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Fri. practice update (with '97 Marino moment)

David J. standing in for Armando, who is resting on the fifth and seventh day this week, but working on the sixth.

Friday saw a fairly uneventful afternoon practice with a lot of special teams work. It tells you how bad the Dolphins staff and personnel people feel their coverage and return units were last year that they're spending more time on special teams, but the only guys on the roster running unopposed are kicker Dan Carpenter, punter Brandon Fields and long snapper John Denney.

Carpenter went two for three on field goals, missing from 39 yards off the left hash. I think he's already missed more practice field goals than he did throughout the 2008 preseason in practice or games.

-- Everyone was at practice, save tight end David Martin and safety Ethan Kilmer.

Kilmer, a third-year man out of Penn State, has left the team. No official word yet on what's the matter with the oft-injured Martin. Anthony Fasano's superior dependability helped him topple Martin from the top of the depth chart last year and, today, Fasano dumped Joey Porter during pass blocking drills. Porter gave him an "attaboy" pat on the helmet.

-- Donald Thomas, who said he was just happy to be taking part in drills, worked with the first team at right guard for several snaps during team drills. Shawn Murphy took the rest of the snaps.

-- Defensive end Tony McDaniel was with the first team defense while Phillip Merling was with the second team. McDaniel seemed to have a good practice.

-- Poor Pat White. He finally threw a beautiful pass in a tough situation, bootlegging to his throwing side but under pressure at an angle that made the throw a precision act. Unfortunately, tight end John Nalbone let the pass skid off of his hands.

-- Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was at practice. In the shotgun seat of Bill Parcells golf cart today was former Cleveland coach and Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel.

In keeping with the guest blogger theme of the day, the Classic Training Camp Moment traces back to training camp 1997. That year, The Herald's Dave Barry came to training camp and spent nearly a week with the Dolphins.

What follows is what Barry wrote for Tropic Magazine in September of '97:

As I'm leaving the practice field one afternoon, I stop and watch Dan Marino and guard Keith Sims hang out with some kids who have been brought to Dolphins training camp by the Make-A-Wish Foundation of South Florida, which grants wishes to terminally ill children. Sims is talking to a 13-year-old boy named Dylan, who has cancer. Dylan is showing Sims his trading cards.

``What,'' Sims is saying, in mock indignation, ``you don't have a Keith Sims card?'' A few feet away, Marino is talking to a wide-eyed 8-year-old named Brian, who has had major surgery lately and is clearly not doing well. Brian looks at the scars on Marino's much-repaired knee; he then raises his T-shirt and shows his own scars, which are far too big for his tiny body.

Marino, who looks so uncomfortable when he's surrounded by the media, appears totally relaxed here, in no hurry to leave. He chats with Brian's family and patiently signs his name on every article of clothing being worn by Brian and Brian's brother and sister. He also signs a football, then stands up to grant one of Brian's wishes, which is to catch a pass thrown by Dan Marino, the quarterback who has thrown for more yards, and more touchdowns, than anybody else in NFL history. Brian goes out for the pass, maybe five yards. Marino gently tosses the ball, and Brian, who is not going to miss this ball for anything in the world, grabs it and hugs it to himself, smiling radiantly, and I'm telling you that this was the greatest catch I've ever seen.

Then Dylan, who would also like to catch a Dan Marino pass, comes over, and Marino grabs a ball.

``Where should I run?'' asks Dylan.

Marino surveys the practice field. It is vast. It is the size of Connecticut. It is empty. There is not a single person on it, other than Dylan.

``Just get open,'' says Marino.

Dylan starts running; Marino throws the ball right to him; Dylan drops it.

``Bad throw,'' says Marino, as Dylan trots back. ``You're gonna catch this one. Just don't go so far.''

Dylan starts running again. Marino throws the ball; it's a tight spiral, but it's thrown so softly that it hardly seems to be moving. A statue could catch this ball. It floats to Dylan and drops securely into his hands. I'm telling you that this was the greatest throw I've ever seen.

As Marino is leaving, he promises the two boys he'll see them the next night in the Dolphins locker room at Pro Player Stadium, after the final preseason game against the Redskins. Dylan, joking, says, ``Don't be mean to me if you lose!''

``We're not gonna lose,'' says Marino.

The Dolphins won that preseason game, 28-7.

Hopefully, the Twitter-mobile unit problems some of us had today will be solved tomorrow and I'll be tweeting at http://twitter.com/DavidJNeal from practice, the 2 p.m. scrimmage and the Sparano news conference. Armando will be back tomorrow.

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