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Saturday notes: Martin says he doesn't blame teammates; Dolphins, Canes, Heat

A few quick items:

### My former Herald colleague Jeff Darlington, now doing good work with NFL Network, shared some text messages exchanged Friday between Dolphins offensive linemen Richie Incognito (whom Darlington profiled recently in a comprehensive piece) and Jonathan Martin.

As many of you know, ESPN reported Friday night that the NFLPA is investigating Incognito for harrassing Martin,who left the team this week to seek emotional counseling after excessive bullying, according to Fox Sports. (Update: The NFLPA just denied ESPN's report that it is investigating Incognito. But it is reviewing the incident.)

According to the Incognito/Martin texts, Incognito asked, "How you doing, buddy?"

Martin, according to Darlington, responded: "Yeah, I'm good man. It's insane bro but... Just know I don't blame you guys at all. It's just the culture around football and the locker room got to me a little."

### On a different note, the Dolphins should be very concerned about attendance. Thursday's figure of 52,388 for the Bengals Halloween game was abysmal --- 7000 less than what the dreadful Jacksonville Jaguars are averaging this season and less than what any team is averaging other than Oakland.

That figure reflects paid attendance, which includes season tickets (believed to be in the low 40,000s) and walk-ups. Just seven years ago, the Dolphins sold more than 61,000 season tickets. Only winning will cure this. But credit owner Stephen Ross for guaranteeing sellouts so games aren't blacked out locally.

### Missed tackles continue to be a major problem for this defense. Philip Wheeler's 13 are third-most among NFL outside linebackers.

### The Dolphins, Chiefs and Bears are among teams in the running for former Dallas defensive tackle Jay Ratliff, who made visits this past week. (Update: Ratliff agreed to a contract with the Bears this afternoon after visiting the Dolphins Friday.)

### We hear UM has added some creative blocking schemes for use if they choose tonight against FSU. The staff is very happy with the game plan it has constructed, but it has to executed against a team with more four- and five-star recruits than Miami.

### Al Golden said he isn't scared about the stage being too big for his freshmen. Stacy Coley and Al-Quadin Muhammed will have prominent roles tonight, but it will be interesting to see if Artie Burns gets as many snaps as he did last week.

### Among the reasons UM is hopeful it won't be pushed around tonight by FSU's running game, as was the case last year: UM couldn't be happier with how Anthony Chickillo and Shayon Green have played and the Hurricanes have gotten more from former Virginia backup Justin Renfrow than even they expected. Renfrow, Olsen Pierre and backups Curtis Porter and Luther Robinson have given UM a skilled rotation of tackles. Renfrow surprisingly has beaten out Porter for a starting job. It's telling that UM hasn't had to rely this year on some fringe linemen such as Corey King (played in only one game) and Earl Moore.

### Odd to see LeBron James -- who led the league in plus/minus last year -- at a minus 3 through three games (meaning the Heat has been outscored by three with him on the floor). "It's not doomsday right now," James said of Miami's 1-2 start. "It's a little bit of unmotivated basketball. We just need to have a little bit more sense of urgency."

### The Heat is allowing 103.3 points per game --- 10th worst in the league and more than 8 points per game higher than last year.... The Heat has now lost two in a row in the regular season for the first time since last Jan. 8 and 10 (Indiana, Portland)... Rashard Lewis, for now, has earned the 10th spot in the Heat's rotation (when Erik Spoelstra uses one) -- ahead of Michael Beasley, James Jones and others... Before Fridays' Nets loss, the Heat had won 21 consecutive regular season games when James and Dwyane Wade had each scored at least 20. That streak ended Friday.

 

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