Just witnessed the most newsworthy practice of camp so far.
The Miami Dolphins coaching staff is obviously shuffling the deck a little bit today. Remember I told you in the last post coach Tony Sparano intended to add a "fly in the oinment" at center?
He did exactly that by promoting Andrew Hartline to first team while letting Jake Grove take second-team repetitions and Joe Berger work with the third team.
"Just came in this morning and coach [DeGuglielmo] said you're working with the ones today and I said, 'OK,'" Hartline said. "It's definitely an exciting thing. I'm working hard and trying to prove I can do something here. Hopefully, I showed a little something today and we'll see what the film looks like."
Sparano and Co. may be sending a message today as cornerback Sean Smith, who at times has failed to look like even the player who started every game last year, was bounced to second-team status during some team periods. Jason Allen took the first-team snaps while Smith waited to enter the work with his second-team mates.
I'm not saying Smith has lost his job here. And I'm certainly not saying Jason Allen has a chance to start. The fact of the matter is Jason Allen was probably in there because Will Allen did not practice because he's being rested. Jason Allen also hasn't been exceedingly impressive in coverage, either.
But Smith has seemed uninspired at times this training camp. Brandon Marshall has beaten him several notable times and even today he came out on the short end of several passes. Roberto Wallace beat him for a TD in the corner of the end zone on what was essentially a jump ball from Pat White. And Patrick Turner outmuscled him on a comeback route from Chad Pennington.
After the completion to Turner, Smith's frustration showed. He pounded the turf with his fist.
Several players sat out practice today. Aside from Will Allen, receiver Brandon Marshall and running back Patrick Cobbs were held out so they could rest, according to a team spokesman. Ryan Grice-Mullen continues to miss practice with his leg issue. Linebacker Austin Spitler also wasn't working.
You are obviously aware of Allen's history since being taken in the first-round of the 2006 draft but you may not know much about Hartline, who came to the team as an undrafted free agent in 2009. He spent much of the year on the practice squad.
Having played at Central Michigan where they run the spread offense, Hartline prided himself on his mobility. It is obvious watching him in drills, he can move well for a lineman. But Hartline needed to get bigger, stronger.
And so he did exactly that.
"I'm stronger," he said. "I can't tell you how gratified I am toward the strength coaches here. I came in and they gave me a workout that was just unbelievable. I put on probably five or six pounds of muscle and stayed the same body fat. They pushed me every day trying to make me better. I owe a lot of my abilities this your to them because they made me a hell of a lot stronger."
So what can Hartline potentially bring to the table? I'm not sure he's going to win the starting job. But he is definitely capable of winning some job on this team.
"I feel like I'm a pretty athletic guy," he said. "I feel like I can play multiple positions. I think I can play guard-center-guard so maybe they feel like they can take me instead of two guys. But I can't speak for them."
Hartline is letting his play speak to them apparently.