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57 posts from August 2008

August 09, 2008

Chad Pennington deal rich, but not that rich

The widely reported worth of $11.5 million for Chad Pennington's contract is not wrong. But it is not right, either.

The fact' is, I am told by an NFLPA source, is that Pennington's deal will reach $11.5 million only if highly improbable things happen -- like if the Dolphins win the Super Bowl or Pennington is the MVP or leads the NFL in TDs.

That's when bonuses will kick in that would bring the deal's worth to $11.5. If those things don't happen, the actual value of the deal is between $7.50-$8 million.

Blog note: The preseason opener is tonight at 7:30. I will be right here at that time so join me here then for a chat and blog session.

August 08, 2008

Chad Pennington agrees to deal with Dolphins

The Dolphins have agreed to a multi-year contract with former Jets quarterback Chad Pennington, according to two NFL sources.

Pennington is expected to fly to South Florida Saturday or early Sunday, meaning he might be present when the team plays the Tampa Bay Bucs in its preseason opener at Dolphin Stadium. That assumes Pennington passes his physical.

Terms of the deal are not immediately available, although Foxsports.com, which first reported the story, says it is a two-year deal. The Dolphins are neither confirming or denying the report, which is code for it is true.

So this much is certain: It is hard to see a Dolphins team with Pennington, Josh McCown and John Beck on the roster. One of those latter two will be gone soon.

It is possible the Dolphins will try to trade either McCown or Beck once the coaching staff is convinced Pennington is better. That may not take very long. The Dolphins, I am told, didn't give Pennington any guarantees he would be the starter the entire season, but expect him to be the starter in the regular-season opener versus ... the New York Jets.

This move, by the way, is fraught with contradiction.

The team spent the entire offseason ignoring starting-caliber talent in free agency simply because some of the players were over 30 years old. The idea was to sign players that would still be in their primes in three or four years when the team came out of the talent darkness it is currently in. Pennington, 32, is not likely to still be around then and his contract confirms that.

So what gives? If you want to upgrade the QB spot, this moves does that. Great! But then the question becomes if you decided to break your own rules on the QB position, why didn't Bill Parcells upgrade the other areas of need with veterans? You cannot have it both ways.

Either the Dolphins were wrong at the beginning of free agency by not adding high-caliber vets then or are showing their desperation now by adding Pennington.

One can make the argument the Dolphins are brining in Pennington to upgrade but also to mentor Chad Henne. Well, they also could have signed Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca, also 32, to upgrade the offensive line and mentor players such as Donald Thomas, Justin Smiley and Jake Long. They might have tried to sign Randy Moss to upgrade the receivers corps and mentor Ted Ginn Jr.

If the argument is made for Pennington, it can apply to the other positions, otherwise the Dolphins are showing they have no long-term plan they will stick with. Either they are building with youth or they are not. Either they are going all-out to acquire the best available players, no matter what their age, or they are not.

This addition also shows that the entire offseason of working with Beck and McCown was at least, in part, a failure. They both threw some 5,000 passes with Miami coaches in the offseason and the team was confident they were good enough to compete for a starting job.

So what does the team do after the first two weeks of training camp? It looks to Quincy Carter as a possible option at quarterback when no other team would even give him a workout and then chases Pennington despite the fact he was just discarded by the Jets.

Makes me wonder how the agenda can change so quickly. Makes me wonder if this isn't something of a return to the days of double-minded personnel acquisition.

Anyway, Miami adds Pennington to the group of the past three Miami signal callers that were added at a high price. Two failed. We'll see about Pennington. The list:

Player...............Previous team........Problem....................Result

Pennington.............Jets...............Weak arm/shoulder.........????????

Trent Green.........Kansas City..........Scrambled brain....broke more eggs

Daunte Culpepper.....Minnesota.........Spaghetti knee.......Could not move


Pennington looking to 'start' with new team

In a conference call with New York reporters Friday, recently released quarterback Chad Pennington said he's not upset with the New York Jets yada, yada, yada.

And in the comments that matter to Dolphins fans, he says he has several teams he is talking with through his agent, including the Dolphins. Pennington apparently talked directly to Bill Parcells on Friday. Pennington played down the idea of picking the Dolphins because of a revenge factor against the Jets.

"I can say without a shadow of a doubt, I have no feelings on that whatsoever," Pennington said. "If something happens with Miami, it'll be because I feel good about the situation and the opportunity. It won't have anything to do with the New York Jets or me trying to prove a point.

Pennington also said he wants to START. That would pretty much eliminate teams like the Patriots, Giants, Colts and any other team with a solid situation at QB. It does not, on the other hand, eliminate a team like the Dolphins or Kansas City.

"I'm extremely encouraged about it," Pennington said of his new chances elsewhere. "It makes me feel good. I know I'm a good quarterback and I can play this game and can start and help a team win."

As has become their policy, the Dolphins have asked Tom Condon, the agent who represents Pennington, to not speak with the media. (That way they can deny everything if something goes wrong). Pennington is taking that request to heart and not discussing his possible landing spots.

"I certainly don't want to compromise my position and the things that are going on," Pennington said. "I'm glad to have a few teams interested and I'm excited about that."

Despite all this, I still believe Pennington's best course would be to join a team like New England, the Colts or Giants, but that's just me. He knows what is best for himself.


Pennington makes more sense elsewhere

You may be aware in my previous post I mentioned that if Chad Pennington is smart (he is because he was once considered for a Rhodes Scholarship) he should consider going to the New England Patriots.

If he can put his ego aside and admit he's better suited to be a veteran backup than a starter, New England and the New York Giants actually make the most sense for Pennington.

First, he would be going to a pretty good team if he picks either of last season's Super Bowl teams.

In New England, he would be going to a team in the same AFC East that plays the Jets twice per season so the revenge possibilities are there. He would go to a team whose current backup (Matt Cassel) is not very good and had a horrible (1 for 4 with an interception and rating of 0.0) preseason outing Friday night.

Oh, and did I mention Randy Moss plays for the Patriots? Pennington and Moss were close when they were together at Marshall University.

With the Giants, Pennington would again be filling a void as a veteran backup. Today's New York Daily News reports the Giants will take a close look at Pennington.

"We take a look at everybody that's out there," Giants GM Jerry Reese told the newspaper after the Giants' preseason-opening 13-10 loss to the Lions. "That includes him."

The Giants make sense for Pennington because it would not affect his personal life. He wouldn't have to move and uproot himself or his family. Meanwhile, he would be teamed with Eli Manning in the same QB room and they are friends.

The Giants, the defending champs, are also a pretty good team.

The problem in this theory (that is admittedly all it is right now) is that New England nor the Giants probably would pay Pennington as much to be a backup as he might get elsewhere to compete for a starting job. But really, after seven seasons of earning like a starter, it that Pennington's priority?

The point is the talk of Pennington to the Dolphins is very loud. But sometimes that which is whispered makes more sense.

August 07, 2008

Chad Pennington hits free agent market [update]

Chad Pennington is now a free agent, having been released by the Jets at 4 p.m.

The Miami Herald and other media organizations are reporting the Dolphins and Tom Condon, the agent for the jettisoned former Jets quarterback Chad Pennington, have discussed Pennington playing for Miami.

I would warn you that it is an initial conversation, although the sides have already talked twice today. Condon, meanwhile, is also reaching out to other teams with the Vikings and Kansas City being among them.

[UPDATE] The Vikings I am now being told by an NFL source are not enthusiastic about Pennington. The Kansas City Chiefs, coached by Herm Edwards, are also interested in Pennington, according to an NFL source. Edwards coached Pennington in New York. If I am Pennington, I try to get on the New England Patriots, whose backup situation is terrible.

This nonetheless has the feel of the Dolphins being aggressive.

And so here are some things to consider:

1. Condon, the agent, is not about doing anyone a favor. Assuming there is more than one team interested in Pennington, Condon will try to get some sort of guarantees from the team, among them an open competition for the starting job if he can get it. The Dolphins would give him that opportunity.

2. Condon is going to try to milk as much money for Pennington as possible. It would be a contract that would pay Pennington upwards of $5-$6 million if he plays a certain percentage of downs. So this won't be a cheap acquisition if Pennington is the starter.

3. Pennington would be attracted to the Dolphins because it gives him two opportunities to stick it to the Jets. But he'd also be very attracted to Minnesota because the Vikes play a West Coast offense and they play indoors, which mitigate his questionable arm strength.

4. What does this all mean for Josh McCown and John Beck? Bad news. We all know that Chad Henne is the quarterback the Dolphins will look toward next season and perhaps even late this season. Short-term this was to be a team either McCown or Beck were to lead.

But clearly if the Dolphins pull the trigger on Pennington, it shows they believe a guy who has had two throwing shoulder surgeries, was hurt much of last year and lost his starting job and wasn't really assured of winning the job in New York, is better than either McCown or Beck. And if Pennington makes the team it clearly means either Beck or McCown are OUT, GONE, HASTA LA VISTA, CIAO, BON VOYAGE.

The fallout from Favre trade to the Jets

Brett Farve is a New York Jet. He was traded minutes ago from the Packers to the Dolphins' AFC East rival for a conditional draft pick.

The Jets say they will release or trade quarterback Chad Pennington by the end of business Thursday. All this assuming Favre doesn't change his mind at the last minute and stays retired. I had to add that equivocation because I spoke to one NFL source this evening who told me Favre's mindset is such that he ebbs and flows like the tide lately.

Anyway, if Favre doesn't have any change of heart, he will likely be the Jets' starting quarterback in the regular-season opener against .... Your Miami Dolphins.

So here are the questions:

Do you think Miami's chances of pulling an upset just got better or worse?

Do you wish Favre had gone to the Bucs instead, meaning he wouldn't see the Dolphins this year?

Do you think the Dolphins should make a play for Pennington? It likely won't take but a seventh round pick to get him from New York. And before folks get crazy here, understand that Pennington would become a free agent if he is released. He will not go on waivers so the Dolphins don't get first dibs on him. He would be a free agent.

August 06, 2008

Sparano shows displeasure with pass catchers

For the first time since Tony Sparano has been doing press conferences as Miami's coach, I heard a twinge of annoyance bordering on anger in his voice today.

Sparano just did his presser for today and he is clearly not happy with Miami's receivers and other pass-catchers. "We dropped 10 passes in practice yesterday," Sparano said, his voice rising slightly. "We dropped too many again today.

"We go into a game and don't catch the ball, I can get anyone to do that."


Sparano is obviously displeased with the receivers, but the running backs have been dropping an inordinate number of passes, also. Not good enough. Sparano said he didn't see this problem in offseason camps and OTAs so he thinks it is "a concentration" issue.

The problem is affecting other areas of the offense. Partially as a result of poor receiver play, Sparano said the two minute situation work Tuesday, "didn't go so well." The team will work on it again this afternoon as a result.


Sparano said kicker Jay Feely's injury is a sore groin. He is not sure whether Feely will be available for Saturday's preseason game against Tampa Bay or not.

Asked why it is that Feely has a competition on his hands despite hitting like 1,248 of 1,250 kicks last year Sparano said, "It's a competition. That's how it is."

The coach also said the battle between Feely and rookie Dan Carpenter is "very even."


Sparano is weighing whether to start rookie Donald Thomas or veteran Trey Darilek at right guard against Tampa Bay. "I'm not sure yet," he said.


Finally, Dan Marino is denying an intouchweekly.com report that states he will be on Dancing with the Stars. Marino called the Dolphins today and vehemently denied he's doing that. He will not be Dancing with the Stars.

Dolphins should trade for Favre (sort of)

We all understand that Brett Favre has likely played his final game in Green Bay and could be traded sometime soon.

Here's a wild hair idea: The Dolphins should throw themselves into the trade talks.

I am not saying the Dolphins should trade for Favre for the sake of making him their quarterback. I am saying the Dolphins should try and trade for Favre with the idea of making him the Minnesota Vikings quarterback.


Look, the Dolphins could give up a draft pick for Favre that is higher than any pick any other team can give for Favre because most of the teams involved in the conversation aren't expected to be as bad in 2008 as the Dolphins. So say Tampa gives up a third rounder for Favre. Well, the Dolphins could offer that and probably get Favre because their pick is likely higher and they are not in the NFC and, unlike like the Bucs, they don't play the Packers this year.

So Favre gets traded to Miami. And then the Dolphins turn around and trade him to the Vikings for a higher pick in an earlier round.

Would Favre go for it? You bet. Would Minnesota do it? You bet. Would it peeve the Packers? You bet. So what?

It is a devious move, even somewhat Machiavellian (google it if you don't know). But it is an opportunity to make the Dolphins better by trading a lower pick for a higher pick. The only thing that would derail this idea is if GB makes trading Favre conditional on the team he is dealt to not trading him again -- which most teams don't do because there rarely is a need to. They would really have to be on their toes to include that condition in the deal and from what I've seen of how GB is handling this situation, they don't really seem to be on their toes.

Anyway, this is obviously not going to happen. But I'm just saying ... it would be delicious if it did.

August 05, 2008

The post-practice report for TUESDAY

TUESDAY's practice is over here in Davie, FL. and here are some highlights and lowlights:

Ernest Wilford left the field before the end of practice and did not return. He was limping somewhat as he was walking off the field, but curiously started jogging as he got closer to the locker room. The report is the injury was cramps.

Kicker Jay Feely was on the bike and did not practice. He was asked by two reporters what his injury is but declined to answer. He did have an oblique issue in the offseason.

Josh McCown had a tough day. He threw three interceptions during practice including interceptions on consecutive plays. John Beck and Chad Henne seemed to be pretty good today.

Jayson Foster and Selwyn Lymon and Justin Peelle had drops during practice. No biggie, I'm just saying ...

Former special teams coach Mike Westhoff watched practice from the sideline. He left the Jets after last season for health issues and he underwent surgery in the offseason. I am told he would like to get back into coaching next season.

Sat with Sports Illustrated columnist Paul Zimmerman during practice. He's visiting to write his story on the Dolphins. The man most of you may know as Dr. Z is a Hall of Fame voter so I asked him what he thought of Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor's chances of getting into the Hall someday.

Zimmerman said he would vote for Thomas, no doubt, and would even speak on his behalf in the meeting with other voters. Zimmerman said Thomas along with Ray Lewis were the premier linebackers of their time and that is why he is worthy of induction.

Dr. Z was lukewarm on Taylor's chances, reasoning that it will depend on who else is up for election on any given year whether Taylor's body of work will compare favorably or not.

Finally, the NFL today released a Fan Code of Conduct that YOU, the fans, must follow if you hope to keep your seats at Dolphin Stadium or anywhere you watch your team play. When you are attending a game you are required to refrain from the following behavior:

Behavior that is unruly disruptive or illegal in nature.

Intoxication or other signs of alcoholic impairment that results in irresponsible behavior.

Foul or abusive language or obscene gestures.

Failing to follow the directions of stadium personnel.

Interference with the progress of the game (including throwing objects onto the field.)

Verbal or physical harassment of opposing team fans.

The highlights from Sparano's TUES. presser

Many of you may remember (although you'd like to forget) that many Dolphins veteran players were held out most of last preseason. Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor played six total preseason snaps. Joey Porter hardly played. Keith Traylor made only a cameo appearance as well.

And when the regular-season began the team, at least significant parts of it, were not in football shape. The Dolphins wore down against Washington in the season-opener and soon a glut of injuries hit the team.

This year coach Tony Sparano is a lot less likely to give veterans preseason games off.

"I believe we were 1-15 and we're trying to change the culture," Sparano said. "In my mind, that being said, we do need to go out as a team, be in the game environment, get as many guys in uniform as we can get in uniform, be in that locker room together, come out of that tunnel together, be on the sideline together. Whatever it is we're going to go through in a game together, we need to see all the reactions and get these guys involved as much as we can.

I've been with Bill [Parcells] for a long enough time, I'm not much on saving guys and doing those things. We'll be smart. We'll be smart with some players. But our players know they need to play."


Matt Roth will work at OLB again today. Eventually, both he and Vonnie Holliday may see some preseason plays at OLB. It doesn't mean they are being converted to LBs. It means the team is trying to maximize its pass rush while also maximize roster spots.

"We want to see either one of these guys or both of these in the games," Sparano said. "It's important they get game reps. Just to take a look and help us with some roster flexibility down the road."


In case you do not remember, I wrote this offseason that Ricky Williams was perhaps the best player in practices and might be one of the team's best players.

Well, he hasn't been dominant in pads as he was in shorts. But he's still darn impressive to Sparano.

"When you're out here in helmets in T-shirts everybody kind of looks good," Sparano said. "When you see them in pads and what he's doing here, I've been impressed with him getting to the second level and his burst. I've been impressed with what I see when he hits the line. He's still able to move people when he's carrying the ball leaning forward. So it's good he can make yards that way. I'm kind of anxious to watch him in a game and see him knock some of that kind of rust off."

August 04, 2008

Some interesting tidbits from Monday's work

Ernest Wilford had a starting receiver job when this training camp opened. It was his job to lose.

But after not getting any separation with any consistency the 10 days of camp, Wilford started losing the job Monday. Derek Hagan, who has had some flashes while working with the second team and as the slot receiver, was promoted to first team.

Wilford worked mostly with second-teamers. Nothing is set in stone so I just come out here and compete and come out here and practice hard," Wilford said.

So why hasn't Wilford produced? "It's a little bit of everything," he said. "It's still preseason, the season is still young. Nothing is set in stone until you get to the preseason games. I'm a gamer. Derek is a gamer so everything is going to work out come preseason games."

Truth be told, Hagan has been a fine outstanding practice player and outstanding citizen on the Dolphins. But he hasn't really been a gamer in his career yet. Wilford, meanwhile, did start plenty of games for Jacksonville.

So does he think he'll get better once the games begin?

"I think so but you still need to come out here and prove it on the practice field," Wilford said. "Right now we just have to continue to work on consistency on the practice field and just try to come out here and catch balls."

Actually, it's get open, then catch balls. Otherwise he'll catch hell.

Matt Roth, Vonnie Holliday, OLB note:

Just so everyone understands: It is the preseason and the Dolphins are experimenting. So just because Vonnie Holliday works some as a standup SOLB for a week, it doesn't mean he's being converted to SOLB.

And just because Matt Roth works at standup SOLB some, as he did in the offseason camps and again Monday and likely the remainder of this week, it doesn't mean he's being converted to a SOLB.

It means it is the preseason and there is a search for an answer underway. And what is the question?

How do you replace Jason Taylor?

The easy way to do it is stick Charlie Anderson in there, play Roth at one DE and Holliday at the other DE and be, well, unsatisfied with the results.

But the Dolphins are not doing that. They are searching for options. They are trying to maximize their players. So maybe the answer is putting Holliday at the SOLB, using Kendall Langford or Phillip Merling as a DE and sending Anderson to the bench.

Maybe the answer is putting Roth at an SOLB and having Holliday, and either Randy Starks, Merling or Langford at the other DE while sending Anderson to the bench. Or maybe it is sending Roth and Anderson to the bench, playing two out of the group of Starks, Merling and Langford and using Holliday at SOLB.

The point is the team is searching for the best combo of guys to create the most pressure. The team is looking at all the options to settle on the best fit. It doesn't mean it will happen. It doesn't mean it won't.

It just means the Dolphins are looking to recover the 11 or so sacks the team traded to the Redskins.

Some interesting tidbits about the depth chart

The Dolphins depth chart came out Monday as a function of the fact the team plays a preseason game this week and today was the deadline for putting the chart out for that game.

My impressions?

John Denney and Brandon Fields ought to be feeling pretty good about themselves. They have no one competing with them for their jobs as long snapper and punter, respectively.

OK seriously: You'll certainly note the quarterback is Josh McCown with John Beck next and rookie Chad Henne third. The fact is, according to coach Tony Sparano, the chart was set based on experience and not performance.

Were it based on performance, I believe Henne might be first with McCown second and Beck third.

But as Sparano noted, the depth chart can change.

Note that veteran Trey Darilek is ahead of rookie Donald Thomas at right guard although Thomas spent all of last week with the starting unit. The fact is Darilek had to move to tackle and even got work at center much of last week because of injuries, opening the spot for Thomas.

Coaches still believe Darilek is more likely to win that guard spot based on his experience and maturity. Thomas is longer on potential, however.

Note that at tight end, Justin Peelle is needing to get healthy so he can gain some ground in the race for a job. The Dolphins have five tight ends in camp. Peelle, nursing a knee most of last week, is listed fourth.

Note Anthony Fasano is listed ahead of last year's starter David Martin at tight end. That comes as no surprise as Fasano is a favorite of Sparano going back to their Dallas days and he isn't disappointing in Miami.

Note that Patick Cobbs is ahead of BOTH rookie running backs Jalen Parmele and Lex Hilliard. Hilliard has been the least impressive of the backs in camp so far and has at times struggled catching the football. He needs to flash on special teams in the preseason because Cobbs is likely to be pretty good on special teams.

Finally, note that Renaldo Hill, a starter each of the past two seasons, is running third team at free safety. That's a tough spot for Hill because his advantage the past couple of years has been his superior knowledge of the system. That more than made up for Jason Allen's superior speed.

But under this more player-friendly system, Allen is catching on better and that is allowing his athletic skills to flash more. Second-teamer Chris Crocker, meanwhile, is younger than Hill by a couple of years and that is an advantage for him. The long and short is Hill has to make up some ground in the preseason because he hasn't even been on first team in the nickel or dime packages.

So below is the chart. The rooks are underlined.


WR: Ted Ginn, Derek Hagan, David Kircus, Jayson Foster, Anthony Armstrong

LT: Jake Long, Ikechuku Ndukwe

LG: Justin Smiley, Shawn Murphy

C: Samson Satele, Steve McKinney, Matt Spanos

RG: Trey Darilek, Donald Thomas, Mike Byrne

RT: Vernon Carey, Daren Heerspink

TE: Anthony Fasano, David Martin, Sean Ryan, Justin Peelle, Matthew Mulligan

WR: Ernest Wilford, Greg Camarillo, Davone Bess, John Dunlap, Selwyn Lymon

QB: Josh McCown, John Beck, Chad Henne

FB: Regan Mauia, Boomer Grigsby

RB: Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, Patrick Cobbs, Jalen Parmele, Lex Hilliard


LE: Matt Roth, Randy Starks, Kendall Langford, Rodrique Wright

NT: Jason Ferguson, Paul Soliai, Anthony Toribio

RE: Vonnie Holliday, Phillip Merling, Lionel Dotson

SLB: Joey Porter, Rob Ninkovich, Junior Glymph, Titus Brown

ILB: Channing Crowder, Kelvin Smith, Kelly Poppinga

ILB : Akin Ayodele, Reggie Torbor, Edmond Miles

WLB: Charlie Anderson, Quentin Moses, Keith Saunders

LCB: Will Allen, Joey Thomas, Chris Roberson

RCB: Andre Goodman, Travis Daniels, Nathan Jones, Will Billingsley

FS: Jason Allen, Chris Crocker, Renaldo Hill

SS: Yeremiah Bell, Keith Davis, Courtney Bryan


P: Brandon Fields

K: Jay Feely, Dan Carpenter

KO: Jay Feely, Dan Carpenter

H: Brandon Fields

KOR: Ted Ginn, Jayson Foster, Davone Bess

PR: Ted Ginn, Jayson Foster, Davone Bess

LS: John Denney

August 02, 2008

Defense good, offense not in Sat. scrimmage

I would like to tell you that either John Beck or Josh McCown stepped out of the early training camp muck and took the lead in the quarterback competition. But that would be a lie.

John Beck opened the scrimmage as the starter and completed only two of his five passes against the first-team defense. He struggled against the second team defense also when he completed only one of five passes. He recovered in his last at-bat against 2s and 3s when he completed 6 of 8 passes.

Beck was the only QB that didn't get his offense in the end zone Saturday.

Josh McCown starting with the second-stringers was hot early. He completed 5 of 6 passes in his first possession and threw a TD pass to David Kircus. But as is sometimes the problem with McCown, he wasn't consistent. He completed only 1 of 5 passes when he took his next reps with 1s and 2s and threw an interception to Travis Daniels. His final series of the day saw two completions in six attempts with a TD pass to Selwyn Lymon. In that same, final series he also threw what should have been an interception in the hands of Quentin Moses that the LB dropped.

Chad Henne started strong, completing 5 of 7 passes against the third-teamers, but when he faced better competition with a group of starters and second-teamers he completed only 1 of 4 passes. Henne had a TD throw in that first series against the third-teamers but nothing the rest of the way. He did not throw a pick and his third series was situational no-huddle stuff that I did not chronicle.

Bottom line: Nobody is winning the QB competition off of today's scrimmage. But Beck continues to lose ground, IMO.

There were too many drops, particularly by running backs coming out of the backfield. Ronnie Brown dropped one, Jalen Parmele dropped one, tight end Matthew Mulligan dropped one that pretty much erased the TD catch he made, and Anthony Armstrong dropped what would have been a loooong TD pass down the sideline from McCown.

Center Samson Satele snapped the ball over Henne's head on one play.

Rookie Jake Long didn't stand out and, believe it or not, that is a good thing. No he didn't truck anyone because this was not a full-speed deal. But he didn't give up any sacks or make any obvious mistakes. That really is good so far.

All in all, another tough day for the Miami offense. The players over there have much work to do. Much work.

By the way, the Dolphins invited their alumni to attend the scrimmage. Mark Higgs, Bobby Harden, Troy Drayton, Shawn Wooden, O.J. McDuffie and others were there. Dan Marino was there and spent time talking to Bill Parcells.

Agent Drew Rosenhaus also spent an extended period of time talking to Parcells. Rosenhaus represents several Dolphins, including Yeremiah Bell, who may be in line for a contract extension during the season if he stays healthy.

Program note: I will be on 790 The Ticket Sunday afternoon from 4:30 to 7 p.m. so feel free to join me then. We can talk Dolphins football, NFL football, or discuss any other sports topic you want. Even if you're not in South Florida, you can listen streaming online at 790theticket.com and still call the show's toll-free number at 1-888-790-3776.

You also will be able to text me at 74965 once the show begins.

The warmup for Saturday's 2 p.m. scrimmage

Alright Dolphins Nation here is the lead up to this afternoon's practice/scrimmage:

The Dolphins just concluded a light walk-thru practice that lasted approximately one hour. It was mostly situational stuff and polishing prior to the afternoon session.

As a precursor let me give you the POSSIBLE first-team units for the work because, as coach Tony Sparano said earlier this week, he's going to match "goods on goods." These units will apply only to this scrimmage because, as you know, position battles are on-going and I am not suggesting John Beck, for example, is Miami's starting QB.


WR: Ernest Wilford*

WR: Ted Ginn Jr.

LT: Jake Long*

LG: Justin Smiley*

C: Samson Satele

RG: Donald Thomas*

RT: Vernon Carey

TE: David Martin

F-back/FB: Anthony Fasano*/Reagan Mauia

QB: John Beck

RB: Ronnie Brown


LDE: Matt Roth

NT: Jason Ferguson*

RDE: Vonnie Holliday

LOLB: Joey Porter

ILB: Channing Crowder

ILB: Akin Ayodele*

ROLB: Charlie Anderson*

CB: Will Allen

CB: Andre' Goodman

S: Jason Allen

S: Yeremiah Bell

K: Jay Feely

P: Brandon Fields

* = rookie or new player.

Obviously there will be mixing and matching. Check back after the scrimmage for an update on what the heck happened. I'll also write about it in Sunday's Miami Herald so check the website or I'll talk about it (with you, if you like) during my radio show Sunday 4:30-7p.m. on 790 The Ticket, which streams live at 790theticket.com.

August 01, 2008

Get your Friday evening practice report here

Here's the scoop:

Dolphins worked team run, situations, team third down, red zone and two minute drills this afternoon.

In the team third down out of the shotgun Josh McCown was on fire running with the second team while Chad Henne was so-so working with the first team and John Beck completed one pass, had a pass batted at the line and had an incompletion running third team.

McCown was 5-of-5, including a one-handed grab by Selwyn Lymon on a skinny post. McCown also completed passes to David Martin, Greg Camarillo, Ted Ginn Jr. and a dump pass to Lex Hilliard.

Henne completed 1-of-4 passes and was not very accurate in the drill. He also forced one pass to Anthony Fasano although the tight end was bracketed by coverage.

In the red zone drills: Henne took a sack and failed to connect on his only attempt. McCown was 1-of-2 with a dumpoff to Reagan Mauia. Beck recovered somewhat in this drill, completing 2-of-3 attempts and taking one sack.

In the two minute set: Henne completed 3-of-4 passes and took one sack. Vonnie Holliday brought the pressure for the sack. He's having a great camp.

With the second teamers, McCown couldn't finish strong as he failed to completed either of his two attempts. He scrambled on one play and was sacked by Randy Starks on another. Rookie guard Shawn Murphy, by the way, continues to struggle with his technique and recognition of line stunts.

Overall, Henne and McCown are looking better while Beck is still inconsistent. As I said today on 790 The Ticket, he needs to get some urgency about this QB competition because although no one seems to be taking the job with spectacular play, he definitely is starting to lose ground.

Of course, this can change in the next week or two, but he needs to start turning it around like immediately if not sooner to keep his chances alive.

That's all I have for now. I'll add more later.

Tony Sparano's Friday afternoon interview

Coach Tony Sparano just finished his press conference this afternoon. The highlights:

He said the Quincy Carter workout went relatively well but didn't commit to signing the guy like right this minute. Not at all. "He threw the ball well," Sparano said.

The scrimmage on Saturday will offer an equal number of snaps for the three quarterbacks -- Chad Henne, Josh McCown and John Beck -- currently in camp. Sparano said the coaches are starting to turn up the heat on these guys as we get closer to preseason.

The coach definitely wants to see one of them step up and win the job and would prefer that player not be Henne right away. Understand what I am saying. The Dolphins think Henne is good, otherwise they wouldn't have drafted him. But they don't want him to be the starter right away. That's putting a rookie QB in a very tough position.

The Dolphins would like to see a spark from either Beck or McCown so those two can take the offense at least at the start of the season. If they keep their spot the entire season, then fine. If they struggle later on, then it would be Henne time.

The team has only a couple of more days -- Monday and Tuesday -- of installation, meaning the offense should be pretty much in place by the end of next week.

Remember the special teams practice this morning I told you bored me to tears? Sparano loved it! He said he learned reams of information from it!

And in case you're wondering, Reggie Torbor, Keith Davis and Charlie Anderson -- longtime special teams players -- were among those who impressed Sparano.

OK, next practice is at 5 p.m. Check back afterward for more stuff ...

Who will tell Parcells he's wrong? [updated]

I wrote in today's Herald that Bill Parcells is great, but not infallible. Breaking News!

Seriously, it is good he is here and is engaged. But as I wrote in the column, it is highly important that Parcells find someone he trusts that can eventually win arguments against him.


So when he defaults to ideas like: Let's not draft Terry Glenn in 1996 or Let's not sign Terrell Owens in 2006 or Let's bring in Terry Glenn to the Dolphins in 2008 or Let's sign Quincy Carter in 2008, somebody says, "Whoa, there big man. Let's think about this thing."

He had people like that with the Giants, Cowboys and Patriots. He doesn't have that yet in Miami although I believe he realizes it and that is the reason he's brought former Green Bay architect Ron Wolf to camp.

Anyway, please read the column if you can and let me know if you think getting a foil for Parcells is a good thing or not.

PRACTICE UPDATE: The Dolphins worked on special teams for practically the ENTIRE morning practice. That is why it was the most boring professional football practice I have ever witnessed.

How boring? At one point injured cornerback Michael Lehan was rehabbing his high ankle sprain by literally running around in circles.

Anyway, there has been a lot of talk lately about Vonnie Holliday working at linebacker. Let me clear this up for you. The Dolphins are having Holliday get some work with defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni in which he is in the standup position and being taught how to use his hands rushing the passer.

That does not mean the Dolphins are turning 285-pound Holliday who has never played off the line of scrimmage into a linebacker. It does mean they are checking to see if he catches on quickly and might be an option if injuries hit in the regular season.

It is a precaution not the plan for the season. The team did the same thing with Matt Roth during the offseason camps.

One thing this does show, however, is exactly how devastating the trade of Jason Taylor is to the Dolphins this year. I'm not saying it was a bad trade, but I have said it leaves a giant void in Miami's defense NOW.

Were Taylor still here, he would be that OLB rushing from a standup spot and Charlie Anderson would be his backup and Joey Porter would come after that and Holliday wouldn't be in the picture.