Friday afternoon update: UM is expected to announce soon that two players with eligibility remaining have retired from the sport: C.J. Holton and Billy Sanders. Neither likely would have played much if they remained. Both will remain enrolled at UM.
Both players were recruited by Randy Shannon but never developed. Holton was used at both safety and linebacker but was listed as a running back this spring. Sanders was low on the depth chart at tight end. Holton had one year of eligiblity left, Sanders two.
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Some postgame reaction from the Heat's series-clinching win against Indiana:
### Erik Spoelstra says he has no idea when Chris Bosh will be available. "It's still indefinite," Spoelstra said. "Unfortunately, I have to plan without him." Dwyane Wade said the extra rehab opportunities the next few days will help Bosh "move that much closer to being able to rejoin us."
Because he hasn't been cleared to do any on-court work, it would be surprising if he plays in the opener of the series on Monday. But Bosh said he's making good progress in his rehab, so we could see him at some point against Boston or Philadelphia.
# # # Pacers coach Frank Vogel: "We didn't have enough yet. Hopefully, we'll be back and see these guys in the future. Chris Bosh is an awesome player, but when he goes down, that means more touches for LeBron James and Wade. That's not exactly an advantage. They were spectacular in this series.
"We had our whole focus on Derrick Rose last year. [With Wade and James], it's like having two of them out there - only bigger. We put up a good fight, gave them a little wake up call. Ever since that Game 3, these guys played at such a high level that I don't know if anyone can beat them."
### Wade, who tied Tim Hardaway's Heat playoff record for points in a half (26 in the first): "I felt good, I felt strong. My teammates continued to look for me. Just because offensively myself and LeBron have had most of the points, we couldn't do the things we do without their defensive help - to spread the floor, to set the screens. This is the most [LeBron and I] have dominated in the playoffs, the way we played off each other. We needed it more in this series because we're missing a very big piece with Chris being out.... Miller might be the toughest guy on this team with what he goes through physically."
### James: "Dwyane was spectacular, from the beginning to the end. Made jump hooks, got in the post, made floaters, rebounded. Coach Spo made some unbelievable adjustments to allow us to do the things we did on the floor. He coached a spectacular series to put us in position to succeed."
### Spoelstra: "Our role players really impact the game. You look at Shane Battier's line and you see the 1 for 7 and don't see all the big plays he made... Rio and Mike Miller being offensive minded really took the pressure off Dwyane and LeBron."
### Heat tickets for the Eastern Finals go on sale at noon Friday at heat.com or through Ticketmaster.
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As the Dolphins kept passing on familiar free agents this offseason at receiver (Vincent Jackson, Mario Manningham, Eddie Royal, among others) and safety (Reggie Nelson, LaRon Landry, etc.) - even after trading Brandon Marshall and dumping Yeremiah Bell - this much became clear: Jeff Ireland and Joe Philbin are generally comfortable with what they have at both spots, supplemented by bargain-basement additions Legedu Naanee and Tyrell Johnson.
Ireland said in recent days he feels “good” about both groups, even without a longtime high-end starter at either. “In this receiver group, somebody needs to rise to the top and I think they’re going to,” Ireland said. “As it stands now, we’re going with a young group. Am I done yet? I don’t know.
“Safety is like the receiver position. I’m looking for someone to separate himself. They’re young, tough, have the makeup we’re looking for. This is my favorite time of the year. Let all the competitions play out.”
Some chatter on both positions:
### The Dolphins feel confident starting the season with Brian Hartline (35 catches, 546 yards) and Davone Bess (51, 537) as starters and believe Naanee can be a serviceable No. 3 or No. 4. “Naanee has looked really good in on field sessions,” Ireland said.
And the Dolphins remain very hopeful two other regulars will emerge from among Clyde Gates (“I have a high regard for him. He has to develop,” Ireland said), Marlon Moore (six career catches for 128 yards), Roberto Wallace (six catches for 62 yards), Julius Pruitt (“he’s having a heck of an offseason,” Bess said) and rookies B.J. Cunningham, Rishard Matthews, Jeff Fuller and long shots Derek Moye (Penn State) and Chris Hogan (Monmouth).
For the skeptics, Hartline has a message: “This coaching staff has made their own analysis, and if receiver was a glaring issue, we would go out and fix it.”
### Though Hartline ranks among the least-known top receivers on any team, he has grown on this staff, which is impressed by his intelligence (critical for receivers in this offense), sneaky speed (“he runs real well,” Philbin said) and his production and acrobatic catches in the second half of 2011. “He’s the caliber of player I like to have; when you throw him the ball, he usually catches it,” Ireland said. “And there are things left in his repertoire he can still show.”
Hartline initially assumed the Dolphins would replace Marshall (81, 1214) with a pedigreed veteran but was told otherwise. “It’s flattering,” he said. “We’ve had conversations about that. I want to carry more weight. I know I can. Brandon brings a presence that kind of demands the football, and that’s OK. But that’s not really our staff’s philosophy.”
### Among the undrafted players, the Dolphins are intrigued by 6-4 Fuller, who caught former Texas A&M teammate Ryan Tannehill's best pass in Tuesday's practice. “He has a lot of skills,” Philbin said. “A year ago, had he come out, some people thought he might have been a second- or third-round pick.” But he had too many drops in college and his stock tumbled during an injury-plagued senior season.
### We’ve seen drops but also some good work so far from sixth-rounder Cunningham and seventh-rounder Matthews. Cunningham, Michigan State’s all-time leading receiver, “is courageous,” Philbin said. “We like the way he caught the ball over the middle.” But Sports Illustrated draftnik Tony Pauline said “he’s slow – nothing more than a fourth or fifth receiver.”
### Reshad Jones and Chris Clemons began offseason practices as the starting safeties, but Johnson, former cornerback Jimmy Wilson and Tyrone Culver also have a legitimate chance. “Tyrell has speed, Clemons is a 4.3 guy,” Ireland said. “I got to see Jimmy play safety as a senior at Montana and he’s a hard hitter, got a knack for the ball, fearless.”
### Wilson said he’s “happy” he was moved to safety because “it fits more with my skills. I’m physical and I can read the quarterback’s eyes.”… Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle got the most out of his safeties in Cincinnati (Chris Crocker, Nelson, etc.) and the Dolphins are optimistic he can extract more from Johnson, whose NFL Combine and pre-draft workout performances got him picked in the second round in 2008. He didn’t make enough plays for the Vikings, who lost patience….
Culver said he would like to fill the leadership void left by the release of Bell, who - incidentally - picked off Tim Tebow at Jets practice Thursday. Several Dolphins were genuinely upset to see Bell go. And Vontae Davis cracked, "C'mon, the Jets? Why the Jets?"
### Philbin told ESPN he prefers to name a starting quarterback before the third preseason game.... By the way, I made a couple brief cameos this week on Armando Salguero's Dolphins blog while Armando is vacationing. If you did not see that post, we should note here that Jake Scott - who was rated seventh among all 77 guards by Pro Football Focus last year - would love to play for the Dolphins and the Dolphins are fully aware of that. Ireland said he hasn't ruled out Scott, but he wants to give John Jerry every chance to win the right guard job first: "He still has developmental upside."
### Though John Buck is hitting .173 and Brett Hayes .295, manager Ozzie Guillen said Thursday, "I'm not going to take the job from Buck. Hopefully, Buck will get out of his slump soon." But Guillen left some wiggle-room; Hayes is starting a second consecutive game on Thursday, and Guillen suggested he might ride him if he keeps hitting.
### Despite the injuries on offense (Emilio Bonifacio and Austin Kearns are on the disabled list), general manager Michael Hill said the Marlins haven't summoned Gaby Sanchez back from Triple A because the Marlins want to make sure he continues "to get back to his [former] approach" at the plate, including hitting more balls in the gap, before a long slump that essentially began after last year's All-Star break. He reached base 10 of his first 16 plate appearances at New Orleans: four hits, six walks. He was hitting .197 in 36 games for the Marlins before he was demoted to the minors last weekend.
### The Marlins entered Thursday two games out of first, and imagine where they would be with better clutch hitting. They’re batting .223 with runners in scoring position (the MLB average this season is .245) and .159 with runners in scoring position and two outs -- by the far the worst in baseball (the MLB average is .230). Inexplicable: The Marlins are baseball’s worst-hitting team on the road (.213) but fourth-best at home (.279).
### You know what Heath Bell appreciates? During his horrendous start, owner Jeffrey Loria “came up and said, ‘Don’t worry because you’re going to help us win a championship.’ He has been nothing but supportive. I was the perfect guy to come to because I [stunk].” Improved velocity and a sharper curve are the primary reasons he's back on track.
We're told Showtime has decided to drop former UM and NFL star Warren Sapp from Inside the NFL. The network confirmed that to us. The other cast members - James Brown, Phil Simms, Cris Collinsworth - are expected back. NFL Network hasn't said whether it will renew Sapp's contract this summer. Sapp drew criticism for accusing Jeremy Shockey of telling the league about the Saints' bounty program - a claim that Shockey and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell have denied.