August 16, 2014

Dolphins beat Bucs, 20-14: Some good, some not

If there was a question before Saturday night that Matt Moore is going to be the Dolphins No. 2 quarterback this year, that is gone now.

Matt Moore is on the Dolphins -- his $5.5 million salary cap number and all.

And the way he earned the right to be on the team is, in part, by an outstanding perfomance against Tampa Bay in the preseason's second game. Moore completed 13 of 19 passes for 158 yards and one TD without an interception.

Moore finished with a quarterback rating of 111.3.

"It felt good to finally get back out and play and get into a rhythm out there," Moore said.

One of Moore's two TD drives came out of the two-minute drill to end the first half. It was outstanding work.

"Felt good to put a stamp on it out there for the touchdown," Moore said.

The truth about Miami's quarterback situation is the Dolphins are definitely keeping two -- Ryan Tannehill and Moore -- and Brady Quinn must fight and claw to earn a spot, which at this writing seems unlikely because the Dolphins could certainly use the extra roster spot for other players that are more valuable.

That is a major issue the Dolphins answered in this game.

Tannehill, by the way, posted his second consecutive solid performance of the preseason. Despite inconsistent blocking up front, Tannehill was 9 of 14 for 110 yards without a TD or interception. The starters had a FG while Tannehill was in the game.

Another big night?

Surprisingly, kicker John Potter had a nice night. He was 2-for-2 on field goals, including a 51-yarder that was impressive. This must be said:

Caleb Sturgis is not having a good preseason.

He was injured earlier this preseason and seemed to re-injure his groin in pregame warmups. He did not kick in the game despite dressing and warming up.

Sturgis was hurt last season and struggled in the middle of the season as a result. If he cannot stay healthy ... and the other guy is connecting on 51-yard kicks ... well, the competition is on.

This game showed the Dolphins still have work to do in multiple areas.

The first such area is right guard where Dallas Thomas had a terrible game. He was beaten by Gerald McCoy for what turned into a strip sack for Tampa Bay and led to a TD. He got no push on running plays. And he had a penalty as well.

The rest of the offensive line was better than Thomas but didn't really win up front.

Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey, serving as a guest during the CBS-4 broadcast, said his personnel department is constantly looking for players to upgrade the roster.

Allow me to suggest Hickey look at the possibility of trading for San Francisco guard Alex Boone. I'm not saying it must be done. Boone is holding out because he wants a new contract and he has a history that requires investigation. But he's an outstanding guard.

So look into it ... The Dolphins have a wealth of wide receivers. Maybe they can ship one to the 49ers, whose receiver corps could use upgrade.

Coach Joe Philbin said the idea of moving Shelley Smith, who was at center early in camp and left guard lately, to right guard is not out of the realm of possibility.

The tackling continues to be inconsistent despite the team spending an entire week focusing on the issue. Most troubling was the tackle attempt by starting safety Jimmy Wilson against receiver Mike Evans.

Rather than wrap Evans and bring him to the gound, Wilson merely rammed into him and as happens when a 5-10 guy runs into a 6-5 guy, Wilson merely bounced off. Evans turned and ran for an apparent TD that was called back when Brent Grimes, running down the play from the other side of the field, caught the receiver and caused a fumble out of the end zone for a Miami possession instead.

 You'll remember the Dolphins managed only two rushing yards against Tampa Bay in a loss last season. Tonight the Dolphins rushed for 46 yards on 26 attempts. The team rushed for minus-5 yards on nine attempts in the first half -- when starters and top reserves played for both teams.

Lamar Miller, Miami's starting running back, rushed for 3 yards on three carries.

"I thought we threw the ball well, I thought we had some guys open, I thought the quarterbacks threw the ball well," Philbin said. "But I think we all agree we had way too many negative-yardage plays in the running game. That really wasn't fixed the way I would hope."

Philbin said there was too much penetration and his team "didn't establish an edge."

"They established the edge, penetrated and got up in our backfield way too much, way too much," Philbin said.

The running game has a long way to go, folks.

"It looks to me we still have some work to do," Philbin repeated. "I thought we'd have more production in our run game. I thought we'd be better."

Dolphins at Bucs: Five things to watch

The Dolphins play their second preseason game at Tampa Bay tonight at 7:30. Follow me on twitter for in-game commentary, real-time updates and more.

I have five observations about the Dolphins that require significant attention between now and the time the regular season kicks offs because I believe they can affect the direction of the 2014 season.

The first is Dion Jordan. Jordan got off to a roaring start at training camp. But, as I write in my column, that has changed lately. He needs to show up, folks. He's the No. 3 overall pick. Guys aren't picked No. 3 to be special teams players and backups.

The second is the deep ball combination of quarterback Ryan Tannehill and Mike Wallace. Both players repeatedly tell you the right thing -- it is getting better. I tell you the unvarnished truth of what I've seen in every single practice I've attended so far -- and I did not miss any training camp practices.

Tampa Bay allowed 238 passing yards per game last season. That was 22nd in the NFL. That's not good. Opposing QBs had an 88.9 QB rating against that defense last year. That's not very good. That was 22nd in the NFL.

There should be opportunities for Tannehill and Wallace to connect tonight.

Remember the offensive line worries of three weeks ago? I'm feeling a lot better about this group than I was then. They're coming together.

Are they going to be the Great Wall of South Florida?

Probably not.

Are they going to be a replay to the 2013 nightmare, giving up 58 sacks?

I think we're safe believing not. But watching them against Tampa Bay's solid front should be interesting.

I'm not thrilled about how the running back competition unfolded during training camp. That's because it never really unfolded.

Finally, I want to see more work for the starting linebacker corps. The company line is that moving Koa Misi to the middle and Dannell Ellerbe outside would be a major upgrade. That might still happen.

But right now, today, there is still much work and much growing to do because the first preseason game and practices have uncovered some issues.

The good news? Training camp just ended.

There are still two meaningful preseason games remaining, including tonight. (The final preseason game is a joke and everyone knows it.) So there's still a chance the issues I'm presenting get resolved.

August 15, 2014

Things to expect versus the Buccaneers

The Dolphins are traveling to Tampa today and will play their second preseason game Saturday evening.

Ryan Tannehill will start at quarterback and play longer than he did versus Atlanta in the preseason-opener. Tannehill had 10 plays against the Falcons. Expect 15 or more plays for Tannehill, depending on how things go.

If he opens the game with another 10-play TD drive as they did against the Falcons, however, maybe coaches pull him again and continue to build on that confidence.

Unlike last week, Matt Moore is scheduled to play Saturday. He will get a lot of work and might go into the second half.

Running back Knowshon Moreno, who missed the first three weeks of camp and did not play in the scrimmage or preseason opener, is expected to miss Saturday's game as well. Coach Joe Philbin said he is "starting" to see glimpses of what Moreno has been in the running game but the player simply isn't there in the passing game yet. Next week.

Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline -- who both missed the preseason opener -- are ready to go for this one and will play with Tannehill and perhaps even when Moore is in the game.

Defensively, the Dolphins were atrocious tackling against Atlanta. The team worked on it a solid three days this past week. Can they improve their tackling?

You'll also see the team's plans for the nickel unit: Cornerback Cortland Finnegan will be moving inside to cover the slot receiver while Jamar Taylor and then Will Davis cover outside. Brent Grimes, obviously will be on the other side and expect Jimmy Wilson, who has previously been the nickel, to play at safety.

The reason Wilson is playing safety is Reshad Jones will be suspended four games in the regular season. This past week the Dolphins demoted Jones to second team safety. He'll play, but don't be surprised if it's with the reserves against Tampa Bay. (That's got to sting the proud player).

Keep your eyes on tight end Brett Brackett. He led the team in receptions and yards against Atlanta and, as I write in my column today, he makes as many plays as any other TE on the roster during practice. Brackett is a long shot, primarily because he has to improve this part of his game.

But he merits your attention.

August 14, 2014

Dolphins prepared for Tampa Bay

Remember when the preseason games was about your team and your agenda? Remember when the Dolphins didn't really game plan for opponents in the preseason, save perhaps the third preseason game that was the rehearsal for regular season?

Those days are gone.

Joe Philbin's Dolphins prep for their opponents. They put in plays for the Atlanta Falcons last week. And today they were putting in plays on offense and running scout team plays for the defense in anticipation of playing Tampa Bay on Saturday evening.

"We devoted a lot of time in the practice today to Tampa Bay and our preparation for the game," Philbin said. "The first three practices of the week were really focused on our own improvement, our own football team. But, we’ve got our game plan in and guys are excited about playing. They’re a good football team. They played well the other night. Their defense looked extremely good and we’re going to have to play well in Tampa."

I suppose it is a good thing the Dolphins are preparing for their opponent. They're bound to look, well, more prepared as a result.

But that means fans have to adjust the way they view their team's preseason performances -- especially if the other team isn't prepping for the Dolphins.

If the Dolphins prep, which they have, and look really good, we have to understand that's perhaps a result of that preparation. But if they prep and lay an egg ... well then, that's more worrisome than the team that looked off in part because it had no preparation.

It's a perspective thing.

Even in the days when Philbin says the team was worried about itself, that work should have an affect on Saturday night's second preseason game. The Dolphins, you see, have been quite concerned about their tackling. And so tackling has been a focus in practice this week.

“We’ve spent a lot of time on that this week," Philbin said. "That’s a big part of what we’re looking (to do). We want to see our team tackle better and we want to get off the field better on third down."

Last week the first team offense looked sharp and things could get better with Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline playing this week after taking last week off. Coach, however, want better work from the reserves and are eager to see Matt Moore perform for the first time this preseason.

"Offensively, it’s really consistency," Philbin said. "Again, our first group only had one drive and it was a good drive. But they didn’t play a ton of football. So we’re going to get them on the field a little bit more and we’re looking to see consistent production out of our offense. Obviously, we sputtered after that. We only scored, what three points the rest of the game. So we’ve got to be more productive and have more explosive plays on offense."

Other stuff: Philbin met with running back Knowshon Moreno Wednesday to discuss what he expects of the running back the remainder of preseason and get a feel for where Moreno feels he is physically after missing the first three weeks of training camp. Philbin says Moreno is looking like his old self in the run game but still isn't quite there in the pass game, which is interesting, considering the pass game is what Moreno is known for, particularly his blocking.

TE Michael Egnew missed the preseason opener while nursing a concussion. He has been practicing and is expected to play against Tampa Bay.  

Dolphins nuggets at this hour

The Dolphins' final training camp practice is in the books. This is what's happening:

Center Mike Pouncey, who continues to rehab following hip surgery, repeated today he is ahead of schedule and is hopeful he can avoid being placed on the regular-season physically unable to perform (PUP) list.

While Pouncey will still miss playing time at the beginning of the season, he's hoping he can be ready anytime from Week 2 or 3 to Week 5. If that continues to be the trend, then the Dolphins would have to give serious consideration to putting Pouncey on the active roster even while he is not practicing  -- thus having him count toward the 53-man limit.

If Pouncey suffers a setback in the coming month, the Dolphins could also decide to put Pouncey on regular-season PUP, meaning he would be out at least 6 weeks.

So the decision the Dolphins must make even if Pouncey might be ready to play in Week 4-5 is deciding whether the possibility, and that's what it would be, a possibilty, of having Pouncey a week or two earlier is more valuable than carrying an extra wide receiver, or linebacker or defensive back the first month of the season.


The Dolphins expect their starting wide receivers to be ready for Saturday's preseason game at Tampa Bay.

Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline, both of whom missed the preseason opener, have practiced all week and are ready to play.


The Dolphins have been holding what seems like a legitimate kicking competition ever since incumbent Caleb Sturgis tweaked a groin the first week of practice.

The competition might be over, folks.

Sturgis today connected on all four of his field goal attempts.

Danny Hrapmann, who was signed when Sturgis was injured, missed two of his three kicks today. He missed from 47 yards and missed from 42 yards.


The Dolphins running back competition is really happening at the No. 3 spot because, let's be honest, Lamar Miller and Knowshon Moreno are going to be on this team, barring a major upset.

So Daniel Thomas, Mike Gillislee and several other lesser likes such as Cameron Marshall and Damien Williams and Orleans Darkwa are making a run for the No. 3 spot.

The problem is that neither Thomas nor Gillislee have been making much of a run. Thomas has been nursing and today continued nursing a hamstring injury that has forced him to miss the past two weeks.

Gillislee, who got off to a solid start in training camp, didn't exactly take great advantage of the time Thomas was out and now is himself out with a hamstring injury.

Pffft, goes the competition so far.

It is almost impossible that either Thomas or Gillislee will play againt Tampa Bay.


Backup left tackle Jason Fox continues to miss time with a chest injury.

What does that mean?

It means Nate Garner, the erstwhile, right tackle, center, left tackle, is back at left tackle again. He was the backup at left tackle today and that is likely where he'll play Saturday evening.

Tony Hills has also been getting work at backup left tackle.


August 12, 2014

Cortland Finnegan is the nickel corner now

Training camp and the preseason is a time for experimenting and that's what the Dolphins are doing all over the field. And nowhere is there more experimenting than in the defensive backfield where the looming suspension of Reshad Jones has moved Jimmy Wilson to a starting safety job and left open the first-string nickel cornerback job.

The Dolphins have worked Cortland Finnegan, Will Davis and Jamar Taylor at the nickel. For right now and I assume until it is tested in a preseason game, the nickel job belongs to Finnegan with Taylor playing outside at cornerback with the first string.

"A lot of guys are capable," Finnegan said, sizing up the situation on Tuesday. "Will Davis does a great job, Jamar Taylor, Jimmy [Wilson] is the guy, myself. When the time is called, we'll all be ready. We've been all working it. We'll see how it works out in the game."

Finnegan said he was the Rams' nickel corner last season (For layman purposes, the nickel corner is the guy covering the slot receiver.)

That means if he's the starter in the base defense, Finnegan will be moving from outside in base to the nickel in the sub packages.

"I don't have a preference," Finnegan said. "Everyone's getting reps. We'll see when the coach decides. Everyone's capable. It's just a work in progress."

One supposes Davis and Taylor are competing for the outside corner job in the sub packages. Taylor holds the job for the moment but Davis, who is often around the football, will get an opportunity to win the job before the preseason is over.

On Tuesday the Dolphins finished the practice with their nickel defense backed up inside their 20-yard line against the first-team offense. Ryan Tannehill threw a practice-ending touchdown to pass to Rishard Matthews against the nickel defense.

Matthews beat Taylor for the score.

Like I said, the competition is still open.

Moore's uncertainty gives Philbin a chance to communicate

Amid much speculation about the Brady Quinn signing Monday, I told you this signing is mostly about Pat Devlin and shouldn't be considered a major challenge to Matt Moore's status as the Dolphins' backup quarterback.

All this assuming Moore does his work and isn't a disaster in the coming practices and preseason games.

But ...

When Moore came off the field after practice Tuesday he didn't sound exactly sure about his status. Not at all. Indeed, he sounded downright uncertain that he'll be on the team when the Sept. 7 opener kicks off.

"All I can control is what I can do and keep getting better and that's just how it is," said Moore who was then asked if his cap number ($5.5 million) might affect the team's decision to keep him or not. "They're going to do what they think they need to do. And all I can do is keep going and it really has no effect. If it does, I think I'm in trouble. Mentally, I just need to stay focused and continue to get better."

But here's the dilemma ...

The Dolphins haven't told Moore what his status is. They haven't told him he's their backup to Ryan Tannehill. They haven't told him Brady Quinn was brought in and could take his job.

They haven't said anything, Moore said.

"They told me, 'Hey we're bringing him in.' That's it. I said, 'cool,' " Moore said. 

 And that is somewhat understandable because, despite the fact Moore is most likely the backup for 2014, there is a caveat: What if Moore completely collapses during the preseason? What if Quinn suddenly finds a gear in his game he's never seemingly had before?

(Quinn didn't show that geat in practice Tuesday but it was his first day on the field with this team).

Anyway, Moore is in the dark.

Thus the relative insecurity.

Moore, who sat most of the last two weeks with a shoulder injury, said he's ready to compete now and expects to play on Saturday against Tampa Bay. Until then he understands his body of work in the offseason program and practices have to speak on his behalf. 

"I haven't played in a game yet so that's probably up in the air but I feel confident in what I've done, the body of work I put in during the spring," Moore said. "We got practices and preseason games coming up and I will have opportunities I imagine. You got to take full advantage of them."

Me? Why not spell things out for Moore?

Coach Joe Philbin has made a big deal about being more communicative with his players. Why doesn't the coach use his next bed check with Moore to simply lay out the facts?

If the Dolphins are eager to get rid of Moore for cap purposes -- not the case, folks, trust me on this -- the coach should spell it out to his veteran. Moore has earned that respect.

If Moore is on the bubble and has to not only play better than Quinn, which he should do, but play very well in the preseason to stay in Miami, then Philbin should tell him so. Why not? What harm would honest communication do?

Finally, if Moore just needs to keep his head down, grind, compete and not screw up, to keep his spot -- which I believe is the case -- then Philbin should tell Moore that, too.

Look, Matt Moore is a leader in the quarterback room. He is respected by veterans in the locker room. If Philbin wants to put action behind his promise of being more communicative with players then this is a good opportunity. 

Dolphins RB competition needs improvement

The Dolphins have a competition for the No. 3 running back job. The only problem is no one of consequence is actually competing for the job right now.

Daniel Thomas has a hamstring injury and has been out of practice eight days. He is not practicing today. That opened the door for Mike Gillislee to get more opportunities to win the job, or at minimum take a lead in the race for the job. But Gillislee has not been able to make the most of his chance.

Gillislee was unimpressive in the preseason opener against Atlanta, gaining 30 yards on eight carries (3.8 yards average) and then then he injured his hamstring in practice on Sunday -- neither is good news because he failed to impress to a great degree with his opportunity and now is sidelined and unable to show out in practice.

Well, the Dolphins have other running back options in camp: Orleans Darkwa, Damien Williams and Cameron Marshall was resigned for the third time on Monday. But it seems obvious to anyone with eyes none of these guys will be the answer.

So why not sign a running back? The Dolphins added quarterback Brady Quinn when Pat Devlin was unable to compete at quarterback. They have two running backs currently unable to compete and they add a retread Marshall who we already know is not going to factor?

Why not give Andre Brown, cut by the Texans after gaining 876 yards and averaging 4.1 yard per rush the past two years for the New York Giants, a try?

I'm not saying Andre Brown is Jim Brown.

I'm saying he is an upgrade over Cameron Marshall and Darkwa and others and could actually compete for a spot with Thomas and Gillislee -- both of whom aren't actually competing now anyway.

Thomas is making progress. He is running on the sideline and should be back practicing within the week. But is the idea to simply hand him or Gillislee the job?

Or is the idea to turn over stones and try to upgrade from players who, frankly, are backups and need to be pushed to make the team better?

August 11, 2014

The Pat Devlin lovefest ends

In the end, all the jokes about how much Joe Philbin loved Pat Devlin and how players viewed Devlin as the coach's adopted son matter little because the Dolphins are moving on from their fourth-year quarterback.

The team which signed Brady Quinn Monday evening made room for the new backup quarterback by releasing their third-stringer of the past three seasons.

Devlin's release was first reported by FoxSports1's Mike Garafolo.

And it wasn't so much Devlin's inability to mount a challenge for the No. 2 quarterback job that doomed him with the Dolphins but rather his inability to get on the field. Devlin had not practiced since the Aug. 2 scrimmage in which he injured a hamstring.

Marginal player. Not practicing for 10 days.

Bad things, man.

"I think he's definitely developed," Philbin said of Devlin. "I like his play speed. That's one of the great strengths that I think he has. He plays the game fast, he's decisive when he's back there. But again, let's call it what it is, and he has to come out there on a more consistent basis to get a good, thorough evaluation."

There had been rumors that the Monday quarterback tryouts the Dolphins staged could affect Moore's status as the No. 2. The thinking was Moore is costing $5.5 million against the cap this year and cutting or trading him would save $4 million.

Not likely to happen.

The tryouts were to replace Devlin.

Brady Quinn is an experienced veteran but he's not likely to displace Moore -- barring a total collapse by Moore the remainder of the preseason.

Matt Moore is the Dolphins' No. 2 quarterback unless something significant changes. Signing Brady Quinn and cutting Pat Devlin was not that something.


Dolphins begin prep for Reshad Jones suspension

We know that starting safety Reshad Jones, who has started 44 of the past 47 games for the Dolphins, is going to be no where in the team's vicinity the first four games of 2014 because he must serve an NFL mandated four-game suspension for violating the league policy on performance enhancing drugs.

And so eventually the Dolphins have to prepare for not having their starter in the lineup.

Well, the preparation started today as Jones was bounced to second-team safety throughout practice while Jimmy Wilson took all his repetitions with the first team in Jones's former spot.

"We lose an experience player but we feel we have capable backups. Every team in the NFL is going to deal with situations that arise, whether it be injuries whether it be off the field issues. And the teams that deal with them the best are the teams that end up competing at the end of the season for the playoffs and for championships. We don't treat this any different than knowing we're going to be without a player for a couple of games. You have to adjust, move forward, and that's what we plan to do. That's why I'm glad we still have three more preseason games to continue to assess the entire group both at the safety position and the nickel."

Coyle is very confident about Wilson as his safety. The defensive coordinator believes Wilson has plenty of experience and will play hard and rally to the football. (I have my reservations and believe this is a step backward for the defense but that's for another day).

"He's one of the best communicators on the team," Coyle said. "When he's been in big situations, he's come up big for us."

The problem is the Dolphins aren't just replacing one "starter" back there. They're replacing a player in Wilson who has been the starting nickel for two seasons and done the job well.

So the Dolphins must identify a replacement for Wilson as the nickely from among the goup of Cortland Finnegan, Jamar Taylor or Will Davis, or Michael Thomas. Taylor and Davis both worked at nickel today. Finnegan was absent for the second consecutive day after posting on Instagram that there had been a death in his family.

"We have options," Coyle said.

The question is whether those options will be good enough to defend the New England Patriots passing game which has in the past has been very good at picking out weak links in the Miami defense and attacking them.

"It's a work in progress," Coyle saidl, "but when we line up against New England I'm going to be confident we have a group out there that's going to give us the best chance to win."

Grossman, Skelton, Quinn work out for Dolphins [Updated]

It was an interesting scene watching the entire Dolphins brass -- including general manager Dennis Hickey, head coach Joe Philbin, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and others -- emerge from the practice bubble moments ago after conducting workouts for three quarterbacks.

The Dolphins worked out Rex Grossman, John Skelton and Brady Quinn. Sources say the team is now planning to give each player a physical before deciding which player (if any) to add to the roster.

[Update: Grossman is not likely to sign with the Dolphins, according to a source. He has another visit set up already with another team. Skelton and Quinn are still in the running.]]

[Update 2: Skelton is not likely to sign with the Dolphins, Brady Quinn remains a possibility and the team is considering "other options," according to a source.]

This much is certain: The team is not happy with the situation behind Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore and perhaps it's too early to include Moore in that group, too.

Today, neither Pat Devlin nor Seth Lobato took any seven-on-seven or team drill snaps. This after the Dolphins cut Brock Jensen yesterday.

And so the Dolphins clearly want to see if they can improve their No. 3 QB competition.

But here's the rub: As all three players worked out today have experience starting in the NFL it is possible the team might be trying out players to increase the competition for the No. 2 QB spot. So perhaps Moore is about to get a run.

That hasn't been the case so far this year and, really, not been the case since Joe Philbin became coach in 2012. While Moore has not been able to win the starting job, Pat Devlin has offered little by way of competition to push Moore for the No. 2 job.

Perhaps the Dolphins want that competition in the form of one of the three QBs worked out today.

Rex Grossman, other QBs to audition for Dolphins

The Dolphins are auditioning several quarterbacks on Monday and former Florida Gators quarterback Rex Grossman will be one of those, agent Drew Rosenhaus said on WSVN-7 in South Florida Sunday evening.

The idea that the Dolphins need quarterback help goes beyond the fact the team released Brock Jensen, the fifth quarterback on the roster, on Sunday.

It goes to the idea that behind Ryan Tannehill everyone else is either nursing some physical ailment or dealing with a significant lack of ability.

Matt Moore has missed much of practice for most of the past five days -- including Friday's preseason game at Atlanta -- because he's had a sore throwing shoulder. Moore did throw more in practice on Sunday but is still not 100 percent.

Third-stringer Pat Devlin hasn't competed since the team scrimmage Aug. 2. He has a hamstring injury. And there is this:

Although Devlin is a favorite of coach Joe Philbin, the shine on him is starting to fade because, frankly, he shows no signs of challenging Moore for backup status entering his fourth season, and the idea of keeping only two quarterbacks on the roster has to be considered because the Dolphins have more talent at other positions that might be worthy of a roster spot ahead of Devlin.

Seth Lobato? He got three quarters of work against Atlanta in the preseason game and although he wasn't terrible, the fumbled shotgun snap in the Atlanta red zone late in the game was disappointing to coaches. The Dolphins also did not score a TD while Lobato was in the game.

His days on the roster seem numbered.

So the Dolphins are looking to add a live arm in camp that perhaps might increase the competition in the quarterback room. Grossman, who turns 34 later this month, might be that player.

He has played nine years and thrown 63 TDs and 60 interceptions in 54 games (with 47 starts). He was the starting quarterback when the Chicago Bears went to the Super Bowl in 2006.

By the way, am I advocating signing Grossman?

No. I'm advocating looking around for possible answers. Turn over rocks. Look for possibilities.

And here it is: I wish the Dolphins would work out Tim Tebow. He's been working out and working with a quarterback coach. He does have NFL experience. He did help take the Denver Broncos to the playoffs in 2011 and was 7-4 as a starter and even won a playoff game against Pittsburgh.

Is Tebow a great prospect?

No, but he's more accomplished than either Pat Devlin or Seth Lobato.

So why not?


The team signed running back Cameron Marshall to take Jensen's roster spot.

Daniel Thomas, nursing a hamstring, continues to miss practice. The Dolphins announced that Jason Fox (chest), Mike Gillislee (hamstring) and Micajah Reynolds (knee) would miss extended practice time.

Tight end Michael Egnew (concussion) returned to practice today.


August 10, 2014

Dolphins tweak Tannehill's technique

When Bill Lazor came to the Dolphins with a reputation as something of a quarterback whisperer everyone knew change was coming for Ryan Tannehill. But the degree of the fundamental nature of that change is starting to become clear.

Lazor tweaked Tannehill's footwork. That is supposed to improve accuracy.

"We just taught him how we want it to be. We explained it to him," Lazor said. "We gave him some drills on how to get it. And he worked his butt off, he's working his butt off to get it right.

"There were just certain fundamentals as with any position that we feel is the best way to do it. That's the way we're leading them. No one's perfect. PGA golfers have swing coaches and they're making money and are not done yet. It's just a matter of coaching. We're coaches. We have a great love for what we do and the fundamentals of the game and to try to make guys the best they can be. That's what we're doing with Ryan. For his part and all the quarterbacks here, they're buying in and working hard."

Well, Tannehill was 6 of 6 and led the Dolphins on a touchdown drive in the preseason opener Friday against Atlanta. So has he arrived?

"There is no 'I got it,' '" Lazor said. "Never.

""I thought he had 10 good plays. I thought he showed command. I thought he was very decisive on the field. The ball came out of his hand on time with all of them. He has a really good grasp of what we're doing. My job is to push him. I've got to make it very hard for him out here on the practice field. I heard a rumor that some people reported we've made it hard to him on the field. That's on purpose. That's how you build a quarterback and he's coming."


The Dolphinzs returned to the practice field Sunday for a relatively light two hour practice. There were no 11 on 11 drills.

Cornerback Cortland Finegan was not present after posting on Instagram of a death in his family. Defensive tackle A.J. Fancis did not practice because he has a left knee injury and will miss multiple days.


Running backs are dropping like flys for the Dolphins.

Daniel Thomas (hamstring) and Damien Williams (unreported injury) did not practice Sunday. And halfway through the practice, Mike Gillislee suffered some sort of knee injury. Gillislee stayed on the sideline with his left knee wrapped until the end of the drills.


Jason Fox, who has been working as a backup left tackle, left practice accompanied by trainers.

The depth at left tackle is suspect already. Any significant injury to Fox would likely force the team move Nate Garner back to backup LT.

August 08, 2014

Reshad Jones suspended four games

Add another Dolphins player about to serve a four-game regular-season suspension for violating the NFL's performance enhancing substance policy.

Reshad Jones will miss the first four games of the regular season while serving the suspension, the Dolphins and NFL announced today.

“The NFL recently informed me that I tested positive for a substance that is banned under the NFL performance enhancing substances policy. I worked closely with the union to investigate what happened, and I learned that a supplement I took caused the positive test. I deeply regret not investigating the supplement carefully before I took it, and I will never again take a supplement without having it checked.  I am very sorry for the effect of my mistake on my teammates and coaches.  I apologize to them, Stephen Ross, the Dolphins organization and fans.  During the time away from the team, I will maintain an intense training program so that I can help my team as soon as I return."

Jones will be eligible to return to the Dolphins’ active roster on Monday, September 29, following the team's September 28 game against the Oakland Raiders. Jones is eligible to participate in all preseason practices and games, including tonight in Atlanta.

“I was very disappointed when we found out about Reshad’s suspension," head coach Joe Philbin said. "When we talked to him, Reshad pledged to learn from this situation. Our secondary as a unit, including Reshad, has performed well this offseason and I have complete confidence in the group as we progress through training camp and into the regular season."

Jimmy Wilson, who has played approximately 600 snaps last season and is a coach favorite at both safety and nickel, is a likely replacement for Jones in the secondary early in the season.


Dolphins hire Mike Tannenbaum as a consultant

Remember this list of names of people who you must keep in mind for roles within the Dolphins organization? The list was published by me months ago and included Mike Tannenbaum.

Well, today that was the most recognizable and eye-catching name the surfaced in a release naming several new people to posts within the organization.

The release by the Dolphins said Tannenbaum is now serving as a "consultant."

According to the Dolphins, Tannenbaum, an agent for Priority Sports and Entertainment and a former New York Jets general manager, "will consult with the Dolphins on a variety of projects involving innovation, analytics and sports science. He will continue in his role at Priority Sports and Entertainment."

Prior to joining Priority, he spent 16 seasons (1997-2012) in various roles for the New York Jets, including his final seven years (2006-12) as the team’s executive vice president and general manager. Tannenbaum began his tenure in New York as director of player contracts in 1997 and was promoted to assistant general manager and director of pro personnel in 2001. In 2004, he was elevated to the role of assistant general manager and senior vice president of football operations before taking on the role of general manager prior to the 2006 season. Tannenbaum began his career in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints in 1994 before accepting the position of player personnel assistant with the Cleveland Browns in 1995. He returned to the Saints for the 1996 season as a player personnel assistant prior to joining the Jets in 1997. A native of Needham, Mass., Tannenbaum received a degree in accounting from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and graduated cum laude from Tulane University Law School, where he earned his certificate in sports law.

August 07, 2014

Dolphins intend to be tougher team in 2014

The Dolphins want a new attitude in 2014.

This team wants to be tough. This team wants to be physical. This team wants to get as far from finesse as it is possible to make that transition from one year to the next.

And this team is serious about the transition.

The offseason brought multiple changes that signaled this change. The addition of Louis Delmas at safety replacing Chris Clemons? Well, Delmas is a downhill tackler who's reputation is that he hits so hard, sometimes he injures himself ... or his own teammates.

The change of Koa Misi to middle linebacker? Misi is not known for making the dynamic play. He's not a fumble-causing machine. He doesn't collect interceptions like stamps. But he is tough. He doesn't back down. He sticks his nose in a fight. And now he's in the middle of all the action.

The Cortland Finnegan addition replacing Nolan Carroll? Whatever you think of Finnegan's ability to cover downfield -- the past couple of years his skills have seemed to be diminishing -- his toughness has always been one of his greatest assests.

He's a fighter.

No, really ...


Carroll was one of my favorite guys for his thoughtfulness and work ethic and desire to milk every last ounce of ability and leave it on the field. But he wasn't overly physical. He didn't carry the proverbial chip on his shoulder.

So that's three changes on defense where the Dolphins believe they may be improved this year -- but also be tougher.

On offense the move to toughness is everywhere.

Joe Philbin brought in John Benton from Houston to be the line coach. And Benton brought in a running game scheme that features cut blocking, which defenders don't love.

"I just like what we’re doing on the scheme," said left guard Daryn Colledge. "I like what our running backs are doing in practice. I mean we play against the defense right now that knows exactly what we’re doing every single day and they’re seeing it over and over again, and we’re still able to find a way to run the ball a little bit.

"So we get out against some teams and spread them out and get a chance to start cutting some guys on the back side and really start opening some of those holes up and we’ve got some chances.  Plus, you’ve got 17 (Ryan Tannehill) back there, that guy can move a little bit, he’s going to give us an opportunity on the back side. He’s going to hold some of those linebackers for us."

Oh yeah, remember last year offensive coordinator Mike Sherman didn't want Ryan Tannehill running too much? This while Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick and others were churning yards on the ground both when plays broke down and by design?

Well, this year new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor seems to be more willing and indeed eager to have Tannehill stretch his legs.

Run, Ryan, run!

That's a change in attitude in that it does not fear injury to the quarterback. It turns him into a threat, a playmaker with his feet.

Last year, by the way, the Dolphins were a sad, sad bunch on third and short.

This year, coaches are demanding that players understand that third-and-short of fourth-and-short must belong to the offensive line ... and the running backs.

This team will not be passing on third-and-one at a 75 percent clip like last year's team did. Indeed, coaches have made it very clear to players that they better get their minds right and start thinking about pushing the defense back on third-and-one run plays.


That's what the 2014 Dolphins want to be.

Will they be that?

No idea.

Look, a lot of teams want to be a lot of things and then games happen and suddenly things change. I have no idea if this offensive line or running back corps is physical enough to dominate the line of scrimmage on third and one.

I don't know that we'll be focused on how physical Finnegan and Delmas are in the secondary if they're letting receivers get behind them and bombs are blowing the top off the defense.

But I do know the intent for being a tougher team is there. The signs for it are everywhere.


August 06, 2014

Knowshon Moreno off PUP, ready to roll

Running back Knowshon Moreno, who missed the first two and half weeks of training camp while on the physically unable to perform list, has passed his physical and is now active and ready to work.

Moreno, 27, immediately joins a running back competition that so far has been dominated by Lamar Miller, who has taken nearly 80 percent of the snaps with the first-team offense.

Moreno is expected to compete for the starting job but more likely will share the position and get much if not most of his time as the team's third down back -- a spot that takes advantage of his prowess as a blocker. Moreno is practicing today but he is highly unlikely to play Friday evening when the Dolphins open their preseason at Atlanta.

The timing of Moreno's return is good for the Dolphins because running back Daniel Thomas (hamstring) has been out the past two days, including today.

Other injuries the Dolphins continue to monitor include quarterbacks Matt Moore (shoulder) and Pat Devlin (hamstring) are not working much today. Devlin is totally out of practice and Moore is dressed out but not throwing.

Charles Clay (knee) is still out.

Olivier Vernon returned to practice today. Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline are practicing.

Dolphins trying to put sports science to work

Yes, the Dolphins are trying new things these days.

Coach Joe Philbin agreed and owner Stephen Ross paid for the cost of turning the swimming pool at the team's training facility into a giant cold tub so players could use the thing and, in theory, recover from workouts more quickly.

Philbin has cut down on the amount of time the team meets daily "a little bit," he told me.

He's going to release the veterans from their rooms at the team hotel earlier than he did during his previous two training camps.

All of this stuff is meant to maximize players. It's meant to make it easier for them to succeed.

It is tangible stuff. And then there's this:

As I write in today's Miami Herald, the Dolphins are turning to technology in the effort to cut down on injuries, perhaps some day be able to be able to forecast the likelihood of injuries, and ultimately to win more.

Read the column and find out how many other NFL teams are doing this kind of sports science stuff these days.

"It provides us information on what guys are doing in practice," said head strength coach Darren Krein. "It gives us an in depth understanding of how one player can be doing a lot more in practice compared to another player based on how they run, based on what they’re asked to do in practice compared to what another guy is asked to do in practice – for example if one guy is on special teams and another guy is not on special teams obviously their practice is going to be different.

"If it’s a third-team guy or a starter it can be a different outcome for them. As coaches sometimes you realize that but you don’t get a full understanding until this sort of tracking device goes on them that tells us exactly what is taking place in practice.”

Consider this: Training camp is a time players push themselves to their physical limits because they are competing, indeed, fighting for jobs. And being able to stay in the competition is key.

So some players may be motivated to not speak up when they are slowed by some sort of minor injury. Well the GPS devices that monitor the Dolphins now can tell Krein and assistant strength coach Dave Puloka a baseline on each player's load and other critical readings in a typical practice.

Suddenly a player goes outside his norm and regardless of whether the player speaks up or not, the Dolphins are aware something has changed in his body.

“If a guy’s got a certain pattern the unit is showing you on a daily basis and then he’s got a day where his player load is way up there and he’s doing the same thing, that would be an indication something is wrong," Krein said.

Look, coaching is part science and also part art form.

The Dolphins are trying to gain an advantage in the science.

It cannot hurt. And maybe it can help.

August 05, 2014

Can offense become part of Tannehill DNA quickly?

Ryan Tannehill threw three interceptions in practice on Monday and followed that with three more interceptions on Tuesday.

"It's a combination of a bunch of stuff," the Dolphins starting quarterback said in explaning the issues. "Some throws we're trying to make in practice to see if we want to move on with them during the season. We have other answers on the plays, but the coaching staff wants to look at some throws against different coverages and see if we can complete them. I think we've come to the conclusion we're going to move on to another route."

An alarmist would have you fretting about these practice miscues, but I'm not too worried about it at this point. I am more interested with the rate at which Tannehill is making this offense his own.

Great quarterback play, you see, is as much art as science. It's not just knowing the play and carrying it out with proper execution. It is also about doing it with a certain instinct and pace and fluidity. Great QB play is almost rhythmic.

And the only way to have that rhythm is to have a great familiarity with what one is doing.

Now, Tannehill had familiarity with Mike Sherman's offense because he was in it five seasons. It didn't work for other reasons having nothing to do with it being part of Tannehill's DNA.

"It takes a couple of years to not even have a second of hesitation," Tannehill said. "I'm starting to get with it on a lot of our plays on this offense but we just finished our install today. It's going to be a few weeks at least before those plays are second [nature]. Obviously we're spending more time than in college studying and watching tape so it should happen a lot faster. But like I said, we just finished our install today and it should be a couple of weeks before it's second nature."

Tannehill is optimistic based on the fact, he says, that plays on which he hesitated early in camp require no hesitation on his part now.

"Definitely, definitely," he said. "I had a couple of plays today where I reacted just a half-second late. And as soon as it's over, I knew. You don't have to get coached up. You just know. And I can think back the first couple of practices where I had those plays and that happened, when those situations came up again, it didn't happen. These new plays we're going over, same thing, it won't happen again."

I'm frankly dubious about Tannehill's timetable. It simply would be superhuman for him to become one with this new offensive system to the point it's second nature. That could take a couple of years, I think.

The thing is the Dolphins don't have a couple of years. They need Tannehill to be good now, this year.

And the assignment gets more difficult: The team is not only asking Tannehill to learn and master this new offense, it is asking him to improve his decision making. And the Dolphins are defining decision making as better judgment on where he throws the ball and quicker reaction time as to when he throws it.

Neither of those is easy when the offense is not yet part of the quarterback's DNA. Hesitiation is almost to be expected in a new system and yet the Dolphins are demanding no hesitation.

Tough assignment.

Tuesday morning injury report here

The Dolphins got expected news today when players who left practice early due to injuries on Monday were held out today.

Tight end Michael Egnew, who suffered a concussion on Monday as first reported here, is not practicing today and is expected to miss multiple days. Also missing multiple days will be defensive end Olivier Vernon (back) and running back Daniel Thomas (hamstring. Tight end Harold Hoskins (hamstring)is also out for multiple practices.

Nate Garner who bruised his forearm in practice on Monday is working today.

By the way, Samason Satele, who joined the team over the weekend, is practicing today.