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48 posts from August 2013

August 31, 2013

Dolphins (finally) announce cuts

The Dolphins were the last NFL team to announce their roster cuts. They did so three hours after the NFL's 6 p.m. deadline for making those cuts.

Here they are:


G Chris Barker 

C Sam Brenner

WR Chad Bumphis

WR Keenan Davis

DT A.J. Francis

RB Jonas Gray

S Keelan Johnson

S Jordan Kovacs

T Andrew McDonald

WR Marvin McNutt

TE Kyle Miller

DE Tristin Okpalaugo

CB Julian Posey

CB De’Andre Presley

DT Kheeston Randall

DT Tracey Robertson

LB Lee Robinson

LB Austin Spitler

WR Brian Tyms



T Jeff Adams

QB Aaron Corp


Terminated Contracts

LB Antwan Applewhite



The team kept three quarterbacks which means Joe Philbin favorite Pat Devlin is on board -- at least for now.

Devlin made a key 56-yard pass to Marvin McNutt late Saturday night to seal a preseason victory over New Orleans. But the Dolphins kept only four wide receivers today and McNutt was one of the casualties.

I do not expect the Dolphins to go with four wide receivers (Brian Hartline, Mike Wallace, Brandon Gibson and Rishard Matthews) into the season. They will add another, that is practically certain.

The team kept 11 defensive backs -- representing six cornerbacks and five safeties. That, my friends, is a lot of defensive backs. I expect one of those safeties to go when another wide receiver is added. But the fact cornerback Will Davis has been hobbled might be one reason for at least one extra player back there.

By the way, if the Dolphins find a tight end available, I wouldn't be surprised if another DB goes.

The Dolphins kept veteran linebacker Jason Trusnik, mostly for his special teams acumen. But Austin Spitler, a three-year veteran, did not survive despite his good special teams play. 

The team kept more productive (on defense, anyway) linebackers Josh Kaddu and Jonathan Freeny.

The Dolphins kept one fullback -- Evan Rodriguez.

And three tight ends -- Charles Clay, Dion Sims and Michael Egnew. 

It is clear the Dolphins felt they brought more defensive talent than offensive talent to training camp. At least, they found that out once the players got on the field and started playing.

They're going to try to even that out a little bit in the coming couple of days by picking up a couple or of offensive players that can be added as wide receivers or tight ends or offensive linemen.

Also, don't be surprised if the Dolphins add a defensive tackle in the coming days. GM Jeff Ireland loves defensive tackles.

August 30, 2013

Dolphins enter decision time

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

The Dolphins have to trim their roster from their current 75-man limit to 53 players by 6 p.m. Saturday and that means the personnel department and coaches are probably making calls that will affect careers as we speak.

One key question is whether the Dolphins will keep two quarterbacks or three quarterbacks. Ryan Tannehill is the starter. Matt Moore is the backup. And then there's Pat Devlin, who was asked late Thursday night if he thinks the Dolphins should keep three QBs on the roster.

“Absolutely," Devlin said with a wry smile. "Absolutely. I mean, there are pros and cons to everything and the coaches have to take all of that into account."

Devlin (pictured below in a Joe Rimkus photo) has not been told one way or another what the decision will be. Basically, it will boil down to whether he's one of the best 53 or not. That's how the Dolphins want to look at it. They think there is enough room for adjustment within their decisions that they can vary the number of players at key position.

DevlinthrowIn other words, the team doesn't feel it must keep a tight end or five or six wide receivers, or four tight ends, or three quarterbacks. If, for example, the third quarterback is a better player and fit on the team than the fullback, then the QB makes the team ahead of the FB. If the fourth tight end is a better player than the fifth receiver, then the fifth receiver is in trouble.

“I think we’re open to any combination," coach Joe Philbin said of the wide receiver spot. "There’s been no decisions made as to how many we’re keeping."

Devlin had his best performance of the preseason. He completed 22 of 38 passes for 259 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. The night didn't look quite nearly so good when he first left the game late in the third quarter. At that point he was 17 of 30 for 167 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

But then Aaron Corp suffered an injury (either to his shoulder or collarbone, it's unclear as the Dolphins do not report injuries) and Devlin was thrust back into the game.

He then completed 5 of his next 8 passes for 98 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown was a 56-yard connection to Marvin McNutt.

Now, that's the way to make a statement.

“I think there’s a lot of room for improvement," Devlin said. "I think it was fun to get out there in a game situation.  Not going against our defense, it was a lot of fun."

McNutt (pictured right courtesy a Joe Rimkus photo) obviously made a strong case to be the fifth receiver. Rishard Matthews seems to be the team's choice as the fourth receiver.Mcnutt td

“It’s definitely a great feeling to play like that, even though coaches have to make the decision," McNutt said. "I just hope that I proved enough today that I want to be here.  I want to be a guy that can step up and make a play when it counts."

The other side of the McNutt coin was in the locker stall right next door.

Chad Bumphis was clearly the most impressive young receiver in camp early on. He led the team in receptions through three games. Then something happened two weeks ago.

Suddenly, he seemed to be on the outs. He got only three wide receiver snaps in the dress rehearsal game versus Tampa Bay. And he didn't get in last night's game until late in the fourth quarter -- when he still caught two passes for 27 yards

"No idea," Bumphis responded when I asked why he'd been shelved suddenly. "I wasn't told anything. I just went in the game when they told me and did what they asked me to do. I was expecting to play more but, I mean, things happen. They got decisions to make upstairs and I just control what I can control."

It doesn't seem as if Bumphis will make the team. Perhaps the Dolphins bring him back to their practice squad. But it just seems Bumphis, exclusively a slot receiver, suddenly fell out of favor. Perhaps it's because he doesn't play all the receiver spots. Perhaps it's because he's only 5-11 and not 6-1 which the Dolphins prototype seeks.

No idea.

I do have an idea that you'll see Bumphis playing in the NFL at some point. Call it a gut feeling. Call it guessing. I just think the kid has what it takes to play in the league.

And so does he, even if it might not be with Miami.

"Either way, I was blessed just to be here," he said. 'I'm thankful for the opportunity and I'm going to continue to get better. But I know somewhere down the road I'll still be playing football. I felt I showed some good things when I got the chance to show. It will depend on team's needs and what they're looking for at certain times. We'll see how it goes.

"It will make my story that much sweeter when I do make it. When I find a home, I'll make sure I keep it."

August 29, 2013

Dion Jordan: 'I can play' against Cleveland

Although there is still uncertainty exactly how much Dion Jordan will be ready to help the Dolphins when the regular season begins Sept. 8 at Cleveland, the rookie first round pick said for the first time Thursday night he will at least be able to play against the Browns.

"If they need me to play, I'll be out there and play," Jordan said following Miami's preseason finale against New Orleans. "I can play."

That is the most positive Jordan has been about the shoulder injury that allowed him to play only two of Miami's five preseason games and none of the final three. Jordan returned to practice Tuesday for the first time in several weeks although it was on a limited basis.

"I'm trying to be patient. It's really testing my patience," Jordan said. "I do know the situation. I'm going to make sure I'm ready to go when I step out on the field. So when I am ready to go, I'm ready to help this team be successful.

"I'm good. I'm working. That's all I can do. When you're injured, it's a hill to climb. I'm climbing that hill. When it's time to go, I'm ready to go, and it's not just halfway."

As for how the shoulder reponded following the practice Tuesday, Jordan sounded positive.

"It was good," he said. "I was excited to be out there with my guys, get the work in. It's just another step. I'm going to continue work.

"It's a goal for me to get out there and compete every day. I'm not looking at it as the timeline. I'm looking at it as whenever it is, I've got to be ready to play."

Live blog of Dolphins JV vs. Saints JV

It's wholesale night at Sun Life Stadium because, well, the Dolphins are making wholesale lineup changes.

The starting offense isn't playing -- with the one exception of John Jerry. The starting defense isn't playing.

Everybody that will start next week at Cleveland -- with the exception of Jerry -- is sitting tonight.

As it should be.

Salguero and PFF: Unstoppable!

I will be partnering with ProFootballFocus.com this year to bring you the best metrics available on the Dolphins anywhere. They will provide the measurables, I'll augment with analysis and insight. Together we'll be unstoppable!

But seriously ...

As everyone knows, tonight's preseason finale against somebody or other is meaningless. If (huge if) Ryan Tannehill plays at all (I doubt it) you'll have to delay your blinks or you'll miss him. Other starters may play but I cannot be specific at this point, as coach Joe Philbin has declined to reveal his strategy for this big tilt.

I can give you some interesting information related to last week's important dress rehearsal game versus Tampa Bay, directly from the analytical geniuses at ProFootballFocus.com:


John Jerry saw his first action of the preseason against the Buccaneers with 22 snaps. He struggled in pass protection and run blocking.

(Salguero: Jerry needs more work, which is why I advocate playing the starting offensive line tonight. Play them all. They all need work. I will say that last week, Tyson Clabo had an excellent game).

In the battle for the #2 tight end position, Dion Sims saw 23 snaps with the second-team offense while Michael Egnew saw 22.

(Salguero: Sims had the better game. He blocked better. He played faster. He is ahead of Egnew).

Rookie WR Chad Bumphis played the fewest snaps (3) of any wide receiver.

(Salguero: This sounds quite alarming at first blush. And we'll know tonight whether it is if the trend continues. If the trend continues, then that means Bumphis is on the outs. But if he gets snaps tonight, it is possible Bumphis had already earned a spot on the team -- even as the No. 5 receiver -- and coaches wanted to give others a chance to get the remaining spot. There's also a chance the Dolphins were hiding Bumphis, although this is less plausible because he returned punts).

Josh Samuda played all 50 snaps at first-team right guard, but gave up 3 hurries.

Charles Clay manned 42 snaps as the first-string tight end. He picked up a negative grade in pass catching, but cancelled it out with an equally positive run blocking grade.

Tannehill attempted just two passes 20+ yards down the field.

(Salguero: He wanted to throw to Mike Wallace deep on one play, but Wallace got pushed out of bounds on a double move, so knowing that Wallace was thus ineligible to catch the football, Tannehill threw a check-down pass).

Third-stringer Pat Devlin, fighting for a roster spot, passed well when pressured (5-for-7), but stumbled when he had time (7-for-14 and an INT). He completed only 3 of 6 passes with one interception on throws of 10 yards or more and didn't attempt a pass of 20 yards or more.

Mike Wallace, Brandon Gibson,  and Charles Clay each dropped a pass from Ryan Tannehill.

(Salguero: I also recall a drop by Brian Hartline in the end zone).

Perhaps most surprisingly from PFF is this: Left tackle Jonathan Martin was much maligned in his rookie season where he split time between right and left tackle. He finished the season grading positively in only two games all year and had the third worst pass blocking efficiency among starting tackles. Thats why his first three games this preseason were a revelation. Martin didn’t give up a single pressure until Saturday. Against a mixture of Adrian Clayborn and Daniel Te’o-Nesheim Martin gave up a hit and two hurries 


After releasing Richard Marshall during the week, Dmitri Patterson played 27 snaps as the #2 cornerback on the other side of Brent Grimes.

(Salguero: Patterson is your other starting cornerback, folks. Coach Joe Philbin has declined to say that's the case, but that is indeed the case).

MLB Dannell Ellerbe had 4 defensive stops on 28 snaps, while OLB Philip Wheeler had 3 stops in his 25 snaps.

(Salguero: Ellerbe has been outstanding this preseason. If he plays the regular season like he did the preseason, the Dolphins definitely upgraded).

Jamar Taylor, Nolan Carroll, and Will Davis all took at least 20 snaps as reserve cornerbacks. Carroll graded positively, Taylor was average, and Davis received a negative grade.

(Salguero: I like Nolan Carroll as a person. I'm not buying that he will be 16-games consistent as the third CB. Why not, you ask? Because this is his fourth NFL season and he's never been that in three previous seasons. He is what he is).

Dmitri Patterson was targeted three times by Josh Freeman. He allowed just the one catch for 5 yards.

The Dolphins, as a team, allowed the Bucs to haul in just 9 of their 24 targeted passes.

Special Teams

Rishard Matthews missed a tackle on special teams and did not look comfortable on the kickoff coverage team.

Follow me on twitter @ArmandoSalguero

August 28, 2013

Tannehill, starting defense should sit Thursday night

Dolphins coach Joe Philbin declined to say this week whether his starters would play in Thursday's preseason-finale against New Orleans at Sun Life Stadium. Throughout the preseason Philbin has deftly avoided telling his plans for using players in the preseason by saying he won't "finalize" the plans until the day before the game -- which is always coincidently a day he doesn't have any media obligations outside the television broadcasters.

So don't ask me if quarterback Ryan Tannehill is playing in Thursday night's game and, if so, how much.

Don't ask if Cameron Wake is going to play and, if so, how much.

You may, however, ask whether Tannehill and Wake and those folks should play.

Here's my answer: NO WAY!

Here's my other answer: What for?

Here's my third answer: Are you nuts?

Here's my fourth answer: I would play some starters but not others.

I would not play Tannehill. I would not play Mike Wallace. I would not play Brian Hartline. I would not play Brandon Gibson.

That group has had a good enough camp and plenty of time to work in controlled practice conditions that they don't need to be exposed to a freak injury in a meaningless final preseason game 10 days prior to the start of the season.

In four preseason games, Tannehill has completed 34 of 56 passes (60.7 percent) for 377 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. That's an outstanding preseason and it shows significant progress from last preseason when he completed 41 of 78 passes (52.6 percent) for 414 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Personally, I've seen all I need to see from Tannehill this preseason. He's good. There is no issue he needs to solve that can be solved Thursday night. He and his receivers can use some more time together but that's precisely the reason you don't play any of them.

The truth is even a minor injury to one of the receivers, such as a groin pull or tweaking the hamstring or a calf injury, could set the program back as it will certainly cost practice snaps and possibly affect availability for the opener. Why risk that?

And if Tannehill gets injured, how would that feel? The fact is every other AFC East team has had quarterback injuries or at least a quarterback injury scare this preseason. The Dolphins are the only team immune so far.

The Jets had Geno Smith injure his ankle and Mark Sanchez is still day-to-day with a bruised shoulder. The Bills lost Kevin Kolb to a concussion and E.J. Manuel had to have minor knee surgery. Even all of New England held its collective breath for one evening this preseason when Tom Brady got his knee rolled into during a dual practice with Tampa Bay.

So it makes zero sense for the Dolphins to risk adding Tannehill to that list for the mere benefit of playing, at most, a series against New Orleans. The risk far outweighs the reward.

Now, those rules don't apply to other starters, in my opinion.

I would, for example, play the starting offensive line as a unit. They need the work together as John Jerry has been there only two weeks and one preseason series. It would be good to get him another series or two with his starting mates.

It also is necessary because if you're not playing Tannehill, you're going with Matt Moore and I wouldn't want to increase Moore's chances of getting injured in the meaningless preseason finale while playing behind reserve linemen.

The fact is Moore is also very valuable (I refer you to the 2012 game at New York) and I want him whole for the start of the season. Moore has taken enough punishment already behind mostly reserve linemen, taking some vicious hits and getting sacked a team-high six times this preseason. I'd start him and play him behind the starting offensive line.

By the way, Moore hasn't had a good preseason. He's only completed 55 percent of his passes, has thrown more interceptions (2) than TDs (1) and his passer rating is 64.2. So he could use the work and the confidence boost against the Saints' turnstile defense.

So starting Moore behind the staring offensive line makes sense on every level.

It also makes sense for Moore to throw to the young corps of tight ends, who need work very badly, and the reserve receivers, who are playing for a roster spot.

I also do not use either Lamar Miller or Daniel Thomas. Yes, it can be argued both need more work. But if that's the argument, I would say that reflects on the coaching because the Dolphins have already played four preseason games and you shouldn't be still searching for answers to a starting running back competition in the fifth preseason game only 10 days before the regular season.

If Miller and Thomas need more work, they should have gotten more carries earlier in the preseason.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins are looking for a No. 3 running back. Both Mike Gillislee and Jonas Gray are still on the team. Have at it, boys.

On defense, I don't play my starters. I sit all of them. I'm good.

Night off.

Everyone knows the Dolphins defense has been good for years under multiple defensive coordinators and this year should be no different. The unit has had a very good preseason. There is nothing to prove.

Let the backups who are still fighting for roster spots get their fill of snaps this game. It would give the coaching staff more evidence on which to make their final roster decisions. And if an unfortunate injury happens, you are dealing with a reserve player instead of a key starter.

Another reason it makes no sense to use the starting defense? They wouldn't be much tested anyway. You see, quarterback Drew Brees is not going to play for the Saints Thursday night.

Coach Sean Payton, who led the team to the Super Bowl XLIV championship, made that announcement days ago.



August 27, 2013

Dolphins start roster trim with starter Lane

It didn't look good for Jorvorskie Lane last March when the team signed multiple wide receivers, making the likelihood of a three-receiver, one back set tangible. It looked worse a couple of months ago when the team started actively pursuing fullback Vonta Leach.

And although Leach was not signed, it still looked bad when Lane, a starter in 2012, was demoted behind Evan Rodriguez at one point in camp.

Well, where there's smoke ...

Jorvorskie Lane was cut by the Dolphins moments ago.

Lane tweeted, "Great organization thanks for the opportunity much respect! *backtothedrawingboard."

He's among the nine players the Dolphins will cut by 4 p.m. today. Also among the group are linebacker Michael Clay and wide receiver Julius Pruitt.

Stay tuned as more cuts are coming.


The Dolphins announced they have terminated the contract of RG Lance Louis.

I would not be surprised if the Dolphins revisit with Louis after the first game if he is still available. You re-sign him at that point and don't have to guarantee his salary for the entire season. Had he been on roster the first week, team would have had to guarantee $1.6 million.

They have also cut WR Jeff Fuller, DE Emeka Onyenekwu, WR Andrell Smith, LB Nathan Williams, LB David Hinds, and the aforementioned Pruitt, Lane and Clay.

Dion Jordan back at practice (limited)


Dolphins rookie Dion Jordan, out since Aug. 9 with a shoulder issue, is back at practice today for the first time in weeks -- albeit on a limited basis it seems from what was visible in the part of practice open to the media.

[Update 1: Coach Joe Philbin declined to say to what extent Jordan practiced. A source tells me he was limited as he's being brought along slowly.]

Jordan is still not expected to play in Thursday's preseason finale against New Orleans. And his status for the season-opener at Cleveland Sept. 8 is still up in the air.

I don't expect Jordan will participate in hitting. Today, for example, he was doing pull-ups as fellow defensive linemen were engaged in drills versus offensive linemen.

[Update 2: "Anytime I get a chance to go out there and just compete and mix it up, I get a chance to make myself better, it's a big day," Jordan said after practice. "Physically, I felt good. Mainly it's just little things, brushing up on fundamentals."]

This is good news for the Dolphins because it signals that Jordan's surgically repaired right shoulder, which he reinjured at Jacksonville, has been strengthened enough and is pain free (enough) that he is back on the road to playing eventually.

By the way, cornerback Will Davis, nursing what is believed to be an ankle injury, missed his second day of practice.

[Update 3: Head coach Joe Philbin declined to discuss Davis.]

And the Dolphins had a full complement of players at practice today. No one has been cut although multiple players will have to be cut by 4 p.m. today.

[Update 4: Philbin declined to say how long or whether starters would play in the preseason finale.]

Starks: Not starting is 'punishment' for offseason

Randy Starks did not report for any Dolphins offseason work, as was his right once the Dolphins tagged him with their franchise tag. With that tag unsigned, Starks could skip workouts and OTAs and conditioning. And he did.

But when he reported to training camp, the former Pro Bowl defensive lineman found himself competing for a starting role with Jared Odrick.

And Starks privately found this odd. And Starks privately wasn't too thrilled with the setup.

And Starks let some of those private feelings out in public Monday.

"I'm not going to say nothing bad about it," Starks said. "It is what it is. I wasn't here so I guess this is my punishment."

Starks believes, to some degree at least, that because he showed unhappiness with the franchise tag and didn't attend much of the offseason fun, the Dolphins are punishing him for that.

He doesn't like the situation, necessarily, but isn't really complaining, either. He is internalizing much of his dislike for the situation by talking of playing better than he's ever played before. That, by the way, also got out a bit Monday.

"The year I was a backup [2008] I was one of the most dominant players on the defensive line," he said. "If that's the case [this year] I have the potential do it again."

Two things:

The Dolphins have not completely decided that Odrick is the starter and Starks is the backup. Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle has said he'll pick starters week to week depending on who the opponent is and whether Starks or Ordrick match up best against that opponent. And both men will play a lot, regardless of who starts.

Secondly, Starks is playing under an $8.45 million guaranteed franchise tag. But it seems more and more the team is moving away from him after this year. He's only 29 years old and wants a multi-year contract but the Dolphins are unlikely to sign both he and Paul Soliai to a long-term deal.

So it's also possible this is the first step for the Dolphins in distancing themselves eventually from Starks.


August 26, 2013

Philbin thinks Thomas played well

I left this afternoon's Joe Philbin press conference scratching my head. (No, not because I'm infested with lice). I was curious because in discussing how players performed against Tampa Bay for the first time since studying the tape, the coach said he liked the way the running backs played.

"I think they played well," Philbin said of Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas. "I thought both of them. Lamar had one of his better days in pass protection. His awareness was excellent. I thought Daniel Thomas had a good game as well. Lamar had a couple of cleaner run opportunities but I thought they both played well."


Daniel Thomas played well? Really?

Thomas, vying with Miller for the starting running back job, basically delivered an unimpressive performance that should have knocked him from the competition. He rushed for 3 yards on seven carries. He caught two passes for 12 yards. Two of his seven carries lost yardage, including a 3 yard loss on first-and-goal.

He didn't break a tackle. He didn't turn a bad play into a positive play. He didn't seem to do anything that suggested the Dolphins running back job is in good hands.

And so that's playing well?

Now, I understand the Dolphins also grade pass protection and picking the right hole or running lane and all that. But this is a results-oriented business, the NFL. And 3 yards on seven carries does not sound like good results to me.

And yet, after a game that strongly suggests Miller is Miami's starting running back and Thomas needs to get better to be the backup, that's not how Philbin is thinking.  

Asked if he's settled on a starting running back yet, the coach also did not give the job to Miller.

"Not necessarily," he answered.

Now, I'm not a dumb guy. (OK, maybe I'm not a smart guy but give me that I'm not dumb. Work with me). So maybe, just maybe, the coach gave this answer for some psychological reason or unknown agenda.

Maybe Philbin wants to put the idea out there that Thomas played well and is still competing for the job to motivate Miller and keep him from feeling comfortable. Or maybe the Dolphins wouldn't mind getting rid of Thomas and want to talk him up to improve his value.

But this would be so unPhilbinlike that it sounds improbable to me. The coach may not say much, but he rarely blows smoke.

So I'm stumped.

The coach, meanwhile, had other areas about Saturday's so-called dress-rehearsal that he was happy about:

"I thought our guys played hard. I thought we had a good opening possession," he said. "Obviously, we want to score a touchdown. We got ourselves off the field. We missed a tackle on the opening possession that could have gotten us off the field earlier, but we made a stop. We had a negative yardage play on third down that forced them to punt. We know we had special teams give-aways in the first quarter but I thought we came out ready to play. Our play speed was good overall."

No cuts yet, Jordan still not practicing

Unlike many other NFL teams, the Dolphins have still not trimmed to the mandated 75-player roster limit this afternoon. They must do so by 4 p.m. Tuesday.

The club is at practice this afternoon and there is good news and bad news on that front.

Most importantly, rookie first-round pick Dion Jordan is not practicing -- still. He's missed the past three weeks of practice and because he is not working today is thus not going to play Thursday night against New Orleans in the preseason finale.

The bottom line is the Dolphins only have two practice days this week. As Jordan is already missing one, constituting 50 percent of the practice week, there is basically no chance he's going to play Thursday.

And this is a domino-effect situation. The longer he goes without practicing, the less likely he is to be on the field for the regular-season opener Sept. 8. If you remember, I reported last week the team is very concerned Jordan would miss the opener. Following that, Jordan told reporters he "would not be surprised" if he missed the opener.

It certainly is looking that way.

On the plus side, Nate Garner is back to practice as I reported last week he would be. And reserve left tackle Will Yeatman, who missed the last week of practice with an unknown issue, is back at work today as well. Both are practicing.

Yeatman's return is good timing as left tackle Jeff Adams missed drills today. He had a compression sleeve on his left leg.

Rookie cornerback Will Davis also was not present for today's practice for a reason not yet known to me.

August 25, 2013

Dolphins lose, say they're ready

So the Dolphins lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 17-16. They're 1-3 this preseason.

So, of course, they believe they're ready for the regular season.

"Yeah, I'm ready," running back Lamar Miller said. "I just feel like I'm ready. I can help this team win. I'm ready."

He should feel ready because Miller thinks he won the starting running back job Saturday night.

"I do feel like I won the job," he said.

Miller gained 35 yards on eight carries. That's a 4.4 average. It included a 20-yard run. With Daniel Thomas gaining 3 yards on seven carries -- a 0.4 yard per carry average -- I do not disagree.

Lamar Miller is your starting running back.

WR Mike Wallace, who had three catches but dropped on pass, also thinks he's ready to go for the 2013 season.

"I hope so, it's two weeks away, so I hope I'm ready," Wallace said. "Yeah, I think I'm ready. I'm pretty sure. I'll be ready to make some plays when my number's called."

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who played well and delivered a 90 QB rating, believes the offense is "just a hair off."

"I think we're close," Tannehill said. "We've progessed each week and now it's exciting. Now it's time to buckle it up and play for real."

As for himself, Tannehill thinks it's coming.

"I'm progressing," he said. "I'm moving in the right direction."

Coach Joe Philbin wasn't quite as certain things are all set to go as the Dolphins have one preseason game left -- a game in which the starters aren't likely to play very long.

"We didn't play well enough in any phase of the game to win the game," Philbin said.

How about the red zone offense, Joe?

"Not good enough," he said.

Third down offense?

"I didn't think we were very good there. We have a lot of work to do."

The starting offense overall?

"I guess we were okay as an offense," Philbin said. "It wasn't great."

Michael Egnew didn't catch a pass nor was he targetted. Charles Clay had one catch on six targets. Dion Sims had one catch off his only target.

John Jerry started at right guard. Josh Samuda played with starters and on second team after Jerry left the game with approximately 16 snaps. Lance Louis played in the second half.

And then this:

For whatever struggle the Dolphins offense is having I refer you to the fact the Jets and Bills are a disaster offensively.

In Buffalo, neither E.J. Manuel nor Kevin Kolb can stay healthy. It is to the point the team will be working out multiple QBs on Sunday and one of those is former Dolphins draft pick bust John Beck.

In New York, Rex Ryan is seemingly trying to get fired. Rookie quarterback Geno Smith three three interceptions and actually stepped out of the end zone on a quarterback scramble for a safety. Bad night.

Mark Sanchez had a worse night. Ryan actually inserted the veteran into the game in the fourth quarter behind the reserve offensive line. And Sanchez injured his right (throwing) shoulder.

No words. 

August 24, 2013

Live blog of Dolphins vs. Buccaneers right here

I don't like the term, but many NFL teams call it the dress rehearsal -- the preseason game in which starters typically play at least one half and often go into the third quarter.

That's what the Dolphins are playing tonight against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The big news on the injury front is that right guard John Jerry is dressed and will start for the Dolphins tonight.

Jared Odrick will start at defensive tackle ahead of Randy Starks.

 OK. let's meet on the little thingie below for the chat at kickoff. See you there.

August 23, 2013

Dolphins making moves in advance of roster cuts

The Dolphins, and all other NFL teams, have until 4 p.m. on Tuesday to trim their roster to 75 players. This team isn't waiting.

Already this morning multiple back-of-the-roster players have been cut.

Two such players -- offensive lineman Jeff Braun and defensive tackle Chris Burnette -- already announced they've been cut on their twitter accounts.

[UPDATE: The Dolphins announced G Jeff Braun, G Chandler Burden, DT Chris Burnette, LB Alonzo Highsmith, and WR Kenny Stafford have been cut. More coming, folks.]

This was expected. Last year, for example, the Dolphins released nine players two days prior to the first NFL cutdown date. This is how they do business.

The Dolphins will have interesting decisions this year because the team has plenty of good players. Unfortunately for Miami, it has many more good defensive players than offensive players. So the truth is the Dolphins may keep some offensive players that are necessary to fill spots while cutting a couple of better defensive players who have earned a spot but got caught in a numbers game.

Having said all that, allow me to project your 2013 Miami Dolphins 53-man roster. This is simply a projection. It is based on opinion. Mine.

Quarterbacks (2): Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore.

Analysis: And now you're freaking because Pat Devlin is not on the team. Well, I'm sorry, but he's not on my projection. He's done nothing wrong. He's had a solid preseason. But I think some of the sheen is coming off because he's had trouble staying healthy this preseason, his improvement is hardly eye-popping and if the Dolphins are down to their third starting QB this year, I simply don't see that person being Pat Devlin. They would bring in a veteran.

Running backs (4): Lamar Miller, Daniel Thomas, Mike Gillislee, KR Marcus Thigpen.

Analysis: Well, offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said this week the team is searching for a third running back. He didn't say a third and a fourth. But as Thigpen, who is working as a third-down back recently, is also the KR you can add him to this group. The third spot is up for grabs between Gillislee and Jonas Gray. The better player the next two weeks probably takes the spot. The loser? Dolphins will try to stash him on practice squad.

Fullback (1): Jorvorskie Lane.

Analysis: The club has sent Lane multiple messages this year. They flirted with Vonta Leach. They actually demoted Lane once in training camp. And they have given Evan Rodriguez plenty of opportunity to win the spot. Rodriguez is probably a better special teams player. Lane is a better blocker. Both need to be better pass-catchers. It's a toss-up but I'm going with the better blocker to help the running game. 

Receivers (5): Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson, Rishard Matthews, Chad Bumphis

Analysis: Marvin McNutt might still bump Bumphis. Saturday night truly matters for these guys. But I simply don't trust his inconsistent hands. I do trust Bumphis more. He cannot let up, however.

Tight ends (4): Charles Clay, Dion Sims, Michael Egnew and Kyle Miller. 

Analysis: Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman loves tight ends. At one point in 2012, there were five tight ends on the Miami roster. Miller is a bubble guy and has to perform well Saturday to have a prayer, but if he's not on, I see the Dolphins searching the waiver wires or trying to make a trade to add a guy.

Offensive line (10): Jonathan Martin, John Jerry, Mike Pouncey, Richie Incognito, Tyson Clabo, Nate Garner, Will Yeatman, Joshn Samuda, Lance Louis, Dallas Thomas.

Analysis: The fact John Jerry had the knee injury will help Lance Louis because it is clear he's getting better as he himself recovers from knee surgery. Louis is going to be better in October and better still in December. And he's already better than Josh Samuda at the position. You keep him. The backup tackle situation is worrisome.

Defensive line (10): Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon, Randy Starks, Paul Soliai, Jared Odrick, Derrick Shelby, Vaughn Martin, Dion Jordan, Tristan Okpalaugo, Kheeston Randall.

Analysis: Ten defensive linemen is too many, but the fact is Dion Jordan's shoulder injury makes for much uncertainty and that's why Okpalaugo is here. Antwan Applewhite might also be an option but he's a more expensive option because if you keep him, his salary is guaranteed. Maybe Miami cuts him and re-signs after the first week. Hate to cut A.J. Francis, but he's probably one of those good defensive players caught in bad numbers I talked about earlier.

Linebackers (6): Dannell Ellerbe, Koa Misi, Phillip Wheeler, Jason Trusnik, Austin Spitler, Jonathan Freeny.

Analysis: And you're freaking again because Jelani Jenkins isn't on the team. He might be, but the truth is I haven't seen him do much of anything. He has three tackles this preseason. I'd love to find a way to get Josh Kaddu on the team as well. Trusnik is on solely because he's a good special teams guy. Kaddu is better on defense, in my humble opinion.

Defensive backs (8): Brent Grimes, Will Davis, Dimitri Patterson, Nolan Carroll, Jimmy Wilson, Reshad Jones, Chris Clemons, Jamar Taylor. 

Analysis:  Wilson can back up at safety and help in the nickel. I'd like to have another safety, however. I believe Kelcie McCray is pushing for a spot as well. Hate to lose R.J. Stanford. 

Specialists (3): Punter Brandon Fields, K Caleb Sturgis, LS John Denney.

Analysis: Speaks for itself.

August 22, 2013

Joe Philbin answers all your questions

You have questions about the Miami Dolphins. Coach Joe Philbin is the man with the answers.

These are his insights from Thursday's post-practice press conference:

(Opening Statement) – “I thought we had a good week of practice in our preparation of the game against Tampa Bay. I’m excited to see our guys compete. As I mentioned to you guys earlier in the week, we formatted the week much like we will do in the regular season in regards to lifting, meetings and practice. I thought we had a good week of preparation.'

(On if Saturday’s game will give any separation with the tight ends)– “Potentially. We are going to have to see how the various tight ends perform during the course of the game. Certainly every game gives us a chance at another 50 plays, depends on how many each tight end plays..but it gives us more information on decisions about play time. Certainly I think it will help to a certain degree."

(On if he worries about negative off-the-field stories reflecting on the team) – “As I’ve said many times, I’m concerned at all times that our players represent the organization the right way on and off the field. At the present time, my entire focus is on Tampa Bay and getting our football team ready for the 2013 NFL season."

(On if he talked to Richie Incognito about the reported incident) – “As I’ve said, my focus is on Tampa Bay and preparing my football team for the 2013 NFL season."

(On how he would gauge he will get on the team after Saturday’s game) – “I think again you learn about your team every single week in the NFL. That’s kind of the beauty, challenge and the exciting part about it. As a coach and a player, you are never quite sure what’s going to happen during a course of a game. They kind of each have their own storylines. I’m sure we are going to learn more about our football team. As I’ve said, I think we had a good week of preparation, and I’m excited about seeing us compete against a good Tampa (Bay) team."

(On position battles and how Saturday’s game compares to a week of practice) – “We have devoted more time. Again, if you look at the schedule we have invested more time in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and this particular game plan than the preceding practices and the preceding games. We want to see cleaner, faster, better execution from everybody who steps onto the field."

(On if Dustin Keller’s injury gives him pause of how long guys will play in preseason games) – “Not necessarily. Unfortunately, injuries are a part of football. We do our best to put players in a position to condition them well enough where they can go through and play a game without getting hurt, but it’s a hard thing for a coach to control or a player to control, for that matter."

(On if he puts more stock into practice or game performance) – “We look at the total picture. We’ve roughly averaged 115 snaps a day out here on a typical day. A particular player may only get 15 in a game. He may get 30 in a game. I think we look at the whole spectrum of things, and hopefully by the time the end of next week rolls around we’ve got enough information to make good decisions."

(On how Brian Tyms has performed in camp) – “I think he’s improved. There’s no question about it. I like his play speed. He’s doing a better job blocking. He’s trying to be more aggressive in that area. I think he’s caught the ball better. There’s definitely signs of improvement."

(On what he is looking for with Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas versus Tampa Bay) – “They are skilled athletes, both of these guys. They are versatile. They can run the ball. We both feel like they have good hands. They are good route-runners, and we obviously want to see them pass-protect when the time comes and when there number is called in a particular blitz or pressure, those type of things. We are looking for good solid, sound overall performances from those guys, and ball security as well."

(On how both running backs are doing in pass protection) – “They’ve done well so far. They haven’t been challenged a ton, but they’ve done well."

(On how Mike Wallace’s run blocking) – “He’s improving. I think you should use his words as opposed to mine (laughs). No, he’s improving. There’s no question about it. We spend time on it, it’s an important part, especially the way the safeties play in the NFL. Maybe a few years back maybe it was different, but you have to get good blocking from your receiver position if you expect to get explosive runs.  It’s hard for running backs to make two people miss on a play. "

(On who are two or three players in particular who need to show something in the next week) – “I don’t know that there’s any particular individual who needs to show it. Again, we’ve devoted a lot of time to this ball game.  As I said to the staff and I said to our players earlier in the week, we’re looking for us to get lined up, for us to execute our assignments quickly and confidently and for us to be able to make adjustments in game by the players, not necessarily waiting until the sidelines.  If there is a different formation that they line up in offensively we have to be able to make the adjustment, if it’s a different front that they line up in defensively that we didn’t anticipate, we have to have our players make the adjustments.  You’ve been to practice and sometimes here coaches yelling, do this, do this, it’s time for our players to really take charge."

(On how much he needs to see John Jerry in Saturday’s game) – “As coaches we’d always love to see players play, we’re going to make final decisions in regards to play time before the game. We haven’t come to that conclusion yet.  It’s always good to have additional information, I don’t care how many years you’ve played football, it’s still good to get some game snaps under your belt before the season starts."

(On how tough it is for rookies who miss most of the preseason when the regular season begins) – “It’s tougher, there’s no question about it, there’s a lot of value in the practice field, there’s no doubt about it.  There’s a lot of value in the snaps you can get in preseason, as I’ve said many occasions, we spend a lot of time planning practice and we do it  with the expectation and the hope that every player will be able to practice.  We know that’s sometimes unrealistic but, missing practice reps, I don’t know that it benefits players."

(On if he’s seen rookies be successful despite missing some of preseason) – “Oh I’m sure there have been, again nothing comes to my mind at the present time, but yes it’s possible, sure.”

Concern about Jordan missing opener grows

Dion Jordan continues rebab work on that troublesome right shoulder and as the regular season draws closer, sources within the team tell me there is a growing concern the rookie first-round pick may not be ready to play in the regular-season opener.

Jordan will miss Saturday's preseason home-opener against Tampa Bay, which is the most important game of the preseason for the Dolphins. He has already missed several weeks of practice and last week's game at Houston. He missed this week of practice, as well, including today.

Publicly, the team continues to put as optimistic a spin on the issue as possible.

Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle on Wednesday tried to be positive about the likelihood Jordan would be ready for the Sept. 8 opener at Cleveland when he was asked if he doubted Jordan would be available.

"Um, I don't have doubt," Coyle said. "I hope if he stays on target with what we're hearing and what we're seeing, he'll be ready to help us come opening day."

But privately, there has been discussion about whether it is better to keep Jordan out of practice longer than anticipated until there is certainty he has fully strengthened the shoulder beyond any doubt. There has also been discussion with trainers about the chances Jordan could continue to re-injure the shoulder as he plays.

The reason for that discussion is that Jordan must use the shoulder extensively in pass rushing -- with swim moves and under moves -- to get past offensive tackles.

The Dolphins are concerned enough about that issue that they're making contingency plans for not having Jordan available against Cleveland, along with their hopeful plans for using him if he's ready.

“There’s always going to be a plan A, plan B, plan C as you approach the season," Coyle said. "We have a plan in place to utilize Dion, provided that he’s up and ready to go. I think he’s making strides with his rehab and working with our trainers and strength coaches. So we are ready to implement that plan if in fact we get the green light.

"If not, we are proceeding as if we wouldn’t have him in another plan. That’s just part of
football where a guy goes down you’ve got to have a plan. One person doesn’t necessarily completely alter your game plan, so there are other people who can play the role we originally had planned for Dion as well on the current roster. That won’t keep us out of doing certain things that we think are going to help us win the game."

Jordan originally injured his shoulder in college and had surgery in February to remedy the problem. He re-injured it in the Dolphins second game of the preseason against Jacksonville Aug. 9.

August 21, 2013

Wednesday afternoon practice report and other stuff

The ripple effects of yesterday's cutting of cornerback Richard Marshall could be seen in practice today.

Cornerback Dimitri Patterson took first-team snaps, although coach Joe Philbin said with a straight face he has not yet won the starting job. On nickel and dime situations, Patterson moved inside to the slot cornerback spot while Nolan Carroll took over on the boundary.

Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said the club has other options in those situations. He mentioned Jimmy Wilson, who took 500 snaps many in the nickel and dime packages last year, and rookie Will Davis.

"There's a variety of options we have," Coyle said, "it's just a matter of how it all unfolds. Sometimes in the nickel you deploy different personnel depending on the personnel the other team has. You might use a bigger guy in certain situations on first and second down and go with a cover guy on third down."

Coyle met with the defensive backs Wednesday and implored them to make their cases for playing time now because the time for coaches to plan for the season-opener is decreasing by the day.

"We've got some veteran players that we talked to this morning and I told everybody we've got veteran players that have got to step up and play their best football. And the young players have got to realize this isn't college football where you're going to sit and watch for a while. If you're going to play, you need to show it and demonstrate it right now."

One player you'll notice was not mentioned was second-round pick Jamar Taylor. He's not in the plans right now because he missed several weeks of practice, recovering from hernia surgery. But he might be in the plans later in the season.

"He hasn't had enough snaps for us to totally evaluate what his role might be as we begin. But certainly we believe as he develops and gets more experience and more reps, we believe he'll be able to contribute for us this year."

As to practice, Dion Jordan continues to miss practice. Although Coyle believes Jordan "is making strides with his rehab," it is all but certain he will not play Saturday against Tampa Bay. That will be Jordan's second missed game in a row.

Coyle has remained optimistic that Jordan will be ready for the season-opener although I am starting to hear whispers to the contrary.

"Um, I don't have doubt," Coyle said. "I hope if he stays on target with what we're hearing and what we're seeing, he'll be ready to help us coming opening day."

On a couple of special teams notes:

Everyone knows Marcus Thigpen was a fine punt and kick returner last year. He had a touchdown returning kickoffs and a touchdown returning a punt.

But special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi today left open the door on not having Thigpen take all the punt return duties this year. Last year Thigpen returned 26 punts while Davone Bess had four returns.

I think he'll be our kick returner," Rizzi said. "Punt return-wise I think we'll do like we did last year, a little bit of a committee but if we played a game today he'd have a majority of them."

By the way, with the cutting of kicker Dan Carpenter last week, the Dolphins are using punter Brandon Fields as the kicker for onside kicks. "For now," Joe Philbin said.

 Yesterday, the Dolphins offense had 11 turnovers in practice. It was different today. There were only three interceptions and just one fumble.

Reshad Jones and Lee Robison had interceptions of Ryan Tannehill. Pat Devlin was intercepted by Dimitri Paterson. And Mike Wallace was stripped of the ball in 7 on 7 drills.

By the way, Wallace seemed faster than usual today. He caught six passes, including a 60-yarder along the sideline and his stride seemed smooth and effortless. Something has seemingly happened in the last week because, after early struggles in camp, he and Tannehill are seemingly on the same page.

Michael Egnew is also putting together good practice after good practice for the first time. He was solid again today. It didn't look like it a month ago, but he is definitely making this team now.

A look at the running game with Miller, Thomas

I've been saying for several weeks the Dolphins have not decided on a starting running back. Yesterday, Joe Philbin said it. And in my column for The Herald's print editions, I detailed how it is that perhaps Daniel Thomas is now ahead of Lamar Miller for the starting job, and how it is Miller hasn't snatched the opportunity that was presented to him.

Mike Sherman, Miami's offensive coordinator, believes if the regular-season started tomorrow, the Dolphins would basically have a platoon system because neither Miller nor Thomas has earned extra carries. 

"I think Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas are competing neck and neck," Sherman said. "They both have their strengths. I think their competition has brought out the best of them on most occasions. I'm anxious to see how we play this season. Obviously, I think, if we were playing tomorrow, both guys would get plenty of snaps in the ball game."

So why is this running back competition so important in a pass-first, quarterback driven league?

Well, for the Dolphins, it's important because they want balance in the offense. It's important because the offensive line needs protection from rushers just teeing off, and it's important to help quarterback Ryan Tannehill do his job.

“It’s huge," Tannehill said. "It is a passing league but if you can run the football effectively, it takes so much pressure off a quarterback and an offense in general. If teams know you’re going to throw every down, they can throw their rush at you. They can tee off on our tackles and it kind of limits the deceptiveness of anything you can do. So it’s really important for us. And we’ve done a good job of it so far."

Really? They've done a good job?

I know both Miller and Thomas are averaging 4.1 yards per carry this preseason. But a couple of years ago, Reggie Bush averaged 5.0 yards per carry and last year he was at 4.3 yards per carry and the Dolphins still finished 7-9.

Miami needs to do better than 4.1 yards per carry which is just .1 yards above the traditional league average.

 “It could be better, just like the passing game could be better," Tannehill admitted. "But that’s something we’re practicing for. We’re going into preseason week three. It’s not going to be perfect right now. We’re working on it. It will continue to be better.”


August 20, 2013

Dolphins cut CB Richard Marshall

Richard Marshall's days with the Miami Dolphins came to an end this evening, a league source has confirmed.

Profootballtalk.com was the first to report the news.

Marshall, locked in a competition for a starting cornerback job, apparently didn't fit the team's plans because he wasn't going to win the competition and the club decided to go a different direction with its slot corner situation as well.

Today in practice the club used Jimmy Wilson as a first-team player on nickel situations ahead of Marshall. Marshall was curiously used as a safety in that situation.

Interestingly, coach Joe Philbin told the media not to read too much into that.

 “It’s just a preparation type of thing covering different potential things that may happen from a depth standpoint," he said.

Hours later, Marshall was gone.

Marshall, by the way, was not having a great preseason. Although he was working hard in practice, he gave up a handful of catches in the last three games. It seemed, frankly, no better than last preseason when Marshall was beaten numerous times but eventually the team found it was perhaps because he was nursing a bad back.

Marshall had surgery on that back and said he was 100 percent this training camp. But the results on the field were no better.

The Dolphins were scheduled to pay Marshall $4.55 million in base salary this year. It's clear the team was going to pay that only if Marshall won the starting job. By cutting Marshall the team saves $4.6 million against the cap.

But Marshall will nonetheless cost the Dolphins $1,166,667 in dead money this year and another $1,166,667 next year. That's a total of $2.333 million in dead money for this player through 2014.

Marshall, who signed a three-year $16 million deal in the spring of 2012, played four games for Miami. He had 17 total tackles and one interception.

This moves strongly suggests Dimitri Patterson has won the starting cornerback job opposite Brent Grimes. At least for now.

Regular-season type practice today (hope not)

The Dolphins are on a regular-season schedule now. They're practicing like it's regular season. They're meeting on a regular-season schedule. And they're preparing for the Tampa Bay Bucs, Saturday's preseason opponent, like it's the regular season.

Well, the defense is anyway.

The offense today?

Five fumbles. Six interceptions.

Every QB threw at least one interception. Reshad Jones plucked two of those interceptions on defense.

It wasn't a total disaster for the offense. Ryan Tannehill and Mike Wallace connected on what was a 75-yard touchdown pass that must have traveled 50 yards in the air. Of course, the play was against back-of-the roster DBs Julian Posey and Don Jones, but take the good news wherever you can.

Big news of the day was the return to practice of Randy Starks and John Jerry. Both have missed the entire preseason and both participated in 11 on 11 work today. I must report, however, they did so with different results.

Starks, a defensive tackle, looked great. He moved well and had what would have been a tackle behind the line of scrimmage and after practice said he's ready to play Saturday night.

"Everything is good," Starks said. "I came back slow so everything worked out. I'll be ready."

The timing of Starks injury is important because fellow DT Jared Odrick hobbled through drills today with some unknown leg injury he continually had to nurse throughout the workout. At one point, Odrick was so visibly frustrated he slammed his helmet to the ground. It did not look like it's serious because Odrick continued to grind, but this merits monitoring.

Jerry worked as the starting right guard and shared first-team snaps with Lance Louis. Frankly, Jerry seemed to be favoring the left knee. It didn't help that he crumpled to the ground on his first 11 on 11 snap and missed a block on his second. He didn't have much explosion in his steps and was mostly just not looking like he's 100 percent yet.

"No comment," Jerry said about that.

Jerry said he's pleased he got the work but declined to say whether he'll play against Tampa Bay. (I don't believe he will).

"You take coach Philbin with that, he'll answer it for you," Jerry said. "I got an opportunity to get out last week and do some individual work or so. Coming out today and getting some contact was good."

The return of Jerry and use of Louis at right guard has moved Josh Samuda back to second string center. Today marked the first practice in several weeks Samuda did not take any first-team snaps with the offensive line.

Dion Jordan (shoulder) did not practice today. Jordan Kovacs (leg) did not practice today.