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65 posts from August 2011

August 10, 2011

On the other hand ... Roberto Wallace was good Tuesday

On the bright side ...

I told you Tuesday that Chad Henne's practice was not great when you measure his performance in team drills. Roberto Wallace, working with the second and third team offense, was a different story.

He had three nice catches during team drills by my unofficial count, including a 25-yard reception between the corner and safety on a post pattern. It was, in a word, heartening.

"I'm definitely more at ease, I'm comfortable," Wallace said after practice. "Even though it's a new offense, I feel like the more relaxed and the more comfortable I am, I play better."

He was playing pretty well Tuesday. I teased Wallace that it was his best practice of the current camp.

 "No, just because I had a couple of catches? I don't know that this was the best," Wallace answered. "I think my best practices are the ones where I'm error free [on assignments]. That's what means the most to me. I can have three catches and I have a mental error, I'll be hard on myself because I had the mental error. When I have errors I'm hard on myself."

So has Wallace had an error-free practice?

"I've been close," he said. "I've had practices where I've had only one or two. Today I had probably none. Maybe there are some technique things that I could work on. But I don't think I had mental mistakes today. I want to be perfect."

Wait a second ... he caught passes and doesn't think he had any mental mistakes? That was his best practice, I insisted ...

"Sounds good then," he said smiling, "sounds good to me."

One thing that might go unnoticed about Wallace that coaches have definitely measured him on is his special teams contribution.

“The biggest thing I’ve noticed out of him at this particular time has been his, two things, I think this guy has done a tremendous job in every special teams period that we’ve had out here," coach Tony Sparano said. "We’ve spent an awful long time talking about the team [Monday] night on their day off and going through players and this guy has done a really good job at that portion of the game and then the second thing I’ve seen is that when the ball has been in the air in a competitive situation, kind of he versus the (defensive back),

"[Wallace] has come down with it a few times in a crowd so those have been good things to see. He plays big and that’s what you want a big receiver to do.”

August 09, 2011

Henne's follow to Sunday's scrimmage? Not great

The Dolphins returned to the practice field for the first time since their scrimmage Sunday and one of the details I was looking for was some consistency from quarterback Chad Henne.

Henne, as you should know from Sunday's post, was outstanding in the scrimmage. Best I've seen him since that Jets game in 2009 at Sun Life Stadium. (Look it up, I'm too busy flowing here.)

Anyway, with that hope-building, confidence-building performance on his resume, I was expecting to witness Henne take another step in his progression and perhaps pile back-to-back excellent practices one atop the other.

Did not happen, in my opinion.

In taking notes and sharing them during the live blog, it became apparent that Henne was not sharp during team drills Tuesday. The purely unofficial stats I collected in team drills was 2 of 8. One of those incompletions was a drop, that by Brandon Marshall.

But otherwise the incompletions were passes that sailed wide or were overthrown or were simply broken up by solid defensive play.

Understand that Henne threw many more than eight passes in practice today. He threw in 7 on 7 work. He threw to receivers covered 1 on 1 by various defensive backs. Obviously his completion number and percentage was much higher in those drills.

But during the team drills that I witnessed -- Miami's entire starting offense versus its starting defense -- Henne didn't exactly light it up. His highlight pass was a quick hitter to Reggie Bush, on which he hit the running back lined up out wide perfectly in stride after taking a quick two- or three-step drop.

Now, understand I am strictly reporting the results here. I'm not the guy's coach. I cannot tell you about Henne's practice grade. I cannot tell you if he was perfect with his calls at the line or audibles (if they have those installed) or whether or not he was going properly through his progression.

None of that matters here. To me, the thing that matters is whether the ball that left Henne's throwing arm landed in the hands of his offensive teammate for a positive pass play -- regardless of whether Henne was wearing a tuxedo and riding an elephant when he threw the ball or not.

So strictly results here.

And the results did not even closely resemble the accuracy Henne displayed during the Sunday scrimmage.

Well, at least he did not throw an interception.

Dolphins add DB Gerard; plus live team drill coverage

The Dolphins have announced the signing of former Ravens defensive back K.J. Gerard this morning. The club also said it placed linebaker Mark Masterson on the reserve/retired list.

Gerard spent 2009-2010 in Baltimore. He was recently waived the by Chicago Bears. Gerard is 6-1 and 192 pounds.

On to practice:

The Dolphins will be on the field sometime around 11 a.m.

I'm at camp. I will provide camp updates in the comments section plus team drill updates and play by play as I see it. So head over to the comments section for the updates.


August 08, 2011

First depth chart of 2011 right here

The Dolphins have released their first depth chart of 2011. This one is not speculation from me. This is from the team as it prepares for its preseason opener against Atlanta.



WR 19 Brandon Marshall 15 Davone Bess 18 Roberto Wallace

87 Brooks Foster 11 Julius Pruitt

LT 76 Lydon Murtha 73 Alan Barbre 65 D.J. Jones

LG 68 Richie Incognito 69 Ray Feinga 61 Matt Kopa

C 51 Mike Pouncey 67 Joe Berger

RG 72 Vernon Carey 74 John Jerry

RT 71 Marc Colombo 75 Nate Garner 64 Ray Willis

60 D.J Jones

TE 80 Anthony Fasano 86 Mickey Shuler 88 Jeron Mastrud

84 Brett Backett 81 Dedrick Epps

WR 82 Brian Hartline 10 Clyde Gates 14 Marlon Moore

85 Phillip Levas 17 Patrick Carter

QB 7 Chad Henne 8 Matt Moore 4 Kevin O’Connell /

9 Pat Devlin

FB 36 Lousaka Polite 31 Charles Clay

RB 22 Reggie Bush 33 Daniel Thomas 26 Lex Hilliard/

42 Nic Grigsby 23 Kory Sheets


LE 70 Kendall Langford 78 Tony McDaniel 90 Ryan Baker

NT 96 Paul Soliai 95 Ronald Fields 66 Frank Kearse

62 Johnny Jones

RE 94 Randy Starks 97 Phillip Merling/ 56 Robert Rose

98 Jared Odrick

SLB 55 Koa Misi 99 Jason Taylor 59 Ikaika Alama-Francis

48 Quinton Spears

ILB 58 Karlos Dansby 53 Austin Spitler 57 Mike Rivera

45 Mark Masterson

ILB 47 Kevin Burnett 50 A.J. Edds

WLB 91 Cameron Wake 46 Jason Trusnik 49 Jonathan Freeny

LCB 24 Sean Smith 25 Will Allen 27 Benny Sapp

41 Vincent Agnew

RCB 21 Vontae Davis 28 Nolan Carroll 32 Nate Ness

43 Jose Perez 35 Jimmy Wilson

FS 30 Chris Clemons 20 Reshad Jones

SS 37 Yeremiah Bell 29 Tyrone Culver 44 Mark Restelli


P 2 Brandon Fields

K 5 Dan Carpenter

KO 5 Dan Carpenter

H 2 Brandon Fields

KOR 15 Davone Bess 10 Clyde Gates 85 Phillip Levas

PR 15 Davone Bess 10 Clyde Gates 85 Phillip Levas

LS 92 John Denney

Chad Henne's progress off the field is apparent

If you only have a view of what happens on the field, this post won't interest you. But if you think what goes on off the field matters also, particularly when focusing on the quarterback, this is important.

Very important.

Sunday's view from the field showed quarterback Chad Henne have a fine outing. He threw three touchdown passes. He had one interception. In Miami's new offense.


But peel back that on-field viewpoint to the picture behind the scenes, in the locker room, and you see perhaps more important signs that Miami's young quarterback is at least pointed, if not already headed in the right direction.

For one thing, players are going to Henne for answers this training camp.

“Yeah, what I’ve seen is the more people are going to Chad for the answers and that’s a good problem," coach Tony Sparano said. "I think that the more times…you would have to envision that when you’re at Indianapolis or a place like that, that people are going to Peyton (Manning) for the answers.  Well more people are going to Chad for the answers now and that’s a direct reflection of what this young guy has done in this lockout period.

"You know with what he did with those workouts and the amount of time he put in has been outstanding.  You know we have had three or four practices where blitz periods and they’re not flashy because the ball doesn’t get down the field when it has to come out of your hand fast.  But the whole operation from huddle call to snap to him getting the ball out in some of these situations his percentage right now in those situations has been really high."

It interests me that teammates are going to Henne because it's a sign they respect Henne. It's a sign they view him as something of the offense's leader. It shows respect for his knowledge and ability to help.

It's good teammates view Henne that way because it would be very easy not to. Remember, the truth is Henne was benched last year. He is the guy the team spent much of the offseason trying to replace in that the Dolphins studied every quarterback available in the draft and then searched high and low in free agency to sign somebody else.

The team also was involved a very public attempt to trade for Kyle Orton. And everyone expects if a Chad Pennington-style miracle becomes available to fall from the sky sometime this preseason, the Dolphins would probably be in the mix.

So it's obvious to the players in the Miami locker room that Henne's status is not exactly written in concrete.

But Henne's footing is firm enough in their eyes that they go to the guy for help. That's a good sign. He has not been undermined. He has standing.

That's big for a quarterback.

This is also big: Henne and Brandon Marshall are starting to make more of a concerted effort to figure each other out.

Look, these two guys are polar opposits, Marshall an emotional fellow and Henne something of an over-thinker. But these two guys also need each other. Henne cannot succeed without Marshall and vice versa. I hope they have learned that after not exactly showing they recognized that last year.

Earlier in training camp -- the first week -- I had my doubts these two guys could ever mesh. Henne clearly prefers to throw the ball to Davone Bess over Marshall. Marshall doesn't always do exactly as the play design calls and Henne has trouble with the ad libbing.

Hence, they weren't on the same page.

But the two spoke about that prior to Sunday's scrimmage.

“I think today is really the very first day we connected pretty well," Henne said. "I think the previous practices we weren’t on the same page and we talked before practice, we communicated, and we got it done today.

"I mean, the details has to be solid out here. I mean, if he’s in one spot and I’m throwing in another spot, we’re not on the same page. If I know where he’s going to be at least I can give him a chance to put the ball up there for him. Coach always said details are the more important thing so that’s what we did."

What they did -- Miami's current starting quarterback and Alpha receiver -- is communicate. If only for one afternoon, that translated to them being in synch. That doesn't guarantee anything for the next outing, but it shows progress.

Henne on Sunday showed progress -- on the field, yes. But just as importantly, with leadership and communication issues he faces in the locker room, he showed tangible gains on Sunday as well.

August 07, 2011

Quickie reaction from Dolphins scrimmage

Today was a good day for the Miami Dolphins. Folks got better. Confidences were raised. Connections were made. Most importantly, plays were made on both sides of the football in the scrimmage held at the team's Davie, FL. practice facility.

Let us begin with what is most important.

No significant injuries that are apparent. OT Nate Garner seemed to tweak a knee but played on so that doesn't seem too be serious.

Chad Henne had a fine day. Although no official statistics exist, by my count Henne completed 11 of 17 passes for approximately 134 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. All three touchdowns went to Brandon Marshall.

Marshall caught a 12-yard TD from Henne, a 15-yard TD from Henne and a long, arc of a pass that must have turned into a 35-40-yard score against Sean Smith.

Henne said after the scrimmage he and Marshall had a good talk about finally trying to get on the same page before the scrimmage began.

"I think today is really the first day we've connected well," Henne said. "We haven't been doing that in previous practices."

The interception? Karlos Dansby stepped in front of a pass at the 6 yard line when Henne was trying to get the ball to Davone Bess at the goal line and returned it for what would have been a 94-yard interception return TD.

Other highlights:

Mike Pouncey did a nice job with the line calls, according to coach Tony Sparano. The coach said Miami's first-round pick made line calls today that he was missing two days ago.

Safety Reshad Jones, whom I've been telling you will get a legitimate opportunity to compete for the starting free safety job, got first-team reps in the nickel package. He didn't get beat that I could tell.

Reggie Bush showed out a bit. Working from the backfield and from the slot receiver spot, he had moments. He is obviously most dangerous when slotted out vs. a linebacker which is exactly the situation he found himself versus Karlos Dansby. Henne connected on what would have ben a 30-plus-yard play for what was really a 7-yard pass. Bush simply ran away from Dansby on the slant.

Jason Taylor looked explosive. It's not a good matchup for offenses to have the right tackle against Taylor. He had good moments versus all of Miami's right tackles and sniffed out a screen to WR Brian Hartline, which turned into a 3 or 4 yard loss. Coach Tony Sparano low-fived Taylor for that one.

Lex Hilliard ran hard. Yes, he was working against the threes and only rarely against twos, but he hits the hole with confidence. Like it.

Rookie Daniel Thomas also is a load but he didn't have a signature play that made anyone take notice. Just solid today.

Davone Bess continues to be Henne's security blanket. Whenever the QB is in trouble, he looks for Bess. Today he found him about three or four times.

Anthony Fasano didn't have a catch. Brian Hartline didn't have a catch.

SS Yeremiah Bell did nice work on the blitz. Had a sack.

Cameron Wake had a sack.

Marshall was covered man-to-man the entire scrimmage, which is something that will not happen in games. The Dolphins are moving him around to get him alone with CBs but we'll see to what degree that frees him during the regular season.

Marshall refused to speak to the media after the scrimmage.

Vontae Davis actually got the better of Marshall in their man matchups, breaking up two passes in the end zone. Marshall had his TDs versus Sean Smith.

The Dolphins are off on Monday. So am I, but I'll be on Armando and the Amigo on 640-AM in South Florida and streaming live on the web from 6-10 a.m.


Dolphins Scrimmage today: Live bog here

Davone Bess was the first Dolphins player on the field in preparation for today's scrimmage. Man's a worker for sure.

Here are some things I've be looking for:

Mike Pouncey: How will he do versus Paul Soliai.

Clyde Gates: Does his practice speed translate to a scrimmage where players are going faster.

Daniel Thomas: Is he a player only when the lights come on?

Marc Colombo: Can he protect Chad Henne?

Chad Henne: If he's checking down in scrimmages, you know that's probably what he's going to be doing in games. If he can stretch the field in scrimmage, maybe, just maybe, we can get some big plays in a game.

Jason Taylor: Does he have the quicks back as he said in my column in today's Miami Herald that he feels better than he has since 2007.

There is a live blog happening here. It's in the comments section. Meet me there.

Miami Dolphins: Playmakers desperately wanted

One of the problems for the 2010 Miami Dolphins was they didn't have enough playmakers making, wait for it, big plays.

The offense lacked pass plays that blew the top off the defense. The offense lacked run plays that turned second-and-seven from their own 30 into a 70-yard run.

The special teams lacked punt or kick returns touchdowns. The special teams lacked blocks of the other team's kicks. The special teams, instead, gave up several of those plays.

Even the defense lacked interceptions. Or strip sacks returned for touchdowns.

On that last note, enter the addition of Jason Taylor.

The Dolphins signed Taylor as a reserve pass-rush specialist to help Cameron Wake and Koa Misi put the kind of pressure on quarterbacks that turn into turnovers. So that explains why Miami made the move.

Why did Taylor come back to the Dolphins? In my column in today's Miami Herald, Taylor talks about how he could have returned to the Jets because that door was opened to him. But he explains the reasons he left a team that seems better situated to make a run at a ring to come to a team that seems less prepared for a title run.

Taylor also tells you why he does not dismiss the Dolphins chances of competing for a title ahead of the Patriots or Jets.

By the way, back to the playmaker search, the Dolphins will be scrimmaging this afternoon around 2 p.m.

Dolphins coach Tony Sparano hopes calling today's work a scrimmage will turn up the heat on some "practice players," who perhaps need a little motivation to show out for coaches and might not think a practice is necessarily a time to do that.

Yes, there will be live blog coverage of the scrimmage. So please come back then and please check out my column in the meantime.

August 06, 2011

Dolphins to scrimmage on Sunday

Time to take it up a notch, folks.

The Dolphins have been practicing once a day since July 29 and have been doing that at an even pace, once a day, since that time, doing the work, steady-like. To heck with that!

In an effort to light a bit of an urgency candle under his team, Dolphins coach Tony Sparano announced today that the team will scrimmage Sunday at the team facility.

“First of all obviously we don’t have time for the ball to be on the ground and we don’t have time for the penalty thing,” Sparano said today. “The detail part of this thing I want to see cleaned up as much as we can, but more importantly I just want to see these guys play at a high pace. I don’t want robots out there.

"I just want them to go out and I want to see the playmakers make plays and watch that happen out there in a competitive situation. So it’s not real different than what we’re practicing out here. We’re going to get more plays in, but when you call it a scrimmage like that and the light goes on I think everybody kind of plays at a different pace. So that will be fun to watch.”

Remember a couple of days ago I mentioned that I wished the Dolphins would turn the pace up a little bit in practice? You play like you practice and if the practice pace is not very quick, the team might settle into a malaise that's hard to shake when the games actually begin.

Sparano and his coaching staff might have sensed the same thing. Also, some players perform better when the stakes are higher. (I am very close to including rookie tailback Daniel Thomas in that group if he doesn't pick things up in regular practices.)

Thomas was outstanding in the Monday night practice at Sun Life Stadium. But in other regular practices he's been unspectacular. Maybe if the coach announces this is a scrimmage, the rookie will see it as a time to shine.

It would be nice if others could shine as well, by the way. Others is defined here as the first-team offense. To put it bluntly, Miami's defense has been better than the offense so far this camp. That is to be expected at practically every training camp -- defense ahead of offense.

But It would be nice if the offense could show some consistent signs of life, put some positive plays together back to back, and you know, score some touchdowns. It hasn't been terrible. But neither has it been really good so far.

Maybe the scrimmage will change that.

New OLineman, Reggie's take on O, practice live blog

The Dolphins have announced the signing of free agent Ray Willis, who comes by way of the Seattle Seahawks.

Willis, a 6-6 and 304 pounds offensive tackle, started 10 games for the Seahawks last season and 10 the year before. The club also made clear to recently signed offensive lineman Micah Kia what NFL means -- Not For Long. He was cut only hours after being signed.

On to other things:

Reggie Bush is an interesting guy, what little I know of him. I do know this, I hope he is learning the Dolphins offense better than he can tell you what the Dolphins offense is actually about.

Earlier this week Bush said the Dolphins run a similar system to the New Orleans Saints, his former team. He then claimed both teams run a West Coast offense.

Let that marinate for a moment.

No, the Dolphins do not run a West Coast offense. And neither do the Saints. In fact, when asked by a reporter if Miami runs a West Coast, coach Tony Sparano looked at the reporter like he had three eyes and horn sticking out of his forehead.


Also interesting was Bush apparently quoting Sparano's words to the team on his twitter handle last night:

"An army of deer led by a lion will defeat an army of lions led by a deer," Bush quoted Sparano saying.

I am not Marlin Perkins, but I'm not so sure what that means from a philosophical standpoint and I'm not sure that would necessarily be true in the animal kingdom. I'd rather go with the army that has the legion of lions rather than just one lion.

Then again, Bush doesn't know the Dolphins don't run a West Coast offense so maybe he misquoted Sparano.

But hey, whatever floats your jungle gang fight sayings.

Anyway, live blog in the comments section coming up in a few ... see you there.

De-fense, de-fense, de-fense, de-fense, de-fense

Had to laugh last night when someone complained on here that I only provided a couple of blog posts yesterday.

Fact is I appreciate your appetite for more posts. But I was not exactly sipping drinks at Friday happy hour. I was reporting and writing the column that appears in today's Miami Herald about the Miami Dolphins defense. Please check it out.

My point in that column is that while mostly all the attention this offseason and early in training camp has been on the offense, it is the defense that seems most likely to take a bigger improvement leap in 2011 -- again.

One defensive issue I did not have space to discuss in the column is the looming battle at free safety. Chris Clemons is the starter and Reshad Jones is challenging for the spot. The Dolphins want more big plays out of the defense, as you'll read. They've made some moves to address that.

They'd like the free safety to make more plays. Clemons didn't do that enough last year. Jones, meanwhile, seems to always be around the football. The team wants more sideline to sideline coverage from that position. Clemons is often a step late.

So continue to watch this battle during the preseason.

Look, Dolphins fans love offense. Many grew up on Dan Marino's exploits.

Ultimately, t is this defense that will win games for the Dolphins in 2011.

Is there a live blog of today's 11 a.m. practice?

Come back and see.

August 05, 2011

New QB (not Favre) is in the fold

The Dolphins have agreed to a one-year contract with free agent quarterback Kevin O'Connell a team source is confirming.

Adam Scheffter of ESPN.com first reported the contract transaction.

That means the Dolphins will have five QBs in camp, which is about right for the preseason but at least one QB and probably two too many for the regular season. I'd say Tom Brandstater's status with the team is tenuous, however.

[Update: Tom Brandstater has been cut.]

O'Connell, 26 years old and about to vie for his third NFL season, was with the Jets in 2009 and the New England Patriots in 2008.

O'Connell was a third-round draft pick of the Patriots in 2008 but lasted only one year with the franchise. He was cut in the 2009 preseason when he suffered something of a meltdown in an exhibition game, throwing two interceptions while completing only 3 of 10 passes in the second half of a game against what was a backup defense.

O'Connell was picked up by the Lions who then traded him to the Jets for a seventh round pick. O'Connell was released by New York after the 2009 season.

But here's the kicker: O'Connell suffered a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder that required surgery and major rehabilitation. He did not play football in 2010.

[Update 2: Will Allen and Brandon Marshall are not practicing today.]

Henne starter but Moore gets off to good start

Amid all of Thursday's frenzy of Brett Favre rumors and the team's first full-team practice, I think perhaps the biggest news of the day got lost in the confusion of that swirling vortex.

Chad Henne apparently has been named Miami's starting quarterback.

"Yes, he's the starter right now," coach Tony Sparano said.

One of the things I need to keep reminding myself of as we get back into the swing of football season is that statements made by coaches, players, teams, whatever, are typically snapshots in time. They are not decrees set in stone intended to last eons.

When I reported last week the Kyle Orton trade was not dead, it was not dead. But NFL teams move forward -- remember Miami going to Reggie Bush once DeAngelo Williams was off the board? Things change.

Well today Chad Henne is Miami's starting QB. And the Dolphins don't have what can be trumpeted as a heated quarterback competition.

Want a prediction?

Before the preseason is over, I think some Dolphins fans will be calling for Matt Moore as a viable quarterback answer.

I do not think Moore will actually be the starter (speaking today) but if his practice Thursday night -- his first with the Dolphins -- is any indication, he will have his moments during this preseason. And I bet some fans will see his work and float the idea of him as a possible starter.

The reason I think this?

Moore was pretty good. He connected several times on pretty fly (nine) routes. He had nice footwork both in the pocket and on bootlegs. He also showed a willingness to hit the seam route to the tight end. Overall, Moore seemed comfortable in the offense.

That solid work, plus the fact he's going to be competing primarily against second-team defenders could conspire to make him look pretty good future practices and preseason games.

And you know what will happen when Miami's quarterback-hungry fans see that from Moore?

They'll suggest the Dolphins take another look at that naming of Chad Henne as the starter. 

August 04, 2011

Live blog coverage of Thurs. practice

It's a breezing night in Davie, Fl. and the Dolphins should be streaming onto the field in the coming minutes.

And I will be telling you what I observe and answering your questions (as possible) throughout the expected two hours or so of work.

The hope here is the Dolphins work on the fields closest to the bleachers and press station because I'd like to actually see clearly what I'm telling you is happening.

Anyway, meet me in the comments section and I'll share with you what I see and hear.

Brett Favre is not coming to the Dolphins -- period

Brett Favre is not coming to the Dolphins.


Despite Internet rumors fueled by innuedo from journalist twitter accounts, the Dolphins have no intention of signing Brett Favre, a highly placed team source is telling me.

Chad Henne is the team's starting quarterback today. Period.

Move along. Nothing to see here.

Oh, I assume some of you will counter with the fact coach Tony Sparano declined to rule out the possibility today during his press conference. He was asked directly if the Dolphins would be signing Favre, who will be 42 in October.

"I can't rule anything out," Sparano said. "I'm giving you the only answer I can give you."

Look, the Dolphins won't rule out re-signing Dan Marino. They won't rule out trying to trade for the rights to Joe Namath. They have yet to confirm that they will open the regular-season in September. This is, how to put it, a bung-tight organization that believes everything should remain in house.

So coach was simply doing what the Dolphins do: Giving the media nothing.

Behind the curtain, however, the truth is different. I think I can sometimes, in admittedly rare instances, get the truth out of these people. I have been told in no uncertain terms Favre will not be joining the Dolphins.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, the team will have an open practice at 7:15 tonight. I will be there for a live practice blog. Hope to talk to you in the comments section then.

Dolphins: Thumbs up, thumbs down edition

Some random thoughts ...

Thumbs up to Tony Sparano for moving Thursday's scheduled morning practice to this evening. The idea here is to finally get the dozen or so free agent signees and players for which the Dolphins traded on the field and working for the first time. Had the Dolphins gone through with their morning schedule, those players would have to continue watching the action until Friday, thus missing a valuable practice.

But after 4 p.m. today -- for reasons having to do with the new CBA and the labor issue between the league and players' union -- those very players will be allowed to practice. Extra day of work and first such in which the entire roster is on the field. Well done.

Thumbs down to the personnel department for working out Tiki Barber. It's embarrassing. When Fox's Jay Glazer, who is pals with Barber, broke the news, I got a text from an assistant on another team basically mocking the Dolphins for working out Barber.

"Things that bad in Miami?" the text read in part.

I didn't think so until Wednesday. Look, forget for a second that Barber quit on his team in 2006, announcing his retirement in October, with two months left to play in the season. Forget the fact he was critical of Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning and Michael Strahan -- all of whom went on to win Super Bowl rings after Barber left the team. Forget that Barber had fumble problems in his prime. Forget the fact Barber left his wife of 11 years for a 23 year-old former NBC intern, get this, while his wife was pregnant.

Forget all that. If you can.

But there is nothing worse than inconsistency. And I'm starting to see some here. The Dolphins showed zero interest in receiver Plaxico Burress because he spent two years in jail and hadn't played since 2009 and is approaching his 34th birthday next week. They knew they were not interested the second he was released. They didn't even work him out once the lockout lifted even though he lives in South Florida.

No problem. Their call. They know best.

But ...

They want to do due diligence on Tiki Barber? Barber is 36 years old, which is two years older than Burress. He hasn't played since 2006, so he's been away from the game going on five seasons. And yet they gave him a workout this week?

There's more.

Ricky Williams is sitting out there unsigned. I don't much understand the dude personally, but there is no denying his work ethic. He gets it. He isn't a problem either on the field or in the locker room. He's got zero rust he needs to knock off. And he's two years younger than Barber. And the team hasn't really shown interest in him since, well, since last season?

What is the thinking here?

Where is the consistency?

And if you're going to work out a 36-year-old running back who hasn't played in four seasons, why not also fly to Kiln, Mississippi and work out the 41-year-old quarterback who lives there? I bet Brett Favre would be a better player in the NFL this season than Tiki Barber would ever be. Geez!

Thumbs up to rookie Pat Devlin. I like the kid. From the little contact I've had with him, I like his demeanor. I talked to him Wednesday and he looked me straight in the eyes rather than look away or stare down at the ground.

He's shown a little more zip on the ball than what I had heard his reputation to be, and he had a good response when I asked him about not working under center very much at Delaware the past two seasons.

"I worked under center all the time at Penn State for two years before that," he said. "So that isn't a problem for me."

Like it.

Thumbs down to Vernon Carey and the organization for basically fibbing about the reason the player missed practice Monday. We all know he was sent home because the team didn't want him on the field risking injury at a time the front office was trying to rework his contract for a pay cut.

Yet the reason given for the missed work was so the guard could, as Carey put it, resolve a personal family issue. Yeah, personal family issue: Honey, I'm home because we have to talk about the size of the checks I'm going to be bringing home this season.

Instead of trying to mask the truth, Carey should have just said something akin to, "For business reasons the team cut my salary and for professional and personal reasons I accepted the cut and will remain here in the city I was born, grew up, went to college, and am playing for my favorite NFL team. I'm going to work hard and play hard despite the business decisions because I'm where I most want to be."

He would have looked like a hero. And if he has a bad game this season, no one would raise the thought that he is unmotivated because he was forced to take a pay cut.

Oh, and there is this: During one of his press conferences during the April draft, I asked general manager Jeff Ireland if the team might consider moving Carey to guard. He said no.

Well, it turns out Sparano had already spoken to Carey about the move before the NFL locked a month earlier.

"To be honest with you Vernon and I have had conversations about this a long time ago pre-lockout, pre- any of that," Sparano said Wednesday. "I’ve seen this happen with progression with offensive linemen at times." 

Thumbs up to Cameron Wake for staying in town the entire time during the lockout. The guy is a workout warrior and it showed Wednesday when practice was broiling. Wake didn't flinch, in part, because he is completely acclimated to the heat and in usual great shape.

Thumbs up to the coaching staff because I'm hearing good things from several people about their energy. Last year's staff was, shall we say, very experienced. This year's staff is younger. Moves faster. The pace is better.

My hope is when the playbook install is in, the pace of practice speeds up. The NFL game is fast. The Dolphins don't always play fast. Fact is, they are kind of a lumbering team. They kind of practice that way, too. Pace is too slow for me.

Move, move, move, move, move! Lessgo! Use that youth and energy, guys!

August 03, 2011

Dolphins weigh Edwards, like their guys more

One of the most common questions I get from fans is a request to explain why the Dolphins have shown zero interest in WR Braylon Edwards even though the free agent is very productive and reuniting him with former Michigan teammate and quarterback Chad Henne seems logical.

My sense is the Dolphins don't feel like Edwards is worth the trouble when you balance that versus his potential contribution.

On the plus side, you have a legit deep threat receiver. The guy averaged a whopping 17.1 yards per catch for the New York Jets last season. He also scored seven TDs in 16 games which is more than solid. 

But the combination of his initial high asking price, the fact he's a party animal, his borderline criminal behavior that includes drunk driving arrests and probation violations and alleged role in a bar room fight earlier this week, make him a major, major, major risk.

The Dolphins obviously want no part of that risk even though now it seems the price for acquiring Edwards is dropping based on a very soft market for the player. He will probably end up signing a one-year contract with someone who will limit their liability by hoping Edwards finally understands he's another bar fight from having practically every team turn their backs on him. A motivated (read scared straight) Edwards might work for someone for a short span of time.

Not the Dolphins. They seem content with Brandon Marshall and Brian Hartline as their starting receivers with Davone Bess in the slot. I guess we have a possibility Marlon Moore or Roberto Wallace take a significant step in their second seasons and challenge for playing time.

There's also a chance rookie Clyde Gates comes along really fast (his specialty) and cracks the rotation.

But the greater likelihood is definitely Hartline opposite Marshall. And Hartline apparently is very happy with that.

"I'm never satisfied," Hartline told me this afternoon. "Talk about competition, we always have competition. If I'm not competing against somebody else, I'm competing against myself. Although I did take some steps last year, I didn't finish up where I wanted to finish because of the [finger] injury. With that being said, I think it still ended up being a pretty good second year. I want to act like I finished the year out and then take a step on top of that. I want to be a guy that makes plays for the team and the team knows it can come to me."

I asked Hartline what he did this offseason to get better.

"I tried to put on a little more weight," he answered. "We play a grown-man game so I'm trying to bring a little more of the punch of blocking and really just prepare mentally. It's a mental game and you need to know your routes and where you're at."

Look, the Dolphins are making personnel decisions every day now. They have obviously weighed their options and believe Hartline's price and other variables will serve them better than Edwards. That is the name of the personnel game. 

Just as the Dolphins weighed their options here, we'll weigh their decisions versus what could have been when the season is over and we'll see whether they were correct or not.

Wednesday morn: Live practice blog here

Dang, it's hot, The Miami Herald has learned.

Here's other things the Herald has learned. Agent David Canter said on my radio show, Armando and the Amigo this morning, that the club has had zero contact with him about getting Paul Soliai signed to a longterm deal. Soliai, who counts $12-plus on Miami's salary cap, is a prime target for helping lower that cap hit if the team were to find enough confidence to get him signed longterm.

More on the salary cap front, RT Vernon Carey is here. That is an almost certain sign he accepted a pay cut. If he's not, well, you know that doesn't bode well.

The Dolphins are working at 11 a.m. today. It is one day before the team is completely on the field in that Miami has upwards of a dozen players who are not yet allowed to practice based on the fact they were either traded to the team and signed new contracts or were signed as free agents.

Believe it or not the Dolphins defense, which normally wears aqua jerseys in practice, is wearing orange jerseys. The offense is in its traditional white.

I'm wearing shorts. I'm also headed to the comments section for the live practice blog. See you there.

Anyway, the

Reggie Bush is one such player. He switched numbers today, giving Matt Moore the No. 8 he was wearing lately and taking No. 4 instead. Bush will not wear No. 8 or 4 anyway. He's a RB and those are not allowed.

Marc Colombo will wear No. 71 and DJ Jones is wearing No. 65.

Fins next move: Gotta be a QB, right?

When the NFL lockout was settled, only nine days but seemingly a lifetime ago, there were a handful of teams shopping for a starting quarterback.





And, of course, Miami.

Arizona traded for Kevin Kolb. Seattle signed Tarvaris Jackson. Minnesota traded for Donovan McNabb. The Titans signed Matt Hasselbeck. Even Philadelphia, which didn't need a starter but these days is signing everyone anyway, added Vince Young as a backup.

Everyone filled their need. Well, not everyone.

The Dolphins got ... the Dolphins got ... they got no one.

The mission of adding a quarterback that could come to South Florida and compete and perhaps even upgrade at the position hit a wall. Reports on ESPN by star reporters, reports on national websites and the pages of Sports Illustrated, Yahoo.com, ProFootballtalk.com, and even reports in two other papers have called Miami's one and only chase of that quarterback -- Kyle Orton -- over.





And since there seemingly is no next, some of the publications or websites are making the leap that it is Chad Henne competing with Matt Moore for Miami's starting job. And that is all she wrote.

I guess I'm stubborn. Or stupid. Or both. (Stop snickering.)

I think that's not all she wrote. I think there's more left to write -- a final chapter, if you will.

I tell you the Dolphins continue to chase a quarterback. At least they continue to plot that chase.

I am apparently alone on the proverbial twig believing the Dolphins are not done. I believe the Kyle Orton possibility is definitely not dead -- at least not yet. And I believe before this team finishes the preseason, it will find a way to stage a legit quarterback competition between Henne and another quarterback not named Matt Moore, who is a third-stringer in my eyes.

So I have been snooping. A source told me via text message over the weekend that Orton is still possible. So I'm sticking to that until I'm told otherwise. I've also been looking elsewhere.

Jon Kitna.

A revisit of Carson Palmer.

Jeepers, I'm not even discounting Brett Favre.

No, I do not believe in martians. I simply believe in the Miami front office. These guys have eyes. They must see Henne does not look like a very good QB right now and, at the very least, woudl benefit from some solid competition. These guys also have ears. They must have heard that Henne got booed -- during a practice no less -- by Dolphins fans!

I, Captain obvious, think a better quarterback would do the Miami offense a world of good.

And there are also signs the Dolphins agree and continue to search for that player. They are in the process of clearing salary cap space. They have asked right tackle Vernon Carey to take a pay cut. Carey is expected to accept that pay cut and his presence at practice Wednesday would practically confirm this. (The Dolphins wouldn't let him on the field otherwise.) Even if Carey changes his mind and goes running toward a contract termination, there will be cap space created here. That is not speculation. That is fact.

Another sign that something is afoot is that the organizaton has gone into stealth mode. Suddenly text messages are being ignored. No one wants to speak -- not even on background. The last time it got this quiet, the club added Brandon Marshall. That is a fact.

Here is the speculation: The Dolphins are trying to clear cap space to make a significant move. Logical, right? You don't win by clearing space and just staring at it lovingly. You don't save that space. You clear the space to fill the space with another move.

The Dolphins like their team, believe it or not. While folks outside the organization are wondering when they are going to wake up and address the tight end position, when they are going to add a second starting-caliber wide receiver, or when they are going to get a playmaking safety, Miami personnel department people are actually telling agents they really like their team.

So while I supposed that coming move to fill the cap space created by Carey could be the addition of a WR or TE or something else, I see only one logical addition so glaring in need that this team has to make it:

Add a quarterback.

Now back to my frail little twig.

August 02, 2011

Ronnie Brown to Eagles, Carey paycut story confirmed

Ronnie Brown was last seen in the stands of the Heat vs. Atlanta Hawks playoff series.

No, the man who's played in South Florida since 2005 is not a Heat fan. He was rockin' a Hawks hat. So it is kind of ironic that now Brown is joining what some are calling the NFL version of the Heat -- the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Eagles have announced that Brown has signed a one-year contract with the club. The story was broken by the Philadelphia Eagles website and their twitter handle, @EaglesInsider.

The Dolphins' feeling about this news?

I just got a text from someone with the club reacting to the signing: "Good for Ronnie ... good kid."

But, but, but,

Is it a loss for the Dolphins?

"We like our team"

Alrightie then.

On to bigger news that delves into the shadows a bit:

The Miami Herald's Barry Jackson is reporting ROT Vernon Carey has indeed been asked to take a pay cut. A source close to Carey tells him Carey was unhappy when the Dolphins made the request and he was indeed given time last night to mull the cut because the Dolphins are expected to cut him if he does not accept.

Carey, as I reported on an earlier post, was to meet with Dolphins coach Tony Sparano about this matter this afternoon. Players were off on Tuesday so that gave Carey time to think things over. But the Dolphins must be at the cap by Thursday and definitely won't want to put Carey on the field for practice Wednesday unless he accepts the cut.

Basically, if Carey is practicing Wednesday, that is an almost certain sign he took the paycut. If he is not ... well, you know. But that is not the kicker to this drama.

Want the kicker?

Jackson reports the Dolphins told Carey they needed to secure the cap savings inherent in the pay cut so they could make another move.

I texted a source to try to confirm Jackson's report from the team's point of view. No response.

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