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Friday update: 20 Dolphins and Canes notes


Chad Henne’s evolution as a leader took another step Friday when his teammates voted him captain for the first time, joining incumbent captains Jake Long, Karlos Dansby and Yeremiah Bell.

“It’s an honor and shows respect from my teammates,” said Henne, who never served as a captain when he was quarterback at Michigan. “It proves I’ve come a long way. I’m here to lead this team, to help them win.”

Among those “real pleased” with the news was Tony Sparano, who noted it says “a lot” about the team’s confidence in Henne. The Dolphins will have two captains on offense and two on defense.

 ### Bell said the Dolphins can take away something from the Patriots’ 28-21 playoff loss to the Jets in January.

After an incredible regular season (36 touchdowns, four interceptions), Tom Brady was frustrated and confused at times in that postseason loss to the Jets, who disguised coverages and routinely switched from man to zone. Brady was sacked five times and threw his first interception since Week 6.

One lesson, Bell said, is “you’ve got to get in these guys’ faces. When we’re playing man to man, we have to plaster receivers. And it’s going to be key for us to give him some different looks and not show him what we’re doing off the bat. If you show him what you’re doing off the bat, he already has dissected it.”

The Dolphins have sacked Brady five times in the past four games and generally haven’t done enough to disrupt his rhythm. With Jason Taylor back with the Dolphins, keep in mind that his 10.5 sacks against him are the most of any player.

### Here’s why Henne has improved, according to new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll: “He’s quickened up his feet, his delivery, his eye control on the defense. His accuracy has improved. He has done a much better job operating in the pocket.”

### Injuries remain in issue in the Dolphins’ backfield. Charles Clay did not practice Friday and Daniel Thomas again was limited. Both have hamstring injuries.

### There’s uncertainty what and how the Dolphins will do in short yardage situations, with the team having cut Lousaka Polite, who was 41 for 43 on 3rd and 1 and 4th and 1 runs the past three years.
“We haven’t had to do it without Lou,” Sparano said. “Do I have concerns? No.”

Lex Hilliard would be one option in those spots. If Clay doesn’t play, Hilliard would play fullback whenever the team uses one. "He’s on the team because he does a lot of jobs,” Sparano said. “He quietly flies below the radar. Whenever you put him in the game, he does good things.”

Hilliard said he has never played fullback in a regular season NFL game, though he played it extensively in the preseason finale against Dallas. “As a running back, you’re looking for people to avoid,” he said. “As a fullback, you’re looking for a guy to hit.”

### Even after adding Dante Rosario and Will Yeatman, Sparano isn’t completely sure what he has at tight end. “I’m more comfortable but the jury is still out. I’m going to reserve judgment.”

 ### Several players have switched teams in the AFC East this week, including the Dolphins’ Yeatman (cut by New England) and the Patriots’ A.J. Edds (cut by the Dolphins). So how much inside information can be shared with their new teams?

“It’s overrated,” Sparano said. “To think these guys are going to other teams or coming to our team and able to throw the whole playbook at us – that’s not the case. I’m sure you can gain a little information from a personnel standpoint.”

### Though Sparano hired his son Tony Jr. as offensive quality control coach, they’re not exactly spending a lot of time together. “I don’t see much of him,” his father said. “I saw a lot more when he wasn’t in the building.”

### Taylor, on the difference he has noticed in Paul Soliai from when Taylor was here before: “He’s rich!” (Taylor then gave a serious answer praising his maturity and the fact he's no longer doing “kiddie mistakes, little dumb things.”)

### The Dolphins are determined to get work for their top six defensive linemen. Backups Tony McDaniel and Jared Odrick will play a good bit, and Phillip Merling is expected to get some work in some passing situations. "I come from a background of being rotated" at Penn State, Odrick said.

### In a smart, respectful move, the Dolphins are taking Joe Robbie's statue out of storage - where it had been since renovations on the club level in 2005 - and placing it in a new Joe Robbie Alumni Plaza outside the main entrance of Gate C on the north side. In April, Dolphins CEO Mike Dee discovered the statue in a crate in the parking lot. 

The area will be dedicated in a ceremony at 4:30 p.m. Monday, with Robbie's son, Tim, among those in attendance. Dan Marino, Bob Griese, Larry Little and Dwight Stephenson will be there, and their names will be placed on the ground around the statue (think Hollywood Walk of Fame).

### Jacory Harris addressed Nevingate briefly on Friday (without mentioning Nevin Shapiro’s name). He apologized to UM president Donna Shalala for “everything she had to go through.” He then apologized to fans: “We were young but still no excuse what happened.”

### Harris said he “literally got sick” watching Monday’s game and had “an anxiety attack.” Harris said, “I can’t let my teammates down any more.”

### Allen Hurns was listed ahead of LaRon Byrd as a starting receiver (opposite Travis Benjamin) on the depth chart this week, and coach Al Golden left no doubt why.

“Hurns is in a different league right now,” Golden said. “He is the model for us right now. He’s reliable every day. He’ll block. He’s physical. He’s not afraid to lay out for balls.”

### On receiver Tommy Streeter, Golden said, “He is going in the right direction but he has to take the next step and push the threshold.”

### Golden told 790 The Ticket that it’s “irresponsible” for ESPN’s Mark May to advocate UM getting the death penalty (which isn’t going to happen).

### According to Golden, tight end Blake Ayles (head injury) and defensive tackle Curtis Porter would have been starters if they hadn’t been injured. Both are questionable for Ohio State.

### Travis Benjamin and Phillip Dorsett are in a tight competition to be the punt returner.

### Quarterback Ryan Williams’ appeal to play this season was officially denied by the NCAA. The Memphis transfer will be eligible next season.

### Golden said his offensive line “has been challenged” to improve. Immediately. “We were left in second and longs and third and longs [against Maryland], and we don’t want to be that kind of team. It’s my job to get it fixed.”