It was an eventful session in steamy Davie, FL. this morning.
The latest on Rothgate is that the Dolphins have placed outside linebacker Matt Roth on the non-football illness list. And yet they have sent Roth for tests on the part of his body that is actually causing him problems -- his groin.
The contradictions continue and I can see the frustration in coach Tony Sparano, even from behind his dark glasses, because the player told him one thing and it seems it's actually something else.
"As I said yesterday, going into the conditioning test, in my mind, he was healthy. I think in everybody's mind he was healthy. At the end of the conditioning test, it didn't go well. He and I sat down, we talked. We talked about him being sick. And then brought him back up and talked about him being sick again at the end of that first practice. We explained we were going to have a plan, a running plan in place and again talked about not feeling good an not feeling right and being sick. That's really what the conversation was.
"As I said yesterday, I believed Matt Roth telling me he was sick."
Sparano said the team will conduct a "standup" scrimmage on Saturday in the afternoon practice. It will be 90-115 plays that will measure exactly where this team is at before it plays its first preseason game Aug. 17 against Jacksonville.
"We'll have a pretty good go," Sparano said. "Hopefully we'll get another crowd like we had the other day."
Ernest Wilford is at 232 pounds according to Sparano and he is working at both wide receiver and tight end, but as the team has been working mostly in the base offense the first couple of days of practice, he hasn't gotten a lot of action from that H-back role.
The Dolphins did work work nickel and substitution packages for the passing game today. Sparano said there were a few blown coverages and some bad routes, but that will be addressed.
If you've been wondering how the Dolphins are going to attack the quarterback on obvious passing downs, the preliminary answer is that their first-team front on the nickel and dime package consists of Joey Porter and Jason Taylor on the edges, and Phillip Merling and Randy Starks up the middle. Dolphins are at times using three tackle types in these sets, effectively having three linemen in addition to Porter and Taylor. Obviously, Porter and Taylor are not coming on every play as they have coverage responsibilities.
And that third lineman has been Randy Starks on first team and Lionel Dotson on second team.
The back end of the nickel and dime packages consist of Will Allen, Yeremiah Bell, Gibril Wilson, Tryone Culver, Eric Green and Nathan Jones (dime only) on first team. The back end on second team consists of Rookies Vontae Davis and Sean Smith, Jason Allen, Chris Clemons, Courtney Bryan and Ethan Kilmer (dime only).
The Dolphins will work on a lot of nickel situations in the comig days so if there's going to be some shakeup in that lineup, it may come after those days.
At work during team drills, Porter had a sack while Lionel Dotson (working from the tackle spot on shifts) and Quentin Moses combined for a sack. Will Allen continues to excel as he had another interception of a Chad Pennington sideline pass.
Brian Hartline had a drop during team drills while Greg Camarillo (old faithful) continues to make himself available for Pennington whenever the QB is in trouble. If Pennington is out of the pocket, he's looking for Camarillo. I would not be surprised -- and neither should you -- if after all the talk of Ted Ginn and Patrick Turner this offseason, it is Camarillo that leads the team in receptions.
Ginn did have a productive practice today. He beat Culver on a post pattern for a 30-yard TD in the back of the end zone. He also was open deep along the sideline once but a Pennington pass got held up in the air, allowing the defender to recover and knock it away.
Ginn did drop a post-pattern TD off the arm of Chad Henne. Wide open. Perfect pass. In the hands. Doink.
I continue to be fascinated by the competition between rookie left tackle Andrew Gardner and weakside linebacker Cameron Wake. It was all Gardner the first day of camp. Yesterday belonged to Wake. This morning was a deadlock.
Gardner will make the team, I predict. I asked Sparano about him and the coach said he is "certainly not close," to being a player that can get in regular-season games. But ...
"We have to change his body, we have to make him a little stronger," Sparano said. But the kid has, "a lot of athleticism and the characteristics we like."
"I like what I've seen so far," the coach concluded.
On one pass-rush, Wake leveraged Gardner into the quarterback. On the very next snap, Gardner simply rode Wake wide and out of the play.
Eric Green, who struggled covering the deep ball in the offseason camps and OTAs, is seemingly getting better. He had excellent coverage on a 9-route by Ginn this morning.
Pat White continues to be up and down. I will say this: Having played in the spread formation in college, he is clearly much more comfortable when he's not under center. On a couple of shotgun snaps this morning, White seemed to show more zip on his passes and seemed more decisive with his decisions. It didn't always result in a completion, but he was clearly better when not under center.
I honestly see backup Patrick Cobbs as an emmerging playmaker were he to be given the opportunity. Unfortunately for him, Ricky Williams, the backup tailback, isn't opening the door for Cobbs to get more snaps.
According to Sparano, Williams attended all 46 of the team's offseason workouts and is "physically in the best," condition he's seen him "in an awful long time." The coach said Williams is leaner and has less body fat than last year while his "endurance is up."
Finally, rookie Brennan Marion has a knee issue. He missed the morning practice and has gone for tests on it. Marion is still recovering from ACL surgery. Do not expect him to make the team, people.
With Marion hurting, the Dolphins worked out a couple of receivers this afternoon -- one of them former Ravens practice squad player Edward Williams.
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