WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN
Lots of Dolphins and UM notes, from Tuesday's Dolphins practice and UM availability this week:
### The Dolphins quarterback battle began in earnest Tuesday with the start of full-speed practices, and coach Joe Philbin told us it’s going to be a bit tricky staging a three-way battle. And even though owner Stephen Ross said Monday that he expects Matt Moore will begin the season as the starter, Philbin said Ross was told it will be an open competition.
Philbin said splitting practice snaps among Moore, David Garrard and Ryan Tannehill “is not going to be easy. We’re going to have to figure out ways to get guys equal opportunities. We’re trying to tweak the practice plan, maybe add more team periods to get a dozen more snaps. We’re going to have to track their reps to make sure we keep them somewhat even.”
During Tuesday’s session, Moore and Garrard split snaps with one group of players (including the starters), while Tannehill and Pat Devlin simultaneously played 11-on-11 against another defensive unit (mostly non-starters). But Philbin wants to get all three contenders substantial snaps with the starters.
Asked if Ross’ comment about Moore being the likely starter affects anything, Philbin cracked: “Anyone have Steve’s number? I got to check who the treasurer is. I know he’s the owner but he might not sign my check. I told him – we want a competitive situation at that position” and others.
Moore's reaction? “For Mr. Ross to say something like that, it means a lot. The best guy is going to play.”
But Garrard said Ross’ comment adds “more fuel for me. Just somebody else I got to try to prove wrong. The owner... can make all the comments he wants. I’m never going to dispute him. I’ll just let my play on the field show for it…. The cream will rise to the top. The best guy will play.”
Tannehill said of Ross’ comment: “I’m going to compete to one day play. Whatever the decision is at the end of camp, that’s what it is. We want the best player to play.”
### Tannehill made a few sharp throws, including nifty slants to running back Lamar Miller (who was very impressive Tuesday and will continue to line up at receiver at times) and former A&M teammate Jeff Fuller. But Tannehill also unwisely forced the ball at least twice (one was knocked away by Nolan Carroll) and had a few passes dropped (Charles Clay, Rishard Matthews).
“You can tell Ryan is quality, quality player,” Moore said. “He definitely can throw the ball, has got a good handle on what he’s doing.”
Garrard said most rookies have the issue of “not knowing your plays, having to think about your plays. Ryan doesn’t have that problem.” But Garrard cautioned that the Dolphins have shown players the offense that Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman used at Texas A&M “and you see [A&M] guys running free out there. You’re not going to see that much here. Everyone is covered tighter. That’s the big difference.”
### Garrard, who missed last season with a herniated disc, made quick decisions and showed nice touch but threw the only interception in team drills, with Sean Smith fighting off Roberto Wallace for the pick on a deep ball. “I like what David’s done so far,” Philbin said. “Strong arm, can still move well.” Moore was decent Tuesday; he threw well while rolling out - which will be a part of this offense.
### Tannehill’s initial NFL impressions: “Guys are a step faster in every aspect. Knowing the offense really helps me get adjusted to the speed of the game. It’s exciting to get to work with guys for the first time. Last week, was half speed.”
He already knew Sherman’s offense from their Texas A&M days, and he also “picked up the things we’ve brought in from Green Bay. The comfort level with the offense - I feel really good.” But “I have a lot of work to do – speeding my reads up.”
### One major change: In Philbin practices, there is less time between plays than in a Tony Sparano practice, because Miami wants to play up-tempo. Garrard said the offense "is basically like a two-minute drill the entire game. It is going to give the defense a lot of problems." Reggie Bush was so surprised by the pace that he asked the team's running backs coach, "Is this going to be the tempo in the game?" Said Bush: "We need to slow down a little bit to save some guys."
Receiver Marlon Moore says Dolphins players need to be in great shape to play a lot of no-huddle, and Philbin said “some have a ways to go” to get there… But Tannehill said even though “it was quick” Tuesday, “we’ve got to play a lot faster.”… Tannehill said Sherman “jokes around a little more” than he did when he coached him in college. Having Sherman and Philbin is "awesome," Tannehill said. "Two great guys to learn from."
### Matt Moore, on the lack of a clear-cut No. 1 receiver: “I know a lot of people are worried we don’t have a standout guy. That’s baloney. We’ve got five guys that are that guy, especially in this offense. Any one could get the ball at any time.”
### Reshad Jones and Chris Clemons opened the first full practice as the first-team safeties, though Tyrell Johnson, Jimmy Wilson and Tyrone Culver are in the mix, too. Wilson tipped away a Tannehill throw into double coverage that B.J. Cunningham caught and ran in for a touchdown.…
Among other competitive battles, Koa Misi opened ahead of Gary Guyton at outside linebacker in Miami’s 4-3 base; John Jerry was at right guard and Lydon Murtha at right tackle, though second-round right tackle Jonathan Martin is still at Stanford. Legedu Naanee joined Brian Hartline and Davone Bess in three receiver sets.
### Former UM coach Butch Davis’ son, Drew, has strong interest in walking on as a quarterback at UM, the family confirmed. But it's not definite yet; he hasn't enrolled. After North Carolina fired Davis last summer, the chancellor said he was upset that Davis offered Drew a scholarship without the school’s permission. A lightly recruited, two-star prospect, Drew Davis threw 16 touchdowns and seven picks last season at East Chapel High in North Carolina.
### UM had 28 catches from tight ends last season, and offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said he has added "more schemes to get them involved [more] because of how young we are at receiver." He's determined to raise the number of tight end catches to the 60 range… Cornerbacks finished spring in this order in the staff’s eyes: Brandon McGee ("definitely ahead of the others," defensive backs coach Paul Williams said), Thomas Finnie, Ladarius Gunter, then freshman Larry Hope. “At least two of the freshmen will play,” Williams said. Tracy Howard assuredly will, and Deon Bush has a decent chance.
### UM offensive line coach Art Kehoe predicted this week: “We’re going to win like crazy. I know what’s expected of this program, and it’s coming. Trust me on that. I don’t know if it will be this year.” Kehoe said the culture “is not remotely close, anywhere near where it was” when Golden hired him.... Among the 10 players who enrolled this week: Howard, Bush, elite Norland running back Duke Johnson (who will make an immediate impact), and receivers Robert Lockhart and Malcolm Lewis.
HEAT GAME 5 POSTSCRIPTS
### Danny Granger left for good with an ankle injury early in the third quarter and said he doesn't know if he will play in Game 6. "But I have a history of recovering fast," he said. "I'll take a bunch of pain medication. It's too important" not to play.
### Tyler Hansbrough said he did not know if Udonis Haslem should be suspended for his flagrant foul on Haslem - which came in response to Hansbrough's flagrant foul on Dwyane Wade. "It was a hard foul," Hansbrough said. "He came at me. It was pretty clear. Some people told me that it looked pretty bad." The NBA will review both fouls, and Haslem is clearly at risk of a suspension.
### No Pacer voiced great objection to Haslem's foul except Granger. "It looked bad [live]," Granger said. "It was three times worse [on tape]. It was just as dangerous as what Metta World Peace did to James Harden."
### Wade said Hansbrough's foul on him "was kind of uncalled for. Today when I got hit, I wanted to stay focused on the game."
### Pacers president Larry Bird told The Indianapolis Star: "I can't believe my team went soft. S-O-F-T. I'm disappointed. I never believed it would happen."
### Notable: The Heat set a franchise playoff record by shooting 61.4 percent and came within one of its postseason record for points (116)... LeBron James now has scored at least 30 points in 45 of 102 postseason games... Mario Chalmers' 11 rebounds were his most ever in an NBA game.... The Heat not only is 6-0 in its next home game following a home loss this season, but has won by those six games by an average margin of 21.5 points.
The general manager of WMEN-640 AM said he intends to hire Sid Rosenberg, who was dumped by WQAM last month after a DUI arrest. WQAM will allow Rosenberg out of his non-compete clause (which runs through early August) in exchange for financial concessions; discussions between the stations are ongoing. An agreement is expected to allow Rosenberg to start very soon at 640, but WMEN manager Steve Lapa said he wants to hire Rosenberg even if he has to wait for several months.
Lapa said he has met with Rosenberg and is not concerned about Rosenberg’s past personal problems (involving drugs, alcohol and gambling) but hasn’t decided what daypart to use him in. “He’s a talented guy, and he wants to work,” Lapa said.
WMEN currently uses Armando Salguero and Chris Perkins in the mornings, followed by Troy Stradford, Andy Slater and then Orlando Alzugaray in afternoon drive.