Before we get to UM and Heat, couple quick Dolphins notes:
1) Miami waived guard Brian Thomas, who was injured in practice this week, and signed undrafted guard Jeff Braun, who was honorable mention All Big 12 for West Virginia last season.
2) We heard a bit more on some Dolphins injuries: Jared Odrick has a groin injury that isn't serious. Randy Starks tweated his knee and has been receiving treatment; fortunately, he didn't do any structural damage (to the team's knowledge) and the Dolphins will be patient with him and ease him back when he's ready. The Dolphins do not consider the injury serious and are not worried.
Brian Hartline (calf) believes he can play, but the team will be cautious. Same with Mike Wallace (groin). it would be surprising if either played Sunday night. John Jerry and Rishard Matthews remain out indefinitely will knee issues. The hope is that both can return later this month, but we'll see.
A dozen quick hits from the media session before Saturday morning’s opening of Canes football practice (keep in mind that reporters are not allowed to watch practice beyond the first 15 minutes of stretching and individual work):
### Safety Deon Bush, off hernia surgery in June, should be fully integrated into practice within a week, Al Golden said. Tight end Clive Walford, off a biceps injury, was cleared for practice. And running back Eduardo Clements, who has overcome a neck injury, also has been cleared. Walford, by the way, has bulked up -- He entered UM at 225 pounds and is now 264 pounds, Golden said.
### Among new defensive linemen, Alquadin Mohammad has been cleared academically and practiced Saturday. Ufomba Kamalu also has been given clearance, UM said. Julio Derosier is awaiting clearance and that’s expected shortly… As we noted in our last post, linebacker Devante Bond did not qualify and enrolled at prep school but still hopes to attend UM, perhaps by January.
### Golden loves how everybody aced the conditioning test. “They demolished it. Absolutely crushed it.” Two years ago, half the team couldn't complete it. The progress shows the value of the U-Tough offseason program, to be sure.
### Stephen Morris and Shayon Green were named captains. “Those two have distinguished themselves as leaders,” Golden said. "Not only guys who do their job everyday but who people will follow."
### Golden said: “The kids know I’m jacked up. They showed every one of us they made a commitment and believe in what we’re doing.”
### Duke Johnson said he has added eight pounds of muscle and now feels prepared to carry a bigger load. UM envisions his touches increasing from 15 to somewhere between 20 and 24. Johnson said he couldn’t have handled the extra workload last year. “I’m more powerful, haven’t lost anything.”
### Though Golden calls Duke Johnson “Randy,” – Duke said he prefers to be called, well, Duke.
Golden laughed when informed of that: “I will call him whatever he wants to be called. We’re still going to give him the ball. I don’t care what you call him.”
### Golden raved about the improved maturity of Seantrel Henderson: “He killed the conditioning test. He never did that.” Henderson has lost some weight – and his dreadlocks.
### The UM front seven is considerably bigger and stronger, which delights Golden to no end. My colleague, Manny Navarro, heard Golden telling the linebackers: “Look at you guys. You got some size, baby!” All told, defensive players gained 155 pounds during the summer.
Anthony Chickillo is 277, Curtis Porter is 325 (“with no appreciable gains in body fat,” Golden pointed out). Kelvin Cain has gone from 228 in the spring to 251 today.
At linebacker, Denzel Perryman has gone from 226 to 240, Jimmy Gaines from 218 to 237, and Raphael Kirby from 220 to 237. The linebackers “were undersized and too light” last year, Golden said.
### Chickillo said even with the weight gain, “I’ve gotten faster. I’m more explosive.” UM’s pass rush simply must ger better – Miami had just 13 sacks last season – ranking 113th of 120 FBS schools - and Chickillo assured: “We’ve worked on pass rush technique all summer.”
### Golden wants a big back to step forward “between Maurice Hagens, Gus Edwards and Danny Dillard, we need someone to emerge there, for sure.” Duke Johnson said Edwards “is a big physical back and he’s willing to let us teach him. He could be a good" complement to Duke.
### The facilities look wonderful – much more aesthetically pleasing to recruits and other visitors -- with the recent construction of the on-campus Schwartz Center next to the football field. And the football field fences are now dressed with pictures of the program’s 72 All-Americans. Very nice touch.
Check out Manny's UM blog for more Canes items from today.
MORE ODEN REACTION
Plesase check the last post for our story last night about Greg Oden joining the Heat. Here's more:
The last time Greg Oden started and finished an NBA game healthy, he dominated – wouldn’t you know it? – the Heat, collecting 13 points, 20 rebounds, four blocks, two assists and a steal in just 30 minutes.
That was Dec. 1, 2009. Oden would play just four minutes five nights later, then not again for nearly four years.
If Oden can give Miami even a third of what he delivered that night in Oregon, the Heat would be perfectly content. But Oden still needs more time to get healthy, and that’s fine with Heat officials and coaches, who are in no rush to get him on the court.
"I’m not going to sit here and say I’m 100 percent,” Oden told ESPN late Friday night. “I am moving [well] and I am feeling good, but I have a lot of work to do. "I could be ready to go but it's still a work in progress. My minutes and amount of playing time and all that is going to have to be monitored."
Oden said he felt comfortable when he spoke to Heat coach Erik Spoelstra at an Indianapolis Chili’s following his workout last week.
“When I had a conversation with Coach Spoelstra and hearing how much he knew about the training stuff what I was already doing, it kind of made me feel like they know what's best for me," he said.
The idea of joining a team that receives serious scrutiny did not faze him.
“They are in the spotlight, what can I say? But for them to come after me with all the stuff I've been going through -- for them to think I can still be an important piece of their team -- I'm really excited about that,” he said. “The scrutiny ... that's going to be there with any team I signed with. I just want to play.”
In a Grantland.com interview with his former teammate, Mark Titus, Oden added: "Obviously the chance to play with the best player in the world and compete for a championship was a big selling point. But more than that, what I really liked was how they thought I could really add something to their team. They’ve won back-to-back championships without me, so for them to pursue me as hard as they did meant a lot, especially given all that I’ve gone through."
He cracked that “the cool thing about playing for the Heat is when you’re LeBron’s teammate and you screw up, nobody gets mad at you for missing a shot or turning the ball over – they get mad at LeBron for passing to you in the first place.”
Besides undergoing five knee procedures, Oden also reportedly has battled depression and alcoholism in recent years.
"The past six years have been tough for me," Oden told Grantland. "But there’s nothing I can do about it now. The past is the past. All I’m focused on is right now. And right now I feel great and I’m looking forward to playing again. I want to be able to finish the season healthy. I want to be able to say I played the game and I had no problems.”
He summarized his feelings to Titus this way: "There’s a lot to be excited about in joining the NBA champions, getting to play with some great players, and living in Miami. But honestly, the thing I’m most excited about is just being able to play basketball again. It’s been a long and challenging road back, so just having the chance to play the game I love again has me more excited than anything else.”
Please check back tonight for the Sunday buzz, with more Canes, Heat and Dolphins and Marlins.