Ten quick Fins and Canes items from Tuesday:
### Not much surprising from Joe Philbin in his lengthy media session at the NFL owners meetings today, but one thing that struck me, after listening to Philbin’s comments, was the difference between Philbin's and Jeff Ireland’s public evaluation of Michael Egnew.
While Ireland has continued to defend Egnew and insisted he has a bright future even though he played just 17 snaps as a rookie, Philbin was as blunt as you’ll ever hear him, saying: “We just didn’t quite see it on the practice field enough to feel like he was ready to make a meaningful contribution or give him a big chunk of the game plan.
"We didn’t see enough from him in special teams where we could validate, ‘OK, Even if he doesn’t have a big role here maybe he can have a big role there.’ So we just didn’t see enough on the tape to warrant an active spot most of the season.”
The big problem, Philbin said, was “his play speed. If I had to say one thing, it would be his play speed. Get that up! Get off the ball quicker, get a better release off the line of scrimmage, get down field quicker. Just speed it up.” Some teammates remain skeptical of his chances. Egnew is doing MMA training this offseason.
### Charles Clay, the other backup behind Dustin Keller, “is working his tail off” in his recovery from late-season knee surgery. Philbin said “we’re going to keep looking” for another tight end. Preferably one with blocking skills (my words, not his).
### Philbin's most telling comment about replacing Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett with Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler: The new linebackers “might be able to make a couple more impactful plays.”
### Philbin clearly was thrilled with Ireland re-signing safety Chris Clemons. He used “delighted,” among other words. “He’s tough, physical, good player.”
### Philbin, on his defense: “We can’t survive [again] on 16 takeaways.”
### He’s eager to see more of young corners Julian Posey and DeAndre Presley in the offseason program.
### Lamar Miller clearly is the front-runner to start at running back, but Philbin didn't say. What Philbin did say is he likes Miller's "explosiveness." He said "he impressed us with his running skills. He can catch the ball. He's an instinctive guy with the ball in his hands."
### UM offensive lineman Brandon Linder was on crutches with a knee injury at Tuesday's UM spring practice, the fifth of the spring. He will miss some time but Al Golden said he won’t require surgery. Meanwhile, defensive tackle Jacoby Briscoe has been moved to guard.
### Golden confirmed our story that suspended linebacker Eddie Johnson is no longer enrolled but didn’t want to discuss the issue beyond that. But we're told that even if UM reinstates him, he will need to make up the classes he misses this semester to be eligible.
### Golden said tight end Asante Cleveland is having a great spring. Beau Sandland will need to beat out Cleveland to be Clive Walford’s top backup. Golden said Sandland, an excellent receiving tight end, “has to get more comfortable with in-line blocking.”
### Check back later for the Wednesday buzz column, with more Fins, Canes and Heat.