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25 posts from July 2010

July 31, 2010

Highlights of the Tony Sparano (Sat.) presser

It was interesting that Friday's first training camp practice was the Brandon Marshall Show and fans attending the workout loved it. Tony Sparano didn't love it.

Sparano, you see, is the coach of the Miami Dolphins. He is the coach of the offense that showed up Friday. And he coaches the defense that got used a little bit. So a 50 percent success ration in practice is akin to an 8-8 team. It is not what the Dolphins want.

The Dolphins want to "feed the wolf," so to speak, on both offense and defense. And Dolphins players are wearing shirts encouraging everyone to feed the wolf this camp. What's that wolf thing, you ask?

"In spring, after not a great practice, I had a meeting with the group and got into them a little bit about 7-9 not being good enough," Sparano said. "... This football team shouldn't be fat, they should be starving, they should be hungry. And they should want to feed the wolf. So when we talk about this, one of the things we talk about is feeding the wolf with a little successes each day. So with these little successes, the wolf gets fed and you have more success and that stuff starts to become contagious. From our end, we feed the wolf when we do something good.

"I thought today the wolf was fed pretty good this morning. It wasn't fed yesterday. It was fed yesterday in the running and conditioning test but not in the practice. Today, there was very good give and take today in practice. Offensively they'd make a play or two and then defensively they'd bounce back, making a play or two. Then Henne throws a TD to Bess and stops the bleeding. That give and take feeds competition."

I like Ike

For the second time in as many practices, Ikaika Alama-Francis is getting a ton of work at SOLB and doing it with the starters. Alama-Francis got some limited snaps with the starting unit Friday and got most of them on Saturday.

So one naturally has to wonder if this is just a fad or a legit possibility.

It is legit.

"I don't think right now we're putting our toe in the water on this," Sparano said. "We're saying we want to see this guy and give him the opportunity to play this position."

Alama-Francis is listed as a 6-5, 290 pound defensive end on the roster.

Forget that.

He's down to 275 and he's looking good.

"We want to take a good, long look at this project because there's something there that's different than some of the other guys at the position," Sparano said. "We want to see if this can be a possibility."

Sparano said Alama-Francis's mobility is the most intriguing thing about him.

"Bill Sheridan jammed this down my throat, to watch him move in some of the drills and some of the things we were doing, for the size ... his movements remind you of a big strong linebacker like that," Sparano said. "He's not a finished project by any stretch of the imagination but he really works at it. He's a [conscientous] kid."

A wee-bit of info on Pat White

Sparano shot down one media outlet's reporting that fourth-string QB Pat White is A) Missing training camp, B) Could miss the entire season, C) Is on the non-football illness list.

A club source tells me the Dolphins were concerned White might have to deal with an illness the source would not reveal. But the source insists the Dolphins never considered White would be out any significant length of time.

And Sparano confirmed that.

"Pat was just dealing with and we were dealing with some personal health issues that we wanted to get checked out and we did," the coach said. "We're all satisfied and we got him back on the field today. Everything's good and he's ready to go."

Does the issue have lingering effects?

"No, I wouldn't say so," Sparano said.

Did the Dolphins at any time have concerns about White being at training camp?

"No," Sparano insisted.

As for defensive back Evan Oglesby, who does have a non-football illness, the prognosis is apparently good.

"He's sick. He's getting much better," Sparano said. "We're kind of waiting and he should be fine any day now."

What's happening at Dolphins camp this hour

Off the top, I will tell you Pat White is practiced today. You knew that would happen this morning if you saw the previous post on this blog posted before the Dolphins hit the field.

Pat white That is all the Herald needs to say about that at this time.

The second day of practice is underway here in Davie, FL with morning work going approximately two hours. the highlight?

The slapfight defensive end Tony McDaniel and guard Richie Incognito got into during one-on-one pass protection drills.

It began when McDaniel popped Incognito on the shoulder pads just after the whistle sounded, signaling both men to stop. Incognito, known for his often fiery, sometimes uncontrollable temper, then slapped at McDaniel's shoulder pads once.

And then took a swipe that connected at his teammates helmet.

The two walked away on their own.

On the next repetition against one another, the two got into it again and it became a bit more heated as they locked up. It took teammates to separate them this time. It's hot out here, folks. Tempers flare.

I noticed rookie Jared Odrick have his way on one pass rush against Cory Procter in one-on-one pass pro. Randy Starks broke down Jake Grove on another matchup. Grove, by the way, shared first-team snaps with Joe Berger at center today.

Rookie John Jerry, meanwhile, whiffed on an attempt to stop McDaniel during another pass pro repetition.

It must be said that after Brandon Marshall dominated practice Friday, he was somewhat quiet today. No big plays of note.

I watched punt and kick return drills and can report the Dolphins are obviously having tryouts for their punt and kick return jobs.

On punt returns, the candidates getting the opportunity are Davone Bess, Brian Hartline and Ryan Grice-Mullen.

The kick return job is open to a bigger cast of possibilities. Patrick Cobbs, Kory Sheets, Bess, Hartline, Grice-Mullen, Tristan Davis, Marlon Moore and Julius Pruitt.

Coach Tony Sparano is scheduled to speak abt 12:30. Check back.

Big deal? Pat White will practice today

There was much speculation about why Pat White missed the first day of training camp Friday. There are reports he will miss the entire season.

Perhaps.

But I'm told he is expected to work today, even if on a limited basis.

So we'll see about that.

White was one of two players absent from work on Friday. I have no report on whether Evan Oglesby will be on the field today.

Check back after practice for my update here. And follow me on twitter for real-time updates from the field. 

July 30, 2010

First day of camp over, bring on Day Two!

I have the highest respect for Ronnie Brown. He works hard. Practices hard. Plays hard. He's always smiling and rarely, if ever, complains.

So when Brown's sixth NFL training camp opened Friday, it was not surprising to see him at pretty much full health, running with the first-team and triggering the Wildcat Package. Yes, the Dolphins showed the folks in the stands a couple of Wildcat plays with Brown taking the snap and one of them was, mark this down NFL, a pass.

Brown, who missed the end of last season with a foot fracture, seems fine.

"I didn't think about the foot at all," he said after practice. "I was thinking more about the sun."

Despite all Brown's desirable traits, the Dolphins are not exactly rushing to make sure their running back is on the team long-term. Understandably so.

Brown, you see, has been injured four of his previous five seasons. That is bad news for any running back. So the Dolphins have been reluctant to give him a new big-money contract because they are simply protecting their interests.

So Brown will play the 2010 season under a one-year restricted tender offer he has signed.

Some players elsewhere are angry about such treatment. Shawne Merriman comes to mind in San Diego. Brown?

“I think all that stuff will take care of itself," Brown said after practice, that perpetual smile on his face.

Is it a distraction to you, Brown is asked?

"Not at all," he responded quickly.

The beauty of Brown is he understands business and differentiates between the Dolphins making a correct business decision and making this a personal matter. Moreover, even if Brown were somehow upset by the fact he's basically being rented this season, he probably wouldn't share that displeasure because it doesn't serve the team.

I told you there's reasons I respect this guy.

The Brown situation bears watching because the Dolphins are taking a calculated risk. If Brown has a mega-season -- say 1,400 yards -- the team is either going to have to pay Brown through the nose for a new deal or watch somebody else do it.

If Brown somehow gets injured again or doesn't blow up with a great season, the team's calculations will have proven correct.

Ironic, isn't it? The Dolphins would lose financially if Brown stays healthy and plays great while they would look like excellent stewards of the payroll if he doesn't.

My thoughts:

There is much to report on. Go here for my words off of practice and interviews. I cover a little Brian Hartline, Cameron Wake, Tony Sparano, rookies Koa Misi, Jared Odrick and John Jerry. Follow me so that you get the updates in real time, even to your phone if you select that option.

Meanwhile, as you know I double-dip as a columnist as well as blogger for the Miami Herald. It doubles my salary to match what captains of industry would make if they were, say, flipping fries at Burger King. In today's Herald my column reminds everyone that when the Dolphins open camp "it's football season", regardless of how many stars the Heat sign. The column also shows you exactly how confident Cameron Wake is that he can make you forget about Jason Taylor.   

The science lab:

Let me now tell you a little something about the offensive line: Coach Tony Sparano is like a mad scientist with those guys and the practice field is his chemistry lab. He likes to mix and match. He experiments. He prods the mental and emotional state of the players. There is only one player I have not seen Sparano do this with on the offensive line.

Jake Long.

Everyone else is fair game. So unlike other media types, I didn't get my briefs in a bunch when I saw Nate Garner playing right tackle. I am not ready to pronounce Richie Incognito a failure because he's not starting at right guard. I'm not ready to anoint John Jerry the starter because he was working with the first-team at right guard. And Cory Procter may be a great find in free agency, but I'll believe he's the starting left guard when I see it in the first regular-season game.

Fact is, I would not be surprised if guys get reshuffled as early as today's two practices but no later than sometime next week.

Even Garner, who last week talked to me about vying for a starting guard job, wasn't ready to call himself a fulltime tackle Friday.

“It’s not really a curve ball," he told me. "I kind of expected it because that’s where I played all of last [training camp] and it progressed to where I went to play guard. So it might end up doing the same thing this year. You never know. It’s all up to them."

It is up to them. Don't let it take you by surprise because you've been warned the offensive line is a big experiment right now.

Anthony Fasano update:

Tight end Anthony Fasano on Friday talked to the media for the first time since last season. He declined to speak during the offseason because he was not under contract, although he was practicing after signing a waiver.

Fasano was not thrilled about having his path to unrestricted free agency detoured by the change in rules following the owners' vote to make 2010 an uncapped year. So he decided talking was not a great idea.

"I hope you guys didn't take that personally," Fasano said sheepishly after practice.

Me? I don't give a rat's ... But it is always better when players share their thoughts. It only helps them because it makes me, you, fans everywhere, understand where they're coming from and identify with them better.

Personally, I'm hoping Fasano identifies more with being a better tight end in 2010. The Dolphins can seriously use a better threat down the middle of the field than they've had recently. And the big Notre Dame guy can also stand to improve some of his blocking skills.

The good news is he gets it.

"I need to improve – in the run game, in the pass blocking game and in the pass receiving game," Fasano said. "I think I’ll have some different opportunities this year and I have to make the most of them, no matter what my role turns out to be in the offense this year. I have to come through."

Of course, coming through will help Fasano on the contract front.

Second team defense:

These were the guys working second-team defense uring the team period, which is the period in which the full-team period and not the situational package period. (Some guys get confused and report different units):

CB: Will Allen

CB: Jason Allen

WOLB: Charlie Anderson

SOLB: Ikaika Alama-Francis

DE: Tony McDaniel

NT: Paul Soliai

DE: Marques Douglas

FS: Reshad Jones

SS: Tyrone Culver

The Dolphins will practice at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday. I will be at both because, dangit, I work for a living. So check the live updates on my twitter. Are you getting the drift it will get you some good information faster? 

First press conference of the season is in the books

Dolphins coach Tony Sparano just finished his first press conference of the season, a productive session with some news nuggets. Here they are:

Media guide
*Sparano said every player on the team passed their conditioning test and it seems the injury questions that plagued in the offseason are mostly resolved. [Update: Two players did not practice today. Pat White and Evan Oglesby were not at practice. Sparano had said a couple of players might miss the work today due but wasn't specific. The coach refused to discuss White missing the work. And seriously, how important is this? the guy is the fourth string QB? I'm not all that moved by his absence one way or another.]

*As I reported last week, Brandon Marshall and Ronnie Brown are "ready to go," Sparano confirmed. Both will practice today at 2 p.m.

*Wide receiver Patrick Turner (unspecified injury) is 100 percent and will be working after missing all of the offseason camps and OTA sessions. Nate Garner (foot) is practicing. Obviously Phillip Merling is out, but we already knew that.

*Quarterback Chad Pennington is healthy, according to Sparano, and ready to compete "for the backup job." Pennington missed most of last season following shoulder surgery.

*Sparano said the issue with wide receiver Brian Hartline's abandoned truck on I-75 incident has been resolved. Hartline, the coach said, was cited, he paid the cititation and the case is closed. The Herald is seeking confirmation of that from the Florida Highway Patrol. [Update: Confirmed. Hartline said, "It was a silly situation and we took care of it. I'm just ready to play football. I'm glad it's over with."

*Sparano said he's lost 55 pounds since the end of last season. He looked trim, with no belly pooch.

Tiny Sparano!

*The Dolphins today waived guards Ray Feinga and Dimitri Tsoumpas and announced the signing of Jared Odrick, Koa Misi and Charles Grant -- players you knew were signed days ago.

*The coach talked about what he wants to see out of his revived and revamped defense this year. "I want to see the defense turn people over," he said, referring to his desire for turnovers.

*Sparano said the club will keep defensive end on the active roster for now. But we know Merling is out of the year and I reported in the previous post his Achilles' tendon injury is serious and he will either go on Injured Reserve or the Non-Football Injury list. The Dolphins are also expected to cut Merling's salary, based on the fact they can and he suffered his injury away from the team.

Players (reported Thurs.) hit field today!

Miami Dolphins players reported to the team Thursday. They got poked and prodded by the medical staff. They got their locker stalls, their hotel rooms and their playbooks -- like the one pictured belonging to running back Kory Sheets which he posted on his twitter page.

Dolphins offensive playbook Today, the players hit the field for the first time this training camp with a 2 p.m. practice. The event is open to the public if you are in South Florida and the price is as good as it gets: FREE!

One player who will not be on the field is defensive end Phillip Merling. We learned last week Merling wrecked an Achilles' tendon while jogging on his own. So today he will either go on the injured reserve list or the non-football injury list.

Either way, he's done for the season. But if the Dolphins elect to place him on the non-football injury list it will uncover their intention not to pay Merling his $600,000 salary because the injury did not occur on their watch, in their facility, or during any team sponsored workout or event.

The fact is some players have wondered privately where Merling spent part of the offseason because he definitely wasn't at the training facility often enough for them to see him.

The possibility Merling wouldn't get paid his scheduled salary this year was first speculated by profootballtalk.com. The Dolphins expect to work out an agreement with Merling and his agent Jimmy Sexton that will still keep the player comfortable financially but not to the extent he would have been if he was, you know, actually contributing this year.

In today's paper, I wrote my column about how the Dolphins are a playoff-caliber team in many people's eyes (including my own). But they are practically overrun with question marks. So the Dolphins have tons of question but also tons of hope.

Anway, the piece tells you what some of those myriad questions are and gives you some of the answers, which bring hope for a fine season ahead. So please check it out.

Follow me on twitter. I'll be sharing the action from camp with you there. And check back here throughout the day for a more expanded view of the news, with analysis, opinion, and as always, your comments about donkeys and other things you people come up with. 

July 29, 2010

... And Koa Misi contract also done

Less than an hour after first-round pick Jared Odrick signed a five-year deal with the Miami Dolphins, the club has agreed to terms with second-round pick Koa Misi, according to the Herald's Jeff Darlington.

Details of the contract are not yet available but will come in soon.

As was reported on this blog this morning, the Misi deal has been close for several days -- close enough that there seemed to be an agreement in place earlier this week.

If Misi's deal is structured as expected, it should be a four-year deal with approximately $2.7 million in guaranteed money.

Misi is expected to compete for a starting OLB job, along with Charlie Anderson, Cameron Wake, Quentin Moses and others.

This agreement means all the Dolphins draft picks have agreed to contract terms or have signed.

Follow me on twitter. Follow Darlington on twitter. Follow David Neal on twitter.   

Odrick agrees to terms [with contract value]

Jared Odrick and the Dolphins have agreed to terms on a multi-year contract, according to a league source and the defensive end will be available when the team hits the field for the first practice Friday afternoon.

Contract details are not yet available but should come in soon.

This isn't rocket science. If the deal is structured like others around the slot -- Odrick was selected No. 28 overall in the first round -- it will be a five-year deal. Every pick signed so far in the first round has gotten a five-year deal.

[UPDATE: The deal is worth a maximum of $13,071,939 with $7,133,875 of that guaranteed, according to league source.]

The agreement is good news for the team, player and agents Drew Rosenhaus and Jason Rosenhaus.

The Dolphins need Odrick in camp because they want to maximize his chances of starting, particularly following the loss of Phillip Merling to season-ending Achilles' injury recently.

Odrick obviously is happy because he's got his contract and he won't miss any work.

Rosenhaus wins because he continues his reputation for dealing successfully with the Dolphins. That obviously could help him add more clients in the future.

Second-round pick Koa Misi is now the lone Dolphins draft pick not yet signed or agreed. The club and Misi's agent almost had a deal a few days ago but details kept that from happening.

Follow me on twitter.

Do not sweat the Misi and Odrick contract talks

Jared Odrick and Koa Misi will be signed by the Miami Dolphins. I guarantee you this will happen. So why are you all wondering, some of you even sweating, whether it is getting done or not.

The Dolphins will begin practice Friday and chances are good both players will be on the field or at least in the fold. Both have offers on the table.

Odrick has a couple of offers in that he can pick one of either pact, whichever suits him best, and either gets him to relatively fair number within the slot he occupies. His agent Drew Rosenhaus and the Dolphins negotiators haven't been talking everyday lately but will talk later today or tomorrow morning. Misi, so close to a deal on at least one occassion earlier this week, is still working on language and details and crossing every "i" and dotting every "t." (Yeah, that was supposed to be funny.)

So both of these guys will probably get done by Friday afternoon. And if not, they'll get signed sometime over the weekend. Or they'll probably get done next week.

I do not foresee a protracted, clumsy, uncomfortable, heated holdout for either of these guys.

So chill.

Yes, fans find it hard to relax about these things because they want to pound their chest and feel at ease over the fact their two most prized rookies are in camp and won't miss even one second of a meeting or a practice.

And don't get me wrong, it is important that these guys don't delay the inevitable.

But with Odrick we're talking about the 28th overall selection, for God's sake. We're not talking a Jake Long contract here. The 27th overall selection -- New England's Devin McCourty -- signed a five-year, $10 million deal that can be worth a maximum of $13 million. The deal includes $7.825 million guaranteed.

So, basically, Odrick should get a five-year deal with approximately $7.8 million guaranteed.

It will get done! Sure, there is pressure on the Dolphins to get Odrick signed because they lost Phillip Merling, and the legion of replacements they've been signing lately are just bridge players to get them over an unexpected hump.

But, you know what? There is also pressure on agent Drew Rosenhaus to get Odrick in camp. Rosenhaus is local and he values the way his dealings with the Dolphins are portrayed in the media because players read those accounts. A holdout is bad business for the agent as well as the team.

So it benefits both sides to get this thing done.

Misi should be signed already. It boggles the mind he is not. Fact is, as stated above the two sides seemed agreed to a deal earlier this week only to encounter last-minute wording issues. The money part shouldn't be the main concern here.

Misi, a second-round pick, was the 40th player selected. Players selected at No. 39 (Arrelious Benn) and at No. 41 (Torrell Troup) both are signed.

Misi will sign a four-year deal that will pay him between $4.5-$4.8 million overall with the guaranteed money coming in around $2.7 million.

I predict Misi will be done by the time the Dolphins get on the field tomorrow. And if not, don't sweat it. It will get done.

Both contracts will get done!

Follow me on twitter.

July 28, 2010

Dolphins to sign Charles Grant Thursday

Searching to further protect themselves following the unexpected loss of Phillip Merling to a season-ending Achilles' injury, the Dolphins today will announce the addition of defensive end Charles Grant to the roster.

According to a source, the deal is for two years.

Grant Grant, 31, is 6-3 and 295 pounds. He has played in the 4-3 system all his life, but he is obviously big enough to project as a 3-4 end. He was available after being released by the Saints in March, possibly because he had legal troubles hanging over his head.

Grant, you see, was indicted on charges of involuntary manslaughter stemming from a February 2008 altercation in a bar -- what else? -- in which a pregnant woman was shot to death. Grant initially denied being an instigator or a participant in the incident.

But that changed when the issue went to court. He pleaded no contest to affray, which means fighting. Assistant District Attorney Ron Smith told the Associated Press Grant was fined $1,000 and ordered to pay $20,000 restitution to the Early County Sheriff's Office for his role in the fight.  Grant, who is from Colquitt, Ga., was stabbed in the neck during the fight in nearby Blakely that resulted in the death of 23-year-old Korynda Reed.

Smith said Grant's longtime friend, Laquient Macklin, and Grant's cousin, Marshae Stromer, pleaded guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter and affray and paid $1,000 fines and were put on two years probation.

Grant played all of last season but missed the Saints' run to the Super Bowl crown because he was placed on injured reserve for the playoffs with a torn triceps.

Grant, a first round pick of the Saints in 2002, was due to be suspende for testing positive for a diuretic. But the NFL delayed the suspension pending the outcome of litigation by other players accused of testing positive for the same diuretic. It is likely Grant could be scrutinized and face league action in connection to the nightclub death as part of the NFL's personal conduct policy.

Look, folks, this player has shown talent in the past. He's still relatively young. But let's face it: He is coming to the Dolphins as a camp body with much, much, much to prove and major clouds hanging over his head.

Dolphins in great QB shape behind Henne

Everyone is saying and writing that the Dolphins chances of being a playoff contender depend on how well quarterback Chad Henne develops in his third NFL season. Duh. That is an easy column for journalists with little imagination.

The fact of the matter is Miami's playoff chances are not necessarily dependent solely on whether Henne becomes the finest quarterback in franchise history -- as owner Stephen Ross said earlier this offseason he hopes will happen.

Sure, everyone is hoping Henne is the real deal after he delivered 12 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions in his first season as a starter in 2009. But frankly, the Dolphins have fallback positions they can resort to if Henne is ...

A. Only mediocre.

B. Terrible.

C. Injured.

If Henne is not the next coming of Dan Marino, the Dolphins can and still throw the ball and expect relative success because receiver Brandon Marshall is a Top 5 wide receiver who has authored three consecutive 100-catch, 1,000-plus-yards seasons -- all while catching from Kyle Orton and Jay Cutler, two quarterbacks with mediocre reputations.

The Dolphins can and will also rely heavily on their running game, which is still their bread and butter and still among the better ones in the NFL as their No 4 overall ranking from a year ago proves.

So the Dolphins have reasonable expectations for some success even if Henne is only mediocre.

Well, what about if he's terrible or injured?

In both cases, he would be out of the lineup. And while not having Henne under center would be a blow to the grand expectations everyone has placed on him, it wouldn't necessarily be a catastrophic blow to Miami's playoff chances.

The reason the Dolphins could survive without Henne is because they have Chad Pennington. And the chart below strongly suggests Pennington is the NFL's best backup quarterback option.

Think about that.

While everyone in New Orleans, Indianapolis, San Diego, New England, and Houston can count on continued excellence from their starting quarterbacks, they can count on nothing if those quarterbacks aren't around. Those loss of their starting quarterbacks to injury (sorry, but it does happen) would be a train wreck for those teams.

I mean, seriously. Are the Colts a playoff team with Curtis Painter under center? Are the Saints that dangerous with Chase Daniel at quarterback? Are the Patriots even a six-win team with Brian Hoyer replacing Tom Brady?

No.

The Dolphins, meanwhile, are a playoff contender with Chad Henne as their starter. And they're a playoff contender with Chad Pennington as their starter. I'm not saying Pennington has the same ceiling as Henne. I'm saying the last time Pennington was Miami's starter for an entire season, the Dolphins went to the playoffs.

Way I see this list, the next best backup quarterback situation behind Miami is enjoyed by Dallas because they have Jon Kitna behind Tony Romo. Kitna has never been a star. But he has been to the playoffs as a starter and has had some NFL success.

So thinking the Dolphins universe must and will revolve around make-or-break exploits by Henne is simple-minded. It's also wrong.

2010 NFL QUARTERBACKS                                      
Quarterback,  College, 2010 NFL Experience (years)  

ARIZONA
Derek Anderson, Oregon State, 6
Max Hall, BYU, R
Matt Leinart, Southern California, 5
John Skelton, Fordham, R

ATLANTA
Chris Redman, Louisville, 8
Matt Ryan, Boston College, 3
John Parker Wilson, Alabama, 2

BALTIMORE
John Beck, BYU, 4
Marc Bulger, West Virginia, 10
Joe Flacco, Delaware, 3
Troy Smith, Ohio State, 4

BUFFALO
Brian Brohm, Louisville, 3
Levi Brown, Troy, R
Trent Edwards, Stanford, 4
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Harvard, 5

CAROLINA
Hunter Cantwell, Louisville, 1
Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame, R
Matt Moore, Oregon State, 4
Tony Pike, Cincinnati, R

CHICAGO
Jay Cutler, Vanderbilt, 5
Caleb Hanie, Colorado State, 3
Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan, R

CINCINNATI
J.T. O’Sullivan, California-Davis, 8
Carson Palmer, Southern California, 8
Jordan Palmer, Texas El-Paso, 3

CLEVELAND
Jake Delhomme, Louisiana-Lafayette, 12
Colt McCoy, Texas, R
Brett Ratliff, Utah, 3
Seneca Wallace, Iowa State, 8

DALLAS
Jon Kitna, Central Washington, 14
Stephen McGee, Texas A&M, 2
Matt Nichols, Eastern Washington, R
Tony Romo, Eastern Illinois, 8

DENVER
Kyle Orton, Purdue, 6
Brady Quinn, Notre Dame, 4
Tim Tebow, Florida, R

DETROIT
Shaun Hill, Maryland, 9
Matthew Stafford, Georgia, 2
Drew Stanton, Michigan State, 4

GREEN BAY
Matt Flynn, Louisiana State, 3
Graham Harrell, Texas Tech, 1
Aaron Rodgers, California, 6

HOUSTON
John David Booty, Southern California, 1
Dan Orlovsky, Connecticut, 6
Matt Schaub, Virginia, 7

INDIANAPOLIS
Tom Brandstater, Fresno State, 2
Tim Hiller, Western Michigan, R
Peyton Manning, Tennessee, 13
Curtis Painter, Purdue, 2

JACKSONVILLE

David Garrard, East Carolina, 9
Trevor Harris, Edinboro, R
Luke McCown, Louisiana Tech, 7

KANSAS CITY
Matt Cassel, Southern California, 6
Brodie Croyle, Alabama, 5
Tyler Palko, Pittsburgh, 1

MIAMI
Chad Henne, Michigan, 3
Chad Pennington, Marshall, 11
Tyler Thigpen, Coastal Carolina, 4
Pat White, West Virginia, 2

MINNESOTA
Brett Favre, Southern Mississippi, 20
Tarvaris Jackson, Alabama State, 5
Sage Rosenfels, Iowa State, 10
Joe Webb, Alabama-Birmingham, R

NEW ENGLAND
Tom Brady, Michigan, 11
Brian Hoyer, Michigan State, 2
Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State, R

NEW ORLEANS
Drew Brees, Purdue, 10
Sean Canfield, Oregon State, R
Chase Daniel, Missouri, 2

NEW YORK GIANTS
Rhett Bomar, Sam Houston State, 2
Eli Manning, Mississippi, 7
Jim Sorgi, Wisconsin, 7

NEW YORK JETS
Erik Ainge, Tennessee, 3
Kellen Clemens, Oregon, 5
Kevin O’Connell, San Diego State, 3
Mark Sanchez, Southern California, 2

OAKLAND
Kyle Boller, California, 8
Jason Campbell, Auburn, 6
Charlie Frye, Akron, 6
Bruce Gradkowski, Toledo, 5

PHILADELPHIA
Mike Kafka, Northwestern, R
Kevin Kolb, Houston, 4
Michael Vick, Virginia Tech, 9

PITTSBURGH
Charlie Batch, Eastern Michigan, 13
Dennis Dixon, Oregon, 3
Byron Leftwich, Marshall, 8
Ben Roethlisberger, Miami (OH), 7

ST. LOUIS
Sam Bradford, Oklahoma, R
A.J. Feeley, Oregon, 10
Thaddeus Lewis, Duke, R
Keith Null, West Texas A&M, 2

SAN DIEGO
Jonathan Crompton, Tennessee, R
Philip Rivers, North Carolina State, 7
Billy Volek, Fresno State, 11

SAN FRANCISCO
Jarrett Brown, West Virginia, R
David Carr, Fresno State, 9
Nate Davis, Ball State, 2
Alex Smith, Utah, 6

SEATTLE
Matt Hasselbeck, Boston College, 12
J.P. Losman, Tulane, 7
Charlie Whitehurst, Clemson, 5

TAMPA BAY
Rudy Carpenter, Arizona State, 2
Josh Freeman, Kansas State, 2
Josh Johnson, San Diego, 3
Jevan Snead, Mississippi, R

TENNESSEE
Kerry Collins, Penn State, 16
Chris Simms, Texas, 8
Rusty Smith, Florida Atlantic, R
Vince Young, Texas, 5

WASHINGTON
Richard Bartel, Tarleton State, 2
Colt Brennan, Hawaii, 3
Rex Grossman, Florida, 8
Donovan McNabb, Syracuse, 12
   

Sun Life promises to correct health inspection deficiencies

A quick non-football field related post before things heat up on the field in the coming days. Don't complain, this one has to do with the bugs in your frozen drinks at Sun Life Stadium.

ESPN's Outside the Lines obtained the health department inspection records of 107 NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB stadiums and arenas for 2009 and ... Sun Life Stadium was the absolute worst in the NFL with 93 percent of vendors having been judged with a critical violation during inspections.

"In June 2009 [which would be Marlins season], an employee complained anonymously that small insects and other debris were blended into frozen alcoholic beverages at a stand where equipment wasn't being cleaned," one inspection report excerpt for Sun Life reads. "When inspectors checked, they issued a critical violation for a buildup of slime inside the frozen drinks machine."

The Dolphins directed questions to their corporate partners at Sun Life. Both are owned by Stephen Ross.

"It is important to note that the stadium has passed every health and safety inspection." Sun Life Senior Vice President of Operations Todd Boyan said in a statement Tuesday. "In fact, because the State of Florida is more strict than most states and demands more detailed and frequent testing, the stadium and its concessionaire are required to be more publicly diligent in meeting safety requirements. Any past inspection infraction has been corrected and we expect our concessionaire to meet every health and safety recommendation made by the appropriate local and state inspectors. Nothing is more important to us than the health, safety, and entertainment experience at Sun Life Stadium."

Notice this statement does not refute the Outside the Lines report. Boyan is basically promising to correct the problems in the future.

"Any deficiencies that are identified during the course of an inspection are immediately corrected, usually in the presence of the inspector," reads a statement from Centerplate, the company which manages the food vendors at the stadium.

The report is sobering. It makes me wonder if the inspections also applied to the free food and drinks available to the media in the pressbox?

Might have to start tailgating.

July 27, 2010

Former guard Harry Galbreath passes at age 45

I remember the first couple of times I ever stepped into a Dolphins locker room in the early 1990s and saw Harry Galbreath. I wasn't impressed.

He was listed at 6-1. It seemed like an exaggeration to me because I would look him eye to eye. He wasn't particular muscular. He was very quiet.

Then I saw Harry Galbreath practice, and all of a sudden, my feelings on the guy changed.

He wasn't big but he was nasty. He wasn't muscular but he was country strong. That was the reason he started every game in 1990, 1991 and '92 and played five seasons with the Dolphins from 1988 to '92. The man was a blocking fire hydrant. He was an NFL All-Rookie selection in 1988.

Harry Galbreath has passed away, according the University of Tennessee Sports Information office. He was 45 years old. The cause of death has not been determined.

[Update: The cause of death is an apparent heart disease.]

Galbreath played for the Volunteers and was working at the school as an associate strength and conditioning coach. He played for the Dolphins, Green Bay and the New York Jets before retiring after the 1996 season.

After he retired, Galbreath briefly went into private business and then became of offensive line coach at Austin Peay for two years before serving five years in the same capacity at Tennessee State, then two years at Hampton. He returned to his alma mater, Tennessee, in 2007. 

RIP. 

Jets interest in T.O. feels like classic Rosenhaus

I talk to a lot of agents who hate Drew Rosenhaus. But they all recognize Rosenhaus works his tail off for his clients and there really is little he wouldn't do to get them signed with an NFL team.

I've watched and reported on Rosenhaus since 1989. So I think I know small portions of his playbook.

And I saw some of that playbook put into motion this morning when ESPN reported the New York Jets have batted around the idea of signing Terrell Owens.

Owens is unsigned, even as teams are opening their training camps. That is a big surprise to no one except Owens, who is still demanding a considerable salary in return for his 2010 services. Owens is 36 years old and no longer an elite receiver.

He doesn't have the ability to separate he once had and his hands are still only average. That combined with his reputation for being a divisive force in the locker room has obviously given many teams pause about Owens.

(By the way, if you think Owens has changed based on his age and the fact he wasn't a problem in Buffalo last year, you simply need to tune to his reality show  on VH-1 to see this is one troubled person. I only saw one episode over the weekend -- I have no life -- and in it, Owens went for psychological counseling, fought constantly with his girlfriend, showed commitment phobias, said the person he loved most in the world, his grandmother, never told him she loved him, and cried at various points in the show. Owens, by the way, was reared by his grandmother because his mom apparently didn't want to do it and his father refused to identify himself as the father to Owens despite the fact the dude lived across the street during much of Owens' childhood. I recognize it's only a show, but it pulled back the curtain on a man I felt compassion for. The show also gave me the sense I would never want Owens on my football team because he apparently has emotional issues to this day.)

But I digress.

On Monday the Cincinnati Bengals stepped up and said they have made an offer to Owens. The Bengals have made an offer and are in negotiations with Rosenhaus. But the offer is not what Owens and Rosenhaus are looking for yet.

So how does an agent get a team to raise its offer?

Find another suitor and get a bidding war going. Short of that, the next best way is to have the first team think there's a chance of losing the player. Thus, it was no surprise today when the report of Owens getting interest from another team -- the Jets -- made its way to ESPN, the nation's go-to sports media outlet.

I'm not saying Rosenhaus is among the "league sources," floating the idea the Jets might be serious about signing him. But, well, it does suit his agenda, doesn't it?

The story blares to the Bengals that they may have competition for Owens and should try to close the deal now. It effectively nullifies previous reports that such competition was dwindling, as when it was learned the Rams were not interested in Owens. And all this is happening only two days before the Bengals open training camp on Thursday.

It seems like a big push before a contract is done.

Hmmmm.

So why is this of interest to Dolphins fans?

Well, there are some out there still wishing the Fins would sign Owens. I'm told they've showed no interest in Owens despite dealing repeatedly with his agent, Rosenhaus on many matters.

There are some of you fearing Owens might end up with the division rival Jets. I have a hard time believing that will actually happen. I'm not saying it won't, I'm just saying it feels more like ploy than plan.

Follow me on twitter.

Clemons has to be much better than 2009

I know everyone who reads this blog (with the possible exception of the Jets and Pats fans) are hoping the Dolphins become a Super Bowl team.

Those same people -- you -- must also realize many things have to come together perfectly for that to be possible. One of those many things is that free safety Chris Clemons becomes a good player back there in only his second season.

The Dolphins initially tried to hire a proven, veteran free safety in the offseason, offering free agent contracts to both Ryan Clark and Antrel Rolle. Neither signed, obviously. The team also talked to the agent for O.J. Atogwe but didn't dive into the deep end of that possibility.

So Clemons is the player the Dolphins are putting their hopes on to start. The job seems his to lose when camp begins on Friday.

But according to Sam Monson and his staff at ProFootballFocus.com, hoping Clemons can respond may require a good amount of faith based on his rookie season.

Clemons got limited snaps on defense -- 89 of them to be exact -- but to quote Monson, "none make for good reading."

"He made five tackles, but only one of them was counted as a defensive 'stop' in our grades, and he missed 2 along the way," Monson writes. "

"He was thrown at seven times where he was the defender in primary coverage, resulting in 4 catches (57.1%) for 80 yards and a TD, and a QB rating of 136.9 when throwing into his coverage.

It was not, however, all Clemons' fault.

"To be fair to him," Monson added, "more than 50% of his coverage numbers are as the result of a 54-yard TD pass from Big Ben [Roethlisberger] to Mike Wallace in the Week 17 encounter on a play where Sean Smith and Nate Jones both made an instant mess out of their close coverage on Santonio Holmes and Wallace respectively, freezing Clemons out of position deep in the middle of the field trying to cover both receivers on the wrong side of their corners."

The play to which Monson refers is below. 

The Dolphins hope they don't see a repeat of that type of play in 2010.

July 26, 2010

Miami Dolphins may be cautious with some recovering players

The NFL is a go-go-go league and if you're not getting better you're getting worse. That is why young teams put so much emphasis on getting their players on the field together and working hard at the start of training camp.

But sometimes working all the players extremely hard is extremely short-sighted.

Bodies break, my friends, so look for the Dolphins to take a more cautious approach with their more precious, proven, but breakable commodities.

That means even as running back Ronnie Brown approaches 100 percent while he continues to recover from foot (lisfranc) surgery last season, the Dolphins are not expected to expose him to every single repetitition in every single practice right away.

Yes, there will be practices Brown does it all. But there will be practices he's held back a bit to mitigate the wear on him.

Receiver Brandon Marshall is scheduled to be ready for full work at the start of training camp after his hip surgery earlier this offseason. At last check he was very close to 100 percent, if not already there. He and quarterback Chad Henne need to work together and catch up on becoming a great pitch-and-catch combination.

But trainers and coach Tony Sparano may not put pedal to the metal on Marshall's work from the very first week of practice, which begins Friday. Marshall is scheduled to practice. But how much isn't exactly clear.

Good idea?

Sure, as long as the players get their work done. The Dolphins need to come out of the gates fast this year because their early season schedule -- including at Minnesota, at Green Bay, and home games against the Jets, New England and Pittsburgh -- promises to be a killer.

So Miami must be prepared to play its best football early in the season.

But Sparano and his training staff also have to weigh the idea that to play their best football, the Dolphins cannot be walking around wounded. They need players such as Brown and Marshall at 100 percent on Sept. 12 when the regular season opens.

And that could mean being more deliberate with the work those players get starting July 30. 

July 25, 2010

Garner healthy, Hartline bigger, Stanley agrees

Let's start with the news: Agent Ralph Cindrick said on his twitter account that the Dolphins have just agreed to terms with DT Montavious Stanley.

Stanley was a 4-3 defensive tackle last season with the Jaguars. He is likely going to be asked to play the nose or hybrid nose tackle spot for the Dolphins. Jason Ferguson retired suddenly a couple of weeks back and Miami is obviously looking for depth.

Stanley has played for five teams in six years, including the 2006 Dallas Cowboys when Jeff Ireland was in the personnel department there.

Late last week I followed wide receiver Brian Hartline and guard Nate Garner to a community relations reading event then spoke with both about the importance of their upcoming training camp.

I break down Hartline and Garner's chances of starting here.

It is important to note that Garner is 100 percent healthy following a foot injury that derailed his offseason. He spent the entire offseason rehabilitating the injury.

Hartline spent the offseason trying to get bigger, stronger, faster. He also had an issue with a auto accident in which his truck was found abandoned by the side of the road along Interstate 595 here in So. Fla.

Hartline declined to comment on the accident under advice of counsel.

I don't really think this issue will cause Hartline major problems. All reports are no one was injured in the accident, including Hartline. Hartline has a lawyer. The Dolphins aren't likely to discipline him severely unless he is found guilty of something serious. I don't think abandoning a vehicle -- if it can be even proven he did so -- will rise to the level of getting severely disciplined.

Remember, this isn't the first time the vehicle of a Dolphins player was found abandoned at the scene of an accident. Channing Crowder's vehicle was found abandoned at the scene of an accident in January of 2008.

Neither the NFL nor the Dolphins imposed any game-related discipline in that instance. Crowder was reportedly cited for careless driving.

This doesn't and shouldn't diminish the seriousness of leaving an accident -- if indeed that is what Hartline did. But in the universe of off-field issues the NFL weighs, it is more a moon than a supernova.

July 23, 2010

Travel show could lure Williams away from NFL

One of the stories everyone will follow in 2010 is whether running back Ricky Williams will retire after the season (as he has said he might) or will continue playing beyond this season (as he has said he might).

Well, in correcting a news story on Thursday, Williams may have given a glimpse of which way he's leaning long-term.

SportsBusinessDaily.com reported Williams is in preliminary talks to host a "reality" show for 2011. Turns out the report and the ensuing ones that simply parroted the information were wrong, according to Williams.

"I am NOT doing a reality TV show," Williams said on his twitter feed. "I am beginning discussions [for] a potential travel show."

So what does this have to do with the decision to play beyond 2010 or not?

As Williams added with another tweet, the travel show work would begin in February of 2011 after the NFL season is over.

And that means if the show gets off the ground and is a success, Williams would find himself doing something he once decided he loved more than football. Williams would essentially be doing what he did in the fall of 2004 when he retired from football and traveled around the world.

Except this time Williams would be getting paid.

The gig wouldn't preclude him from returning to his NFL work in 2011 if he wanted, but it is possible it would be another reason tugging at Williams to stay away. He would no doubt be making good money, exploring the world, and not getting trucked by 300-pound defensive linemen.

That lure could play a role in whether Williams wants to make a return to the field at age 34. Even the discussion of doing the show might be a foreshadowing that Williams is already planning other activities not football for 2011.

Or not. One never knows with Mr. Williams.

Follow me on twitter. There is a prize if you do. 

July 22, 2010

Merling out for year, Marcus Spears next?

The Miami Herald has independently confirmed that Phillip Merling is out for the season following an Achilles' injury suffered this week.

The report follows an earlier report by profootballtalk.com that Merling's offseason troubles -- that included an arrest for domestic violence on his pregnant girlfriend -- had grown with an Achilles' injury whose extent was not known.  

I have been in contact with a source saying the Dolphins may turn their attention before training camp is over to Dallas defensive end Marcus Spears, a starter who has fallen somewhat out of favor with the Cowboys and whom Bill Parcells drafted in the first round in 2005.

Although Spears finished the season with a career-high 2.5 sacks in 2009, the Cowboys former first-round pick got a lower restricted free agent tender offer than either of his backups. Spears was available in trade just prior to the draft.

The Dolphins also have Tony McDaniel, Ryan Baker, Ikaika-Alama Francis, Lionel Dotson and rookie Jared Odrick slated at defensive end.

Former Jets-Ravens-Saints-49'ers defensive end Marques Douglas might be a possibility based on his history with defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. But Douglas is 33 years old and at 6-2 and 290 does not meet the prototype size the Dolphins like in their defensive ends.

Miami Dolphins training camp sked (with question)

Here it is, hot of the presses (or whatever the cliche is in the Internat age): The Miami Dolphins training camp schedule for the segment that is open to the public.

You will see that we are approximately 8 days from the start of the festivities in the oven known as Davie, FL in July and August. The Dolphins will offer their fans 20 practices that are open to the public for the retail price of FREE.

Hopefully, you don't get what you pay for.

Obviously, these are the practices open to the public. The team simply won't stop practicing on August 19. That is simply the date after which the public can no longer attend. It is also the date the curtains are drawn on Miami's Wildcat package -- yes, the plan is to still use it -- the new defense under coordinator Mike Nolan, and other tweaks none of us are aware of yet.

So here's the question: Knowing what you do about the roster, what tweaks would you employ this season that should be kept under wraps during open practices?

Date    Morning     Afternoon

July   30   Fri. 2:00 p.m.

July   31   Sat.     9:00 a.m. 5:00 p.m.

Aug     1   Sun.    2:00 p.m.

Aug.    2   Mon.   9:00 a.m.

Aug.    3   Tues.   2:00 p.m.

Aug.    4   Wed. 9:00 a.m.

Aug.    5   Thurs.     2:00 p.m.

Aug.    6   Fri. 9:00 a.m. 5:00 p.m.

Aug.    7   Sat .    2:00 p.m.

Aug.    8   Sun.    PLAYERS OFF

Aug.    9   Mon.   9:00 a.m. 5:00 p.m.

 Aug. 10   Tues.  

Aug. 11   Wed. 9:00 a.m.

Aug. 12   Thurs.     9:00 a.m.

Aug. 13   Fri.

Aug.  14   Sat.     DOLPHINS VS. BUCCANEERS AT SUN LIFE STADIUM, 7:00 P.M. (EDT), WFOR-TV.    

Aug. 15   Sun.   PLAYERS OFF        

Aug. 16   Mon.   2:00 p.m.

Aug. 17   Tues.   9:00 a.m. 5:00 p.m.

Aug. 18   Wed. 2:00 p.m.

Aug. 19   Thurs.     9:00 a.m.

  

All practices are subject to weather conditions and subject to change