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Let the Miami Dolphins practices begin!

It is for real now.

[Update: The Dolphins have cut offensive guard J.D. Quinn and TE Jared Bronson to get down to the 80 man limit before practice.]

No more offseason OTA. No more minicamp, or precamp, or pre-minicamp camp. The Dolphins hit the field at 2 p.m. today and that will kick off the roster competition for the 2009 season.

As I write in this column in Sunday's Miami Heraldthe Dolphins are a mystery now. We can hope their offseason moves at center, wide receiver and cornerback will translate to a better team this year. But does anyone really know for sure?

By the same token, you might be worried having the NFL's toughest schedule and playing in the NFL's toughest division is a recipe for a step-back season, but is there anyone that knows for certain?

That's the beauty of today ... everything and anything is still possible for your favorite football team.

With that in mind I'm going to share some thoughts about this team and we'll see in the coming days and months how those thoughts hold up through the rigors of an NFL season.

First, I know you guys don't want to hear it, but the truth is while the Dolphins addressed important issues this offseason, holes continue to exist. The interior offensive line which was a worry throughout all of last season, will again have a microscope trained on it.

Health is a concern for the interior line. C Jake Grove, who plays with better leverage than Samson Satele and had some of his better games against the AFC East last year, will be an upgrade only as long as he stays healthy. And staying healthy has been a challenge for him the past two seasons.

LG Justin Smiley is completely healthy after ankle surgery that cut his season short in 2008. It was the second consecutive year he finished on injured reserve. On the bright side, I'm told Smiley's shoulder which was still a problem last year is not an issue now. Can he finally stay healthy?

The RG spot was a concern all of last season and remains an uncertainty now. Yes, Donald Thomas is supposed to be ready to go by the time the season begins. Yes, I've read the reports where he's said he's ready to go for the start of training camp. But I have one source that tells me Thomas will not be completely cleared at the start of camp so we'll see what happens.

Finding a right guard the team can trust game in and out is not so important for a team trying to merely get through the season. Finding a consistent player there to plug in with the rest of the $154 million line is imperative for a team hoping to get in and advance in the playoffs.

QB Chad Pennington has worked long and hard to make sure he doesn't fall back to the troubling career trend of following one good year with a bad one. But all his offseason work has been focused on keeping him healthy. The truth is no amount of work Pennington has done has increased his velocity on his passes. He still will not be able to make 17-yard deep sideline passes from the far hashmark without the ball sailing a bit. Sorry, you'll just have to deal with it.

WR Ted Ginn Jr. has spent much of the offseason learning to get open early rather than having to run past defenders to get open. This is important because Pennington often did not throw Ginn the ball deep last year based on the fact the receiver didn't get open early enough. The frustrating thing for Ginn was that he would eventually get open downfield, but by that time, the ball was out to someone else.

I'll be watching during camp to see how often Pennington looks for Ginn. Chances are if Ginn's not catching many passes in practices, he won't be catching many in games. That will give a hint whether Ginn will indeed get his opportunity to have the breakout season everyone hopes for.

The Dolphins are planning to use the spread option in 2009 which should be exciting for anyone that likes wide open football. But don't look for a pass on every down nor a shotgun snap on every play. The Wildcat is morphing into the spread option and that means passes out of the formation and other wrinkles. I would be floored if we see any of this in the preseason.

A true story: Bill Parcells once talked to Tom Landry about how to judge players. Landry explained to Parcells that a player gets the benefit of the doubt on production in his first year. Landry said he wanted to see something from the player in the second year. And if Landry hadn'tt seen anything from the player by the third year, the dude was gone.

The Dolphins have a handful of players that have to show Parcells and coach Tony Sparano and general manager Jeff Ireland something this training camp to stick around.

Jason Allen is in his fourth NFL season and has failed to live up to his 2006 first-round status that raised hopes he could be a starter. Allen told me this offseason his goal was to win a starting job. I don't think that will happen, considering he was running third-team the entire offseason. As I've written before, Allen sometimes reverts to techniques he used in college or for other coaches instead of playing like these coaches want him to.

He's got to change that if he wants to earn a spot. I do think, however, he'll be able to keep a roster spot based on his ability to play special teams. But his margin for error is small.

NT Paul Soliai was overweight when training camp began in 2008. He was overweight this offseason. If he is overweight Sunday, he's in trouble. The Dolphins believe he is a hard worker -- which Cam Cameron did not, by the way -- but they want to see some maturity from Soliai. They want to see some self-motivation. They don't want to have Jason Ferguson needing to babysit him so much.

I like Ernest Wilford. He is a good man, who never once complained about not getting much playing time in 2008 despite being a veteran with more experience than any other Miami WR. But being a good man doesn't win anyone a roster spot. As Nick Saban once told me, the Dolphins are not fielding Father Flanagan's Boys' Choir.

I know you have heard Wilford struggled catching the football in practice last season. You probably have not heard the team was frustrated he had absolutely zero explosion off the line of scrimmage which also was a big problem. It seemed as if he was running in quicksand sometimes.

Well, he's getting a chance as an H-back this training camp. But in the practices I saw this offseason, he was still operating in sloooow moe. If he doesn't pick up the pace, he's toast.

I'm expecting big things out of certain players this year. Phillip Merling was flat ballin' toward the end of the 2008 season. It was so obvious, the Dolphins felt comfortable releasing Vonnie Holliday because they knew the veteran wasn't going to be on the field more than 15 percent of the plays if he stayed.

Merling is stronger and more experienced now and I expect those to translate on the field.

Matt Roth seemed to be in trouble when the Dolphins signed Jason Taylor. Some fans and even some writers still think Taylor will be starting ahead of Roth. That is not the plan at this point. Roth is better on the edge against the run in early downs. Taylor is better chasing quarterbacks on passing downs.

Moreover, Roth is set for a big season. He's in a contract year. He is healthy after having played most of 2008 with a groin injury. And he is playing a position he played all of last year for the very first time. I like his chances to shine.

I will be at Dolphins camp serving as your eyes and ears Sunday -- assuming you're not there, too. If you want real-time updates of what is happening you must follow me on twitter and set the account up so you can get instant updates to your mobile device.

I would also appreciate if you continue to make this a destination blog at The Herald as I work to give you the latest and most comprehensive Dolphins information possible. Check back often Sunday for the lowdown on practice, comments from players and coaches, analysis, and opinion. 

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I don't think we have a chance unless we get someone like Boldin-we need a deep threat at almost any cost-Any chance?

Let the hitting begin. Mama is in the house.

Armando good article. You are right about the velocity on Chad's passes. There is nothing he can work on to increase velocity on his throws. I am sure you can do some tweaking here and there but it is not worth it to mess up his throwing technique to gain a little bit of speed.

Looking forward to the season and this blog for information and debate.

Dolphins4Life back in time for traing camp.

Here's looking at you kid-season, and its gonna be a hell of a ride!
Go Dolphins!

Jason Allen is one of the best athletes on the team. It would be nice to see him have a Greg Camarillo type break-out year. I think he has it in him. If he gets a couple of breaks and gets some confidence, he could be really good.

If your able to throw a 45 yard pass to GINN on a fly you can throw a 10 and out with velocity.

You can throw a slant with some ZIP on it.

Those RICE catches that were 7 yard slants that went for TOUCHDOWNS were thrown with some ZIP and the pass led him so he didn't have to slow down.If you don't think that makes a difference than you only watched from the sidelines.

If he's able to throw the 10 pass with the strenth of a 15 or 20 yard pass with control is a difference.that's what made MARINO GREAT.He threw hard the ball was there fast enough that the Mark brothers or who ever else was able to catch and run.

Who cares what Nick Saban or Cam Cameron think or say. They're both morons.

Now you are comparing Pennington to Marino? That is great JUSTIN, you are beautiful.(Insert puking sound)

Armando - don't be lame. Post your camp updates here too. Don't make us "follow you on twitter".

By the end of today's practice Pat White will be Fins most valuable offensive player, at least in the minds of the Fins staff and players who are actually there to witness it.

TRAINING CAMP! FINALLY! Amazing work Mando. Great coverage fans of other teams simple DONT have. Love it.

Master is your last name bater?

"Phillip Merling was flat ballin'..."

You're funny Mando... great article though! Can't wait to hear what goes down this afternoon... GO DOLPHINS!

Who cares if Pennington can't throw a zippy 17 yard out - Bob Griese never could either and he took us to 3 straight Super Bowls - let Pennington play his game. It is effective.

Tons of insight as usual. Mando you are clearly the best at covering the Dolphins. Have a great season!

For real, the dude from the sun sentinel's first training camp blog was an open apology to all fans...

yeah Mando - i want the herald to bombard my cell phone with twitter based ads... you work for the people and should post updates here...

Bad mando!

Mando---love your work & willing to make MH my go-to, but PLEASE don't force twitter down my throat. Post your updates here.

I keep hearing the same "we need a deep threat" over and freekin over. If Miami started building this team the way Wanny and every other idiot coach we have had since Shula retired have tried to do... you know? going out and getting all the flashy receivers, tight ends and so forth before making certain the lines and D-backfield were solid. We would end up right back where we were in 1999 through 2002. Chasing that "ONE GREAT PLAYER" who is going to get us over the hump "WHEN WE WERE NOT EVEN CLOSE TO BEING A SB CONTENDER"!
The way this team is being built is the CORRECT way; From the inside out, I am very sorry to say, we still have work to do on the foundation before we start hanging pictures. Sucks but true...

Mando - so no need to checking the blog here a few times a day, since there will be no updates?

Looking forward to the start of camp. Mando, I apprecciate the heads up on Ernest "slow as molasses" Wilford. Also very interesting stuff on Penningthon's arm.

Been reading you for years and it's like you're part of the family now (sort of). You clearly are the best covering my team.

Please cut the following player:

Pennington
Wilford

W. Allen
J. Allen
N. Jones


That is all, thank you!


I don't think we have a chance unless we get someone like Boldin-we need a deep threat at almost any cost-Any chance?

Posted by: David | August 02, 2009 at 12:25 AM


Are you serious? Who's gonna throw the ball to him? Penningnot; highly doubt that. I cant wait for Penningnot to get hurt this year so Henne can FINALLY get in and flash those skills.

As far as the schedule goes, I'm not worried about it because we are still not a SB team so it doesnt really matter if we go 16-0 or 0-16, the Phins are my team and Im going to enjoy every game. Although I will be here daily advocating for the realease of the above named players...

I is sorry if I offend you. I is sorry if players don't like me or like me. I loves offensive linemen (not like that, but yous knows how). I am sorry bout the rent not being paid.

It be the first day of camp and Is gonna post on my blog about ME because that's where my head be at.

I be stoned.

Douches, I means Dueces.

Folks, I am going to update this blog as often and as early as I always have. This blog is the reason I live!!!!!

Ok, that's a bit much, but I hope you understand nothing changes on this blog so continue to come here for the latest on the Dolphins.

I am encouraging you to follow on twitter because that will provide realtime updates (from my phone to your phone if you wish) while I'm on the field and doing interviews. The twitter is in addition to the blog, not a replacement for it.

God, I love the smell of football season in the morning. Smells like victory.

Also, guys, no need to rip other blogs or writers on this blog. Everybody is just doing their best to make a living. Let's show class on this blog. Please.

Still worried about our running game. NOBODY is talkig about that. Williams is another year older and I'm not sure you can count of Brown to be a real workhorse. I think we may need to add someone or at the very least add a high pick in the draft next year.

Down goes Brady, in comes a Lemon!! Get ready Vinny, Bill B. will be on the phone soon.

someone can tell me what is class and to find?

Armando,
That smell in the morning was not victory. I left the bathroom door open. Thanks for letting me use the porcelain convenience after I clogged up the Madden Cruiser's plumbing. Man! What a night we had at the Country Buffet. I really got my money's worth.

Bleep that, Omar Kelly's blog today was a joke. On the first day of camp and you write a self-engrandizing piece of trash?

Some people have to figure out its not all about them.

our OL is definitley the greatest concern. but I trust sparano will get the best out of the guys we have as backups.

BTW: would have to say AFC south is clearly the best.

Dear Armado,
How are you today? I am fine. Glad to training camp you too? Wish I was go but can't. You are right all playres in OL inside get hurt alot. I hope Mr Parcells knows that too. If we do?
I am so happy to that all draft picks are going to be traing camp for this morning too.
Mr Armdo can I just tell one thing to David that wants us to have ANqin Boldin? David we do not need to have deep threar WR. We have Tedd Ginn on our team. SO its is okay.
thank you Mr Armdo
sincerely,
Juan Huron

WOW Mando - Maybe the best summary of Findom I've seen in years - good work!

I still thought my Patmos comment was pretty good to bad it is gone!

Ace. Did you catch armando stating that no amount of work pennington does/did had increased His velocity?

David. Give it the " we need boldin to get over the top " a rest already ! Ain't happening. Go root for the cardinals .

NJ PHIN FAN,

I sure did

"our OL is definitley the greatest concern. but I trust sparano will get the best out of the guys we have as backups."

Posted by: dolfanSF

I agree with dolfanSF, the OL will make or break this season, we could go 5-11 or 12-4 depending on their play. However...

Let's look on the bright side, Smiley is not injury prone over his career, broken legs happen in this league.

D Thomas says he was never injured during College, so was his broken foot "a trend". No!

Grove has a history of minor injuries for sure which has kept him out of games. But does the Trifecta believe he can stay healthy going forward? Obviously so, otherwise they would not have signed him to big money. They must know something about the guy and his injuries that we don't cause most fans (including me) and media types are worried about this guy's health, and Trifecta is not. You don't sign a guy for big bucks thinking you are "rolling the dice". Well, maybe Wanny might, but not Parcells.

So let's look on the bright side, all three of these guys can PLAY, at least we know that. Let's also consider that each of them might just remain healthy for the year as well.

All these guys are maulers. The Fins will have their first smash mouth running game in place since 73. And not just with Ronnie. Despite Ricky's speed around the corner he is best, and prefers, to run between the tackles. Ricky is still a beast.

Ace. We're having some "serious dolphin talk today" on the blog. Nudge , Hint.

So much for Bronson. being a steal ! and Quinn can go back to drinking and driving.

Second the keep-it-classy comments. More posters should emulate my mature approach - - at the risk of being self-"engrandizing."

Ace . NJ PHIN FAN how goes it today? training camp is here and man it's exciting! nice shutdown on the workout issue last night by the way. mR742 why do you want pennington hurt? what if he gets hurt henne takes over and gets hurt too? then miami has no backup qb that knows the system. pennington was productive all last year and the only true bad games he had were against balt. if rillo didn't get hurt pennington would have had an even better year.

Testing comment from iPhone app.

I need a deep throat, err I mean deep threat.

Armando
Just read your sunday article. It seems from your reading that you give no mention of the word team and system and coaching staff that not only was the difference last year but had given back the Dolphins air of swagger accountablity and given us the fans optimism and hope. None of which you seem to have, at least based on your sunday article. But the we just started training camp so there's time...Also picking up Chad P helped and most will point out that he was the difference, but in my mind is all about the system and coaching staff. Sure you need the talent on the field, but its the talent evaluators that pick the players that fit the mold of the coaches and organization.
Vegas O/U is seven, I will gladly take the over and cash in, Dolphins will win more than that how much more not sure. But love the new playmakers in the secondary and Ronnie Brown will have a big year...by the end of the year Patric Turner will make everyone forget they got him in the third round and what was considered to early and he'll have a big impact in the red zone.

Sorry for typos, I'm working off the rust what better time than training camp! HAHA
Go Dolphins!

Let's have REAL fun:

http://espn.go.com/espn/thelife/salary/?athleteId=4328868

Dolphins4life. What's up ? I couldn't agree more on patrick turner, This guy is going to suprise alot of people ( McShay and Kiper included ). He's going to be a steal.

who didn't know this guys name was juam?? lmao... that was painful


"Dear Armado,
How are you today? I am fine. Glad to training camp you too? Wish I was go but can't. You are right all playres in OL inside get hurt alot. I hope Mr Parcells knows that too. If we do?
I am so happy to that all draft picks are going to be traing camp for this morning too.
Mr Armdo can I just tell one thing to David that wants us to have ANqin Boldin? David we do not need to have deep threar WR. We have Tedd Ginn on our team. SO its is okay.
thank you Mr Armdo
sincerely,
Juan Huron"

Hi!

Just watched the highlights from today on miamidolphins.com...

Ronnie Brown looks like a beast! You can tell he is in MUCH better shape than last year. I think with this re-tooled O-line he is going to have a HUGE year!!!!

I agree with D4L and Nj, Patrick Turner is going to be a red zone threat and might contribute more than any other new comer on offense....

what about me mando? I'm in shape and ready to go.

x

What up NJPHINFAN? Got back on the site last night when I realized its training camp time!
Souljabeats and NJ yeah I think Turner is gonna have a better year than what most people expected and do well. Look for Turner to be the one who grabs those balls over the middle and he's gonna be a tough match in the red zone.

All picks are signed and in camp there is comp. at just about every position this year can't remember the last time that happened, which creates depth and quality at the starting spot. Fired up! First day of camp cant wait to hear what Armando has to say about the team and who stands out?
Later...

hi ,d4 life, what's up with you girl friend .did you ask to marry her as you told us early ?

oh , sorry d4life, that wasn't you. i miss spoke.that was the cuban menace

NJPHIN FAN, What's up you had a question for me? I was out all afternoon and did not get a chance to check out the blog.

ace, hands of stone

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