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CB shuffle, other notes from morning practice

Herald at work 

A new practice week has begun and the Dolphins and The Herald (see photo by David Agudelo of CBS-4) are back to work.

It's starting off as a good week for Sean Smith, Randy Starks, Quentin Moses and Cameron Wake.

It's not starting off as well for Eric Green and Phillip Merling.

As I reported earlier this morning on my Twitter account, Smith has parlayed some good work the first week of camp plus the only turnover of the entire scrimmage Saturday, an interception, into a chance to work with the first-team defense.

Two things: I'm certain Tony Sparano will praise Smith during his press conference in the next 90 minutes. I'm fairly certain he'll underplay the fact Smith is on first-team because, as you must know, the coaching staff wants to see different guys playing with the firsts and eventually Vontae Davis may get his chance also.

[Update: "We wanted to shuffled the deck at the end of the first week," Sparano said during his press conference. "We wanted to mix some things up and see some people against different people."]

But ...

The fact remains that even to this naked-eyed reporter who never played the game, Smith simply looks better than either Green or Davis at the moment. He's around the ball more. He's a very imposing looking figure, a combination of Joe Lavender (look him up) with a little Sean Taylor (far as ball skills are concerned) in one very raw, very young, but potential-filled package.

Smith showed some of that promise during one-on-one drills as he ran step-for-step with Ted Ginn Jr. on a 9 route and batted the ball away harmlessly.

On the other hand, Green, the starter much of the offseason and the first week of practice, showed why he's opened the door to losing his starting job. He was soundly beaten by Greg Camarillo on a 9 route and he was easily a step behind.

So what up with Vontae Davis? He is the first-round pick, after all. Well, he's not struggling by any means. But neither is he surging to the front of his class.

"He's a young guy and he's done some young guy things," Sparano said. "He got double-moved out here the other day in the scrimmage. Really, got double-moved twice during the course of the scrimmage. [But] he's very physical. Has good catch-up speed and is not afraid. he's got a pretty short memory out there which is good for a cornerback.

"There are some fundamental things we have to work on. He's got to get his eyes out of the backfield. that's a natural thing for young guys. He's just got to get his eyes out of the backfield and concentrate on some fundamental. But I like the way he's coming. He's not afraid to compete."

At the open competion for the starting right defensive end job, Randy Starks is getting his chance with the starting unit now. The Dolphins have a plan. They definitely will give everyone an equal, fair opportunity to win that job and Starks has seen his time come.

Phillip Merling, who the Dolphins expected would win that job after a fine offseason, has lagged the first week of camp and after watching Tony McDaniel get more first-team reps than him last week, now he's seeing Starks being given a chance.

Merling is working with the second team but that is not permanent. He can still wake up and turn the tide. But the Dolphins are a team in motion. So Merling can either plow ahead or get left behind as he currently seems to be.

"It's nothing against Phil one way or the other," Sparano said. "I thought, actually, Phil was pretty productive out here the other day in the scrimmage. But it goes by the whole week's worth of work and maybe who you want to see play up a little bit. And one guy that had not had that opportunity yet was Randy.

"And Randy is a guy that every time we sit down and make an evaluation, his evaluation is pretty good. So let's see Randy against some good people as well while we can." 

I told you earlier that Wake and Moses are also having good days today. The truth is both started to "flash," as Sparano likes to say, late last week. And then both had a productive scrimmage.

The reward for that production is a greater opportunity to open the coaching staff's eyes. They've been trusted with small things and now the staff is seeing if they can be trusted with bigger things.

That's why Wake got a few snaps with the first-team defense while Joey Porter rested on a couple today. No, Wake is not about to replace Porter. But the staff wants to see how he does against better competiton. Some guys play up to the competiton while others demure. We'll see what Wake does.

Moses, who has been very active, has proven a great frustration to quarterbacks at times. It's not so much that he's getting great push all the time. It's not that he gets to the QB all the time. It's just that he has this incredible knack for batting balls down at the line of scrimmage. He had one today and one in the scrimmage.

So Moses, working almost exclusively with the third-team defense last week, got a lot of repetitions with Wake on second team this morning. We'll see if he can stand the prosperity.

Two more play-by-play tidbits from practice: Yeremiah Bell, solid and better in coverage since this camp started than I've ever seen, had an interception of Chad Pennington during practice. Will Billingsley, who is not making this team but is fighting for a practice squad spot, also had an interception.

The Dolphins announced the signing of WR James Robinson, of Fort Lauderdale, to the squad. A product of Westminister Academy, Robinson won four state medals in track and field. No doubt. Sparano said he impressed the team with his speed in the tryout. He is, however, a developmental type of player.

If you are in South Florida and planned to attend this evening's 5 p.m. practice, go do something else instead. The Dolphins announced at noon that the afternoon practice will be held inside the Nick Saban Memorial Bubble (NSMB) and will not be open to the public.

The Dolphins apologize profusely. Not really, but I thought I'd throw that in there on their behalf.

[Update at 4:50: The Dolphins have signed K Connor Barth to a two-year contract. Barth was with KC last year and was cut July 28. He will compete with Dan Carpenter. Nobody gets a free ride around here. Nobody!]

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sounds good

Maybe it's the nature of the practices, but there's hardly ever any mention of our ILB's. Is that good or bad? I know we hear Crowder's name occassionally but Ayodele is never talked about.

alot of INTs though. maybe Penny is just being more aggressive being it's training camp.

MartinK, the nature of the 3-4 defense is that the ILB corps has to fill holes and make tackles.

Both Channing Crowder and Akin Ayodele have been doing the former in camp. But as there is no tackling, it's hard to give you a "they filled nice," highlight.

They're doing fine. And there doesn't seem to be any competition for a starting job there at this point. Reggie Torbor, the third guy up, isn't pushing well enough to get ahead right now.

thanks mando

Thanks Armando,
I understand that without tackling, there isn't a whole lot to be said about the ILB's. It is interesting that they seemingly won't ever face competition during early training camps though. And how do you evaluate their position and new guys like Orion Martin and Folsom if you don't see them do anything but run to the correct spot on the field?

Mando,

can you give us an update on the O-Line, Jake Grove in particular?

thanks

Actually the ILBs also have a lot of pass coverage duties. Crowder is the best at that on the team and one of the better ones in the NFL.

Westcoastkid: I noted Grove in the scrimmage blog. He gets his hands and head up way much faster than Samson Satele. That means he's in position to block much quicker. That gives him leverage much quicker.

Translation: Upgrade, as long as he stays healthy.

Armando,
What can you tell us about the RBs?
Thanks

Armando,
As a Penn State fan I was wondering, what happened to Ethan Kilmer?

Arnando. do you feel that cameron wake could play a key part this season if he continues to improve his overall play to go with his pass rush skills . Due to the lack of pass rush last year( outside of porter ) and given the ages of both porter and taylor i think his play is vital.

JUSTIN IDIOT > " That's why wake got a few snaps with the FIRST TEAM DEFENSE while porter rested..... The staff wants to see how wake does against better competition " . That answers my own question. Sparano and the coaching staff wouldn't be putting in wake with the first team defense if they didn't think he will be key and a vital part to the pass rush this season . Justin . now GO GET YOUR SHINE BOX!

Armando: If mOses has this "knack" for batting balls, has he been tried in position to block punts?

I always liked Quentin Moses from the time he was supposed to be a top-10 pick after his junior year at georgia. If Moses can continue to improve and make plays , along with wake doing the same , miami could have 2 good young pass rushing OLB'S. That could eliminate the need to draft one early in next year's draft.

Ken . moses did that very well ( block kicks ) in college.

I not going to a practice if players are flashing

Dolfan Abroad, the Dolphins ran a live goal line drill today.

No fumbles. Solid up front for Ronnie and Ricky.

I continue to admire the explosion Patrick Cobbs offers and hope the coaching staff will include him more and more in the offense because he has the ability to score from anywhere on the field -- remember the 80-yard TD on a screen pass last year. He had another long TD on a screen in the scrimmage.

JRH1313: As you probably know Kilmer quit. He didn't tell teammates, even former Penn Stater Cam Wake, why he was cruising.

I'm told privately he just didn't feel he wanted to go through the rigors of camp seeing as he probably wasn't going to make the team.

He has not returned calls so I can't tell you anything else.

No, NJ PHIN Fan, the answer about Wake wasn't in the blog.

Please remember we are only one week into camp and they haven't even played a preseason game. Things change every day around here. Just because a guy is down one day doesn't mean he's out.

Wake could have three sacks the next three days and wow folks in the first preseason game next week and all of a sudden, he's a factor in the nickel or dime packages.

Armando,

Nice job. You're like our hometown Chris Mortenson--only better!

If Jason Allen doesn't develop during training camp, do you see him getting cut by the Dolphins?
or
Do you see him as special teams contributor this season, should he make the team?

Thanks

Eric,

I think Jason Allen is what he is. He says he's competing for a starting job, but I don't see that. He's a reserve who happens to have good size and speed and plays special teams pretty well. I think that and the cap hit if he gets cut, keeps him on the team.

We'll see how he does in the preseason to know for sure.

Armando. Who said anything about wake being down and out. LOL !. I said the same thing you said and singing his praises. Please clerify.

Thanks Armando... Looks like a solid effort by all of the players. Things just seem different this year than they have for awhile. It seems that the players feel that they are on a winning team. This attitude can only get better as the season goes on.

What's to the maddness with bringing in a wr and not another position of need. But i did read he has already made some plays

NJ PHIN FAN: I was speaking in general about the down and out first and then specifically about Wake later.

Mando. Gotch ya. How much is wake's importance ( if he continues to improve ) to the team and it's pass rush , considering the age/wear n tear on both taylor and porter. Besides porter , miami's pass rush didn't exactly set the house on fire. you never answered that.

NJ PHIN FAN, I'm gotched.

QB pressure is key when you have an uncertain RCB situation. I think the Dolphins continue to get "lucky" that a player they didn't covet, Jason Taylor, did all he could to get on the team. He will really help.

And Wake, well, we'll see. Not ready to say he's Derrick Thomas yet. He might be Derrick Rodgers for all we know.

Mando,

How has Camarillo looked this training camp? Given he was a possession reciever last year, do you think the ACL surgery will have much influence on his play this year? He was Miami's most consistent reciever last year and the offense appeared to have really struggled in his absense. What's his status? Thanks. I really enjoy the blog and read it everyday. Your coverage has been excellent

Jonah,

Camarillo doesn't wear a brace on the knee and hasn't missed a practice. He is truly a wonder. He caught a long along the sideline this morning.

I've said it before and will repeat: When all is said and done, I would not be surprised if he leads the team in receptions.

Armando, do you think I am a bigger loser than tinshaker? Thanks.

Mando. As usual Thanks !

Camarillo sounds like another Wes Welker with speed, thank god.

LMFAO@the knight who has no life . You're to much. LOL! I'm out See ya'll later.

K Connor Barth, waived by Chiefs in July, has been signed by the Dolphins to a two-year deal.

One more thing , Derrick Rodgers had a good rookie year ( 5 sacks ) and named to the all-rookie team . After that injuries took over and ended his career.

OK guys the menace is on the web, whats the subject tonite??????

LOL!!!!! Armando i love your writing, i think you're one of the best! i have to ask this question though, why do you call the indoor practice bubble "The Nick Saban Memorial Bubble"??

Big Blackie,

In the last blog you asked me what my G rating was. You mean GS rating.

Why is it that Moses has this knack for knocking down balls alot? Is it his timing?

ace is beautiful

Cuban,

Look like evil jets going for start Sanchez sucio el gran baywatchero. When will we find out who is his real papa Porter or Taylor. What you think?

my friend carlo, it's not easy for sanchito, there are so many women not happy in nj land.ask nj phin and he will tell you or his girl .

Also, you think so Matt Roth should try different kind of hat? Everyday he wear baseball cap and never get better or have luck. What is best choice Fedora, Sombrero, Cowboy, Flava Flav, Visor, or kangol?

He have to try somethings or Jason Taylor will take job.

Mando, Thats really good to hear. Thanks so much for the quick reply. Really cool getting inside information like that. Keep up the good work. I really appreciate it

Carlito, Great "Q" truth be told I feel bad for Mr. Sanchez, being a Q.B in new York is tough, and being a rookie Q.B is even tougher, look for Mr. Sanchez to be a bust quicker then NJ Phin fan to unclog a toilet(or clog a toilet)..The JETS,JETS,Jets throw away there pick on this guy, what was he a 1 year starter at so. cal... his daddy will be the N.Y press in my opinion..

I think Mr. Roth should worry more bout what he wears to protect his "family jewels" and not worry about what he wears on his head...

Gret work Mando. you have us ready for some football for sure. I am rally excited to see how our passing game improves with a full camp with Penny and the addition of Turner and Hartline.

Speaking of Recievers, I went to practice last week and was really surprised at how slow Ernest Wolford appears and that he does not appear to be seizing any opportunity. But folks, he is not invisible. During stretching drills he was very noticable while urinating on the south fence. My 8 year old daughter asked me "what is that guy doing" and the man sitting next to her without missing a beat and forgetting kids were there said "look Wolford is actually doing something in practice, he is peeing on the fence." Thanks Ernest - 3 catches and 3 days of me explaining to my kids great. Oh yeah, and next time be more discrete tying up your pants before turning toward the crowd...

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