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50 posts from August 2010

August 17, 2010

Garner out at least 8 weeks; decision time along the Miami Dolphins offensive line

The Dolphins have many decisions to make along the offensive line and injuries are making those harder than usual.

On the same day coach Tony Sparano said he'd like to have his starting offensive line set by the end of Saturday's preseason game against Jacksonville, the coach also announced that guard Nate Garner has had surgery on the same foot he had surgery on in the offseason.

A source tells The Herald Garner will be out of action for at least eight weeks, meaning he will miss the start of the regular-season and may not be available until the Oct. 4 game against New England at the earliest.

Garner had been working at right tackle the first two weeks of camp but had made the expected move back to his more natural guard spot when he was injured last week.

That means the Dolphins must decide to either keep a roster spot open for the player who started eight games at left guard and right guard last season or use that spot while placing Garner on season-ending injured reserve.

The Garner injury isn't the only one along the offensive line the Dolphins are nursing. Right guard John Jerry was not able to complete practice Tuesday morning because of a right knee injury and the normally optimistic Sparano suggested the sutiation is a problem when he was asked if he is very concerned.

"No, not very concerned," he said. "I"m concerned though ... we tried to get him heated up today and he was good for a little while but then the thing just got sore on him."

Despite the injuries, Sparano wants to see the offensive line come together in time to find cohesion for the season-opener Sept. 12.

On Tuesday the first-team line was Vernon Carey at right tackle, Corey Procter at right guard, Joe Berger at center, Richie Incognito at left guard and Jake Long at left tackle.

Last week Sparano said he wanted to see one of the two centers -- Berger or Jake Grove -- begin to separate as they compete for the starting job. I asked if that is happening yet and the answer seems to be that the competition is tightening instead of becoming more clear.

"I think I've seen a little bit more separation one way or the other or the competition make itself more interesting since Jake has been back," Sparano said. "The game the other other was an average indicator with both of them, to be honest with you."

That means neither Berger nor Grove played up to potential or past performances. They have to get better.


It's not time to panic yet. But things could be better.


Running back Patrick Cobbs, and linebacker Tim Dobbins continued to practice this morning. Recreiver Greg Camarillo (groin) is getting better, according to Sparano.


The Dolphins were scheduled to practice outside in front of fans this afternoon, but instead have moved the work inside the bubble so the practice is closed to the public.

August 16, 2010

Brandon Marshall takes out frustration on football

The frustration level may be building just a little bit for some folks on the Dolphins offense -- most notably wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

After dropping what should have been a sure TD in the back of the end zone from 5 yards out during the best-on-best team period this afternoon, Marshall picked up the ball he dropped and punted it ...

... Right over the fence of the Davie, Florida practice facility.

It helped his effort that the fields were configured to run east and west today and the street he punted the ball onto runs north and south just behind the end zone. The ball traveled about 25 yards.

The Dolphins first-team offense, meanwhile, didn't move nearly that far.

To wit during the team period versus the Miami first-team defense:

First play: Chad Henne incompletion.

Second play: Ronnie Brown rushes for minus-1.

Third play: Henne overthrows Browns circling out of the backfield.

Fourth play: Ricky Williams for a five-yard rush.

Fifth play: Williams plus-4 yards on a direct snap.

Sixth play: Wildcat and Williams gains 2 off a handoff from Brown.

Seventh play: Marshall drops the Henne pass.

Unscripted: Marshall Punt.

Eighth play: Ronnie Brown no gain.

End of period.


The first team offensive line continues to take shape -- I hope. The first team today was RT Vernon Carey, RG John Jerry, C Joe Berger, LG Richie Incognito and LT Jake Long.

Sparano on weather, other subjects

Let's start with the injury update: Coach Tony Sparano said running back Patrick Cobbs and inside linebacker Tim Dobbins -- both of whom missed the Miami Dolphins preseason opener -- are expected back at practice for today's afternoon practice and work to some degree.

Sparano is aware there have been questions about whether the Dolphins should use the rainy season in South Florida to practice in the rain. The Dolphins have not practiced in the rain this season and he clearly falls on the side of folks that believe doing so raises the chances of injury.

...And by the way, his is the only opinion that really matters.

"You're in a downpour out here, A, you risk injury. B, you risk the opportunity to have an inefficient practice -- a sloppy, inefficient practice," he said. "You don't really have enough of these opportunities out here. I was telling the team today, the Buffalo game is getting closer. It isn't getting further away. In some situations you have to play in it, but you don't have to practice in it all the time. We have a bubble here so we can try to get the most effecient practices out of it. I think if the rain is one we feel it's not going to hurt the players in any way, that we're not going to get anyone injured out there, that's a different story. I think you stay out there. If not the wet-ball drills and all the things we try to do with our guys is our way of answering that." 

Sparano studied the tape of Saturday's 10-7 victory over Tampa Bay and came away convinced the Dolphins pretty much play like they practice. Frankly, what you guys saw from the first-team offense early Saturday was about what we've seen from the first-team offense in practice.

"In some situations we played a little bit like we practiced, which is a little bit up and down," Sparano said. "What we do out here on the practice field clearly correlates to the game."

Sparano called nose tackle Paul Soliai's performance, "pretty good," but as has happened in the past, he needs to find a level of consistency. "The next step where we we that consistency happen will be important," Sparano said. "But it was good to see."

I asked the coach about Patrick Turner's game. He caught two passes for 44 yards and played as much, if not more, than any wide receiver on the team.

"There were some guys that made the most of their opportunities when called on and Pat was one of the guys in the game that made the most of their opportunites," Sparano said. "I mean, he runs across the middle in the ball, catches the ball and runs with it. That was a big third-down conversion. There were a couple of things from a route discipline standpoint Pat can do a little better. That has to do with missing time in the spring. There is some catching up he's still trying to do. But he flashed at you in the game in some situations and that was really good for him and his confidence."

Another 2009 rookie who is fighting for his life to make this team is Pat White. Some folks are sort of writing him off based on the fact he only got in for afterthought snaps late Saturday night. One reporter even asked today if White is going to be switching positions soon.

"I'm not getting any closer to wanting to trying him in any place other than the one he's in right now," Sparano said. "From my end, I've seen improvement in the last week -- clear improvement in the last week -- out of Pat throwing the football. So that part of it, I have no other agenda than to try to continue to develop that player as a quarterback on our team and see him make the same kind of improvement this week that he made last week."

Sparano said Julius Pruitt, Nate Ness and Chris Clemons played well on special teams.

August 15, 2010

Dolphins must use bad weather to an advantage

It rains in South Florida. A lot.

Anyone who has lived here for any length of time knows that rainy season rolls in around the same time training camp opens up for the Miami Dolphins and the Miami Hurricanes. The rains really don't depart until late September or early October. Sometimes it stays longer.

That's why I remember standing in the rain and feeling (and smelling) like a wet dog during the days Don Shula and Jimmy Johnson were the Dolphins coaches -- because both coaches forced their teams to practice in the elements. And the media had to stand there and watch.

Shula would contend practicing in the rain would prepare his teams for dealing with the rain when it came down during the regular season. Johnson believed the practices in the rain toughened up his team.

It wasn't until Nick Saban arrived in town that the idea of practicing in the rain became unwelcome.

Saban petitioned then-owner Wayne Huizenga to build him a practice bubble to serve multiple purposes: It got the team out of the elements whenever it rained and there was lightning in the area. It gave the players a break from the oppressive heat and kept them fresher because the bubble is air conditioned. It also served as a field turf surface the team could work on during weeks it was preparing for games at stadiums with field turf surfaces.

But even Saban sometimes allowed his team to soak in the rain when thunder wasn't a worry.

This training camp is the first I can recall the Dolphins have not had one practice in a heavy downpour. Oh, it has rained in Davie during times the Dolphins were either scheduled to be on the field or at Sun Life Stadium. In fact, the night the team was to open Sun Life to a practice/scrimmage, it rained quite hard.

But the Dolphins have not used those instances to work in that heavy rain. The team has used such occassions to go in the bubble. The practice at Sun Life was canceled because of the elements.

So on Saturday night when it poured again at Sun Life at the start of the preseason game against Tampa Bay, it marked the first time this preseason the team worked outside in a heavy rain. And it showed. There were dropped passes. The team seemed out of sorts.

Tampa Bay, which played in the exact same elements, seemed more at home in the mud and goop and soggy conditions. The Bucs took a lead on the Dolphins while it was raining. The Dolphins, behind the performance of their backups, played better when the rain stopped and eventually won, 10-7.

The hope here is that next time it rains during training camp while the Dolphins are practicing or scheduled to practice, that the coaching staff use the elements as a teaching tool. Yes, it will be uncomfortable. Yes, it could get sloppy.

But it's better for the team to go through its wet-ball drills and get used to working in the unpleasant conditions now -- during training camp and the preseason -- than have to make that adjustment during a game.

Because there is no guarantee every Sunday at Sun Life will be sunny and mild in September and October.

August 14, 2010

Chad Henne: No excuses, it wasn't good enough

Some of you are disappointed with the performance of the Miami Dolphins first-team offense and defense against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Some of you will excuse the effort because it was only the first preseason game, it was raining and it can get better from here.

Chad Henne is apparently in the camp of the folks who want better, and soon.

"It was just not a good effort from our offense all around ..." the Dolphins quarterback said after tonight's 10-7 victory that was led by a rally from the backups. 

"I think every time we step out there on the field, we want to dominate. We want to win as an offense. Tonight we didn't get it done with the first team. The second team picked us up with Tyler [Thigpen] having good plays in there, other guys playing well. Every time we step on the field we have to take advantage of our opportunities and make the best of it."

I didn't like Henne's outing. He completed 5 of 11 passes for 19 yards. His QB rating was 52.5. Fact is, there was plenty not to like about Saturday night's game. 

I do like Henne's attitude. It would have been easier for Henne to take the other perspective. But he holds himself and his teammates to a high standard.

I like it.

Live blog of Dolphins-Bucs starts at 7 p.m.

The live blog of tonight's Dolphins game versus Tampa Bay starts in the comments section of this post at 7 p.m.

I watched Chad Henne roll up in his Beemer and enter the stadium earlier this afternoon and I suddenly realized I am watching the start of what could be his entrance into NFL stardom. Let's hope.

You know that dawns on me how hopeful and yet uncertain things are for the Dolphins.

Take the defense: Mike Nolan's crew tonight starts two rookies (Jared Odrick and Koa Misi), two first-time starters (Cameron Wake and Chris Clemons),two second-year starters (Sean Smith and Vontae Davis),  a player in a new position (Randy Starks), and a player on a new team (Karlos Dansby).

The Dolphins defense is the definition of brand new, untested and a package full of surprises.

On offense tonight I will be keeping my eye on the offensive line. I want to see this group start to come together. Amazingly, this is the third year of the Bill Parcells-Jeff Ireland-Tony Sparano plan in which they began to build from the interior out.

And they're still building.

Anyway, tonight's game is on NFL Network for satellite subscribers. It is on CBS-4 if you are in South Florida. You can otherwise catch it here online. And of course, I would appreciate if you join me during the live blog. 

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Dolphins primer to the Bucs preseason game

You get to watch the Dolphins in a game for the first time tonight since last January 3rd. Can you believe it?

For those of you outside of South Florida with satellite on your TV, the game will be on the NFL Network at 7 p.m. For those of you in South Florida, the game is on CBS-4. For all of you, there will be a live blog that includes you and me right here starting at 7 p.m. I'll put up the post for it when I arrive at Sun Life Stadium.

The Bucs do not come to town with a full squad. Tight end Kellen Winslow (knee), cornerback Aqib Talib (personal), cornerback Myron Lewis (hamstring), running back Clifton Smith (hamstring), defensive tackle Brian Price (hamstring) and safety De'von Hall (undisclosed injury) did not travel with the team.

Many of you have read my opinions and reports about who is impressing and depressing the first two weeks of training camp. Let me give you a different take from faithful Dolphins in Depth reader Greg Z.

"After watching every practice for two weeks we came away impressed with all the new guys. They looked fresh and hungry especially Jared Odrick, Koa Misi, Karlos Dansby, Tim Dobbins, Richie Incognito, Brandon Marshall, Nolan Carroll, Tyler Thigpen, Roberto Wallace, John Jerry etc.

"Sean Smith looked lost at times and hasn't proven himself as a corner. He doesn't get low enough to change direction. Jason Allen was suprisingly good in practice as a corner. I was disappointed in the O-Line and also Chad Henne in particular. Henne just doesn't look comfortable (very stiff) and doesn't "feel" or sense pressure when the D is coming. [He throws] too many checkdowns when there were open receivers downfield. I don't understand why Henne was annointed before winning the job.

"Tyler Thigpen looked better to a lot of fans and he directed second team players. I'm sure everyone has a different take on what they saw. Thats my two cents."


I would agree with practically everything Greg Z said except on Henne, Thigpen and Smith.

I believe Smith did indeed seem out of sort early in camp, but he has gotten better of late. I was of the opinion he would be pushed for the starting job by Will Allen but that is now not going to happen because Allen is gone for the preseason after another knee surgery.

It is true, Henne doesn't get the ball out as quickly as he needs. He doesn't seem comfortable at times. But thrown the checkdown is something coaches want him to do. And he, too, has looked better in drills lately as training camp has worn on.

Thigpen? He is what he is, in my opinion. He is feast or famine and no consistency at all. He can be amazing one minute, terrible the next. He can thread the needle on a dig route one down and overthrow a nine route by 10 yards on the next down. It is what he has always been. I think it is what he will always be.

That's my two cents. See you at the live blog tonight.

August 13, 2010

Preseason G1 player to watch: Roberto Wallace

The Dolphins open their preseason Saturday with a home game versus the Tampa Bay Bucs. During the next four weeks, I'll preview the game one day out by shining the spotlight on one player you must keep your eye on because, well, he's impressed me and has a chance to, as Jimmy Johnson once said, be special.

Today we shine that spotlight on wide receiver Roberto Wallace.

Wallace is an undrafted free agent out of San Diego State. So he is, by definition, a long shot on a Miami team that already seems to have roster spots reserved for Brandon Marshall, Brian Hartline, Davone Bess, and Greg Camarillo.

Wallace is locked in a battle for a spot with guys such as Patrick Turner, Julius Pruitt, Marlon Moore, and Ryan Grice-Mullen.

But he has caught my eye because he brings a combination of size and deep-play ability that isn't common among receivers. Wallace is listed at 6-1 and 195 pounds on page 266 of the Miami Dolphins media guide.

That is simply not correct.

He is every bit as big as Marshall and Turner, at 6-4 and 225 pounds. But unlike Turner, I've seen Wallace flash deep-play ability. He showed it in a practice the first week when he caught a 40-plus-yard TD pass versus Sean Smith. And I saw it during a recent evening practice in the Nick Saban Memorial Bubble (NSMB) when he beat Jason Allen deep down the left sideline.

I spoke to a Dolphins personnel man about Wallace and asked how it was that he wasn't drafted? I wanted to know what the problem was with him that no one spent even a seventh-round pick on a receiver with such impressive size and ability to flash (at least occassionally).

"His production was his main issue," the personnel man told me.

Seems throughout Wallace's senior season, the team's scouts simply weren't too impressed because the kids simply wasn't catching passes.

"Everyone had undrafted free agent grades on him early in the year but as the year went on the grades on him started to climb," the personnel man told me.

Wallace caught only 36 passes for 463 yards in 11 games for the Aztecs his senior year. That was third on the team in receptions. So he clearly wasn't the quarterback's favorite target. But the personnel man told me the San Diego State QB last year, Ryan Lindley, struggled early on and really didn't in tune with Wallace until later in the season.

Sure enough, Wallace averaged only 2.4 catches per game the first five outings of the year. He averaged 3.4 catches per game the final seven games of the year, and his outing in the season-finale against UNLV opened eyes. 

In that game the Aztecs actually made an attempt to get Wallace the ball and he caught eight passes for 108 yards. I'm also told the fact that Vincent Brown did not play the final five games of the year was another reason Wallace was given the opportunity to step up and perform.

And he did.

Wallace started playing football later in life. He was born in Panama City, Panama and didn't play football until his junior year in high school after moving to Oceanside, Calif. So he's still learning the game, especially route running techniques.

I cannot predict Wallace will make the Dolphins. Yes, he has prototypical size. Yes, he moves well enough. But he has much to learn and the inconsistencies still exist. But he bears watching. Like I said, he flashes.

If he does it often enough starting with Saturday's game against Tampa Bay, he could earn himself a practice squad spot. And maybe I'm being conservative.  

August 12, 2010

Brandon Marshall says NBA talk is serious

Earlier today the Dolphins made Brandon Marshall available to ESPN because, well, the team takes care of the World Wide Leader and they come with a bus. And Marshall told the network's Adam Schefter that if there is a lockout during 2011, he would spend his time playing basketball.

In the NBA.

Just moments ago, after the Dolphins completed their afternoon practice, Marshall was asked by non-bus-riding media if he's serious.

"Oh absolutely. Why not?" he said. "It's either going to be Denver Nuggets-- try to get a work out with them. And of course, I'll try to get a workout with the [Miami] Heat. I think the better option might be the Heat. Of course, those high salaries, I'll come in and play minimum. Just minimum. Not for free."

Marshall apparently believes he might have to take this course of action because a lockout, in his mind, is not a question of if, but a question of how long?

"When it comes down to it, it's a lockout," he said. "We as players we want football. Unfortunately, owners opted out [of the collective bargaining agreement]. And there's a lot of concern now. So the question is how long will the lockout be."

Marshall is a fine football player. But is he really NBA-good as a basketball player?

"Right now I'm rusty," he said. "Right now I'm no good. If I try out right now they'll say, 'What is this guy thinking.'  After some training I'll be fine. I'll be right back where I used to be."

This seems like good fun right now and it may come to nothing if the NFL poobahs and the players union poobahs find common ground and play in 2011.

But ...

If there is a lockout ... and Marshall remains on this course ... he's in for an interesting conversation with the Dolphins.

A team source just told me the club would not wish for Marshall to go hooping. The Dolphins are serious about football and want Marshall equally serious. And they have him under contract. So they would at the very least, ask him not to risk injury playing another sport.

I asked the source if there are clauses in Marshall's contract that could prevent him from playing basketball and I was assured the Dolphins don't think it would come down to having to enforce contract clauses to keep Marshall off the court.

But off the court the Dolphins would want him nonetheless. Even if he's not on the football field.

Will Allen's knee exam turns into surgery

Somebody once told me there are no routine surgeries. Then that person put the mask over my mouth and off to sleep I went before I had knee surgery about a decade ago.

Well, on Thursday coach Tony Sparano made it seem like cornerback Will Allen had a routine trip to the doctor to have his surgically repaired knee examined. I didn't buy it, saying it was bad news. Anytime a player needs to go back for a look-see of a knee that was reconstructed the previous season, it sounds ominous.

And now The Herald's Jeff Darlington is reporting the news is indeed not good if you consider Allen may be out the entire preseason because he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery today.

The surgery is not believed to be serious enough to keep Allen from playing in 2010. But ..

One never knows and so the Dolphins now must prepare as if Jason Allen is now the No. 3 cornerback. Rookie Nolan Carroll, who has flashed excellent ball skills in practice, also will get more repetitions going forward.

The Allen injury is not terrible if he is able to be full speed by the second week of the season. In the season opener, the Dolphins can probably get by against Buffalo with their current contingent of corners. But the following week and for several games forward, Miami faces teams that can throw three-wide and four-wide packages on the field with good talent.

So while the idea is to have Allen back by Sept. 12, the more important date by which Miami seriously needs all cornerback hands on deck is Sept. 19 when the string of games versus Minnesota, New York, New England, Green Bay, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati begins.

Will Allen sent to have (repaired?) knee examined

Several comings and goings and one sobering injury update today from Dolphins camp:

First, cornerback Will Allen, who missed the past couple of days while "resting" his surgically repaired knee, was sent to the doctor to have that knee checked, according to coach Tony Sparano. That is obviously not great news because it is not a routinely scheduled visit.

Allen missed most of last season after blowing out the knee against the New Orleans Saints the sixth game of the season.

The Dolphins signed free agent cornerback Kevin Hobbs but that is thought to only address the need created by the injury earlier this week to Evan Oglesby, who sustained an ankle injury. Oglesby was placed on injured reserve today.

The team also worked out veteran CBs Frank Walker and Matteral Richardson on Wednesday but didn't make a roster move with either, yet.

One would assume the Dolphins will wait on the Allen report before taking deciding on their next step at the position. In the meantime, the coaches will have their eyes on Nolan Carroll, who has been impressive so far, to see if he is more than a special teams guy. They want to see if he merits more confidence than that of a rookie learning the ropes on the bench.

The Dolphins waived wide receiver Taurus Johnson and used that spot to re-sign guard Ray Feinga.Feinga had previously been let go when he was nursing a concussion. He practiced this morning.

Jake Grove was back practicing this morning.

The Dolphins will play their preseason opener Saturday versus Tampa Bay. Sparano said quarterback Chad Henne will start and play approximately one quarter, depending on how many snaps he actually gets. 

August 11, 2010

Sparano explains the dilemma caused by his offense

We all kind of figured the addition of Brandon Marshall to the Miami Dolphins was a good thing in that it caused problems for opposing defenses. Yes, the Dolphins have an elite receiver now.

That should help the passing game.

But coach Tony Sparano today got more detailed about how it will help the passing game beyond Marshall. And, yes, it will help the running game as well.

Simply, last year opposing teams had one approach to stopping the Miami offense: They didn't want to get beaten by the running game of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams.

That meant teams would load eight men in the box and that not only would hinder Miami's running attack but also shut down the tight end position because, as Sparano shared today, "the middle of the field was closed."

Enter Marshall into the mix and the middle of the field should open up if teams do what is expected and they double team the new addition with a cornerback and safety over the top on one side of the field. Now, the defense cannot clog the middle of the field, opening things up for the tight end and it definitely cannot commit eight players to stopping the running game, thus opening up running lanes.

Voila: Multi-dimensional offense.

Of course, this is all conjecture and educated guessing not only by us, but the Dolphins themselves. As Sparano points out, he's waiting to see how teams prioritize stopping the Miami offense.

"I don't really know how these people are going to look at us," he said today. "I would anticipate most people will say, 'We're not going to let Brandon Marshall beat us.' But last year the philosophy was, 'We're not going to let Ricky and Ronnie beat us.' So I'm not sure how they're going to look at us right now. They might say, 'Well, prove to us that Brandon is going to beat us.' Or it might still be, 'Prove to us that Ricky and Ronnie can beat us.' If it's the [former] then the tight end will get the ball a little bit more."

Obviously, the proof will be up to the Dolphins. If teams decided they still aren't going to allow Miami to run, then Chad Henne and Marshall must hurt the defense deeply enough and often enough to make them adjust. And if defenses decide to stop Marshall from the start, the tight end play and the running game must be good enough to make the defense pay for its decision.

This much is certain, however. The Dolphins offense now poses a dilemma for oposing defenses.

And that is a good thing.

Other matters ...

The coach said cornerback Will Allen was held out of practice Wednesday morning because his knee was bothering him so he is being rested ... Evan Oglesby, helped off the practice field in Tuesday's late practice, has an ankle injury. Sparano did not say how serious the injury is but having witnessed it, it seemed like a multi-week affair to me ... Center Jake Grove said the bone bruise in his knee is "really nothing.' He returned to practice today although he didn't finish the entire session, something which was planned ... Guard Nate Garner stopped working late in the morning practice and sat out several repetition. He was limping ... The Dolphins have canceled this afternoon's practice. They're scheduled back to work tomorrow morning.

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August 10, 2010

Evan Oglesby continues string of bad luck

Evan Oglesby has been sick, he's been injured, he's been cut, he's been re-signed. On Tuesday evening he suffered another setback in his attempt to make the Dolphins roster.

The fifth-year cornerback suffered what looked to be some sort of leg injury during the closing minutes of practice. He sustained the injury to the right leg after breaking up a pass.

Oglesby lay on the turf inside the Nick Saban Memorial Bubble (NSMB) for nearly a minute as trainers rushed to his side. They eventually helped him up and carried him off the field and into the locker room.

Tough break.

Center Jake Grove (bruised bone in a knee) is still not practicing this afternoon. Patrick Cobbs, nursing a hamstring, was back at practice this afternoon.

Sparano: Dobbins injury won't keep him out long

Coach Tony Sparano has addressed the media this morning and this is what I gleaned from the session:

The coach confirmed that inside linebacker Tim Dobbins will miss this afternoon's practice as he nurses an ankle injury he suffered during practice Monday night.  Sparano also suggested Dobbins won't be gone from the lineup very long.

"It shouldn't be long," Sparano said.

As you know, Nate Garner got repetitions with the first Monday night. "We're going to leave him there a little while," Sparano said.

Last year, Garner started four games at right guard and four at left guard. Working at right tackle since the start of training camp, Garner is now going to get a chance to compete. He had expected to compete for a starting job earlier but obviously did what good soldiers do and worked at tackle when coaches ordered him there.

The work for quarterbacks provides a hint of what the Dolphins are thinking about their signal-callers.

According to Sparano, starter Chad Henne has gotten 360 repetitions in practice before this afternoon's work. Tyler Thigpen is second with 274 repetitions while both Chad Pennington and Pat White have gotten 140 repetitions.

So obviously, the Dolphins are walking out their stated intention of having Henne as the starter and have been giving Thigpen as much opportunity as possible to win the backup job. Pennington, the more likely backup who doesn't need as much work, has not gotten as much work. And Pat White?

White is the fourth-stringer who needs to get much, much better to no only earn himself a chance to make the team, but simply earn himself more work in practice.

August 09, 2010

Get your season's first depth chart here

OK, here it is -- the first Miami Dolphins depth chart of the preseason. It is official from the team -- unlike all those others floating around that are not.

It is also tentative because, with four preseason games on the schedule, folks can move up and down. As I reported earlier, you'll notice Joe Berger is listed as the starter for the Saturday night preseason opener against Tampa Bay at Sun Life Stadium.


WR 19 Brandon Marshall 15 Davone Bess 18 Roberto Wallace

11 Julius Pruitt 17 Ryan Grice-Mullen

LT 77 Jake Long 76 Lydon Murtha 63 Andrew Gardner

LG 68 Richie Incognito 66 Donald Thomas

C 67 Joe Berger 64 Jake Grove 60 Andrew Hartline

RG 74 John Jerry 61 Cory Procter

RT 72 Vernon Carey 75 Nate Garner

TE 80 Anthony Fasano 81 Joey Haynos 85 Kory Sperry

86 John Nalbone 88 David Martin

WR 82 Brian Hartline 83 Greg Camarillo 14 Marlon Moore

84 Patrick Turner 89 Taurus Johnson

QB 7 Chad Henne 16 Tyler Thigpen 6 Pat White

10 Chad Pennington

FB 36 Lousaka Polite 46 Rolly Lumbala

RB 23 Ronnie Brown 34 Ricky Williams 38 Patrick Cobbs

26 Lex Hilliard 20 Tristan Davis


LE 70 Kendall Langford 78 Tony McDaniel 53 Charles Grant

90 Ryan Baker 97 Phillip Merling

NT 94 Randy Starks 96 Paul Soliai 73 Montavious Stanley

62 Travis Ivey

RE 98 Jared Odrick 95 Marques Douglas 71 Lionel Dotson

SLB 55 Koa Misi 79 Ikaika Alama-Francis 93 Quentin Moses

ILB 52 Channing Crowder 51 Tim Dobbins 44 Austin Spitler

ILB 58 Karlos Dansby 59 J.D. Folsom 57 Micah Johnson

WLB 91 Cameron Wake 56 Charlie Anderson 48 Chris McCoy

50 Erik Walden

LCB 21 Vontae Davis 25 Will Allen 31 Nate Ness

RCB 24 Sean Smith 32 Jason Allen 27 Evan Oglesby

28 Nolan Carroll 45 Ross Weaver

FS 30 Chris Clemons 35 Reshad Jones

SS 37 Yeremiah Bell 29 Tyrone Culver 40 Jonathan Amaya


P 2 Brandon Fields

K 5 Dan Carpenter

KO 5 Dan Carpenter

H 2 Brandon Fields

KOR 38 Patrick Cobbs 20 Tristan Davis 28 Nolan Carroll

PR 15 Davone Bess 82 Brian Hartline 89 Taurus Johnson

LS 92 John Denney

Practice at Sun Life tonight canceled; Grove hurting

The Dolphins have canceled their scheduled practice and red zone scrimmage before fans at Sun Life Stadium this evening. Inclement weather has forced the team to move the practice back to their training facility.

That practice, which the team will conduct in the Nick Saban Memorial Bubble (NSMB), will not be open to the public. The NSMB cannot accommodate the public.

No word on whether the team will re-schedule a practice at Sun Life between now and the preseason-opener Saturday versus Tampa Bay.

On the field, the Dolphins are closely monitoring an injury to center Jake Grove that I am told will likely keep him out of the preseason opener against the Bucs. The Herald's Jeff Darlington is reporting Grove is nursing a bone bruise on his knee.

The potential starting center missed the scrimmage on Saturday and missed practice Monday morning. It is important to note that Grove was no assured of being the starter even when healthy as he is locked in a battle with Joe Berger and Andrew Hartline.

Barring a dramatic improvement by Grove, Berger would likely get the start with the first-team Saturday versus Tampa Bay. Hartline, who has taken first team snaps, would also see considerable action, although coach Tony Sparano hasn't made his plans public yet.

Reasons the OL struggled in scrimmage

Yes, the defense got the better of the offense in Saturday afternoon's scrimmage. Yes, it all started along the line of scrimmage where, outside of right tackle Vernon Carey and left tackle Jake Long, the offensive line looked like so much swiss cheese for a better-looking defensive front.

What did you expect?

There are reasons the DL and OLBs looked better than the OL. The reasons go well beyond talent.

1. The coaching staff has been mixing and matching players at both guard spots and at center. Andrew Hartline, an undrafted free agent last year, got first-team snaps last week. He got first-team snaps in the scrimmage. He also had a couple of low shotgun snaps, one that resulted in a blown play. The starting guards were rookie John Jerry at right guard and Donald Thomas at left guard. Bottom line? Look for the mixing and matching to settle down starting this week. The coaching staff is looking for players to start separating from one another. The staff is looking to see if certain players can compete against better competition. But the staff is also looking for a line that can begin to come together as the Buffalo regular-season opener looms closer. So look for that thought to become the priority pretty soon.

2. The defensive line is pretty good. One forgets the Dolphins have used many resources in the form of free agent signings and draft picks on the offensive line. They've used as much or more resources on the defensive line and outside linebackers. The DL and OLBs should be darn good and give the new OL fits. They should give any OL fits.

3. The coaching staff threw curveballs during the scrimmage. I counted three cornerback blitzes. I counted two safety blites. I counted three ILB blitzes. It's kind of early for a newly formed OL to pick those up seamlessly. I'm not sure they were even aware those were coming or allowed in the scrimmage. For the most part the recognition was good.

Anyway, the team gets back at it this morning. I'll have a new post up by early afternoon when coach Tony Sparano talks.

In the meantime, if you wish to talk Dolphins football and have any questions for me, you can listen and call my radio show. I'm on 640 Sports here in South Florida from 6 to 10 a.m. You can call the show toll free at 888-640-9385.

August 07, 2010

Roughcut play-by-play of today's scrimmage

This is the quick reaction post from today's scrimmage at Dolphins camp.

Bottom line?

I wasn't impressed by anyone other than Jake Long, Cameron Wake and Nolan Carroll. Read the play-by-play and you might understand why. The most impressive wide receiver was Brian Hartline.

Third-team offense versus third-team defense:

Tyler Thigpen is at QB

First down from the 25: Three yard rush by Lex Hilliard

Second down from the 32: Deep sideline pass to Marlon Moore. He jumps for the ball, its in his hands, but he drops the ball.

Third down from the 46: Thigpen connects with Patrick Turner for six yards.

First down from the 49: Tristan Davis gains four yards.

Second down from the 49: Nolan Carroll jumps a quick-out, tips the ball and linebacker Charlie Anderson plucks it out of the air for a turnover.

Third down from 40: Thigpen throws an out pattern right to Carroll. He drops the interception.

First down from the 37: Play-action. Jason Allen breaks up a pass to Julius Pruitt in one-on-one coverage.

Second down from the 27:. Handoff to Lex Hilliard loses two yards.

Third down from the 14: Offside defensive line and Thigpen pass to Moore is incomplete.

Second down from the 11 yard line: Pitch to Tristan Davis for a gain of four.

First down from the 7 yard line: Center Andy Hartline fires off a low snap from shotgun and Thigpen misses it. Blame both.

Third down from the five yard line: Bootleg right and Pruitt catches a TD pass in the back corner of the end zone beating Jason Allen.

First-team offense versus first team defense:

first down at the 25 yard line. Deep sideline to Brandon Marshall, who is stumbling through his route. Incomplete. Sean Smith was on the coverage.

Second down from the 35: Inside handoff to Ronnie Brown for two yards.

Third down from the 46 yard line: Henne thrwos in the middle of the field to Marshall who is cutting across right to left. Ball goes through his hands.

First down from 42: Screen play, Smelled out by the defense and Henne throws it into the ground.

Second down from the 38: Counter play to Ricky williams pops open on the left side for six or seven yards.

Third down from the 24: Henne looks deep to Marshall, checks down to Polite, who is popped immediately by Will Allen. Jake Long one on one vs Misi eats the rookie up.

First down from the 28: No one open downfield. Outlet throw to Ronnie Brown for 5 yards.

First down from the 12 yard line: Pass play, false start on Kory Sperry who still cannot block Cam Wake. Sack for Wake.

Second down from the eight yard line: Handoff to Ricky Williams for two yards.

Third down from the 7 yard line: Three wide with Bess in the slot and Marshall and Hartline outside. Henne fires to Bess who is covered by Bell. Bell gets closer to catching the ball than Bess.

Carpenter misses a 36-yard field goal.

Carpenter misses a 39-yard field goal.

Carpenter then misses from 41.

Third team offense versus third-team defense with Pat White at QB

First down from the 25: Completion from White to Joey Haynos coming across the middle.

Second down from the 40 yard line: Handoff to Tristan Davis. Gains three yards.

Third down from the 46. White pass to Taurus Johnson is high and incomplete.

Second down from the 46. Andrew Harltine andother low snap. White throws too long down the sideline. Incomplete.

Third down from the 35: White finds Marlon Moore on a slant for a 15 yard gain.

First team offensive versus second team defense

First down from the 25 yard line: Henne low pass, incomplete.

Second down from the 35. Shotgun. Short out pass to Brandon Marshall is complete, he then slips under Jason Allen for YAC.

Third down from the 45: Henne throws a 9 route, Marshall is running a deep out. Ball falls harmlessly incomplete.

Third down from the 48 yard line. In-cut to Marshall who is defended by Allen. Incomplete

First down from the 39 yard line: Hartline back shoulder against Will Allen for a 14 yard gain.

Second down from the 29 yard line: Short out to Brandon Marshall. He's open. He catches it, Will Allen bumps him and Marshall drops it. Got to catch that!

Third down from the 26 yard line: Sack for Charles Grant.

First down from the 12 yard line: Shotgun. Henne rolls right  Can't find anyone. Pass behind Hartline for an incompletion.

Second down from the six yard line: Check down to Ronnie Brown. TD.

Third down from the four yard line: Interior screen to Anthony Fasano. TD.

Second team offense vs. First team defense with Pennington at QB and Allen taking the snaps at right cornerback ahead of Sean Smith.

First down from the 25 yard line: Allen comes on a corner blitz. Pennington throws to Marshall who is uncovered for a 12 yard gain.

Second down from the 40 yard line: Inside handoff to Hilliard gains 3 yards.

First down from the 44: Sack by Charles Grant. Pennington got the ball off but in a real game he would have been picking himself off the ground.

Third down from the 49: Pennington completion to Julius Pruitt.

First down from the 45: Koa Misi sack vs David Martin pass protection. (Smith enters game.)

Third down from the 33: Shotgun: Cornerback blitz by Sean Smith. Sack in a real game.

First down from the 22 yard line: False start.

Second down from the 14: Screen Lex Hilliard for gain of four. Great hard hit by Channing Crowder.

Third down from the 11 yard line: Pass attempt to Bess in the right back corner of the end zone. Incomplete.

Third down from the 6 yard line: Incomplete.

First team offense vs first team defense:

First down from the 30: Henne looks left and deep to Bess who is covered. Check down to Brown.

Second down from the 45: Handoff to Brown gains 3 yards.

Third down from the 50: No one open! NO ONE OPEN! Henne pulls it down and play is over.

Third down from the 41: Marshall on a crossing pattern gains five yards.

First down from the 37: Henne quick pass to Hartline for 8 yards. Long versus Jared Odrick battle goes to Long.

Second down from the 27: Henne quick pass to Fasano for five yards. Long and Ricky Williams double-team Cameron Wake. Stuffed him.

Third down from the 25: Free safety blitz! Long recognizes it pre-snap and picks up Chris Clemons. Henne completes a three yard pass to Fasano.

First down from the 12: Henne runs out of time and must call time out. Not good.

First down from the 12: Trips right. Cameron Wake gets a sack verus Long. Henne throws the ball anyway and completes to John Nalbone. I love the Wake versus Long battle. Classic.

Second from the eigh yard line: Two yards for Ricky Williams.

Third down from the five yard line: Back corner throw to Hartline. TD. Kudus to the offensive line for picking up the blitz.

Dan Carpenter connects on a 34 yard field goal.

Dan Carpenter connects on a 40 yard fiel goal.

Dan Carpenter connects from 42.

Second versus second (Thigpen at QB)

First down: Incomplete pass down left sideline by Thigpen.

Second down: Incomplete (high) pass on an in-cut.

Third down from the 45: Incomplete wide receiver screen. Batted at line.

Third down from the 48: Incomplete. Nice pass defense by Nate Ness.

First down from the 44: Tight end screen to Joey Haynos for 6 yards.

Second down from the 38: Completion to Haynos for 28 yards.

Third down from the 28: Lex Hilliard no gain.

First down from the 24: Tristan Davis pops outside after getting throw the line for a gain of 6.

Second down from the 14: Pitchleft Davis for a gain of four.

Third down from the 12: Roberto Wallace goes over Ross Weaver for a TD in the corner of the end zone.

Third dwon from the 6: Thigpen incomplete.

Third down from the 6: Quentin Moses bats away a pass attempt to Haynos. Incomplete.

The Dolphins were not at full strength for the scrimmage. Jake Grove, Greg Camarillo and Patrick Cobbs did not practice. The Herald reported earlier Cobbs is nursing a hamstring injury. Ryan Grice-Mullen is back working.

August 06, 2010

Sources: Camarillo tweaks groin, will live

Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said he had no medical report and thus no specifics on receiver Greg Camarillo, who had to step out of the last part of the morning practice Friday. .

But a source tells The Herald's Jeff Darlington that Camarillo tweaked his groin and "will be fine" eventually. I am reporting that Camarillo has been given the afternoon off to rest the groin if he wants it, so it is up to him whether he works or not.

I'm also reporting Camarillo, a tough guy, will live.

(Big sigh of relief there).

Free safety update

We all know that Chris Clemons is getting plenty of work at free safety as the team tries to find out if he is truly ready to be the starter in his second professional season.

But despite working Clemons into some first- and third-team repetitions, the Dolphins are not ignoring rookie Reshad Jones.

According to coach Tony Sparano, Clemons has 238 reps so far. Reshad? Only 11 fewer.

And the best news of all?

Sparano said Clemons has one mental error in 238 plays.

Pennington, QB update

There have been multiple reports that Chad Pennington is getting the least amount of repetitions of any of Miami's four quarterbacks. That is true. He had 99 repetitions as of this morning, according to Sparano.

Those are eventually going to start increasing in the preseason. Tyler Thigpen and Pat White will get plenty of preseason game experience as they battle for the No. 3 job. But by the third preseason game, Pennington should be getting more reps than either of those two.

That's because Pennington is this team's backup quarterback even today as he's taking fewer reps. Once the season draws closer, Thigpen/White will see fewer snaps and Pennington will get more.

"As we get on the process that will probably increase a little bit because that's the pace we want to take him on," Sparano said of Pennington.

Quickie morning practice update

One day after suffering a semi-demotion and getting beat on two notable passes, cornerback Sean Smith recovered today.

He was back with the first-team defense while Jason Allen and Will Allen worked as the second-team cornerbacks.

More interestingly, Andrew Hartline continues to take first-team snaps at center this morning. Joe Berger also took first team snaps at center today.

Jake Grove, meanwhile, was working with the second and third units today. Hmmmm.

Wide receiver Greg Camarillo was slowed close to the end of practice by an unknown leg injury, according to The Herald's Jeff Darlington. He didn't leave the practice, but rather just stayed on the sideline.  One would think that if it was serious, Camarillo would have been taken into the locker room but that isn't always the case. A.J. Edds stayed on the practice field sidelines during drills three days ago.

And we later learned he blew out his right ACL.

I'll have an update for you after 12:30 p.m. when coach Tony Sparano addresses the media.