« October 2012 | Main | December 2012 »

64 posts from November 2012

November 02, 2012

Tannehill listed as questionable, team cautiously optimistic

The Dolphins have prepared as if Ryan Tannehill is going to play on Sunday and expect him to play on Sunday, according to various sources. But there is that tiny bit of uncertainty that remains and is still troubling.

The truth is Tannehill has practiced every day this week. But he's been limited. The truth is he's recovered from each practice well enough to go ahead and practice the following day. But the fact he hasn't been able to do everything troubles.

He's had swelling. He still has pain.

But he thinks it is manageable.

So where does that leave us?

The Dolphins are cautiously optimistic Tannehill will play. But his final status will most likely be determined Sunday morning. That will follow a flight to Indianapolis and a night spent sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings. Tannehill will also get treatment in Indy, I'm told.

The Dolphins are prepared to use Matt Moore if Tannehill unexpectedly suffers some sort of setback. Indeed, Moore is ready to go even if Tannehill starts but cannot finish.

We'll see.

The news seems much more positive on defensive tackle Tony McDaniel. He also will be listed as questionable because he's managing a knee injury. But he expects to play.

[Update: WR Brian Hartline is also listed as questionable with a groin/hamstring injury. He was limited in practice today but also expects to play, barring complications.]

Dolphins view Colts as a team to worry about

The Indianapolis Colts had the first overall pick in the draft last April after parting ways with Peyton Manning and closing the book on an era.

Little did anyone know they'd be this good this fast. But here we are a couple of days before the Dolphins play the Colts and I am seriously concerned about this game. What's more, the Dolphins are seriously concerned.

Even as preparations go forward and little seems different with the Dolphins on the surface, there is legitimate worry in the halls of the team's Davie, Fl. training facility. Joe Philbin, the personification of an even keeled sort, has seemed a bit tight this week, according to a couple of players I've spoken to privately.

"Not just [Philbin] but I think everybody," one player kidded. "The F-bomb count in practice has been a little higher than normal this week."

Philbin's shown some concern this week in that he asked players to do more than the usual amount of preparation for this game. That from a guy who wants his players doing a ton of preparation for every game anyway.

"Our focus is going to be, again, this is what we call an uncommon opponent because we don’t play these guys a lot," Philbin said. "They’re new. I’m sure we present some of the same challenges to them obviously, but we kind of appealed to the players that we have to spend some extra time in preparation. It’s not like the Jets who we knew relatively well. We go against those guys all the time, but it’s a different week and we have to be prepared for it."

Philbin has also been worried about the status of quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who is nursing a swollen and bruised left knee and is likely to be listed as questionable for the game on Friday. Philbin has a phobia about discussing injuries as a matter of policy. But this week he has been actively trying to shut down the conversation of Tannehill's injury, been trying to limit how much reporting is done on what Tannehill is doing in practice, and been trying to even limit the amount of questions the media asks on the topic in press conferences.

The past two days he's made a statement relating Tannehill's limited practice status and then told reporters that's all he'll say on the subject -- the inference being don't ask anything else about it.

"Ryan Tannehill practiced on a limited basis," Philbin said Thursday. "There’s really nothing else new to report on that. We’re going to see how practice unfolds and make the best for the team when we have enough, appropriate information. Beyond that, that’s the quarterback discussion for the day."

Basically, Philbin wants as little information getting to the Colts as possible. And that speaks to a greater issue which is the Dolphins believe they need to find every shred of advantage they can to win this game because, well, they're concerned about the Colts.

The Colts, you must remember, have players with big-game experience on their roster -- much moreso than Miami. Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, Reggie Wayne, Adam Vinatieri, and Antoine Bethea have won a lot of playoff games and even a Super Bowl in Indy.

The Colts, you must remember, have done unexpected damage to teams with playoff hopes this year. They beat Minnesota. They beat Green Bay.

The Colts are at home where they are 3-1, with their only loss coming when Jacksonville's Blaine Gabbert completed an 80-yard TD pass to Cecil Shorts with less than one minute to play.

This isn't your run-of-the-mill rebuilding team. They're dangerous. The Dolphins recognize this.

And they're concerned about it.

November 01, 2012

Trade deadline at 4 p.m. but move would surprise

The trade deadline is expected to come and go this afternoon at 4 p.m. and, as of this hour, the Dolphins are not working on a blockbuster. There actually aren't many blockbusters out there to be had, frankly, unless you plan to overpay for D'Angelo Williams.


It would surprise if the Dolphins pull off anything by today's deadline.

And that brings me to this:

Remember when the Dolphins traded cornerback Vontae Davis? The impression the team left when that trade was made was that the assets they received from Indianapolis -- a second-rounder and a conditional sixth-rounder that is now in jeopardy based on Davis being injured a lot this year -- would be used immediately.

General Manager Jeff Ireland said at the time that he could use the extra picks to trade for a wide receiver, which the team clearly needed then and, frankly, still needs.

Ireland called it "ammunition to do things this year or any year." There was a strong belief at the time that Ireland, eager to make his team as good as possible as quickly as possible, would use that ammunition this year.

But unless the Dolphins pull that big trade surprise in the coming hours (not likely) it seems he actually meant next year.

The extra ammo wasn't meant for Dwayne Bowe -- who is very, very expensive and is unsigned for next year.

The extra ammo wasn't meant for Mike Wallace -- who was in the doghouse in Pittsburgh at the time after not reporting to training camp.

The extra ammo wasn't meant for anyone today.

I'm not saying this is bad or wrong. It is, however, now fact. Truth is the Dolphins attacked the need at receiver on the waiver wire and through street free agents.

Anthony Armstrong was acquired via waiver, came in, washed out, and is now in Jacksonville. Jabar Gaffney was signed off the street, came in, marinated for a time on the inactive list, and is now getting playing time as a third receiver.

And the Dolphins feel relatively comfortable with that situation.

Me? I know this team needs to upgrade at receiver. I don't buy the argument that status quo is good enough. It is not. The Dolphins don't have anyone that scares anybody. They have solid role players. But they certainly could make the WR corps better with a star.

Apparently, however, the team has decided that star will have to come in next year's free agency or the draft at the earliest.

Welcome to a November that matters

Today is November 1, 2012. The Dolphins are preparing for a game that is meaningful to them.

How you like them now?

It hasn't been that long since the Dolphins went into November with something riding on the outcome of the coming games. In 2010, the club was 4-3 to start November before finishing 7-9.

But because we often remember what went wrong more than what has gone right, I had to actually remember why there's been such a feeling of dread around the Dolphins to start November -- even with what seemed like a chance to do damage in 2010.

Perhaps it's because last season,  In 2011, the Dolphins were 0-7 going into the first week of November and there were "Suck for Luck" calls echoing throughout Miami fandom. In 2009, the Dolphins were 2-4 through October and with Chad Pennington already down for the year and Gibril Wilson still on the roster helping the other teams win, there simply wasn't a ton of optimism surrounding the team.

This year seems different. It feels different.

I'm not saying the Dolphins are going to be a playoff team. Frankly, I'm not sure they'll even be at .500 when all is said and done. But there isn't a feeling of dread over this squad. One is not expecting the next shoe to drop like last season when I was basically reporting weekly updates on whether Tony Sparano was being fired. 

This year the club is relevant. Blessed by a favorable schedule, the Dolphins should be in Sunday's game at Indianapolis, the games at home against Seattle and Tennessee, and the Bills don't scare anyone.

So November doesn't loom as a catastrophe month. December does. But November does not. (Keeping it real, folks.)

And that's good for you. That's good for me.

And that's good for the team.

Players report to work happy to be working instead of feeling like its drudgery. Coaches aren't on the hot seat and they can do their jobs better because the players are engaged.

"It’s always fun," coach Joe Philbin said. "I told the players, ‘There’s nothing better in the National Football League than coming to work in November and December and, like you just mentioned, having meaningful games.’ It’s a lot of fun. It gets your juices going as it should. That part of it’s fun, no question.”

Happy November!