playmaker and studies opposing offences hard. Rumours circling in Miami that he will be used all over the field and he will certainly get his opportunities to make tackles and interceptions when presented with them. While Minkah has every potential, talent and drive to develop into one of the NFL’s top-tier defenders, his varied positioning could also result in a lack of consistency from a fantasy perspective, meaning he could still fall behind other DBs around the league when it comes to points.

Gone are the days when, as a Dolphins fan, you could select Cameron Wake as your DL option and watch him haul in fantasy numbers. Trying to focus on pass rushers who are still on Miami’s roster leaves everything looking a little blurry. Rookie DT, Christian Wilkins is the best bet for Dolphins ‘homers’ who insist on being able to cheer for their team both on the TV and on the fantasy battlefield, racking up 192 tackles, (including 40.5 for a loss) 21 sacks and 2 forced fumbles in his college career. Whilst unlikely to be a pure pass rusher in Patrick Graham’s defense, he may still show himself to a better option than Charles Harris who is entering his 3rd year with a lot to prove. Overall though, it’s best to look outside of Miami for your DL options.

KICKER

If you haven’t seen the videos online of Jason Sanders booting 70 yard field goals with ease, it might be worth tracking them down on YouTube just to see how impossible a field goal at that distance seems. Hand-picked by the Dolphins former special teams guru, Darren Rizzi, Sanders’s leg defies science and he could be primed for a big (in relative terms) fantasy season on a team which could find themselves settling for a lot of field goals. Making those kicks under pressure is another thing, but Sanders has proven he has the leg to make the long distance and could show himself to be a safe option in fantasy in the final round of your draft.

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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins Sign Adolphus Washington

Chris Kowalewski

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The deadline for Free Agency signings impacting the compensatory pick formula expired on 8 May 2019 and the Dolphins were expected to be possible players in the secondary FA market.

Things have been quiet on the Dolphins’ front, but it is being reported today that the team has added to their DL group with the signing of Adolphus Washington.

Formerly a 3rd round pick of the Bills in 2016 before a short stint in Cincinnati last season, Washington has played in 35 career games netting 62 tackles and 4.5 sacks.

The Dolphins DL group is in need of support but the Dolphins seem to have shifted their philosophy to avoid over-paying for bigger name Free Agents.

Washington likely joins the Dolphins as another body ahead of June’s mini-camp and training camp later this summer, but the opportunity for a roster spot will be there for those who wish to capitalise upon it.

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Miami Dolphins

Maximizing Minkah Fitzpatrick’s Unique Versatility

Travis Wingfield

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For HC Brian Flores an DC Patrick Graham, Sophomore Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick Can Do it All

From the moment he heard his name called on Draft Night 2018, Minkah Fitzpatrick was an instant hit among Dolphins fans.

Fitzpatrick, winner of two prestigious collegiate awards (Bednarik and Thorpe, one of three players in history to win both — Charles Woodson and Patrick Peterson the others), is one of college football’s all-time most decorated athletes. The individual hardware, two national titles, and two All-American honors didn’t happen by accident; it was a result of diligence and the workman like mentality Fitzpatrick developed from a young age.

Dubbed “Saban’s Son” for his astute preparation and relationship with Alabama Legend Nick Saban, Fitzpatrick is a quick-study. The Dolphins knew this before he donned the aqua and orange. From a captivating 10-part piece titled The Secret Life of NFL Scouts, written by Yahoo’s Pete Thamel in August of last year, Fitzpatrick’s dedication to the craft beguiled Miami.

Fitzpatrick’s versatility was on display from the jump in South Florida.

Minkah Fitzpatrick’s Snaps by Position Per Pro Football Focus:

Position 2018 Snaps
Slot Cornerback 379
Perimeter Cornerback 281
Deep Safety 166
Box Safety 95
Defensive Line (Edge Blitz/TE coverage) 23
Total 944

 

For fulfillment’s sake, Fitzpatrick played an additional 100 snaps on special teams.

This jack-of-all-trades role was adopted more out of necessity than clever game planning. Beginning the year exclusively as a nickel (slot) corner, Fitzpatrick was lock-down in the season’s first two games.

Playing 86 snaps in those first two games of his career, opponents passed for 48 yards on 13 throws into Fitzpatrick’s coverage area. That 3.69 YPA figure would be considered low for a running back, much less in a pass-heavy league that breeds passers in the 8.0 YPA range (9 players eclipsed 8.0 YPA in 2018).

In addition to the lockdown cover skills, Fitzpatrick added four run stops (tackles within two yards of the line-of-scrimmage) in his debut and encore NFL appearances.

After a pair of starts at safety — one good, one not-so-much — Fitzpatrick slid back into his slot corner position exclusively for the next three games. In that stretch, against Cincinnati, Chicago and Detroit, Fitzpatrick yielded 61 receiving yards on 9 targets (6.78 YPA).

Fitzpatrick then kicked back out to the safety spot for two games, versus the Texans and Jets, before settling into a five-game stretch as a perimeter corner. During that elongated experiment, Fitzpatrick held the opposition to a 57% completion percentage when tested in coverage.

After the week 15 drubbing in Minneapolis, Fitzpatrick transitioned again to safety, with mixed results once more. The entire process was a learning experience and a great indicator for what this budding star can be in Miami’s new defensive scheme.

I spoke to Fitzpatrick after the week 13 Buffalo game — his third start at perimeter corner. I asked him about the many responsibilities heaped onto his plate throughout the season and how he felt about playing on the outside.

“It definitely developed me. I had to learn the whole defense which makes me more comfortable. Knowing the defense means I can be more instinctive, play faster and just react.”

It remains to be seen how the Dolphins will utilize this Swiss Army Knife. Though Fitzpatrick has been working with the safeties so far during the offseason program, that doesn’t preclude him from bouncing around the formation the way New England has deployed its own versatile safeties under Flores’ watch.

The tape will give us a better indication for the exact roles of New England’s exceptional safety tandem, but the snaps-by-position, according to Pro Football Focus, are as follows:

 

Devin McCourty’s 2018 Positions 2018 Snaps
Slot Cornerback 143
Perimeter Cornerback 61
Deep Safety 611
Box Safety 349
Defensive Line (Edge Blitz/TE coverage) 19
Total 1,183

 

Patrick Chung’s 2018 Positions 2018 Snaps
Slot Cornerback 276
Perimeter Cornerback 120
Deep Safety 77
Box Safety 406
Defensive Line (Edge Blitz/TE coverage) 152
Total 1,031

 

The discernible difference comes from the deep and short safety roles. Both, as evident by the numbers, will come down and cover (McCourty with 223 coverage matchup snaps and Chung with 548), but Chung takes on more than double the responsibility of McCourty in that regard.

Therein lies Minkah’s likely role in the defense. As we showcased with the above videos, Fitzpatrick is a high-level processer than can quickly key and diagnose, he’s a tremendous tackler, and a fantastic man-coverage player — not unlike Chung.

Minkah Fitzpatrick is going to play 1,000+ snaps for the Dolphins in 2019. He’s likely to, barring medical changes, stay on the field for 100% of Miami’s defensive snaps.

With Xavien Howard taking care of one side of the field in man coverage, Fitzpatrick’s versatility can free up the rest of the defense, and allow the Dolphins to mix and disguise its combination coverages.

Fitzpatrick, for his skill, leadership, and versatility, is the most important player on Brain Flores’ defense. With the best yet to come, if he hasn’t already, Fitzpatrick is in-line to capture the hearts of Dol-fans everywhere.

@WingfieldNFL

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