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Clearing out the notebook and '94 Moment

Tony Sparano downplayed the fact receiver Greg Camarillo played only four snaps in Monday night's preseason-opener earlier this week. It was, the coach said, partially due to a decision to use Camarillo in half-packages, it was partially a result of not wanting to risk getting him injured in the slop of the second-half downpour.

But now all eyes will be on the coach and the receiver to see exactly how much work Camarillo gets in Saturday's preseason game against Carolina. And it will be interesting to see where Camarillo gets that work, also.

That's because even as Camarillo is practicing without a brace on his surgically repaired knee and is working every day, he has obviously been passed by Davone Bess in the competition for the starting job opposite Ted Ginn Jr.

And there have been practices where the Dolphins have experimented with using Brian Hartline, Patrick Turner and even Brandon London as the third receiver in some packages, ahead of Camarillo.

Maybe the Dolphins are conserving Camarillo. Maybe coaches have noticed Camarillo still has not regained the quickness he had before the injury. Maybe I'm just freaking imagining things.

But Camarillo is still intent on winning back the starting job he had before the injury and to do that he needs to play Saturday and he needs to play well.

"I feel good," he told me. "I'm just trying to get better on the field. My knee is not stopping me from doing anything. I'm just trying to work on my receiving skills."

And what about playing only four plays in the opener?

"The coaches made the rotation," he said. "They put me in, I go in. They keep me out, I stay out. It was just the rotation of the offense. I'm still trying to develop a role for myself. Personally, I would like to get back to the role I had last year -- starting, being consistent. But, you know, all I can do is come out here and practice the best I can every day and everything will develop from there."

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I reported to you in the posting prior to this one that running back Ronnie Brown was favoring his left leg during Thursday's evening practice. And he was. Asked after practice about my observation, Brown said it was that his left toes kept hitting the front of his cleats because he was wearing turf shoes.

"And besides," Brown said with a straight face, "it was my right [surgically repaired] knee."

Pause.

"Had you worried, didn't I?" he added breaking into laughter.

Yeah, hilarious.

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Very good reporting by The Herald's Jeff Darlington in looking into the mysterious Matt Roth injury situation. In doing his legwork, Darlington reports Roth visited a groin specialist in Philadelphia to have his injury checked out.

The specialist, the story says, found no significant issue with Roth's groin.

But here is the amazing thing. Even as Roth continues to miss practice because of that groin injury the specialist said he really doesn't have, the control-obsessed Dolphins seem to have no real idea what is really going on.

Sparano was unhappy with Roth when the player lied to him about feeling ill as the excuse for failing his conditioning test. General Manager Jeff Ireland has been frustrated by the fact he's gotten no straight answers about Roth's prognosis because it seems only Roth can determine that.

And you just have to know that Bill Parcells is sincerely intent on showing understanding and patience with this issue, particular after a doctor said it wasn't an issue, because, well, Parcells doesn't really mind players being injured, and not contributing, and not dealing straight with the head coach. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Here is my humble take: The Dolphins have to show patience, painful as that may be for them to do. There is a chance Roth will practice sometime next week -- perhaps as early as Monday -- based on the steady progression of his conditioning drills this week. There is a chance if he gets back on the field, he can again become a contributor, although in a diminished capacity, by the time the regular season begins.

But if Roth misses next week, including the all-important third preseason game, we're looking at injured reserve becoming a more viable option because roster spots become important once cuts start getting made.

I do not see Roth getting cut. At least not at this point. Regardless of this strange episode, he has value and despite his being out of contract next year, he will not be able to leave via unrestricted free agency if no new collective bargaining agreement is reached. But who knows what Roth is thinking or doing ... and how the Dolphins might react.

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The final Classic Training Camp Moment of the preseason takes us back to the summer of 1994. That year, Tim Bowens was a rookie and something of an enigma because he refused to sing or take part in any of the stupid typical rookie hazing that happens during camp.

It got to the point where Bowens was so bent on not being hazed that one day he started packing his gear and getting ready to leave training camp. He was headed back to his hometown of Okolona, Mississippi because he just was not going to be hazed darnit!

This was a fairly typical reaction from Bowens, who was always his own man. Bowens had skipped the NFL Scouting Combine that year because he had gotten aboard a plane to Indianiapolis, and upon seeing a worker de-icing the plane in stormy weather, he decided not to take the trip. He simply got off and went home.

He later worked out for scouts privately at Okolona High, which had a field where some farm animals used for grazing. Bowens had worn cut-off jeans and converse high tops to the workout.

The interesting thing is that, back then, the Dolphins handed their rookies questionnaires that gave players the opportunity to tell about themselves. It asked about family. It asked about hobbies. It asked about hometowns and places of birth and marital status.

And it asked about favorite college moment or highlight.

Well, Bowens recounted one time while he was playing for Itawamba Community College, a fight broke out between his team and its opponents. Bowens told of how he grabbed a down marker from the sideline and began to go to town against all comers.

He swung the marker, forming something of a circle about himself. Anyone trying to penetrate the dreaded down marker circle of pain got summarily knocked the heck out. Well, this story recounted by Bowens started making the rounds in the locker room.

The story was apparently a lot more impressive to teammates than the story about Bowens being stabbed three times in the back with a hunting knife by an older kid when Bowens was a high school junior. Bowens didn't press charges, but later landed in jail for kicking the living daylights out of that older dude, presumably without using a first-down marker.

Not surprisingly, as the stories became more widely known the attempts to haze Tim Bowens soon ceased. And he decided to stay with the Dolphins.

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