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Day 4: Early Up, Early Out

Threatening weather reports prompted an early start to Monday morning's practice. I wonder if anybody was still trapped in online registration limbo when the team took the field. More red zone and third down work Monday, important areas of focus for any team and quarterback, but Alabama-high on the To Do list for a team that had red zone trouble the previous year and has an inexperienced quarterback.

Full pads go on Tuesday before a day off Wednesday. They'll have a full scrimmage Saturday night that might or might not be open to the public (my money's on not). 

"These next few days, we'll do a lot of crossover training," FIU coach Mario Cristobal said. "Tomorrow, we're going to teach all our offensive kids to tackle. We don't want interceptions or fumbles, but they're bound to happen. When they do, let's not have them go 80, but get them on the ground right there."

Also, they'll find out who can pass, who can punt, who can long snap in addition to the players they already know have those additional qualities. The conversation swung that way when I asked about long snappers. Few fans ever think about long snappers until a series of bad snaps aborts field goal attempts or punts in a close game. Coaches, on the other hand, want to think about long snappers just long enough to make sure they're more dependable than the living room TV. John Denney's in his eighth year with the Dolphins, his fourth Dolphins head coach, because he's had maybe two bad snaps in his career. Mitch McCluggage is back as FIU's long snapper. Jonathan Cyprien and Shae Smith are backup long snappers. They also have Matthew Cowart out of Hollywood South Broward as a freshman long snapper.

Another freshman making a good early impression is wide receiver Nick England out of Suwanee Collins Hill. England made some nice catches over the middle in 7-on-7 and team drills Sunday. With FIU using so many three-wide sets, it's entirely possible he could scale the depth chart to playing time level.

See today's story on Justin Halley at http://www.miamiherald.com/sports.



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