Thursday Dolphins notes: Hurricane Erika plans; Coyle opines; Dallas Thomas ready for switch; Another local radio shakeup
With South Florida at risk of being impacted by a hurricane early next week, the Dolphins have examined the possibility of moving practice to an undisclosed location elsewhere, potentially on Monday and Tuesday.
“We’ve discussed a couple different scenarios,” coach Joe Philbin said. “We’ll be ready if we need to. Everything is on the table. We have to get our team ready to play in the regular season.”
Philbin declined to say where practices might be moved.
According to projections released Thursday afternoon, Tropical Storm Erika is expected to reach hurricane status with 75 mph winds as it approaches South Florida on Monday. It’s too early to tell whether South Florida will get a direct hit.
The Dolphins say there are no plans to move Saturday’s home game against Atlanta. And the storm is expected to have passed before next Thursday’s preseason finale against Tampa Bay at Sun Life Stadium.
### Dallas Thomas said he’s prepared to play some left tackle on Saturday in the absence of Branden Albert (knee) and Jason Fox (concussion). Thomas has been working with the first team at tackle this week.
“He’s a good athlete; one of the things that intrigued us when we watched his college film was his position flexibility,” Philbin said of Thomas.
But Thomas allowed seven sacks when he played tackle last season. “I remember it all: the good, bad and ugly,” Thomas said Thursday, smiling.
Thomas has worked mostly at left guard this summer and is the likely starter there.
Asked if moving to tackle is disruptive, he said, “It can be if you let it and say, ‘Man, I’ve been doing so good.’ [But] you have to do what’s best for the team.”
### Philbin, on the situation at guard: "We're not necessarily locked and loaded at that position. Still a lot of evaluation going on."
Thomas appears the likely starter at left guard and either Billy Turner or Jamil Douglas figures to start at right guard, with Turner the front-runner.
### Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle confirmed what had already become clear: Walt Aikens is the “leading candidate” to replace injured Louis Delmas as the starter at safety, alongside Reshad Jones.
“Even prior to Louis’ [season-ending knee] injury, Walt was one of the most improved players on our team throughout the spring, throughout training camp,” Coyle said. “He’s a very, very good athlete. He needs experience and he’s getting that. Hopefully will make an impact on the defense.”
In Delmas’ absence, Michael Thomas’ role also “has increased,” Coyle said. “Mike is a guy you can rely on. Very capable, very steady, confident back there.”
### Coyle said “a final decision has not been reached” on middle linebacker, but the Dolphins worked all week with Kelvin Sheppard at middle linebacker, flanked by Jelani Jenkins and Koa Misi.
Sheppard clearly is the front-runner for the job, in part because the Dolphins want more consistency from Chris McCain, who would be the likely starter if Misi played middle linebacker and Sheppard came off the bench.
“It’s not an issue we lay awake at night worrying about,” Coyle said of middle linebacker. “We’re confident we have the right mix of guys who can get the job done. You are looking for an instinctive player that likes to take charge and communicate. Kelvin Sheppard has done a very good job. Koa has made great strides in that capacity. He’s going to have opportunities to show that.”
### On McCain, Coyle said: “Chris is a guy that flashes tremendous athleticism. You love his height. You love his range. You love his length. He can do a lot of different things.
“But the consistency down in and down out is something [we want]… I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Chris to this point. We know what he’s capable of doing. He can be better. He can be more impacting both as a linebacker and as a rusher. I hope we start to see that.
“I talked to Chris walking off the field today – I want to see him go out there Saturday night and cut it loose and be the athlete he’s capable of being. Don’t think too much.”
### Among the rookie linebackers, Coyle said: “Zach Vigil has really stepped up. Jeff Luc has stepped up.”
### Jamar Taylor, a likely starter, expects to return from a quad injury by the regular-season opener, and Coyle said there’s “still a lot of competition at the corner spot.
“Jamar started the [Carolina] game very well. It was an outstanding interception he made…. It was textbook, clinic. Between Jamar and Brice McCain, we’ve got two. In the NFL, when you say starting corners, people make a big deal who are the two starting corners.
Three of them are going to play 65, 70 percent, some games even more of the snaps. You really have three starting players, and we have those kind of guys.
“Zack Bowman is getting good work. Bobby McCain has had an opportunity to show what he can do. Tony Lippett has done well on the outside. We’re building up some depth on the perimeter. We kind of know what [Brent Grimes] brings to the table.”
### Coyle, on his defense: “The expectation level is as high as it has ever been, since I’ve been here.”
### Besides Fox, Jamar Taylor (thigh), DeVante Parker (foot) and Jordan Tripp (ankle) also sat out Thursday’s practice.
### Bill Lazor also spoke today, and Adam Beasley will post those comments shortly in a story on the home page.
This has been a highly tumultuous summer for South Florida sports radio, and that continued today when WMEN-640 dropped longtime local personality Hank Goldberg, who had been hired in April to handle the 3-6 p.m. time slot.
“I was surprised,” Goldberg said. “I’m disappointed. I thought it was a quality show. I thought I brought something unique” in terms of experience, perspective and a Rolodex full of contacts.
Goldberg had scheduled Dave Dombrowski, who recently joined the Red Sox as their top baseball executive, as a guest on Thursday’s show.
But Goldberg, informed of his dismissal on Wednesday night, was yanked from the air immediately and was told that Joe Raineri will replace him.
Raineri had been hosting the show before Goldberg, from noon to 3 p.m. WMEN intends to air Colin Cowherd’s new Fox show from noon to 3 p.m.
Sid Rosenberg remains the station’s morning-drive host.
### Barring an unforeseen hiccup, Dan Le Batard’s new 10 a.m. -1 p.m. show on ESPN Radio is expected to debut Labor Day week.
Le Batard also is expected to do a local hour from 9 to 10 a.m. on 790 The Ticket.
Nothing has been announced, pending the finalizing of contracts.
The Ticket is still mulling how to replace Le Batard on afternoon drive and is considering options beyond Ethan J. Skolnick and Israel Gutierrez, who had been the early favorites based on station feedback. Skolnick, Gutierrez and many others remain under consideration.
### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz