« September 2012 | Main | November 2012 »

23 posts from October 2012

October 22, 2012

Monday Dolphins notes; Heat gets much attention in NBA general manager survey

The Dolphins are back from their bye week, and I've posted an update below. Please see our last post for what NBA general managers are saying about the Heat, according to nba.com's popular annual poll:


The Dolphins returned to practice after a four-day break, but cornerback Richard Marshall remains sidelined by a back injury that has sidelined him for two games.

Marshall was not in attendance Monday during the portion of practice open to the media. He said last week that he was on crutches a couple weeks ago. He also said last week that he hopes to play Sunday against the Jets.

Coach Joe Philbin declined to speculate on a timetable for Marshall’s return or say whether Nolan Carroll might continue to start even when Marshall is healthy.

Carroll has been generally solid in Marshall’s absence; the Bengals and Rams completed seven of 13 passes thrown against him for 84 yards.

“Nolan has played well,” coach Joe Philbin said. “We feel he’s making progress.”

Meanwhile, the Dolphins announced running back Jonas Gray has returned to practice but is still on the physically unable to perform list. Miami has 21 days to decide whether to activate him, cut him or place him on injured reserve. Gray suffered an ACL injury at Notre Dame last season.

### Miami auditioned four undrafted rookies who were cut by other NFL teams in the past seven weeks: tight ends Chase Ford (Eagles) and Dominique Jones (one catch for the Colts this season) and safeties Cyhl Quarles (Patriots) and Sean Baker (Buccaneers). Ford played at the University of Miami.

### An NFL spokesperson said the league has not decided whether linebacker Koa Misi will be suspended in the wake of him pleading no contest to a felony battery charge. The NFL’s Greg Aiello said the matter will be reviewed under the league’s personal conduct policy.

### Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said there’s “urgency” to get receiver Jabar Gaffney involved in the offense. “We have to push Gaffney forward,” he said. “He’s getting there. He’s going faster and making plays.”

Though the Dolphins like how Marlon Moore played as the No. 3 receiver against the Rams (including a touchdown catch), Sherman said Moore plays “a fair amount of special teams” and does not want to overburden him.

### Asked what player he would like to extract more from, Sherman named tight end Charles Clay, who has five receptions for 45 yards. “Clay is someone who can really help us down the stretch,” Sherman said. “I would like to see Clay step up and be a bigger factor in what we do.”

### Sherman said rookie tight end Michael Egnew, who hasn’t been active for a game, is “making progress” but “I can’t put a timetable on when he’s ready.”

Sherman said a “big part of his job will have to be special teams as well. Right now, he’s not quite there on that end.”

### Philbin told his team that beginning Sunday “we’re going to have four games in 18 games” and the players have “got to take care of their bodies.”… He cited Jason Trusnik, Carroll and Austin Spitler as players who have excelled on special teams, and added Olivier Vernon “is starting to make progress.”.. Sherman called receiver Davone Bess “a small man with a big heart [who] plays big. There’s nothing I don’t like about him.”

### Coyle, on why Olivier Vernon has improved: “He realized as you start to go against these better pass-protectors, you’re not just going to run around them. He started to realize he has to continue to develop his repertoire of pass-rush moves. [Defensive line coach] Kacy Rodgers is doing a phenomenal job of grooming him. He’s not the biggest guy.” Coyle expects him to “make an impact from here on out.”

PLEASE see our last post for the Heat-flavored results of nba.com's NBA GM survey released Monday.

Heat gets adulation in GM poll; Monday Dolphins notes

All 30 NBA general managers responded to nba.com's annual October poll with questions about wo are the best teams, players etc. The Heat got plenty of respect. Here are some of the results.

For more results, please see NBA.com:

And for Monday Dolphins notes, check back in a few minutes:




Which team will win the 2013 NBA Finals?

1. Miami -- 70.0%
2. L.A. Lakers -- 23.3%
3. Oklahoma City -- 6.7%

Last year: Miami -- 74.1%


Which team will win the Eastern Conference? 

1. Miami -- 96.7%
2. Boston -- 3.3%

Last year: Miami -- 96.3%


Which team will win the Western Conference?

1. L.A. Lakers -- 60.0%
2. Oklahoma City -- 36.7%
3. Denver -- 3.3%

Last year: Oklahoma City -- 67.9%


Which team will win the Atlantic Division?

1. Boston -- 66.7%
2. Brooklyn and New York -- 13.3%
4. Philadelphia -- 6.7%

Last year: Boston -- 64.3%


Which team will win the Central Division?

1. Indiana -- 80%
2. Chicago -- 20%
Last year: Chicago -- 96.4%


Which team will win the Southeast Division?

1. Miami -- 96.7%
2. Atlanta -- 3.3%

Last year: Miami --96.3%


Which team will win the three Western Conference divisions?



1. San Antonio -- 96.7%
2. Memphis -- 3.3%

Last year: San Antonio -- 63.6%


1. Oklahoma City -- 86.7%
2. Denver -- 10.0%
3. Minnesota -- 3.3%

Last year: Oklahoma City -- 71.4%


1. L.A. Lakers -- 96.7%
2. L.A. Clippers -- 3.3%

Last year: L.A. Lakers -- 77.8% 


Who wins the MVP award? 

1. LeBron James, Miami -- 66.7%
2. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City -- 30.0%
3. Carmelo Anthony, New York -- 3.3%

Last year: Kevin Durant -- 66.7%


If you are starting a franchise, what player do you take first?

1. LeBron James, Miami -- 80.0%
2. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City -- 16.7%
3. Dwight Howard, L.A. Lakers -- 3.3%

Last year: Kevin Durant, LeBron James -- 37.0%


Which player forces opposing coaches to make the most adjustments? 

1. LeBron James, Miami -- 50.0%
2. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City -- 20.0%
3. Dwight Howard, L.A. Lakers -- 16.7%
4. Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers -- 6.7%

Also receiving votes: Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas; Derrick Rose, Chicago

Last year: Dwight Howard -- 29.6%


Which player is most likely to have a breakout season?

1. Klay Thompson, Golden State -- 13.3%
2. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland, and Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio -- 10.0%
4. Paul George, Indiana, and James Harden, Oklahoma City -- 6.7%

Also receiving votes: Nicolas Batum, Portland; Alec Burks, Utah; DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento; Stephen Curry, Golden State; Kenneth Faried, Denver; Taj Gibson, Chicago; Eric Gordon, New Orleans; Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers; Gordon Hayward, Utah; Andre Iguodala, Denver; DeAndre Jordan, L.A. Clippers; Ty Lawson, Denver; JaVale McGee, Denver; Josh Selby, Memphis; Evan Turner, Philadelphia; Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City

Last year: James Harden -- 21.4%


Who is the NBA's best point guard?

1. Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers -- 69.0%
2. Derrick Rose, Chicago -- 20.7%
3. Rajon Rondo, Boston -- 6.9%
4. Tony Parker, San Antonio -- 3.4%

Last year: Derrick Rose -- 59.3%


Who is the NBA's best shooting guard?

1. Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers -- 66.7%
2. Dwyane Wade, Miami -- 23.3%

Also receiving votes: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City; Manu Ginobili, San Antonio; James Harden, Oklahoma City

Last year: Kobe Bryant -- 55.6%


Who is the NBA's best small forward?

1. LeBron James, Miami -- 73.3%
2. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City -- 26.7%

Last year: LeBron James -- 77.8%


Who is the NBA's best power forward? 

1. Kevin Love, Minnesota -- 30.0%
2. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas -- 23.3%
3. LeBron James, Miami -- 16.7%
4. LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland -- 10.0%
5. Kevin Garnett, Boston, and Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers -- 6.7%

Also receiving votes: Tim Duncan, San Antonio; Pau Gasol, L.A. Lakers

Last year: Dirk Nowitzki -- 41.4%


Who is the NBA's best center?

1. Dwight Howard, L.A. Lakers -- 93.3%
2. Andrew Bynum, Philadelphia -- 6.7%

Last year: Dwight Howard -- 96.3


What team had the best offseason moves?

1. L.A. Lakers -- 86.2%
2. Brooklyn -- 6.9%

Also receiving votes: Atlanta, Golden State

Last year: L.A. Clippers -- 85.2%


What offseason pickup will have the biggest impact? 

1. Dwight Howard, L.A. Lakers -- 70.0%
2. Steve Nash, L.A. Lakers -- 20.0%

Also receiving votes: Andrew Bynum, Philadelphia; Joe Johnson, Brooklyn; Deron Williams, Brooklyn

Last year: Chris Paul - 100%


Who is the most underrated offseason acquisition? 

1. Andre Iguodala, Denver -- 16.7%
2. Jason Terry, Boston -- 13.3%
3. Courtney Lee, Boston -- 10.0%
4. Ryan Anderson, New Orleans, Andrei Kirilenko, Minnesota, Brandon Roy, Minnesota, Lou Williams, Atlanta -- 6.7%

Also receiving votes: Ray Allen, Miami; Marcus Camby, New York; Gerald Green, Indiana; Grant Hill, L.A. Clippers; Chris Kaman, Dallas; Kyle Lowry, Toronto; O.J. Mayo, Dallas; Darko Milicic, Boston; Steve Nash, L.A. Lakers; Alexey Shved, Minnesota

Last year: Brandon Bass, David West -- 15.4%


What offseason move was most surprising?

1. Steve Nash to the Lakers -- 39.3%
2. Bynum/Howard/Iguodala trade -- 17.9%
3. Knicks not matching Jeremy Lin offer -- 14.3%
4. Ray Allen to Miami, Joe Johnson to Brooklyn -- 10.7%

Also receiving votes: Jeff Green's contract, Luis Scola amnestied by Houston

Last year: Chris Paul to the Clippers -- 33.3%


Who will be rookie of the year?

1. Anthony Davis, New Orleans -- 76.7%
2. Damian Lillard, Portland -- 20.0%
3. Austin Rivers, New Orleans -- 3.3%

Last year: Kyrie Irving -- 63.0%


Who will be the best rookie in five years?

1. Anthony Davis, New Orleans -- 86.7%
2. Bradley Beal, Washington -- 6.7%

Also receiving votes: Damian Lillard, Portland; Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto

Last year: Kyrie Irving -- 51.9%


Which rookie is the most athletic?


1. Anthony Davis, New Orleans -- 40.0%
2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte -- 16.7%
3. Andre Drummond, Detroit -- 13.3%
4. Terrence Ross, Toronto -- 10.0%
5. Perry Jones, Oklahoma City -- 6.7%

Also receiving votes: Quincy Acy, Toronto; Terrence Jones, Houston; Thomas Robinson, Sacramento; Dion Waiters, Cleveland

Last year: Derrick Williams -- 32.1%


Who is the best defensive player in the NBA?

Dwight Howard, L.A. Lakers -- 60.0%
2. LeBron James, Miami -- 16.7%
3. Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City -- 13.3%

Also receiving votes: Tyson Chandler, New York; Kevin Garnett, Boston; Thabo Sefolosha, Oklahoma City

Last year: Dwight Howard -- 76.9%


Who is the best perimeter defender in the NBA?

1. Tony Allen, Memphis -- 33.3%
2. LeBron James, Miami -- 26.7%
3. Avery Bradley, Boston, Andre Iguodala, Denver, Rajon Rondo, Boston, Thabo Sefolosha, Oklahoma City -- 6.7%

Also receiving votes: Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers; Eric Gordon, New Orleans; Dahntay Jones, Dallas; Metta World Peace, L.A. Lakers

Last year: Tony Allen -- 26.9%


Who is the best interior defender in the NBA?


1. Dwight Howard, L.A. Lakers -- 66.7%
2. Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City -- 16.7%
3. Tyson Chandler, New York -- 10.0%

Also receiving votes: Anthony Davis, New Orleans; Kevin Garnett, Boston

Last year: Dwight Howard -- 88.9%


What is the best defensive team in the NBA?


1. Chicago -- 40.0%
2. Miami -- 26.7%
3. Boston -- 23.3%
4. L.A. Lakers -- 6.7%
5. San Antonio -- 3.3%

Last year: Chicago -- 66.7%


Who is the best coach in the NBA? 


1. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio -- 80.0%
2. Doc Rivers, Boston -- 13.3%

Also receiving votes: Rick Adelman, Minnesota; Erik Spoelstra, Miami

Last year: Gregg Popovich -- 42.3%


What NBA coach is the best manager of people and motivator?

1. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio -- 60.0%
2. Doc Rivers, Boston -- 40.0%

Last year: Gregg Popovich -- 42.9%


What NBA coach makes the best in-game adjustments? 

1. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio -- 40.0%
2. Rick Carlisle, Dallas -- 20.0%
3. Doug Collins, Philadelphia -- 13.3%
4. Rick Adelman, Minnesota -- 6.7%
5. George Karl, Denver -- 6.7%
6. Doc Rivers, Boston -- 6.7%

Also receiving votes: Mike Brown, L.A. Lakers; Tom Thibodeau, Chicago

Last year: Gregg Popovich -- 35.7%


Which NBA coach runs the best offense?

1. George Karl, Denver -- 31.0%
2. Rick Adelman, Minnesota, Gregg Popovich, San Antonio -- 27.6%
4. Scott Brooks, Oklahoma City, Alvin Gentry, Phoenix -- 6.9%

Last year: George Karl -- 22.2%


Which NBA coach runs the best defensive schemes? 

1. Tom Thibodeau, Chicago -- 70.0%
2. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio -- 10.0%
3. Mike Brown, L.A. Lakers, Rick Carlisle, Dallas -- 6.7%

Also receiving votes: Doc Rivers, Boston; Erik Spoelstra, Miami

Last year: Tom Thibodeau -- 61.5%


What current player would make the best coach? 

1. Chauncey Billups, L.A. Clippers -- 20.7%
2. Shane Battier, Miami -- 17.2%
3. Derek Fisher -- 13.8%
4. Jason Kidd, New York, Steve Nash, L.A. Lakers -- 10.3%
6. Grant Hill, L.A. Clippers, Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers -- 6.9%

Also receiving votes: Ray Allen, Miami; Luke Walton, Cleveland; Charles Jenkins, Golden State; Earl Watson, Utah

Last year: Derek Fisher -- 25.9%



Which team is the most fun to watch?

1. Oklahoma City -- 30.0%
2. Miami -- 26.7%
3. Denver -- 16.7%
4. Golden State -- 6.7%, L.A. Clippers -- 6.7%, San Antonio -- 6.7%

Also receiving votes: L.A. Lakers, New York

Last year: Miami -- 33.3%


Which team has the best home-court advantage?

1. Oklahoma City -- 70.0%
2. Miami -- 10.0%, Utah -- 10.0%

Also receiving votes: Denver, L.A. Lakers, Portland

Last year: Oklahoma City -- 44.4%


Which player is the most athletic?

1. LeBron James, Miami -- 62.1%
2. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City -- 20.7%
3. Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers -- 13.8%
4. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City -- 3.4%

Last year: LeBron James -- 46.2%


Which player is the best pure shooter?

1. Ray Allen, Miami -- 56.7%
2. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City -- 20.0%
3. Steve Novak, New York -- 6.7%

Also receiving votes: James Harden, Oklahoma City; Kyle Korver, Atlanta; Steve Nash, L.A. Lakers; Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas; Klay Thompson, Golden State

Last year: Ray Allen -- 85.7%


Which player is the fastest with the ball?

1. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City -- 36.7%
2. Derrick Rose, Chicago -- 23.3%
3. Rajon Rondo, Boston -- 13.3%
4. Ty Lawson, Denver -- 6.7%, John Wall, Washington -- 6.7%

Also receiving votes: Aaron Brooks, Sacramento; Darren Collison, Dallas; LeBron James, Miami; Tony Parker, San Antonio

Last year: Derrick Rose -- 57.7%


Which player is best at moving without the ball?

1. Ray Allen, Miami -- 56.7%
2. Richard Hamilton, Chicago -- 10.0%
3. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio -- 6.7%, Kyle Korver, Atlanta -- 6.7%

Also receiving votes: Luol Deng, Chicago; Marc Gasol, Memphis; James Harden, Oklahoma City; Paul Pierce, Boston; J.J. Redick, Orlando; Klay Thompson, Golden State

Last year: Ray Allen -- 67.9%


Which player is the best at getting his own shot?

1. Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers -- 40.0%
2. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City -- 30.0%
3. LeBron James, Miami -- 16.7%
4. Carmelo Anthony, New York -- 6.7%, Dwyane Wade, Miami -- 6.7%

Last year: Kobe Bryant -- 35.7%


Which player is the best offensive rebounder?


1. Kevin Love, Minnesota -- 53.3%
2. Kenneth Faried, Denver -- 16.7%
3. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento -- 6.7%, dwight Howard, L.A. Lakers -- 6.7%

Also receiving votes: Tyson Chandler, New York; Reggie Evans, Brooklyn; Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers; Kris Humphries, Brooklyn; Zach Randolph, Memphis

Last year: Kevin Love -- 64.3%

Which player is the most dangerous in the open floor?


1. LeBron James, Miami -- 60.0%
2. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City -- 23.3%
3. Derrick Rose, Chicago -- 10.0%
4. Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers -- 6.7%

Last year: LeBron James -- 53.8%


Which player is the best finisher?


1. LeBron James, Miami -- 66.7%
2. Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers -- 10.0%, Dwyane Wade, Miami -- 10.0%

Also receiving votes: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City; Tyreke Evans, Sacramento; James Harden, Oklahoma City; Josh Smith, Atlanta

Last year: LeBron James -- 42.3%


Which player makes the most of limited natural ability?


1. Kevin Love, Minnesota -- 34.5%
2. Shane Battier, Miami -- 10.3%
3. Marc Gasol, Memphis -- 6.9%

Also receiving votes: Ryan Anderson, New Orleans; Matt Bonner, San Antonio; Nick Collison, Oklahoma City; Roy Hibbert, Indiana; Jared Dudley, Phoenix; Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City; Danny Green, San Antonio; Chuck Hayes, Sacramento; Kris Humphries, Brooklyn; Paul Millsap, Utah; Steve Nash, L.A. Lakers; Steve Novak, New York; Luis Scola, Phoenix; Anderson Varejao, Cleveland

Last year: Kevin Love -- 26.9%


Who is the toughest player in the NBA?


1. Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers -- 26.7%
2. Metta World Peace, L.A. Lakers -- 10.0%
3. Reggie Evans, Brooklyn -- 6.7%, Kenneth Faried, Denver -- 6.7%, Kevin Garnett, Boston -- 6.7%, LeBron James, Miami -- 6.7%, Rajon Rondo, Boston -- 6.7%

Also receiving votes: Eric Bledsoe, L.A. Clippers; Tim Duncan, San Antonio; Manu Ginobili, San Antonio; Marcin Gortat, Phoenix; Zaza Pachulia, Atlanta; Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers; Zach Randolph, Memphis; Anderson Varejao, Cleveland; David West, Indiana

Last year: Kobe Bryant -- 32.1%


Which player is the best leader?


1. Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers -- 27.6%
2. Kevin Garnett, Boston -- 20.7%
3. Chauncey Billups, L.A. Clippers -- 10.3%, Tim Duncan, San Antonio -- 10.3%, LeBron James, Miami -- 10.3%, Steve Nash, L.A. Lakers -- 10.3%

Also receiving votes: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City; Manu Ginobili, San Antonio; Jason Kidd, New York

Last year: Chris Paul -- 25.0%


Which player has the best basketball IQ?


1. Steve Nash, L.A. Lakers -- 27.6%
2. Tim Duncan, San Antonio -- 13.8%, LeBron James, Miami -- 13.8%, Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers -- 13.8%
5. Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers -- 10.3%
6. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio -- 6.9%

Also receiving votes: Chauncey Billups, L.A. Clippers; Pau Gasol, L.A. Lakers; Jason Kidd, New York; Rajon Rondo, Boston

Last year: Steve Nash -- 28.6%


Which player would you want taking a shot with the game on the line?


1. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City -- 46.7%
2. Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers -- 40.0%
3. Carmelo Anthony, New York -- 6.7%

Also receiving votes: Chauncey Billups, L.A. Clippers; LeBron James, Miami

Last year: Kobe Bryant -- 48.1%





October 10, 2012

Buzz will return

Buzz will return later month.

October 08, 2012

Monday evening update: Dolphins coordinators address several issues

Highlights from the Monday weekly news conferences of Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman:

### Coyle loved how Nolan Carroll played in his first start of the season at cornerback: "I was very happy for him and proud of him the way he competed throughout the game. He did a lot of things, some that were seen by everybody in stands, but yet there was some things that, as we watched the tape, he really did well."

### Coyle took a moment to acknowledge Randy Starks' exceptional play: “Randy’s having a terrific year. He’s been a force against the run, but when you look at the production at the end of the game, it’s a half sack yesterday, it’s a batted pass, it’s an interception, it’s a couple of tackles, an assisted tackle. He is really solidified that spot in our defense. His productivity has been very, very good for a defensive linemen and keeps on winning the one-on-one battles and we’re real pleased with him.”

### Coyle, on Sean Smith: "He had another consistent game against a very good player. The thing that has impressed me – he was even better in some of the technique things in this game than he was the week before. If he continues to do that, then I really think he can have the kind of season that I know he wants and we need him to have. He’s played very well. He’s put two good games back-to-back."

### That interception by Starks wasn't a coincidence. The Dolphins worked on those types of plays on Friday. Coyle explained it this way:

"I just want to also mention that, kudos to [d-line coach] Kacy Rodgers and Charlie Bullen, his assistant, because, last week, we changed our normal routine on Thursday, on Friday rather. We do a fumble recovery drill. This week, we decided we were going to work on catching the ball because we were dropping the linemen in certain things that we were doing. True story. Each position did a different ball type drill plus, what we sometimes try to (do) is try to change it up, so it doesn’t get monotonous for them, and, sure enough, Charlie was whipping the ball at these d-linemen dropping on Friday. The balls are bouncing everywhere, but we joked about it because, sure enough, in the game, that ball was humming across the middle and Randy picks it off like, he looks like Jerry Rice out there catching it. It was a great job by those two guys.”

### Sherman, on what                                                                                                                                                                            what he sees from Ryan Tannehill: “I think his decision making has definitely improved over the last couple of weeks. Each game we go into and come out of less and less of us being critical of his decisions. He’s made some very good decisions here as of late. The other thing I would say would be, push in the pocket. He had the tendency to leave the pocket with depth. Now he's stepping up in the pocket and finding throws to make. He had a great throw to (Davone) Bess on a scramble in the game. He’s created some plays with his feet by pushing up in the pocket."

 ### Sherman was obviously unhappy with Charles Clay going out of bounds on that third down catch with less that two minutes left: "That could have been disastrous. You end up punting with 1:54 and you should have punted with 1:20. He caught the ball about three yards inside the hask mark, and what he should have done is turn it up. But he made some nice plays, he did some good things and he keeps getting better. Hopefully that will just continue and he will learn from his mistake in the game.”

### What area of the offense has improved most from Week One? “I would have to say our quarterback position is the most dramatic improvement on the offensive side of the ball," Sherman said. "He just keeps getting better and better. Very seldom does he make the same mistake twice. You tell him that you need to do this and he does it. So I think that his maturation throughout the course of the NFL season, going into Week Six, he has taken steps every single week. He will continue to do that throughout the course of the season and the course of his career. So I would think that’s the single biggest jump this season.”

### Sherman said right tackle “Jonathan Martin, for a rookie, is playing above our expectations at this point. He’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but he is excellent with his hands, (and) he takes pretty good pass sets for the most part. Those two ends that they were rushing the quarterback the other day were great ends."

### Sherman credited offensive line coach Jim Turner for "being on John Jerry about losing his weight. He's lost about 30-35 pounds since the summer time and I think that’s really added to his game. Both players [Martin and Jerry] aren’t perfect. They still have a ways to go, but I think we’re getting there.”

### Sherman is unhappy with the short yardage offense: "That's certainly been a bone of contention with me and with our offense. We have to be much better there."

### Sherman, on Tannehill's his ability to throw on the run: “It’s something that we practice here. When a play breaks down in practice we don’t stop. We keep working and I think they know, the receivers, when you have a quarterback who you know will extend the play with his feet and his arm, you have a tendency to really work harder and try to get open. That’s been the case a couple of times, and he's a very accurate thrower on the run. Sometimes those throws aren’t the easiest when you’re running away from a 295 pound defensive end chasing you down. To make that accuracy is not the easiest thing. But I thought he did a great job of not only pushing the pocket, escaping the rush, but then finding the receiver and making some big plays. I thought it was his best game.”  


October 07, 2012

Several Dolphins making contract push; UM-N.D. postscripts; Fins, Heat, Marlins, UM chatter


The way several of the Dolphins’ impending free agents are playing, the cost of retaining them is growing more costly by the day. That figures to consume much of their $50 million in 2013 cap space, though they still can add a quality veteran or two from outside if they manage their cap shrewdly.

The Dolphins privately have expressed interest in re-signing Jake Long, Randy Starks, Sean Smith and Brian Hartline, and have told Reggie Bush’s agent they will be in contact. Anthony Fasano and Chris Clemons also will be unrestricted.

A quick look at the top free agents and where they stand:

### Not only has Long, 27, allowed three sacks in four games, but Pro Football Focus ranks his run blocking fourth-worst among 71 tackles, which seems too harsh. But he is expected to seek a contract similar to Joe Thomas’ seven-year, $84 million deal with Cleveland ($12 million), and there's a good chance he gets it because he’s still considered among the top handful of players at a premium position.

Miami would use the franchise tag on him if necessary (which would result in a one-year salary of $15 million), but prefers to work out a long-term contract, which would lessen his cap hit and avoid this being an issue again in 2014.

### The Dolphins expect Smith, 25, to ask for a deal similar to the five-year, $50 million pact that Dallas gave Brandon Carr and St. Louis gave Cortland Finnegan. The Dolphins obviously hope to sign him for a few million a year less, perhaps along the lines of Carlos Rogers’ four-year, $31 million 49ers deal.

Smith’s size, speed and steady growth will make him a coveted commodity, considering the value placed on cornerbacks. He has allowed only 41.7 percent of passes thrown against him to be caught – best in the league among cornerbacks targeted at least 30 times.

All-Pro receiver Larry Fitzgerald sought out Smith after Sunday’s two-interception game to tell him what a good job he’s doing. If the Dolphins do a longterm deal with Long, it’s conceivable they could use the franchise tag on Smith, which is expected to be worth about $10.7 million for cornerbacks.

### Hartline, 25, is leading the league in receiving yards and on pace for 100 catches and 1820 yards. Green Bay’s Jordy Nelson – whose career followed a similar arc – signed a three-year, $13 million extension last Oct. 2 just a month into a break out season. If he keeps this up, Hartline should do better than that, perhaps $5 million a year, according to one prominent agent with no affiliation to Hartline.

Consider the Jaguars gave five years and $31.5 million to Laurent Robinson after his breakout 54-catch, 858-yard season with Dallas. Washington gave Pierre Garcon five years, $42.5 million after a 70-catch, 947-yard season with the Colts, but Garcon had high production over several years.

"I want to be in Miami," Hartline said.

### Starks is just 28, has three sacks and been an integral part of the league’s stiffest run-defense. An agent with no ties to Starks expects he will command a deal higher than Kendall Langford’s four years, $24 million with the Rams or Brodrick Bunkley’s five years, $25 million with the Saints. Starks is superior to both.

### If Bush maintains his sterling per-carry average (5.5) with a heavy workload, he could go from earning $4.5 million to perhaps $6 million, perhaps more in a shorter deal. Marshawn Lynch, who ran for 118 more yards than Bush last season but had a lower per-carry average (4.2 to 5.0) got $7.7 million annually from Seattle (four years, $31 million) and is just one year younger than Bush (26).

But it’s vital Bush stay healthy to maximize his value. The franchise tag for running backs will likely be about $8 million.

How much of a cap hit would be to keep all five? That’s impossible to know, because of how contracts can be structured. For example, Carr’s cap hit for Dallas is $3.2 million in 2012, $16.3 million in 2013. But if the Dolphins need to use the franchise tag on Long, the five players – if they all re-sign – could cost well above $30 million against the cap.

Those expecting a Dolphins free agent spending spree on marquee names from other teams probably will be disappointed. Joe Philbin mentioned last week how Green Bay’s Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson helped mold him and said: “In my time in Green Bay, I don’t really remember us acquiring offensively a free agent of note. Their big thing was developing our own players.”

With the cap expected to top $121 million, the Dolphins have $71 million committed to 36 players for 2013, led by Karlos Dansby’s $8.6 million cap hit, Paul Soliai’s $7.9 million and Richard Marshall’s $5.8 million. Dan Carpenter ($3 million cap hit) would seem at risk. Tannehill remains a bargain at $2.8 million.

Miami also has $1.5 million in dead money for 2013, more than two-thirds of that for Vontae Davis. And it will cost at least $5 million to sign the 2013 draft class.


### One Dolphin said third-round pick Michael Egnew has had trouble remembering the plays; another was skeptical about his longterm chances.

### Agents for kickers have been calling the Dolphins, hoping they will replace Carpenter. Among them is former Farleigh Dickinson kicker Michael Barnard, who tried out for the Eagles earlier this year. On a YouTube video showing him making a 66-yard field goal, Barnard says: "I consistently kick field goals over 63 yards daily, with a long of 68. I will break the NFL record of [63 yards] in a game."

But Miami have not brought Barnard in and didn’t bring in any kickers for tryouts Tuesday, the big day for NFL auditions. If Carpenter keeps struggling, the Dolphins likely would consider whichever kicker the Chargers eventually release - Nick Novak or Nate Kaeding. “I haven’t been hitting the ball badly,” Carpenter said. “It’s just not going in the hole.”

### With Marshall's back issues, it’s time Jimmy Wilson starts playing like the Dolphins say he can. Wilson has allowed six of seven passes thrown against him to be completed for 73 yards…. Dolphins players think highly of offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, but there has been private questioning of some play calls, including three passes deep in Dolphins territory while protecting a lead against the Jets.

### Even if the Marlins offer Giancarlo Stanton a longterm contract, he said he isn’t sure he would take it. He said he would like to be here, but hasn’t decided philosophically whether to test free agency after 2016. “It will depend on what’s on the table.” He will get a huge raise after 2013, when he becomes arbitration eligible. 

### How much did spacious Marlins Park hurt the power hitters? Stanton hit a homer every 9.6 at bats on the road, but one every 15.4 at home. If he hit them at the same rate at home, he would have finished with an absurd 45 (instead of 37, which ranked seventh in baseball) in just 124 games. That would have led the majors, topping Miguel Cabrera's 44. Logan Morrison and John Buck homered twice as often on the road. But Marlins pitchers allowed fewer homers at home… The Marlins not only finished next to last in baseball in runs scored (ahead of only Houston), but their .244 average was worst in franchise history, even worse than the .248 in their 108-loss season (1998).

### We hear that beyond making decisions about what free agents to pursue, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria's involvement in personnel has been so extensive that it even included sending multiple players to the minors. But there's no indication that Loria will pull back on his involvement in baseball decisions.

### Chris Bosh, who made only 66 of 228 three-pointers during nine seasons (29 percent), said he will take more this season after shooting 7 of 13 on threes in the 2012 playoffs. He loves the idea of exasperating opposing centers that have to come out and guard him… Ray Allen marvels at how many elite three-point shooters Pat Riley has assembled here, noting Miami “could field half the field” in the NBA’s three-point contest. In post-practice shooting competitions, “I’m not a shoe-in to win and that’s something I love.”

### One high-level UM official, on UM losing two athletic directors in two years: “We don’t want to hire people to use us to get to the next level, but we can’t stop it. We have to bring in someone who will stick around, but how do you guarantee that? Shawn Eichorst got $973,000 [per year] from Nebraska and we’re not going to pay that. We’re a private school. We pay above average, but we’re not paying crazy prices.”

UM people are fuming about Eichorst leaving after less than 18 months -- more so than after the departure of Kirby Hocutt,  whose his wife wasn’t happy here, according to friends. Hocutt was more well-liked than Eichorst by UM people; Eichorst's aloofness rubbed many the wrong the way. But UM people thought Eichorst would be in it for the long haul and were caught off guard by the fact he even interviewed at Nebraska a month ago. 

### PLEASE SEE our last post for postscripts and analysis of UM's loss to Notre Dame on Saturday night.

October 06, 2012

Postscripts, reaction to Notre Dame's rout of Miami

Postscripts and reaction to Notre Dame's 41-3 drubbing of the Hurricanes Saturday night:

### It wasn’t surprising, but that doesn’t make it any less demoralizing to watch this UM defensive line – especially the defensive tackles – once again manhandled.

Down just 13-3 at the half, UM then watched Notre Dame bludgeon the Hurricanes defense, while UM's offense could generate nothing.

Notre Dame finished with 376 yards rushing, on an absurd 7.4 per carry. UM entered in the bottom six in rush defense among 120 major college football programs. The Hurricanes could be in the bottom three after Saturday. Overall, Notre Dame outgained the Canes, 586-285. The 586 yards represented the fourth-most ever by a Hurricanes opponent.

Notre Dame's 34 first downs were the most ever by a Canes opponent.

More dismal numbers: UM is allowing 39.6 points and 541 yards per game in its five games against FBS schools. The Hurricanes already have allowed more points in six games (208) than it allowed all of 2000, 2001 or 2002. 

There was Bob Golic Jr. wiping out Luther Robinson, Notre Dame’s center pushing Earl Moore literally seven yards off the line of scrimmage (no joke), Darius Smith and Corey King simply unable to get off blocks before Notre Dame’s running backs rumbled by. Even defensive end Anthony Chickillo was pushed around on a few runs.

Consider that Notre Dame's offensive line outweighs UM's defensive line by about 20 pounds, on average. But this is a talent issue as much as it's a size issue.

Face it: It won’t matter how much offensive talent this team assembles if UM can’t find better defensive tackles. Perhaps Moore, who got a lot of playing time Saturday, becomes one. Perhaps freshman DeQuan Ivery does. Perhaps oral commitment Keith Bryant will pan out. Perhaps Olsen Pierre, who was out with an injury Saturday, will develop.

But that's a lot riding on words like if and perhaps. Finding dominant defensive linemen remains Al Golden's biggest challenge in returning this program to greatness.

What a shame that two players UM was counting on this season aren't around: Marcus Forston turned pro and is now on New England's practice squad; and Curtis Porter remains out after an appendectomy.

### Of course, the defensive problems extended well beyond the line, as usual. When runs bounced outside Saturday, the linebackers and defensive backs usually were neither strong enough nor fast enough to deal with it.

Vaughn Telemaque and Gionni Paul had responsibility on one run that bounced outside for a 55-yard burst. Both looked helpless on the play. On one short third-down pass, Thurston Armbrister simply couldn’t break free from a block.

The secondary play was shaky, aside from Deon Bush’s well-defended play on a pass in the end zone. Bush also forced two fumbles. Brandon McGee had nine tackles but didn't have a great night by any stretch. Beyond Notre Dame's dominance on the group, UM couldn't do much to slow quarterback Everett Goldson, who completed 17 of 22 passes for 186 yards. UM's pass-rush was largely non-existent.

### UM also made foolish mistakes. After stopping Notre Dame on third down in the red zone, Darius Smith's personal foul penalty gave the Fighting Irish a first down, and a touchdown followed soon after. You can blame Gabe Terry for a personal foul on the punter early in the game, but he appeared to have been blocked into the punter by a Notre Dame player. 

### Stephen Morris closed 18 for 35 for 201 yards, but his receivers gave him no help, failing to latch onto eight catchable balls, including Phillip Dorsett's two dropped would-be touchdowns early in the game.

Dorsett finished with just one catch for six yards, and Allen Hurns one for seven. Davon Johnson was the only UM receiver who had a particularly good night, with four catches for 68 yards. Rashawn Scott caught four balls for 33 yards.

### UM's running game numbers: Mike James had 28 yards on six carries, Duke Johnson had 22 on eight attempts, and Eduardo Clements 20 on two carries.

### The good news? At least this doesn't hurt UM's chances of winning the ACC's Coastal Division. UM is 3-0 in conference entering next Saturday's home game against North Carolina (2:30 p.m., ESPNU).

And at least a bunch of UM freshmen got substantial playing time, which should only help them down the line. That group included Tracy Howard, Tyriq McCord, Terry, Herb Waters, Moore, Johnson, Bush and linebacker Raphael Kirby, who made his Hurricanes debut. "Kirby looked like he was making some plays," Golden said. 

### Golden on WQAM, bemoaned the squandered early opportunities on offense and the inability to capitalize on good field position late in the first half (a drive went nowhere, and Jake Wieclaw missed a 47-yard field goal): "We didn't play with a lot of poise. It's disappointing. We couldn't get enough going on offense.... Some of the penalties are selfish. It's important we just stay positive. We've got to stay together now. We lost to two top 10 teams. We can't point fingers. We just have to move forward. There's going to be a day when we're ready for this challenge. You can't have selfish penalties and drops."


October 04, 2012

Dolphins league's worst in gut-wrenching category; Canes, Marlins, Heat chatter


If it seems like the Dolphins subject their fans to more late-game heartache than most teams do, you’re right.

The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that since the start of 2010, no team has been worse in very close games than Miami. Over the past two-plus seasons, the Dolphins are 2-10 in games decided by three points or fewer.

It hasn’t helped that Dan Carpenter is 10 for 25 on field goals of 46 yards or longer since 2010, with nine misses overall in those 10 narrow defeats.

The only team with a record as poor, percentage-wise, in tight games is Carolina, which is 1-5 in games decided by three points or fewer since 2010. 

Reggie Bush spoke this week of the Dolphins getting "brain freeze" late in close games.

And by the way, Miami is just 3-8 in overtime since 2000.

Ryan Tannehill has been similarly snake-bitten. Over the past 13 months, he is 1-6 as a starting quarterback in games decided by a touchdown or less: 1-4 at Texas A&M, 0-2 with Miami.

Though others are as accountable or more accountable for that 1-6 record, ESPN’s Jon Gruden said last month that his late-game play “is the big concern I had with Tannehill.

“You would like to see a quarterback that finishes games better,” Gruden said. “I would like to see more dominant, consistent play down the stretch. At Texas A&M, they had an opportunity to finish some teams off in the second half and didn’t quite do that.”

The Dolphins do not blame either of their overtime losses on Tannehill, because they say his interception in Arizona was caused by a failed blitz pickup (he was hit as he threw), and because he led Miami into Jets territory before Carpenter missed a 48-yarder.

Down the stretch of his four close losses at Texas A&M last year, Tannehill played well in one (a four-overtime loss to Kansas State) but threw a late-game pick against Oklahoma State and couldn’t sustain drives against Missouri and Arkansas. In his one close win last year (45-40), Texas Tech scored the game’s final 10 points.

The sense here is Tannehill is too poised and talented to keep losing so many close games. And his 94.8 fourth-quarter rating this season is encouraging: 11th-best in the NFL and best among rookies.


The Dolphins are feuding with prominent NFL agents John Rickert and Peter Schaffer, who filed a grievance against the Dolphins with the players association this week because Miami is refusing to pay guard Artis Hicks’ $1.2 million salary. The Dolphins claim Hicks, their first offseason signing, did not disclose a pre-existing neck condition. Hogwash, his agents says. Hicks was released last week.

Rickert said in 2006 that Hicks had a neck sprain – “totally different” from the current bone spurs on his vertebrae - and that his 2006 MRI was negative and he did not miss a game. “Peter has been in the business 25 years, and he and I have never seen a situation like this where a team is so blatantly unfair against a player,” said Rickert, who represents Dolphins linebacker Kevin Burnett and many others.

Will the agents steer players away from Miami now? Rickert said “if this is the type of treatment” players get, “it would definitely enter our thinking.”

### FOR a look at Dolphins rookies (beyond Tannehill) and other Dolphins notes from this week, please see our last three posts.

### We hear UM wants Duke Johnson more involved against Notre Dame after he got 16 touches against North Carolina State…  Prices for Saturday's game in Chicago are averaging $450 on the secondary market.

### With UM athletic director Shawn Eichorst leaving for Nebraska, UM might re-consider one other finalist for the job in 2011: ACC senior associate commissioner Michael Kelly. The other external finalist, Norwood Teague, left VCU for the Minnesota A.D. job earlier this year. UM acting athletic director Blake James, Maine’s A.D. from 2005-2010, also will be considered, among others.

"I think the last couple of ADs at Miami were thrown into a world they weren't prepared for and left at first opportunity," Jimmy Johnson tweeted, added he's not interested in the job.

### Marlins pitching postscripts: They couldn’t have been happier with Jacob Turner, who allowed opponents to hit .208 in seven starts. Nathan Eovaldi, conversely, was hit at a .284 clip as a Dodger and Marlin (.318 vs. lefties, .236 righties)… Ugh: Ricky Nolasco allowed the third highest-average among all National League pitchers with a minimum of 180 innings (.285)… Not only did Josh Johnson allow batters to hit 10 points above his career average (.252 to .242), but his fastball velocity dropped to 92.8 mph, from 95.0 a couple years ago… With Randy Choate traded, the Marlins need to find a lefty who gets lefties out. Lefties hit .293 off Mike Dunn....

We hear Jeffrey Loria remains conflicted about whether to dump manager Ozzie Guillen. Throughout the organization, there's unhappiness with the not-serious-enough culture Guillen has fostered in the clubhouse. But associates say Loria has gone back and forth about whether to pull the plug, with three years and $7.5 million left on Guillen's contract. He continues to mull potential replacements in the event he fires him.

### Heat forward Udonis Haslem said he took “thousands” of shots this summer, and Erik Spoelstra said he is now shooting mid-range jumpers “like he built his reputation on” - far better in practice than a year ago. “You are seeing him physically and rhythm wise where he used to be,” Spo said. Haslem shot just 26 percent on 10 to 15 footers last season, after topping 42 percent the previous five. Spoelstra is even OK with him taking occasional threes now. He's 0 for 14 on threes in his career but has been practicing them all summer.

### Couple quick broadcast notes: WQAM has picked up gravel-voiced Scott Ferrall's syndicated radio show from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. weeknights... Every first round baseball playoff game will be on TBS except two on MLB Network (on Sunday and Wednesday).... Announcers this weekend: Tom Hammond, Mike Mayock on UM-Notre Dame, Marv Albert-Rich Gannon on Dolphins-Bengals.

Mixed results for Fins rookies, beyond Tannehill

If Ryan Tannehill becomes a top-15 NFL quarterback, the Dolphins’ 2012 draft will be considered a success.

The hope internally, of course, is that the quality of this group goes far deeper that Tannehill, that this rookie class eventually is regarded as the best overall since Jeff Ireland’s arrival in 2008.

The signs, so far, are generally encouraging, with third-rounder Michael Egnew the only one among Miami’s top five picks who isn’t contributing.

Coach Joe Philbin has been so pleased with right tackle Jonathan Martin’s development that he made a point to tell him last week.

“I was watching some of the one-on-one pass rush,” Philbin said. “I usually don’t go down there, but I commented on some of the good things he’s doing. He’s getting better, there’s no doubt.

“From where he was in the preseason, to what he’s done [recently], I like the development I see. He’s a very aware player, and I think he has a chance to be a good one.”

Martin, selected 42nd overall out of Stanford, gave up a sack in the opener but hasn’t allowed another one since. He never played a single snap at right tackle until the Dolphins drafted him, and the transition “was rough at first,” he said.

“I was using muscles I wasn’t using before. My balance is better now, and it’s close to second nature now. I’ve done some good things.”

    Martin, who plays to attend law school someday, already prepares like a veteran, with a bedtime routine of studying film of himself and his opponent. “He’s athletic, strong and getting better every week,” left tackle Jake Long said.

Miller, picked 97th overall, has averaged 5.5 yards on 23 carries, compared with Daniel Thomas’ 3.2 average on 26 carries. What’s more, Miller is averaging 3.4 yards after contact, fifth-best among all NFL backs.

But Philbin said he’s not ready to anoint Miller or Thomas as his No. 2 running back. He said playing time will depend partly on matchups.

The Dolphins seem to trust Thomas more in pass protection, even though he gave up a sack last Sunday. Thomas pass-protected on 10 of his 21 snaps against Arizona; Miller had that assignment only one of his eight snaps.

“In college, you can be patient,” Miller said of carrying the ball in the NFL. “Someone will miss an assignment and a hole will open. In the NFL, people aren’t missing assignments.”

UM coach Al Golden has kept an eye on Miller and said: “It seems like he’s got his burst and he’s getting to the edge in the NFL, which is really hard to do.”

Vernon, meanwhile, produced four quarterback hurries in his 34 snaps against Arizona and has six in 97 snaps overall, according to Pro Football Focus, which ranks him 27th among 59 defensive ends who play in a 4-3. He also has half a sack.

“He’s getting better,” defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said. “He has some lapses here and there at times, but he’s competing hard.”

Vernon and Miller, former teammates at UM, appreciate being able to begin their NFL journey together. “It has helped a lot,” Miller said. “We stay on each other, tell each other to pick it up.”

Vernon said when he and Miller are together, special teams coach Darren Rizzi “will say: ‘Look -- It’s the U boys!’”

Egnew, who hasn’t been active for any of Miami’s four games, remains the one disappointment in the group, with offensive coordinator Mike Sherman acknowledging this week that the 78th overall pick is still making “rookie mistakes.”

The Dolphins believe Charles Clay is clearly ahead of Egnew as a No. 2 tight end and like using Jaron Mastrud for about a dozen plays a game, because of his value as a blocker.

Egnew, whom the Dolphins envision as a potential stretch-the-field threat, wasn’t asked to block a lot at Missouri.

 “I’m way better as an in-line blocker than when I got here,” he said. “I’ve got to be more consistent with pass catching. [General manager] Jeff Ireland tells me to keep getting better. He views me as a weapon.”

Egnew said he’s not scarred by Sherman telling him in preseason that he would cut Egnew if Sherman were general manager – a scene aired on HBO’s Hard Knocks. “I have thick skin,” Egnew said. “He’s a great coach and his methods are not questionable.”

But he said he needed to become more “private” on social media after that unfortunate moment on Hard Knocks, because so many people were commenting about it.

Tannehill, Martin, Miller and Vernon aren’t the only rookies contributing. Jorvorskie Lane, four years out of college but listed as a rookie, starts at fullback. Defensive linemen Derrick Shelby and Kheeston Randall have played 50 and 44 snaps, respectively.



October 03, 2012

Wednesday night quick hits on Heat scrimmage, Dolphins

Some Wednesday night quick hits from Dolphins camp and the Heat’s scrimmage at AmericanAirlines Arena:

### Ray Allen got a loud ovation from the surprisingly large crowd of 11,221 when he made his first shot, a three from the corner, less than one minute into Wednesday night's proceedings. Allen shot 5 for 11, including 3 for 7 on threes.

But the most amusing Allen news of the night was a fan being booed – essentially forced to move to another seat – for showing up in an Allen “Celtics” jersey. “It was pretty funny,” Allen said. “I don’t know how to feel about that.” Also booed - and pressured to move - was a fan in a Rajon Rondo Celtics jersey.

Said LeBron James: “We have enough Ray Allen Heat jerseys that they don’t need to wear Ray Allen Celtics jerseys.”

Dwyane Wade, who did not play (knee), took the microphone at halftime and announced, “Will all Celtics fans please exit the building?”

### Rashard Lewis shot 1 for 9, but Erik Spoelstra said he was pleased because he was far more aggressive looking for his shot than he has been the first four days of practice. Lewis said he’s still “getting my legs under me.” Lewis isn't a volume rebounder historically, so it was good to see him pull down nine, which led all Heat players.

### With Mario Chalmers sidelined by a quadriceps injury, point guard duties were shared among Norris Cole, Garrett Temple and Terrel Harris. Cole was sharp (10 points, 5 assists, 2 turnovers) and pushed the tempo, as usual. Harris (8 points, 4 assists, no turnovers) clearly has improved his ball-handling. Temple (four assists, two turnovers) delivered a pedestrian performance, missing four of his six shots.

The Heat is giving Temple a long look, but it's difficult to envision him beating out Harris. Forward Rodney Carney (2 for 7, 5 points) also has a chance for that final "wing" job.

### None of the four young centers did anything particularly notable. Dexter Pittman and Josh Harrellson had five rebounds apiece. Harrellson also made a steal but missed all four of his shots, even though he’s considered the most gifted offensively of the four.

Pittman, whose only basket came on a dunk, missed two shots from point-blank range. Mickell Gladness got a dunk and layup off nifty passes. Jarvis Varnado missed his only two shots and it's hard to envision him sticking. Joel Anthony (hamstring) sat out.

### Mike Miller picked up where he left off in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, making three consecutive three-pointers early on and showing no ill effects from the back problems that have hampered him. But he finished 3 for 9 from the field.

### Udonis Haslem, who shot three for seven, blocked an Allen shot as Allen drove to the basket. Allen smiled and Haslem helped him up.

### Chris Bosh, who led all players with 19 points, made two three pointers – something we’ll see a lot this season.

### The crowd – which James called “definitely surprising” -  easily topped the 8721 that the Dolphins drew for their preseason scrimmage at Sun Life Stadium. That would have been unheard of pre-LeBron (or before years of Dolphins mediocrity, for that matter).

### Speaking of the Dolphins… Joe Philbin said Wednesday he actually is not especially involved in Ryan Tannehill’s “day to day development. “Not a lot,” he said. “I have great faith in the staff.” That might surprise some, but Philbin’s specialty was the offensive line before becoming the Packers’ offensive coordinator.

### Beleaguered John Jerry is quietly doing a decent job at right guard. “He is in better physical condition, more serious about his profession, has developed nicely,” Philbin said.

### RJ Stanford, who hasn’t played on defense all year, took first team cornerback snaps Wednesday because of injuries to Richard Marshall and Nolan Carroll. But keep in mind that Marshall and Carroll sat out some practice last week and still played.

### Philbin, without prompting, suggested to Cincinnati reporters on Wednesday that Dan Carpenter needs to improve after missing three field goals over the past two weeks: “We all have a job to do…. The field goal kicker’s job is to put the ball through the uprights. So we have to do that more consistently, no doubt.”

### Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle was Cincinnati’s secondary coach the past nine years, but Philbin – asked which team that will help more on Sunday – said it’s “probably a wash.”

In his chat with Bengals reporters, Philbin was effusive about Coyle, calling him “exceptional. He’s the only guy I interviewed for the job.” The Dolphins’ defense is 16th in yards allowed per game – first against the run, 30th against the pass.



October 02, 2012

Marlins offseason plans; Holtz on UM-Notre Dame; Tuesday Dolphins chatter; Heat


Marlins chatter on the eve of the offseason:

### The Marlins have not met yet to discuss their offseason plans, but they plan to make third base a priority this winter and also likely will look to add another starting position player if they do not re-sign Carlos Lee.

But here’s the challenge: Though there’s no final decision, the Marlins expect payroll to be in the $80 million range, about $15 million below 2012. That would leave only about $9 million to spend on seven or eight players, unless they trade a high-priced pitcher, which will be considered.

Five position players are likely set: Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Reyes, Logan Morrison, Emilio Bonifacio, Rob Brantly.

With the Mets expected to pick David Wright’s $16 million option, the free-agent third base options aren’t especially inspiring: Kevin Youkalis (.236, 19 homers, 60 RBI), Jeff Keppinger (.328, 9, 40) Placido Polanco (.257, 2, 19), Eric Chavez (.284, 16, 37), Mark Reynolds (.226, 23, 69), Brandon Inge (.218, 12, 54), Ty Wigginton (.234, 11, 43) and Scott Rolen (.243, 7, 38).

“We might need to find somebody under-the-radar like we did with Jorge Cantu a few years ago,” one Marlins official said.

Don’t rule out a trade for a third baseman. The Marlins believe third base prospect Zack Cox is a year or two away.

### Owner Jeffrey Loria really likes Donovan Solano (.296), who has made a strong case to be the full-time starter at second base. If Solano starts, Bonifacio likely would play center field, though third base is possible. He said he would be comfortable at any of the three.

### Lee said he would like to re-sign, but the Marlins have told him nothing. His return is not completely out of the question, but the Marlins are expected to explore other options. If Lee isn’t kept, they likely would move Morrison to first base and add an outfielder to start or platoon with Justin Ruggiano.

### Unless the Marlins trade salary to create payroll space, they cannot afford free agent outfielders Josh Hamilton, Nick Swisher, Delmon Young, Michael Bourn, Melky Cabrera, BJ Upton, Torii Hunter or potentially even Cody Ross, Angel Pagan or Shane Victorino.

Among cheaper free agents outfielders: Juan Pierre (.310), Scott Hairston (.258, 19, 54), Raul Ibanez (.235, 18, 59), Reed Johnson (.287) and Jonny Gomes (.256, 17, 46).

James Loney (.249, 5, 40) and Casey Kotchman (.231, 12, 55) are among the very few (somewhat) decent free-agent first base options if Morrison stays in left field, which seems unlikely.

### The Marlins have $64.6 million owed to eight players for 2013: Josh Johnson ($13.75), Ricky Nolasco ($11.5 million), Mark Buehrle ($11 million), Heath Bell ($9 million), Reyes ($10 million), John Buck ($6 million), Greg Dobbs ($1.6 million) and Jacob Turner ($1.75 million).

That figure grows to about $71 million when factoring in arbitration-eligible Bonifacio and Ryan Webb, plus eight players under team control, including Stanton, Morrison and Steve Cishek.

The Marlins could deal Nolasco for a run-producing position player if they believe they can fill the third through fifth rotation spots with Nathan Eovaldi, Turner and either Wade LeBlanc or a cheap free agent. Trading Johnson instead is a possibility if a team is also willing to take on the $18 million due on Bell's contract. That would free up a ton of money to improve the offense.

Position players expected to be available in the trade market this winter include, among others, Colorado center fielder Dexter Fowler and infielder/outfielder Michael Cuddyer.


UM and Notre Dame, meeting in the regular season for the first time since 1990 (they played in the 2010 Sun Bowl), likely will meet about seven times in the next 20 years, including 2016 and ‘17.

ESPN announcer and former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz, who went 2-2 against Miami in the final four games (1987-1990), said off air Tuesday that the series renewal “is good for college football. What made it so great is so many people love Notre Dame and some hate them, and there are a lot of Miami haters in this country.

Al Golden has done an excellent job, and I like your quarterback,” Holtz said. “Defensively, you’re a ways away from being a great team. For all the great things that Steve Walsh… and those guys did, it was their defense that made them great. No doubt Notre Dame is a better team.”

Golden said Tuesday that “former players know we want to play well for them” Saturday, but he won’t much discuss the rivalry with his players because “getting into all that this week, I don’t know how that’s going to help our team grow.” Randal Hill reportedly wanted to address the UM team about the rivalry this week, and other former Canes greats are weighing in on Twitter.

“Gonna drop kick that leprechaun right through the uprights and stamp a U on his butt! LOL!” tweeted Alonzo Highsmith, whose son starts at safety for UM.  Alonzo smiled about his dad's tweets: “He has got a lot of energy."

Chicago, the site of Saturday's game, is less than 90 miles from Notre Dame's campus. So when Golden was asked what he thinks of neutral site games, he smiled and said: "Well, I prefer it to be neutral. We start there."

### Regrettably, Dolphins rookie third-round pick Michael Egnew apparently still isn't ready. Though tight end Charles Clay has had more drops (two) than receptions (one, for two yards), offensive coordinator Mike Sherman suggested Tuesday he’s not ready to use rookie Michael Egnew instead.

Egnew “is still making some rookie mistakes,” Sherman said. And what about Clay? "He “running great routes and has a lot of talent," Sherman said. "I have to find a way to get him going and I haven’t done a very good job of that yet. That’s on me.”

### Davone Bess gave an immediate “yes” Tuesday when asked by another reportert if Brian Hartline’s speed is underestimated because he is white. Hartline leads the league with 455 receiving yards. If teams underestimated his speed, “I don’t think they will anymore,” Sherman said.... See our story elsewhere on the web site, on the Dolphins signing Jabar Gaffney (one-year deal) and cutting Legedu Naanee.

### Sherman said “the time will come at the halfway point” to decide between Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller as the primary No. 2 running back.

### Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said Sean Smith’s game Sunday was “perhaps the best since he’s been a Dolphin.” But he added Richard Marshall “knows he can play better, as can Nolan Carroll…. They’re hopefully going to play at the level we know they can.”

### Opponents are averaging 43 passes per game against Miami, highest in the league, and the third-most passing yards per game. Surprisingly, though, Miami is allowing the third-lowest completion percentage (54), Coyle said… Coyle told his unit: “We have to find a way to win. And we have to find a way to win now. Period. End of story.”

### Heat center Dexter Pittman, at his lowest weight in years (275) after topping 375 as a freshman at Texas, got a pep talk from Pat Riley and said he finally has “figured out the things I cannot do, and I’ve stopped trying to do them. In the past, I was thinking I had to try to dunk every time I got the ball.”