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57 posts from August 2008

August 19, 2008

Dolphins to disavow Brown rumor [update]

We are approximately one hour from the time coach Tony Sparano is scheduled to conduct his daily press conference and it is fair to say he has a game plan in mind for this one.

Sparano apparently was taken as much by surprise by ESPN's Ronnie Brown report last night on Monday Night Countdown as, say, you and I may have been. So the belief here is that Sparano will try to make the point in his presser that Miami does not expect to jettison Ronnie Brown.

That, of course, is the plan as of now. It remains to be seen how well Miami's new coach, a guy not all that experienced with orchestrating press conferences, actually follows the game plan because sometimes the questions get asked in goofy ways by us media dorks and sometimes the answers don't make the point very clearly.

Anyway, as I updated in the previous post, Brown (sprained thumb) was on the practice field today wearing a cast that covered his entire right hand and extended half way up his forearm. He caught a couple of passes with his left hand in the time period the practice was open to the media.

And, in case you missed the point last night, it seems hard to believe the Dolphins would put Brown on the trade block as Chris Mortensen's ESPN report suggests for a number of reasons. They are:

He's not 100 percent healthy. His value to Miami is greater than it is to most other teams. He's a good insurance policy against Ricky Williams flaking out again. And he's a pretty young player with good upside potential left to tap.

Check back after the presser for an update on what Sparano said and how it compares to what he planned to say.

Update: Sparano indeed disavowed the rumor. He said there is "no chance," Brown is not on the Dolphins this year. He also said there has been, "no discussion of that internally or externally."

I am crafting the next entry that will give details of the QB competition and other notes so check back for a new post soon.

August 18, 2008

Brown on the way out of Miami? [updated]

ESPN's Chris Mortensen has just reported (sort of) that the Dolphins might get rid of Ronnie Brown before this season begins.

I'm saying Mortensen sort of reported it because, frankly, he backed into the whole subject. The Monday Night Countdown show was doing one of its cheesey segments, this one called 'Sink or Swim,' in which the pundits were giving their opinion whether certain players would succeed or fail this year.

Mortensen was asked about Ricky Williams and while talking about how he would "swim," he went on to say that the Dolphins are so pleased with Williams he "would not be surprised if Ronnie Brown sinks," to the point where "he is playing with another team this season."

Mortensen's reason for Brown being out of here is that the player is "struggling" this preseason.


Before I go on, let me tell you that Mortensen was at Miami's preseason game against Jacksonville Saturday evening and he did spend time talking to general manager Jeff Ireland. So one presumes this comes from Ireland as the source and not just out of sheer speculation.

But it is possible for a GM to sometimes think out loud without having any real expectation of following through on an idea. I also doubt Ireland would expect to see the idea unveiled on national TV.

I would think if Mort, an outstanding reporter by any measure one uses, had the story nailed, he would have come stronger than he just did. I think it would have been his lead comment, not following the Williams sink or swim bunk.

Having said all that, it is true that Brown is clearly not Miami's best RB now. That is Williams. It is true Brown has failed to play all 16 games in any of his three previous seasons. Update: Brown is at practice Tuesday morning and is wearing a significant cast on his right hand that goes halfway up his forearm and wraps around the sprained thumb. He was catching passes only one-handed during the open portion of practice that the media is allowed to see.

Anyway, it is true Brown will be in the final year of his contract in 2009 so the idea of getting something for him now might be attractive.

But I have a hard time believing the Dolphins would simply whack a guy that talented. And I also doubt any team would give the Dolphins the first round pick they invested on Brown in 2005 when you have a glut of running backs still on the market -- including Shaun Alexander and Cedric Benson.

So we shall monitor this one to see if Mort just dropped a bomb or simply lit a lame firecracker. My expectation is this isn't going to happen. And it shouldn't.

Addressing today's Beck and uniform rumors

I spend part of my work life chasing rumors and today is no different.

So far today I have chased two rumors that continue to persist and I am ready to report to you the first is true, the second is not.

It is true the Dallas Cowboys are mildly, and I do stress mildly, interested in quarterback John Beck. The Cowboys have winked, hand-signaled, called or e-mailed the Dolphins (however it is they do it) that they would be willing to part with a low-round draft pick for the second-year player.

Obviously, Beck remains on the Dolphins so nothing has actually materialized on that front.

Stay tuned, however, as Beck and Josh McCown continue to get minimal work in practice.

Onto another rumor ...

There have been persistent rumors the Dolphins are planning a uniform change this year. That is simply NOT true. The stuff about them going to silver pants and aqua helmets is just bunk.

The only change to Miami's uniform pattern of any significance is that the aqua pants will be added back to go with the white jerseys during road games. You saw that change in the opening road game of the preseason against Jacksonville.

So no uniform change. As I joked with a Dolphins official, that rumor is stomped like a bug.

Steve McKinney released, more stuff here

Offensive lineman Steve McKinney has been released by the Dolphins and we are starting to see something of a pattern with the release of veteran players.

As soon as the Dolphins are certain a veteran player will not be helping the team, they're outta here.

That, believe it or not, is a move these veterans should appreciate. Just like Jay Feely last Monday, McKinney still has time to get his affairs in order and pick up with another team. If the Dolphins kept him longer, his chances of latching on elsewhere would decrease by the day.

The Dolphins have just a few veterans that might deserve the respect of an early release if the team has no plans for them. Among the vets that are fighting for jobs with no certainty of making the team are safety Renaldo Hill and tight end Sean Ryan.

By the way, is it me, according to the official game book from Saturday's preseason game, rookie guard Shawn Murphy did not play. That strikes me as odd. Murphy clearly has been something of a disappointment as a fourth-round pick who has been passed for a chance to play by sixth-round pick Donald Thomas.

But Murphy has been working with starting special teams during camp. The fact he didn't play Saturday is either a sign he is injured or he's out of favor with coaches.

Coach Tony Sparano said Ronnie Brown has a sprained thumb and will not practice today. Kendall Langford, who injured his elbow during Saturday's game, is fine according to the coach. Vonnie Holliday is expected to return to practice as early as today.

August 16, 2008

Live blog versus Jaguars [Newest version]

Watching the Dolphins warming up pregame and Ricky Williams is working with the starters ahead of Ronnie Brown.

That leads me to believe Williams will be starting for the Dolphins tonight. Fact is, I just confirmed Williams will start.

Coach Tony Sparano wants to see how Williams reacts to starting while watching how Brown reacts to coming off the bench.

Still think Brown will play.

Join me in the comments section for the live blog.

Live blog from Dolphins versus Jags tonight

JACKSONVILLE -- This town has really blossomed since I was last here for the Super Bowl three years ago. It has a Ruth's Chris now to go along with the Sonic and the Hooters. Just kidding.

Anyway, the Dolphins are in town.

A couple of the DBs had dinner at the Chris Friday night, I was told.

Bill Parcells, who hates to fly, is not on this trip.

Chad Pennington, who is expected to play as much as one half for the Dolphins, obviously is here. Chad Henne could get much of the second half. And then there is Josh McCown and John Beck. We'll see what happens with them.

Anyway, there will be a live blog starting a little before the game as I describe the action, share thoughts and, basically, just hang out with you guys on here. So join me in the comments section for the fun.

August 15, 2008

Thoughts on the 'Fins...

Note: Albert Latour is one of the winners of The Miami Herald's contest to spend a day at Dolphins training camp and blog about it... here's his story:

As one of the Herald training camp contest winners, I'm going to use my chance to chime in on Armando's blog by jotting down some thoughts on what I think & hope is going to happen this season.  I can't say that I'm necessarily qualified, but I feel I have earned it as I've done some hard time as a life long 'fins fan. 

All in all, we can't realistically expect any more than 6 wins from this team.  But we will be calling this year a success in the context of the Tuna's 3-year master plan if the following things happen this year (in order of probability):

  1. The O-line develops into the dominant, young and cohesive unit that will be the foundation of this offense and the team in general for the next few years.  With Long, Carey and Satele locking down the two ends and the middle, and what so far look to be good finds in Smiley and Thomas - I'll be surprised if this doesn't happen.
  2. Henne proves to be the QB of the future.  I don't mind if he doesn't take a snap all year during the regular season, I just want to feel comfortable that he's the guy going forward.  The significant and meaningful reps that he's getting during camp are going to pay dividends next year when he will come into camp to compete for the starting job. 
  3. Ronnie Brown comes back strong.  He's our only bonafide play-maker on offense; if he stays healthy he's going to have a big year in Dan Henning's offense behind this O-line.
  4. On the defense side of the ball, 5 players still in or approaching their prime (28 or younger) step up to represent the new defensive core for the future.  I'm thinking these 5 will be Langford, Merling, Crowder, Jason Allen, and maybe surprisingly Reggie Torbor.  I remember watching Torbor flying around in the SuperBowl, and he seemed to be everywhere in the first preseason game.  He will be starting next to Crowder by midway through the season.      
  5. Teddy Ginn Jr. becomes a legit deep threat.  I think the media and fans are being too hard on this guy (and his family).  Ginn should be fired up about the Pennington signing as the 'fins will see a lot of "8 in the box" this year, and Pennington will be able to recognize and exploit matchups in which a corner is left alone on #19 with no deep help.  I know that Chad doesn't have a big arm, but he didn't when he made Laverneus Coles and Santana Moss serious playmakers either.

Just a couple of other things. I see Ricky Williams getting traded for a couple of picks (maybe a 3rd and a 5th rounder) after the first few games of the regular season.  Ricky will get a lot of carries in the first few games (after his preseason showcase), will continue to show that he's on the straight and narrow, and some contending team out there will need a quality back to make a run this year.  Tuna will pull the trigger on a deal like this, having Ricky is an unnecessary luxury for this team right now and we could definitely use the picks.   

The 'Fins have zero depth behind Ferguson at nose tackle.  I saw Paul Soliai getting manhandled by Satele one on one at camp - I won't be surprised if Soliai does not make the team.  If Ferguson goes down, our run defense will be right back where it left off last year. 

This has been fun, thanks to the Miami Herald and the Miami Dolphins for a great experience. 

Dolphins release three players, more stuff

The Dolphins have just announced they released receivers John Dunlap and Selwyn Lymon and linebacker Keith Saunders.

Huge news, I know.

But, in truth, the receivers have been prominent on my mind of late. First, let me say they seemed to catch the football much better in practice this week. Derek Hagan had a very good week of practice in my estimation. Ted Ginn Jr. continues to catch the football well, although I've yet to see his deep-threat ability.

And then there is the third receiver situation.

It seemed settled coming into camp that the three would be Ginn, Hagan and Ernest Wilford. Except that before this week of practice, Wilford was dropping on the depth chart like a brick in water. I know that General Manager Jeff Ireland has been frustrated with Wilford because it doesn't seem to be a talent issue, but perhaps more of a concentration and focus issue.

The result has been that not only has Wilford dropped behind Hagan as a starter, he is losing ground to undrafted free agent rookie Davone Bess for the third receiver role. On Saturday when the Dolphins play the Jaguars, rather than celebrating his return to his old haunts, Wilford will return as Miami's fourth receiver.

This is not, however, a permanent situation. While Bess is expected to get first-team snaps in the multiple receiver sets and Wilford gets a lot of second-team snaps, what happens Saturday night will be telling as to how long this situation lasts.

If Bess is impressive, it could be a while. If Wilford recovers, he'll be back in better graces.

By the way, I get asked a lot if it is possible the Dolphins might cut Wilford. At this point, I don't see that. He got a $6 million guarantee and that is hard to simply swallow by cutting a guy. I also don't think there is a big trade market for him. And despite his early camp inconsistencies, he remains Miami's most experienced and accomplished receiver.

So patience will be the order of the day for now.

August 14, 2008

A rumble in the Dolphins jungle [Updated]

Tempers have flared during the Dolphins practice this morning.

On an otherwise routine deep pass down the right sideline, cornerback Will Allen and receiver David Kircus got into a scuffle after the play was over. Actually, it was more like after the pass fell incomplete. Allen began punching on Kircus who fell to the turf and basically went into a fetal position as Allen stood over him.

It is impossible to say what started the fight but one source says it is because Kircus put a hard block on Allen a play or two before and the cornerback didn't appreciate the treatment. There was apparently also a verbal exchange of pleasantries.

Anyway, Allen's distribution of punches lasted for about five seconds then he apparently realized Kircus wasn't fighting back. (Or was it Allen was confused by Kircus trying to fight back by hitting Allen's fist with his facemask?) Anyway, Allen stopped, and as he was walking back to the line of scrimmage tight end Sean Ryan tackled Allen and started whooping on him.

And then it got crazy.

Defensive players came to Allen's defense. Offensive players then joined in. And the melee that ensued lasted about 10 seconds as coaches frantically blew their whistles and carefully tried to re-establish order.

Within, I would estimate, 45 seconds, the order was indeed restored and the Dolphins ran another play. Coach Tony Sparano was seen remonstrating with Allen afterward.

In all my years of covering football, I've seen a lot of practice fights but normally it is an offensive lineman versus a defensive lineman. I have never seen a cornerback attack a receiver and Sparano thought it ridiculous as well.

"A receiver and a defensive back, I don't think that's much of a fight," the coach said moments ago. "It's not smart ... It's not something I condone at all ... It's not what you want."

As for actual football matters, the profootballtalk.com rumors about John Beck getting cut today are NOT TRUE. If you don't believe the fact Sparano shot down the rumor, believe my eyes:

Beck participated in drills and is readying for the next practice in a couple of hours.

Chad Pennington is expected to start and play up to a half in that game -- depending on the number of possessions Miami gets. Interestingly, Beck and Josh McCown actually took some scout team snaps today which isn't a big reward but is a lot more work they got in practices the past couple of days.

During the first and second-team team drills, Pennington was 5 of 7 with 1 interception and zero touchdowns, while Henne 4 of 7 with neither an interception nor a touchdown.

Finally, Joey Porter is expected to play Saturday while Vonnie Holliday (hamstring) and Michael Lehan (high ankle sprain) are not.

August 13, 2008

Last update of the day for Wednesday

The idea that Jay Feely needed to be cut by the Dolphins, in a small part, because he was too vocal in the media and with his teammates is not foreign to some players still on the team -- even one player who calls himself Feely's friend.

"Jay's my boy," linebacker Joey Porter said Wednesday. "I like Jay Feely a lot. But at the same time, certain players get to do certain things and certain players don't. Nothing against Jay, but kickers don't get to be as vocal as I would be. I don't care who you are. [Mike] Vanderjagt tried and he got kicked out of Indy and he was the best kicker in the game. Kickers don't get to talk a whole lot."

Porter said the Dolphins picked, "the cheapest player," in the kicking competition.


Josh McCown and John Beck had the best day of Miami's four quarterbacks in Wednesday's practice because, well, they took only a handful of snaps in team drills while Chad Pennington and Chad Henne took the 36 between them and stunk struggled.

Pennington was 6 of 21 with zero touchdowns and two interceptions during the entirety of the team drills, which were split up into three parts. Pennington and the starting receivers were not always on the same page but he was also victimized by some horrible happenstance.

On one sure TD pass he hit TE Sean Ryan in the hands and the guy not only drops the pass, he drops it into the hands of Joey Thomas for an INT. Pennington's second INT was legit as Will Billingsley simply plucked a weak pass in the corner of the end zone out of the air. Derek Hagan, by the way, didn't exactly defend well, which is what he's called to do when he doesn't have a chance to catch it himself.

Pennington did have the nicest completion of the day -- a 40-yard-plus connection with Greg Camarillo. Camarillo also had a leaping grab of a Henne pass across the middle later in the practice so he had a good day.

Henne was not so good either. He completed 7 of 15 passes without a TD nor an INT. Henne also took a sack.


An item in profootballtalk.com today confirms an item on this blog from Saturday that Chad Pennington's deal could be worth $11.5 million but only if the guy takes Miami to the Super Bowl and he wins the MVP. The real value of the deal is more like $8 million. He got $500,000 to sign last week.


It was surprising to see but only hours after coach Tony Sparano said he's seeing improvement from Ernest Wilford in practices, I see him fall another notch in the ever-changing depth chart.

While we all know Wilford dropped from starter to third receiver last week behind Ted Ginn and Derek Hagan, today while the team worked in three-receiver sets, he wasn't one of the three receivers. Rookie Davone Bess, Ginn and Hagan were the three WRs working with the starters. Wilford was working with the second group. Interesting.


The Dolphins want to find a place for RB Patrick Cobbs on this team so don't be surprised to see him on kick returns Saturday versus Jacksonville.


Quickie Jake Long update: Good news. Nothing to report. He doesn't give up sacks, he doesn't jump offsides. Does he have work to do? Yes, on his technique. But he's never overmatched.

Some nuggets from Wed. morning presser

If you read this blog yesterday you saw the recount of an exchange between Bill Parcells and cornerback Michael Lehan. It was pretty clear that Parcells was tweaking Lehan.

Today, I asked coach Tony Sparano about Lehan and it seems clear, reading between the lines, the team is drawing near to that moment when they want the player who has nursed a high ankle sprain for over two months to get back on the field.

"Pretty soon it becomes important," Sparano said. "We're getting to a point right now where we're trying to make decisions as we get on with this thing on this team ... We need to see Michael out there ... We want to see Michael out there."

Lehan has been working off to the side and, according to my eyes, has been moving quite well. He was cutting pretty aggressively yesterday. "It looks like he's making great progress right now," Sparano said.

And it says here that progress needs to translate to getting back out there. "There's a lot of things taking place out there right, the competition is going on and he hasn't been out there," Sparano said. "There's a lot of things going on. Once he gets out there and he's healthy, I think he'll be fine, but he has to compete just like everyone else."


Don't expect to see Charlie Anderson (hamstring) on the practice field any time soon and he is not likely to play Saturday. Vonnie Holliday, nursing the same injury, is "probably close" to returning to practice so I believe he may play Saturday.


Expect Ronnie Brown, Jason Allen, Derek Hagan, Ted Ginn Jr., and the entire starting offensive line to get more playing time against Jacksonville Saturday night.


I asked how far along Chad Pennington is in learning the play book because it is not as easy as it looks. The answer is he missed all the installation of plays from early in camp and is expected to pick those up on his own.

"We're not able to go back and start from Day 1," Sparano said. "He's had to absorb that on the fly."

Sparano said Pennington has gotten all the "basic information," meaning he knows formations, the coverages, and obviously Miami's terminology.


Coaches are pleased that Ernest Wilfork this week has recovered from two pretty bad weeks of practice. He has improved visibly the last couple of days.

Sparano also said he has noticed rookie linebacker Titus Brown more of late.


By the way, tight end Aaron Halterman, waived injured earlier in camp, went through waivers unclaimed and his agent was unable to negotiate a settlement with the team. So he is now Miami's second player on injured reserve joining Tab Perry.

Debate the idea of keeping four quarterbacks

Tony Sparano says the Dolphins are considering keeping four quarterbacks this year. No, seriously, that is what he is saying.

He's the coach and the final authority on the matter -- after Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland, of course.

But on this blog, I get a say. And I say in this column that it is a pretty bad idea considering a few days ago the Miami brain trust was wondering whether either Josh McCown or John Beck deserved to be on the team at all.

Anyway, the Dolphins and I are not the only ones that get a say. You have an opinion ... so come with it.

Should the Dolphins seriously consider keeping four quarterbacks? Or does that just make no sense? Or is it a motivational tool? Or what?

Come strong.

By the way, Chad Pennington is expected to play Saturday against Jacksonville.

August 12, 2008

Porter returns, Henne struggles in afternoon drills

Joey Porter returned to practice this evening as the Dolphins held their practice in the Nick Saban Memorial Bubble.

Porter's return to the starting lineup meant Quentin Moses returned to second-team work. The two outside linebackers were Porter and Matt Roth.

Vonnie Holliday and Michael Lehan are still not practicing and I think the Dolphins are getting a little antsy about Lehan who has been nursing a high ankle sprain since early June. I saw Bill Parcells tweaking Lehan a little bit on the side.

As for the hour by hour quarterback update, Chad Pennington looked good working with the starters in team and 7-on-7 drills. Chad Henne didn't look so great. Henne was 1 of 8 with an interception by Renaldo Hill in the two-minute drill. Later in the practice he completed four passes in a row but didn't get the team in the end zone.

Pennington also didn't get the team in the end zone, by the way. The offense stalled inside the 20 yard line when Pennington was at the helm. He did complete a sweet 25 yard pass down the middle to get Miami inside the 20, however.

Look for Pennington to get playing time this weekend against Jacksonville..

A couple of quick roster observations: The Dolphins are still starting rookie Donald Thomas at right guard but don't be surprised if Trey Darilek eventually emerges as the starter there. Tony Sparano loves Darilek and Parcells has been spending time with him after practice, particularly today.

Finally, I want to thank all of you for continuing to come to this blog for Dolphins information, analysis and opinion. We're at 1.6 million views for 2008 and the regular season hasn't even begun. Today, for example, this blog was the most visited offering on The Miami Herald webpage.

Thank you, again.

[UPDATED] Tues. morning practice report

Easy morning for Josh McCown and John Beck at practice this morning. Neither quarterback took a snap in team or 7-on-7 work.

Basically, the Dolphins are showing their hand with the Chads. Or as Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland calls them, "Penny and Henne."

One is the Mr. Right Now. The other one seems like Mr. Right for the longterm future of the team. Coach Tony Sparano said it is pretty obvious that Pennington will play versus Jacksonville Saturday evening. I would imagine, based on the work so far this week, either he or Henne would start.

Pennington took 33 snaps this morning. He was 5 of 9 with a TD to David Martin. Henne took 25 snaps and was 4 of 8 with a TD to Ted Ginn.

By the way, the catch by Martin in the corner of the end zone was the best play I've seen from the tight end since he's been a Dolphin. The throw to Ginn by Henne was zipped between two defenders on a slant. Good stuff on both counts.

Receiver Anthony Armstrong, who had a good night on returns Saturday, seems to be in the mix on starting kickoffs now. He got as many reps with the first-team kick return team as Jayson Foster and Ted Ginn Jr.

Matt Roth continues to work at OLB, getting ALL his snaps at that position.

Rookie Donald Thomas continues to run with the first team OL, at right guard.

Speaking about the decision to cut Jay Feely, Sparano said the veteran simply got beat out by rookie Dan Carpenter. According to Sparano, Carpenter has connected on 93 percent of his 40 field goal tries and until he missed one in practice today, he had connected on 23 consecutive kicks.

"The numbers weren't close," Sparano said.

Sparano also noted the Feely has, "been hurt twice," since the spring, the most recent a groin injury that sidelined him the past week or so.

On the injury front: Vonnie Holliday (hamstring), Michael Lehan (ankle), Joey Porter (back), Charlie Anderson (hamstring) missed the practice. Ricky Williams seemed to tweak his ankle on one play but returned later.

Sparano said he expects Porter back on the field pretty soon -- I would guess as early as this evening.

Kicker Jay Feely released by Dolphins

Jay Feely, who was arguably the Dolphins most consistent performer in 2007, will not be with the team in 2008.

This morning Feely was called in by the Dolphins braintrust and released, according to a source.

Feely confirmed the release on a local radio and in conversations with local reporters, which he called to volunteer the information. That very move is one small reason the Dolphins had Feely on a very short leash. Bill Parcells hated the fact Feeley was so media friendly.

But Parcells also hated that Feely wasn't great with his kickoffs last year that problem coupled with the player's injury the past 10 days or so spelled the end. Feely missed practices and the first preseason game with a groin injury.

In Feely's absence, rookie Dan Carpenter won the job with Miami. Carpenter connected on field goals of 41 and 49 yards during the preseason-opener against Tampa Bay.

I cannot stress enough the focus the Dolphins are now putting on not losing hidden yardage in games. Last season, for example, special teams assistant Keith Armstrong bemoaned the fact that in one game alone, Feely's low and short kickoffs cost the Dolphins 80 yards of field position. Armstrong would not say what game that was, but the statistic was startling.

The Dolphins were not good enough then and are still not good enough now to recover from that kind of field position liability. I assume the team believes Carpenter will be better on kickoffs. Against Tampa Bay, he had three kickoffs and none were in the end zone.

So Feely, 32, is a free agent. Wouldn't be surprised if he ends up with Tampa Bay or New Orleans. Last year Feely connected on 21 of 23 field goals.

So the Dolphins say good-bye to another vet. And this blog loses a loyal reader.

August 11, 2008

Bye-bye Kelvin Smith, we hardly knew ya

Kelvin Smith, a promising young LB, injured his knee in Saturday's game and could be out for the season. So the Dolphins today waived him injured.

Nice knowing you. He would revert back to the Dolphins IR list if no one else claims him or he and the Dolphins don't agree on an injury settlement.

The team signed Maurice Fountain, who last played at Clemson in 2005 and has been an Arena League guy the past couple of years.

Meanwhile, Jay Feely (groin), Vonnie Holliday (hamstring), Joey Porter (back), and Charlie Anderson (hamstring) did not practice.

Before you ask me how Chad Pennington did, he did just fine, according to this story in The Miami Herald.

The words right from Sparano's mouth today

Head Coach Tony Sparano

Pre-Practice – Monday, August 11, 2008

(On the injuries to LB Kelvin Smith and LB Charlie Anderson) – “Here’s where we are injury wise at the end of the game. Kelvin Smith, during the game, he suffered what looks like a pretty serious knee injury. We’re waiting on a little bit more information there, but that injury looks to be pretty serious. And then, Charlie Anderson in the game, he had a little bit of a hamstring deal in the game, so he’s kind of day-to-day right now. But those are the injuries that came out of the game.”

(On LB Charlie Anderson practicing today) -- “I’m not sure. It’s really day-to-day and we’ll be really smart with it, but I don’t see him practicing today.”

(On his plans for LB Kelvin Smith after his injury) -- “Not sure right now. At this time, we’re still waiting for a little bit more information, but it’s not great.”

(On which leg LB Kelvin Smith and LB Charlie Anderson injured) -- “Not positive. I think Charlie’s is the left, I’m not sure.”

(On his impressions of the first preseason game vs. Tampa Bay after watching the film) -- “My impressions after watching the game in general, are that I thought early in the game they did some nice things. They competed really hard. Whatever it’s worth in a preseason game, the score was 7-6 with ten minutes into the fourth quarter of it. I thought the first units competed really well against one another in that game, and really did see some really good things at times, particularly out of some younger guys in there. I was really pleased to see that. What we didn’t do, is we didn’t finish. So that’s something that we talk about. I don’t really care what the unit is that is out on the field at the time, it’s not an excuse. We didn’t finish the game and that’s the way we practice. Those are the things we talk about. We weren’t really disciplined throughout the course of the game. We had nine penalties there for 60 yards. Those are things that we preach about. We had a couple of minus plays out there, which are also things that we talk about. We really didn’t get the ball away from them, meaning they didn’t turn it over. Now, with that being said, neither did we, which is a good thing.”

(On how he splits up the rotation with four QBs in camp)  -- “Right now, we’ve seen an awful lot of a couple of guys here, of three players, so we can see a little bit less maybe of the three players there as we get on in this. We know we obviously have to get Chad (Pennington) work as well here, so we’ll work it around that way. It might be a little bit dominant in here early. We’ll see how it goes where a couple of guys get a couple more reps then a few other guys.”

(On how long he thinks it takes for a QB to learn an offense) -- “Well, that’s interesting. I think to learn an offense, I think a guy can learn the offense and have a pretty good grasp of the offense in a week to two weeks time. I really do, depending on who that guy is. Now Chad (Pennington) coming to us, and this was well thought out, is when we came here, really my first time in Dallas, when I learned our offense with Bill Parcells, that was the same offense that Dan Henning was involved in. So, when we came here, my notebook and Dan’s notebook were put together. And that’s kind of the way we developed our offense here and kind of the way we’re going to attack this thing. To be honest with you, Chad (Pennington) is pretty familiar with some of the terminology. This is going to be a little bit easier than it would be anybody else.”

(On who’s terminology he uses, his or offensive coordinator Dan Henning)  -- “We’re using my terminology. One of the greatest things is formations and how you get guys lined up. That’s the biggest part that comes out of the quarterbacks mouth in the huddle usually is the formation. And those things are pretty consistent. So Chad (Pennington), I think, would have pretty good recall that way. In fact, I know he does.”

(On what he liked from QB Chad Henne’s play in the preseason game against Tampa Bay)  -- “I’ll tell you two things I thought that were really telling to me. First of all, he did step up in the pocket and he did make a couple of pretty good throws in there. One of those throws was, I’m going to say to (Anthony) Armstrong in the game and then the other one was to (David) Kircus. Those are two pretty good throws, I mean really big-league throws. The ball out of bounds, there was another deal during the course of this game, we drill it all the time out here, and we talk about it a lot. But from a field goal standpoint, our second score, we were probably on about the 36-yard line at the time, somewhere in that range, maybe a little bit longer. But we were just outside of what we thought might have been (Dan) Carpenter’s field goal range. And we went back to pass, and Chad (Henne) was smart enough there not to take a sack, put the ball down and get positive yards out of this, which was something we talked about. I think he might have gained four yards in that situation and gave us the opportunity to make a field goal. That’s a heads up play for a young guy to make. Some young guys would take the sack there in that situation and you have no chance for a field goal. The other thing I thought is that he got hit twice in that game, it didn’t bother him at all.”

(On his evaluation of the first team offensive line against Tampa Bay) – “I thought that the first team offensive line, the course of that game, aside of the first two plays of the game, which we were not quite on the same page with, played  pretty well.  I was pleased with what they did in there.  I was really pleased as a group with what they did, but obviously when you look at your young players, Donald Thomas being out there for the first time, I was pleased with what Donald did during the course of the game.  There are a lot of things he has to get better at and we talked about it and Jake (Long), the same kind of deal.  I thought Jake played pretty well in that ball game and got challenged a little bit in that game.  Some speed rush up the field and he handled it pretty well.  He was pretty good in the run game.  Again, some things he has to get better at as well.”

(On his evaluation of Matt Roth at outside linebacker against Tampa Bay) -- “I see tremendous strength and he really set the edge a few times.  He did a nice job that way.  He put good pressure on the quarterback in some rush situations.  When I say, ‘set the edge,’ I mean in the run game.  He really set the edge, played on the offensive side of the line of scrimmage.  But in the pass game, his pass rush was really solid.  He’s down the middle usually of his defender.  Now that being said, we need to work on some things that way.  Down the middle is good, but down the middle of a 300 pound tackle every single down, we need to come up with a little something different there.”

(On why Ernest Wilford seems to be struggling catching the ball) -- “I think sometimes when you’re a skill player like that, and you don’t always get a lot of at bats, and it doesn’t come to you a bunch, you have one or two and then it becomes a confidence thing a little bit one way or the other.  But he’s a pretty confident kid.  In fact, he and I sat down and visited a little today and I told him that I am confident in him and that we just got to get him into a point where we just practice one practice at a time here and we finish that practice and we know we had a good day.  And we go to the next practice and worry about it.  Maybe spend a little bit more time doing some things with him on the jugs.  We’ve got four arms in camp now so we can use some of these quarterbacks after practice and do some things that way too.”

(On not playing Joey Porter against Tampa Bay and injury updates on Vonnie Holliday and Jay Feely) -- “Vonnie is still day-to-day right now.  He’s doing a lot better.   We were smart in doing what we did with him.  As far as Joey goes, Joey had a little bit of a sore back.  He kind of tweaked it in practice last week.  It was fine then it kind of flared up on him so it was a little bit sore and we just wanted to be cautious with it.  That was all it was in that situation.  It was good for us to be able to see a few of the younger guys, too, in that deal.  Joey is going to be day-to-day right now and I would expect Joey, as we get on in this week to be okay.  As far as Feely goes, he’s still day-to-day right now as well and we’ll see where he is.”

(On if he’s comfortable with John Beck doing the check down or would you like to see him step up more downfield) -- “I think it depends on what’s happening out there, coverage-wise.  I know when Chad (Henne) got out there, there was a little bit more man coverage at that time.  Tampa usually plays a lot of two-deep and tries to keep the ball underneath you, underneath them I should say.  John had a few of those kind of opportunities where they were playing shell and he had to check the ball down a little bit.  He made the right decision.  We have talked a little bit to John just about being able to get the ball down the field.  You don’t want to force feed that to a quarterback and then he goes out and throws three interceptions because he’s trying to push the ball.  One of the big things is that it’s okay to check the ball down in our offense.  We threw a check down to Reagan Mauia.  To be honest with you, we weren’t in the right place when we threw the check down, but we threw the check down to Reagan and he gains nine or ten yards.  That’s what you want to see.” 

(On his evaluation of the special teams overall and the impact that Special Teams Coordinator John Bonamego has had)  -- “First of all, Bono’s impact I think is outstanding.  The players like playing for Bono in special teams and that’s a big part of it.  He keeps it interesting there.  He tells them when they do it right, he tells them when they do it wrong and he’s pretty good correcting it.  He uses a lot of visuals for them in meetings so that they can understand what it is that we should be doing and how we should be doing it out there on the field.  I think they’re excited about what he brings to the table in special teams.  As far as the game goes, I thought early in the game we competed pretty well.  What I didn’t like is there were 70 yards worth of punts returned in the kicking game.  And that’s 70 yards.  You take 70 yards there, you take 60 yards worth of penalties you’re at 130 yards.  You add four sacks for 23 yards, now you’re at 153 yards.  I think we got back three sacks for maybe 13 yards.  So at the end of the day there was 120 yards of hidden yardage left on the field.  My team knows this, they know about how you win and lose.  And of 123 yards when you look at it, in our game 100 yards is seven points.  It’s probably about nine points in the game.”

(On what you are looking for out of Chad Pennington today in his first practice) -- “Obviously I just want to watch him manage the huddle a little bit and see how he does that way.  See exactly what his recall is. We’re going to get him out there and let him go a few reps.  He’ll grab a bunch of reps today.  And we’re going to watch him and see what his recall is.  I want to watch him throw the ball a little bit, but more importantly just how he interacts with the players and the team.  He’s already done that, its kind of been a pretty nice couple days, transition that way.  You could feel his presence around a little bit.”

(On what the wide receivers need to improve on)  -- “Catching the ball.  I want them to catch the ball and I want to see run after the catch.  But your question is a good question.  The other thing is man-to-man.  I don’t think we’re doing a great job at the second level avoiding people.  They’re getting their hands on us a little bit, it’s happened in practice.  They disrupt the route there a little bit.  We need to have a better plan at the second level from a receiver’s standpoint and we have to win in man-to-man situations.  We have to win.”

(On is he going to have a set plan with four quarterbacks or play them by feel) – “I’m going to do it by feel right now, kind of what we need to get as we get on in this thing.  Honestly, right now it’s going to be feel for a lot of the guys on the team.  We’re kind of out of the hurting people’s feelings business right now.  We’re getting into the real deal here.  We have three preseason games left and really after today we’ll have nine true practice days left before we get into game week.  We’ve got to get people ready to play that we think are going to be headed to the game and get enough guys work that are on the bubble as we look at it and see guys that still have a legitimate chance to make this team.  There are a lot of guys that have that chance to make this team.  Really, there’s very few things that are set in stone but we got to get guys ready to play."

Live blog chat from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. today

Happy Monday!!!!

Tony Sparano will have his day-after press conference today although it is two days after Saturday's game. Have I mentioned to you guys the Dolphins have the worst media policies in the NFL? Any, I digress ...

Figured it would be a good time to interact with you since the game blog went so well but not all of you had a chance to see the game. So there will be a live blog on here between 1-2 p.m. today.

If you have questions or comments about YOUR Miami Dolphins, feel free to leave them here now or come on here during that time. I'll answer, agree, disagree, applaud, juggle, or whatever.

If you cannot be here at that time, you can leave your thoughts now in the comments section and they'll be first in the batting order when I come back at 1 p.m.

August 10, 2008

Sparano: 'We may keep four quarterbacks'

Coach Tony Sparano just said that contrary to speculation, the Dolphins may not cut any of their four quarterbacks. It just might be a very crowded quarterback room if the coach is being honest.

"Throughout the rest of training camp ... we'll see how things go," Sparano said. "I expect that we'll have four quarterbacks for a while. We may keep four quarterbacks. I mean, that's the truth. We might just keep four quarterbacks at the end of this thing. I mean, the team we just played has got a bunch of them."

It is hard to fathom that the same coach who has been working guys at multiple positions, including trying veteran defensive linemen Vonnie Holliday and Matt Roth at outside linebacker for what he calls "position flexibility," will use a roster spot on a QB that would never have the opportunity to play or even run the scout team.

Anyway here is some other stuff off of Saturday night's 13-6 loss to Tampa Bay:

*Ricky Williams, who has not played a preseason game since 2003, looked excellent. He rushed five times for 31 yards -- a 6.2 yard per carry average. "It's a preseason game and I just wanted to come in and get a feel for it again and see where I was at," Williams said. "I did OK, but like the rest of the team, I have a ways to go."

*Ronnie Brown, who rushed three times for 4 yards, had a successful evening in that he didn't get hurt and probably is more confident about his surgically repaired knee than he was before the game. "It's kind of weird," Brown said. "I felt good throughout camp and just coming in today, every now and then I got a little soreness. I expected a little bit of that during the game, but coming out I felt really good. I was surprised. It's kind of like, 'Hold on. Where the soreness at?' But I have a lot to build on and I think that was just the first step on getting ready for the season."

*I really like Josh McCown as a person. He's salt of the earth material. So it is tough to see when good people have to face tough situations. McCown faced that in the fourth quarter and in the locker room afterward. In that fourth quarter he played behind the last-team offensive line and with players who are not going to be in the NFL next month. He nonetheless completed 5 of 8 passes for 35 yards, which amazingly gave him a 72.4 QB rating, the highest on the team.

Afterward, McCown faced questions about his future with the Dolphins from media assuming the Dolphins will keep only three quarterbacks. "They said over and over they're going to do what they have to do to help this team win," McCown said of Miami's addition at QB. "For us as quarterbacks, that's just part of it. It doesn't change anything. We were competing before and we're still competing."

*The Dolphins defense has the makings of a unit that will be better this year. But ... This is a unit that has to find playmakers. Granted neither Joey Porter nor Holliday played tonight while Roth played out of position at OLB. But the team has to identify players that will make big plays on third down so they can get off the field. The Bucs were 11 of 20 on third down tonight (a completely unacceptable 55 percent success rate). As a result they ran 76 offensive plays to Miami's 47 offensive plays, while holding the ball 36:11 to Miami's 23:49.

*During Pennington's press conference, he addressed the universal criticism of his arm strength. I thought it was a very insightful moment when this guy admitted he has heard the talk of his game's weakness and talked about what he's done about it. Here is what he said:

"I spent a lot of time this offseason really taking a look at the criticisms of me as a professional and seeing what I can do in bettering myself. One thing I tried to do was totally change my mechanics. I wanted to create the consistency on the down-the-field throws and velocity on the ball. It's never been a question on the velocity, but the consistency is where the criticisms always come from. It's a work in progress. It's hard to change something you've been doing for 25 years, but I found some really good results in training camp up to this point."

*The Dolphins reported two guys on the injury report. They were Charlie Anderson (hamstring) and Kelvin Smith (knee). The seriousness of the injuries will be fully determined later Sunday.

*Finally the column I wrote off the game centered on the Dolphins' receivers. They are struggling right now and you should read the offering to understand how bad it is and why improvement is needed. I also offer a possible solution to the problem.

August 09, 2008

Feely not playing tonight; other updated news

I'm at Dolphin Stadium, home of a team about to improve from last year's 1-15 record.

Just looking around and I am told that Jay Feely, who has been nursing a groin injury, will not kick tonight. Rookie Dan Carpenter will handle all the kicking duties.

The Miami Herald has reported that Josh McCown is not playing tonight while John Beck starts. Chad Henne is expected to play the second and fourth quarter in the report filed by beat writer Jeff Darlington.

Other lineup issues: Derek Hagan will start ahead of Ernest Wilford.

Donald Thomas will be the second Dolphins rookie offensive lineman to start. Rookie Kendall Langford will start at left defensive end for Matt Roth.

Matt Roth will start at strong side linebacker for Joey Porter. Phillip Merling will start at right defensive end for Vonnie Holliday.

Chad Pennington is at the stadium and has signed his contract. He is expected to be introduced, perhaps after the game.

Anyway check back often for updates. Understand that I am blogging and writing a column at the same time -- on deadline -- so I don't want to hear no $%#@&* if I'm not super fast with the updates. But I will do my best.

Meet me in the comments section at kickoff.