The Dolphins are officially on vacation now and although some rookies will be around the facility during the early part of July, most players won't be back until later in the month.
But just because everyone's on vacay doesn't mean stuff should not be happening. The Dolphins have work to do in certain areas over the next few weeks. And although not every issue will be fully resolved by the start of training camp, it wouldn't hurt the team to consider its options.
1. Getting healthy: Miami needs to get cornerback Michael Lehan, linebacker Channing Crowder, guard Steve McKinney, and running back Ronnie Brown as close to 100 percent as possible.
Lehan suffered a significant ankle sprain during recent OTA action and was expected to be out about a month. That still puts him within reach of being ready for the start of camp but he obviously has to get treatment consistently to accomplish that.
Brown got his most work of the offseason in the last week of OTA work, taking snaps with the first-team offense in team drills rather than being limited to individual drills as he was earlier. But Brown still isn't 100 percent. The hope is another month of strength building and treatment and TIME will help the surgically repaired knee. I don't think you'll see him taking too many hits in training camp -- maybe not even the first preseason game. But he needs to show by the second or third preseason game he's ready to play because, otherwise, he would be showing he's not ready for the season.
Crowder is still not 100 percent following late-season knee surgery. He needs to get better for the team's as well as his sakes. Obviously Miami brought in a pair of veteran inside linebackers in Reggie Torbor and Akin Ayodele so Crowder will have to compete if he wants to retain his starting job. Then he is hoping to set himself up for a new contract and that cannot happen on the sideline. Finally, from a team perspective, a healthy Crowder makes the defense better and, at the minimum, improves depth.
As for McKinney, see a couple of paragraphs down.
2. Sign remaining rookies:
The Dolphins have three draft picks that remain unsigned -- second-rounders Chad Henne and Phillip Merling and third rounder Kendall Langford. None has missed mandatory minicamps or OTA days because of contract issues so the is hope the negotiations will be efficient and productive. But it is clear Miami cannot afford to let any of these three guys miss any significant amount of training camp time, so it is imperative they are present and accounted for at the opening of camp.
3. Fill the vacant guard spot.
Miami's OL seems pretty much set in four of the five spots -- with LT Jake Long, RT Vernon Carey, C Samson Satele, and G Justin Smiley looking solid. The problem is Smiley, a natural right guard, has been working at both sides and the side where he ain't is a question mark.
If Smiley lands at right guard, where he is more comfy, that leaves the possibility of putting two relatively inexperienced players to man the left side. If you put Smiley, a vet, at left guard, his experience would help Long but what about RG?
This won't get resolved before the start of camp, but it is an issue that needs monitoring. Veteran Steve McKinney, who would be a good veteran fill at LG, said recently he would be ready for the start of training camp "even if I'm not 100 percent." McKinney, added recently, is still recovering from knee surgery that forced him to miss most of 2007.
That is all for now. I will be out of the country starting Sunday evening for 10 days. Spare me the don't come back jokes. You will have one final opportunity to talk Dolphins football with me if you want.
I will be on 790-AM The Ticket Sunday morning from 9-11 to talk sports with you. So call me from anywhere in the US at 1-888-790-3776. And if you are not in So. Fla. you can listen on the web at 790theticket.com.