Sunday night update: Agent Drew Rosenhaus said on his weekly segment on WSVN-Fox 7 that it's unlikely Yeremiah Bell will return to the Dolphins.
The Dolphins and Rosenhaus had discussions about Bell re-signing with Miami after he was released last month, but those talks did not work out, Rosenhaus said. Instead, the Dolphins signed former Vikings free agent strong safety Tyrell Johnson.
Rosenhaus said he could see a scenario in which Johnson and Reshad Jones compete at strong safety (Bell's former position with Miami), and Chris Clemons and Jimmy Wilson compete at free safety. Jones started 12 games at free safety last season, but his skill set is well-suited for strong safety. Wilson played cornerback last season but has experience playing safety at Montana, and the Dolphins have given thought to moving him there.
The Eagles, Jets and Patriots reportedly have expressed interest in Bell. If he signs with the Patriots, he would be the second member of last year's Dolphins secondary to sign there, joining Will Allen.
# # #
Now on to the Sunday buzz column...
With the Dolphins failing to add a premier free agent pass rusher, there’s more urgency now to draft at least one – someone who can play defensive end, outside linebacker or both on a team that finished 13th in sacks per pass play and lost its second-leading sacker in Jason Taylor, who had seven.
In this draft, “there’s a good group that can turn up the field athletically,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. Some buzz on Miami’s options:
### Possibilities at No. 8 --- North Carolina’s Quinton Coples: If he’s there, it will be tempting because of the physical gifts. But several scouts said Coples is too risky because of inconsistent effort and performance last season, when four of his 7.5 sacks came against James Madison and Duke.
Coples said he understands why some people did not believe he was giving full effort: “I take long strides. It’s the gift and the curse.” One scout laughed at that, saying he simply didn’t bother chasing some plays to the opposite side.
“Coaches told scouts that he was playing not to get injured as a senior,” Sports Illustrated's Tony Pauline said, adding he would take Coples at No. 8 because “he’s a top five talent, and you have to role the dice and look at the potential value and upside. You could have a dominant defensive lineman for a long time. You might look back with regret, but it’s a Randy Moss situation. At the Senior Bowl, when Coples wanted to be, he was dominant. He’s a game-changer.”…
South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram (10 sacks): Ingram said what sets himself apart is “my relentless effort to get after the ball.” That can’t be disputed, nor can his athleticism and versatility; he was star basketball player in high school and scored a touchdown on a fake punt last year.
The only concern is his size (6-1, 31 ½ inch arms), which makes him a bit of a linebacker/end tweener. “He has quickness and explosion, but I would not play him at defensive end,” CBS’ Charley Casserly said. “There are not many successful 6-1 defensive ends.” NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said: “The key to Ingram is moving him around. He’ll be disruptive as long as you’re creative.” ESPN's Mel Kiper has Ingram going seventh and Coples 12th in his latest mock draft.
Coples and Ingram will both visit the Dolphins.
### Options if Miami trades down in the first round --- Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw (8.5 sacks): No. 8 “is early for him,” Pauline said. Kiper has him going 16th and said “there are fair questions about whether he’s a tweener – too small to handle 4-3 defensive end and too big to be an every-down 3-4 outside linebacker.”…
Southern California’s Nick Perry (9.5 sacks): He’s “a little bit of an athletic freak,” Mayock said. His 4.51 in the 40 was impressive for a 271-pounder. Concerns? “Some games, I thought first-round pick,” Mayock said. “Others, I thought second or third.” Kiper, who has him going 28th, said he’s “a good pass rusher but might not be an every-down guy.” Casserly said he's inconsistent against the run....
Illinois’ Whitney Mercilus (16 sacks, nine forced fumbles): “He’s a little bit of a one-year wonder,” Mayock said. “I don’t think he’s stout at the point of attack. Borderline late one to mid-two.” Kiper has him going 19th.
Mercilus had just one sack in 17 games before last season but said, “I was learning before last year. Sixteen sacks is 16 sacks! You can’t just fall into a sack!”…
Syracuse’s Chandler Jones: His stock has soared; Kiper raised him all the way to 18th in his mock draft, even though he has just 10 career sacks (4.5 in seven games last year). “A phenomenal athlete and the most underrated player in the draft,” ESPN's Todd McShay said.
### Possible options at 41: Boise State’s Shea McClellin (seven sacks). There's a decent chance he will be gone before that; Kiper has him going 27th. “The more tape I watch of him, the more I like him,” Mayock said. “A playmaker with a nose for the football. Second round pick who could move into the first.”…
Marshall’s Vinny Curry (11 sacks, plus two in the Senior Bowl): “He would be a tremendous bargain if he’s there at that spot for Miami,” Pauline said. “Curry has a more well-rounded game than Mercilus. Stopping the run isn’t a strong suit for either. Curry is actually a better pass rusher than Coples, but Coples is a more complete guy.”
McShay said, “He will never be an elite player, but I don’t see any way he doesn’t succeed at the next level.” Kiper has him going 52nd…
Clemson’s Andre Branch (10.5 sacks): Came on strong at the end of last season; Kiper has Miami picking him at 41. “But there are questions about his personality and character,” Pauline said…. Oklahoma’s Ronnell Lewis (5.5 in 10 games). “I have him as a solid second-round pick and his ability might be higher than that,” Mayock said, voicing concerns about his durability. He has good quickness but he's under 6-2 and has had knee problem.
Bottom line, from Pauline: “You could get a good pass rusher at 41 and could probably get better value there.”
### Potential third-round options at 72 or 73: Nebraska’s Jared Crick (one sack in five games before a pectoral injury last year, but 9.5 each of the previous two), Virginia’s Cam Johnson (underachieved a bit; 12.5 sacks in four years), West Virginia’s Bruce Irvin (8.5 and 14 sacks the past two years; the Dolphins like him), Troy’s Jonathan Massaquoi (six sacks as a junior, 13 as a sophomore), UM's Olivier Vernon ("not a fluid guy but a speed and power guy,'' Mayock said), Boise State's Tyrone Crawford (6.5) and Arkansas’ Jake Bequette (10 sacks, All-SEC).
### Later-round sleepers: Pittsburgh end/linebacker Brandon Lindsey (10, 8.5 sacks past two years), Prairie View A&M’s Adrian Hamilton (22 sacks last year against weak competition); California's Trevor Guyton (5.5); and Nevada’s Brett Roy, SMU’s Taylor Thompson and San Diego State’s Miles Burris (8 sacks apiece in 2011).
### Here’s what stands out to us about the Heat’s play in clutch moments this season, which is measured by the NBA as the final five minutes with a margin of five or less: Aside from Norris Cole (2 for 2), Chris Bosh is the only Heat player shooting above 44 percent in those spots, and he’s well above that at 58. (Bosh's rebounding since the All-Star break remains exasperating, but that's another story.)
LeBron James is shooting 41 percent in the clutch (well below what he usually did in Cleveland, but still scoring a decent amont - 26.4 points if projected over 48 minutes), and Wade is at 38 percent, because he has shot mid-range jumpers poorly in crunch time (5 for 18). During those clutch minutes, Mario Chalmers has missed way too many threes (2 for 14) and Shane Battier is 1 for 7 from the field. Udonis Haslem is 6 for 14 in the clutch.
### Once Mike Miller returns, a tough decision awaiting Erik Spoelstra is whether to use slumping Cole (just 2 for his past 21) when Chalmers is off the floor or whether instead to play more without a natural point guard. Entering Friday, the Heat was plus-21 in 84 minutes without Chalmers or Cole. “There is no downside at all” to that lineup, James said.
But Spoelstra doesn’t exactly agree and said he prefers to go without a point guard only for three or four minute bursts at most: “Everyone feels more comfortable when we have a point guard on the floor,” he insisted. “We’re more efficient.” Spoelstra went 12 minutes without a point guard in Friday's debacle against Memphis, giving more work to emerging Terrel Harris and less to Cole.
The lineup of the Big Three, Haslem and Miller has been a lethal unit since last year’s playoffs but has logged only 15 minutes together this year, during which Miami has outscored teams 42-18. Less effective has been the Big Three with Haslem and Battier, a unit that has been outscored by 11 in 33 minutes.
### Not only was Friday's embarrassing loss the first home game that Miami never led a single time since James signed here, but Elias reports it was the first game in James' career in which his team was outshot (field, threes and from the line) and had the worse numbers in rebounds, assists, blocks and turnovers. Otherwise, everything went great!
### Yankees star Alex Rodriguez called the Marlins Park aquarium “genius” and said, “I love everything about this place.” But player reaction hasn’t been all positive. “I’m not crazy about the color of the wall or the distracting piece of art,” Cardinals first baseman Lance Berkman said of the home run sculpture. “It’s a good looking park, but the [outfield] is too big and the outfield walls are too high. Standing here by the dugout, our center fielder looks like a midget.”
### On Opening Day, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria couldn’t resist taking a verbal poke at those who fought the stadium. “People who tried to bully us haven’t gotten away with it!” he said, unprompted. “There were plenty of naysayers, people who can’t stop shooting their mouths off.” Did he get tired of Norman Braman’s attempts to torpedo it? “I don’t listen to big mouths,” he said. OK then…. No team had managed as few hits as the Marlins did in their first two games (seven) since Detroit in 2003.
### Cane-on-Cane crime: Jeremy Shockey reportedly wants an apology and is considering legal action against fellow Warren Sapp, whose accused Shockey of being “the snitch” who revealed the Saints’ bounty program. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Shockey wasn’t the source. “Warren should not have done that,” ex-Cane Bryant McKinnie said. “It wasn’t accurate, and I wouldn’t expect him to throw another Cane under the bus.”
Sapp, who filed for bankruptcy last week, likely will not be retained by NFL Network, according to a Boston Globe report on Sunday. A Showtime executive said last week that no decision had been made on whether Sapp will return to Inside the NFL.
### Miami is "at the top of the list" for Kevin Olsen, the seventh-ranked quarterback in the Class of 2013, with Auburn, Wisconsin and South Carolina the other contenders, according to his father and New Jersey high school coach, Chris Olsen. Kevin's brother is former UM tight end Greg Olsen.