The Dolphins have completed what coach Tony Sparano called an "excellent minicamp" with a morning practice Sunday.
During this camp the team covered repetitions in the red area, inside the tight red area (10-yard line), third-down packages on offense, sub packages on defense, and coming-out work from the two-yard line. Out of all that work, the only work Sparano wasn't happy with was the red area work.
"Didn't feel tremendous about that," Sparano said. The team has one more OTA session on Wednesday (closed to the media) and will address the red area issues again then.
I asked Sparano if any of the three guys who missed the minicamp with injuries -- G Andy Alleman, TE David Martin and G Donald Thomas -- would not be ready for the start of training camp. "I have no timetable on it at this time," he responded.
Sounds like guarded coachspeak to me. I get the feeling if all three were expected back for the start of training camp Aug. 1, Sparano would have probably just said that. So don't be surprised if one or more of these guys is not ready to go for the first day in pads.
The rookies will remain around the training facility through July, lifting and getting in some film work on their own, according to cornerback Vontae Davis.
Speaking of work on their own, you probably know quarterback Chad Pennington worked with his receivers twice a week this Spring inside the Nick Saban Memorial Bubble (NSMB) to help get everyone on the same page. Pennington, brilliant on the field and off, gave excellent insight into the areas some of his receivers are trying to improve upon.
On Anthony Armstrong: "I think his offseason work that he put in from March 30 until May 18, with the bubble work that we did two days a week, you can really tell the difference in his route-running from a year ago until now. He understands his speed is his weapon but only when he uses it appropriately. He can't just outrun everybody. He has to have proper technique getting off the jam and getting good, clean releases and he's done a really good job this spring of working on his releases so now he can use his speed. Otherwise the cornerbacks are good enough to wall him to the outside and not let him use his speed and now he's ineffective."
On Ted Ginn Jr.: "He's on a similar track as Anthony Armstrong is on. Because of his offseason work he's done in the weight room and the work we've done in the bubble, his confidence level is really up right now. He's another guy that's understanding how to use his spped effectively. He's understanding his body position is really important and then his speed comes next because no one can run with him."
And then came this insight that should help you understand why Pennington and Ginn weren't a good match last year but might become one. Pennington is not a strong-armed guy while Ginn has been the type of receiver who gets open, but usually it happens waaaay downfield.
So this Spring Ginn has been working on getting open earlier.
"He'll outrun every quarterback's arm, it doesn't matter who it is. If you're getting open 50 yards down the field, John Elway can't get it to you. But if he's getting open 15-20 yards down the field, then we can put the ball up early and let you go run and get it."
On Brandon London: "What I think he's worked on and is doing a good job is getting in and out of his breaks faster. As a a taller guy, it's harder for the taller guys to get in and out of breaks as opposed to the Davone Bess types, who are shorter in stature and have the quicks and agility. He's worked hard this offseason to get in and out of his breaks and get his head around and making plays. Anytime you can have a guy that's that physical and can get in and out of breaks and get open ... you have a very valuable asset."
So what has Pennington worked on for himself?
"Number one, I got to stay healthy. When I stay healthy, I give my team a pretty good chance to win. History has proven things go pretty well when I stay healthy. Number two, is putting two consistent years back to back. And building on this offense, it's my tenth year, but it's my tenth month in the offense so every day I'm learning something new and everyday I'm figuring something out.
"It's not just knowing what we're doing now. It's knowing why we're doing it and how to do it better and how to do my job better."
Some observations from today's practice:
*Joe Berger, who is expected to be the team's second-team center, took some snaps at right guard with the starting unit. The right guard spot continues to be a hole on the offensive line. The club has used no less than four players in the spot with the starting unit this offseason. And that's with prospective starter Donald Thomas not being one of them. I know Sparano has said he's not concerned about the position. Didn't he also say he was happy with the OLBs and pass-rushers on the roster before the team signed Jason Taylor?
*TE John Nalbone needs to get in front of a jugs gun and catch 100 passes a day between now and training camp because I've seen him drop too many routine passes this offseason. He whiffed on another one in the end zone Sunday.
*The base first-team secondary during the final minicamp practice: CB Eric Green, CB Will Allen, SS Yeremiah Bell, FS Gibril Wilson.
*The base second-team secondary during the final minicamp practice: CB Vontae Davis, CB Sean Smith, FS Chris Clemons, SS Tyrone Culver.
*Salguero prediction: All eight guys make the roster along with Jason Allen and Nathan Jones.
*Sparano continues to include WR as a "position where hard decisions will have to be made." Not looking too difficult to me. I see Ted Ginn Jr., Greg Camarillo, Davone Bess, Brian Hartline, and Patrick Turner on the team. That leaves room for maybe one more guy. Today that guy would be Armstrong, but we'll see what happens when the pads come on.
*Pat White returned to third-string QB duties today and didn't seem as wild high as he's been the previous two days.
*Pennington on his sister's wedding, which he attended Saturday before returning to practice Sunday: "She's on her own now. Can't help her."
*Football Czar Bill Parcells, who rarely misses a practice, was not present at practice Sunday. Word is he's back at his summer home in Saratoga, N.Y.
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