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1 posts from July 21, 2013

July 21, 2013

Sunday 6 p.m. update: Heat calls Camby; Lots of Fins camp news; More UM recruiting

Greetings from Dolphins camp in Davie. Please scroll down a bit for a lengthy Sunday Dolphins report. First, a bit of Heat and UM recruiting news:

### The Heat has called to express interest in center Marcus Camby, who cleared waivers late this afternoon. Camby intends to consider the Heat, Chicago and Houston, according to a source.

"Marcus is weighing his options and would like to make a decision in the next few days," said his agent, Richard Kaplan.

The 6-11 Camby, 39, appeared in just 24 games for the Knicks last season, averaging 1.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and just 10.4 minutes. But he was effective the season before that --- averaging 9.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks (along with 4.0 points) in 59 games for Houston and Portland in 2011-12.

The Knicks dealt Camby to Toronto earlier this month in the Andrea Bargnani trade, and the Raptors bought out his contract last week.

Besides Camby, the Heat also continues to explore signing 7-0 center Greg Oden, who hasn't played since 2009 because of knee issues.

Oden's agent said the Heat will see Oden a second time, possibly this week in Ohio or Indiana, and watch him conduct his daily workout routine, including some shooting and weight training. Oden met with Heat officials, including Pat Riley, earlier this year but he did not work out for them at that time.

His agent, Mike Conley Sr., said Oden won't be cleared for contact work until August. So if the Heat visits Oden this week or next week, he won't do a traditional workout with another player on the court defending him.

If the Heat signs Camby, it would assuredly be for the $1.4 million veteran's minimum.

But it's unclear if the minimum -- $1 million in Oden's case -- would be enough to sign Oden, considering New Orleans is prepared to offer him $3 million next season, according to Yahoo! Dallas and San Antonio are the other top contenders for Oden.

The Heat has its $3.2 million taxpayer midlevel exception available. But Pat Riley --- while not talking about Oden specifically --- has said he's not sure there's anyone left in free agency that he would use that on. But Riley has repeatedly made clear that he's interested in Oden, if he's healthy. Conley said Oden should be ready for the season open.

What's clear is that the Heat very much wants to add another veteran big man, if it's the right fit.

By the way, the Heat lost to Phoenix in the semifinals of the Las Vegas Summer League, but James Ennis played well (25 points, 9 rebounds).

### In the wake of securing two high-end commitments in the past three days (Booker T. Washington cornerback Nigel Bethel and defensive end Chad Thomas), UM has risen to No. 2 in rivals.com's rankings of the 2014 recruiting classes. Though the oral commitments are obviously non-binding, Miami's success is impressive considering the NCAA cloud hanging over the program.

UM, which has 23 oral commitments, is behind only Tennessee in Rivals' rankings. Rounding out the top five: FSU, Kentucky and Texas. Alabama is eighth, UF 24th.

Miami could augment the class ever further by landing another top defensive tackle (more on that in a minute) or a big-time receiver such as Homestead's Ermon Lane (rated No. 2 among all receivers by rivals.com), Cardinal Newman's Travis Rudolph (22), West Palm Beach's Johnnie Dixon (20) or Raleigh's Braxton Berrios (39).

Lane has called UM his "dream school," and the Hurricanes and Alabama will get serious consideration. But Rivals.com reported that UF has become his leader, at least for the moment.

Meanwhile, UM will make every effort to snag four-star St. Thomas Aquinas defensive tackle Anthony Moten, who de-committed from UF in the past couple of days. "Florida is loaded at DT and I'm trying to get on the field," Moten told the Gainesville Sun. 

Moten said previously that he was considering Miami. He is now reportedly considering UM, FSU and South Carolina. Rivals.com rates Moten as the No. 12 defensive tackle in the 2014 class. UM already has a commitment from the No. 20 defensive tackle, Hialeah Champagnat's Travonte Valentine.

Luring Moten ---- in addition to Valentine and junior college standout Dalvon Stuckey, who is orally committed to UM --- would be huge, because defensive tackle is Miami's biggest need, with two of the team's top three tackles (Curtis Porter and Luther Robinson) entering their senior seasons. The third of those three, Olsen Pierre, will be a junior this season.


On to Dolphins.... Armando Salguero will post a column later on Ryan Tannehill and Mike Wallace, and Adam Beasley will have a story on Dion Jordan, who was placed on the non-football injury list (which is a misnomer, because his shoulder injury is very much a football injury). He hopes to be ready to practice very soon -- reportedly in a week or two -- but refused to put a timetable on it.

Here are my notes on what else was going on during Day 1 of camp today:

Olivier Vernon’s outstanding offseason work was rewarded Sunday when he spent the opening training camp practice with the first team, holding down the defensive end spot opposite Cameron Wake.

“O.V. might be the most improved guy in our camp,” Wake said. “He’s made a lot of strides.”

Jared Odrick, who started at defensive end last season but moved to tackle in obvious passing situations, worked at tackle alongside Paul Soliai with the first-team base defense on Sunday. Longtime starter Randy Starks rotated in at tackle and also got considerable work.

The quartet of Wake, Vernon, Odrick and Soliai comprised the first-team defensive line that the Dolphins used throughout May and June practices, because Starks missed the entire offseason program -- except the mandatory June mini-camp -- as he protested being slapped with the Dolphins’ franchise tag instead of being given a multiyear contract.

Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said last month that Odrick will play both end and tackle, as he did last season.

“I’m going to be all over the place,” Odrick said Sunday. “That’s why I’m here because I am able to help the team in multiple ways and do multiple things. [Sunday] was at d-tackle. You saw me there all off-season. I could be at a different position [Monday].”

Starks was very good last season, and Starks ($8.45 million) and Soliai ($5.7 million) have the highest 2013 base salaries on the team. So it would be surprising if either one of them is not a starter. And the Dolphins very much value Odrick.

Also, first round draft pick Dion Jordan will get work at defensive end, and possibly at linebacker, when he is eventually cleared after offseason shoulder surgery.

But the Dolphins want to give a lot of training camp snaps to Vernon, who impressed this offseason with his play against the run, as a pass rusher, and in pass coverage.

“O.V. had an awesome spring, and it’s going to carry over,” Odrick said. “He’s a guy that takes pride in his work, a real team player.”

Vernon, who beat backup tackle Jeff Adams for two would-be sacks on Sunday, said he has spent considerable time polishing his technique and “I’ve learned so much in one year.”

Vernon said he has not been given any sense of his chances of being a starter. Odrick said the mixing and matching on the defensive line is “off the cuff, trying to figure out what works as we go along. We’ll mix it around. We’re trying to get the best players in the best spots.”

Odrick said he’s equally comfortable at end and tackle and “I like to believe I’m good at both.” He must be at a weight where he can play both effectively and was told to report at 302 pounds, a few pounds less than last season. He said he’s probably 298 after the opening practice.

“From a human standpoint, when they’re asking me to be 302 instead of 310, I look a little better in my clothes,” Odrick cracked.

Asked if it felt unusual for three established starters (Starks, Soliai and himself) to be alternating at two positions, Odrick said: “The more the rotation, the better for all of us. We’re getting acclimated to the heat again. Hopefully, that will carry into the season and we can rotate more.”


Center Mike Pouncey refused to comment about attending his own birthday party last weekend wearing a hat with the words “Free Hernandez” – a reference to his former University of Florida roommate Aaron Hernandez, who is awaiting trial on a first-degree murder charge.

But asked about a general question about player conduct, Pouncey said: “We get paid a lot of money to act a certain way and that’s the way we should be acting.”

Coach Joe Philbin refused to say if he discussed the matter with Pouncey but said:  “It’s important for every member of this organization – players, coaches – to represent the organization in a first class manner.”

Unlike Mike Pouncey, his brother -- Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey --- apologized after wearing the "Free Hernandez" hat.

### Pouncey said “we definitely miss Jake Long” --- who signed with St. Louis – but added Jonathan Martin “is adjusting to the left side. I love it.”


John Jerry remained with the first team at right guard, as former Chicago Bear Lance Louis works his way back from last November’s knee injury. The Dolphins are listing Jerry at 335 pounds, down from 345 in June. Louis wore a brace on his left knee and doesn’t seem to be at full strength yet.

### Charles Clay and rookie Dion Sims worked with the first- and second-teams at Sunday’s practice – along with starter Dustin Keller - while Michael Egnew was relegated to the side of the field where the third- and fourth-teamers were practicing.

### Dan Carpenter went 10 for 10 on field goals, including conversions from 47, 48 and 49 yards. His competition, Caleb Sturgis, is expected to kick on Monday.

### The Dolphins said the crowd of 2700 was the most for a training camp practice since 2006.

### Armon Binns and Rishard Matthews entered camp as the front-runners for the fourth and fifth receiver jobs. But Marvin McNutt will push them, judging from his performance Sunday, when he grabbed five passes, including a terrific over-the-shoulder catch from Ryan Tannehill, beating Nolan Carroll.  

McNutt, drafted in the sixth round in 2012, spent four weeks on the Philadelphia Eagles’ 53-man roster last season but did not catch a pass and was released in May.

Also, receiver Jeff Fuller caught a 70-yard touchdown pass from Pat Devlin, beating Jamar Taylor.


### Oregon rookie linebacker Michael Clay intercepted a Devlin pass and returned it for a touchdown.

### Tannehill ran for 15 yards on a read option play – something the Dolphins likely will use on occasion this season. He scrambled for a long gain on another play out of a traditional formation.

### Tannehill threw a few deep balls poorly, at least one the result of quarterback pressure. But he looked sharp on crossing patterns, including a dart to Mike Wallace.

### Wallace scampered for 10 yards on a reverse but also dropped a pass with several defenders in the vicinity.


### Taylor, who had sports hernia surgery in May, practiced without limitations, as did guard/tackle Dallas Thomas, who missed much of the offseason recovering from shoulder surgery.

### Cornerback Dimitri Patterson played opposite the slot receiver in the nickel package – on a unit with first-team cornerbacks Brent Grimes and Richard Marshall – and made a couple of solid plays, including a pass breakup on a Tannehill throw to Brian Hartline.

### Besides the two sacks from Vernon, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and defensive tackle Kheeston Randall had one apiece.

### The Dolphins often played without a fullback, instead using tight end Dustin Keller or tight end/H-back Charles Clay in the backfield.

### Lamar Miller showed good burst on several runs.

### Quote of the day (from Wake): “Expectations are very high. It’s time we get out of the middle of the pack identity and get to the front like we’re supposed to be.”


          Monday: 8 a.m.

          Tuesday: 8 a.m.

          Wednesday: 8 a.m.

          Thursday: Off

          Friday: 8 a.m.

          Saturday: 8 a.m.

          Sunday: 8 a.m.

All of this week’s practices will be at the team facility in Davie, with admission free to the public. Remember, the team spends the first 30 minutes or more inside the practice bubble, which is closed to the public.

 #### Please see the last post (the Sunday buzz) for Heat, Canes, Marlins and a lot more Dolphins.