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Monday morning practice post -- with Sparano presser update

Welcome to my dream. The Dolphins have finished their first practice of the day and second practice of training camp. Coach Tony Sparano has also talked to the media.

The coach discussed Rothgate in which strongside linebacker Matt Roth failed his conditioning test and is missing practice because A. he's got an undefined illness as Sparano says, B. he has a strained groin as agent Drew Rosenhaus has said, C. both, or D. its the media's fault.

Sparano's take:

"We have a signed statement from Matt coming in on their medical status, ok, and his was that he had no illness and had no injury. He took the conditioning test, I mentioned that to you yesterday. And he didn't do well on the conditioning test, he didn't pass the conditioning test.

"So Matt and I visited. We visited on two occassions. We talked about what was going on and the conversation with me was that he was sick. He didn't feel good. He didn't feel right. We sent him for blood tests and that came back negative. And that's where we are right now."

So what about the strained groin Rosenhaus said on local television was the reason Roth is out?

"Only thing I can tell you," Sparano said, "is what I know. I believe Matt Roth when Matt Roth is telling me he's sick. This groin thing, first time I heard this thing came up, we're going to investigate it. But I've been told on two different occassions (by Roth) that it was an illness."

Not the groin?

"That wasn't what I was told was the reason for what I watched (in the practice bubble) yesterday by Matt -- two different times," Sparano insisted.

It was a difficult morning for the offense, which I suppose is expected since offense normally lags behind defense early in most training camps.

Chad Pennington, who avoided turnovers like the plague in 2008, threw the first interception of training camp when he was plucked by Will Allen during the team portion of drills.

And although I cannot recall one signature offensive moment throughout the morning, my notebook is brimming with one fumble on a runnning play, one fumble on a bad pitch by Chad Henne, a sack by Rodrique Wright, and very few (if any) completions down the field.

The Miami first, second and third team offenses did complete routine passes to running backs in the flat. Yippie!!!!!

"We didn't finish practice well today," Sparano said. "Ball was on the ground a couple of time, we had a couple of pre-snap penalties ... we didn't finish the practice, we had penalties, sloppy tackling."

Sparano said there were only two penalties in practice Sunday.

Sparano said he's not worried about Ted Ginn Jr. running faster, but instead wants him to play faster. It's about recognizing coverages quicker and letting instinct take over for Ginn. Sparano said he's seeing a little bit of that in practice.

Weakside linebacker Cameron Wake, working on third team, had serious struggles on the first day of camp. You know this if you read my column in today's Miami Herald. He recovered somewhat this morning. Although he is still often matched against rookie left tackle Andrew Gardner in drills, and Gardner continues to get the better of Wake, the CFL phenom did have one play in which he had good pressure on the passer.

In the one-on-one blocking drills, Wake lost two of three battles against Gardner.

The more I watch Gardner, the more I like the kid. He's raw but stout. He has a great ability stay in front of the defender and he doesn't let go. He latches on and seems difficult to shake. Obviously, I'm not saying there's a left tackle controversy on the team. But he's looking promising as a backup.

The Dolphins are working with a handful of players as punt returners -- Ted Ginn Jr., Brian Hartline, Davone Bess, and Chris Williams. Williams muffed his first opportunity to catch one this morning.

Breaking down this competition, you should know the team will put the most explosive guy back there. But all things being equal, I believe Bess and Hartline will be the favorites to win the competition because they show great consistency catching the ball (no mistakes) and Ginn will have his hands full in the base offense, causing coaches to measure whether to risk using him too much on punt returns.

Guard Donald Thomas continues to work on a limited basis only while Shawn Murphy continues to take the first-team snaps at right guard. Guard Justin Smiley was absent this morning with an excused absence. He and his wife just had a baby, so bigtime congrats!

Practice this afternoon will be held inside the Nick Saban Memorial Bubble (NSMB) and is closed to the public. So check back later this evening for the update on that one.

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