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1 posts from February 24, 2014

February 24, 2014

2:30 update: LeBron status; New position for UM player; Fins interested in Albert; Starks, Soliai update

2 p.m. Tuesday update: LeBron James, recovering a broken nose, participated in a light practice (without a mask) on Tuesday and said "I think I should be fine enough" to play Thursday against the Knicks.

But he said he will need to wear a protective mask for a few weeks and will wear it during Wednesday's contact practice.

### UM's newest addition to the 2014 class, defensive tackle Joe Brown, will be used by UM as an offensive lineman, he told rivals.com today. He said he prefers to play defense, but UM needs the offensive line depth.

Brown's coach in Paramount, Cal., learned last week that he had earned a high enough SAT score to be eligible. UTEP made an offer last Wednesday, and UM contacted him that afternoon, and invited him for a visit.

Brown visited UM last weekend and signed on Sunday, according to the Times. Brown, 6-4 and 320 pounds, is a two-time defensive player of the year in the San Gabriel Valley.

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9 p.m. Monday update: Heard this morning from a league source that the Dolphins plan to pursue Chiefs impending free agent left tackle Branden Albert in free agency. But they'll have competition. Arizona and Tampa Bay also are believed to have interest, and Kansas City hasn't ruled out re-signing him.

Joe Philbin wanted the Dolphins to pursue a trade for Albert last spring, but Jeff Ireland didn't want give up a high draft pick.

Albert, 29, ranked 29th among all tackles last season, according to Pro Football Focus. (We planned on reporting the Albert news in a Wednesday buzz column, but tonight, word has gotten out around the league about Miami's interest.)

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5:15 p.m. Monday update:

The Dolphins have not made an offer to either of their key impending free agent defensive tackles, Randy Starks or Paul Soliai, but have expressed interest in re-signing both. They are expected to make an offer to Soliai before free agency begins in two weeks, barring a change of heart.

The Dolphins have conveyed that they would be fine with Starks testing the market and coming back to them with a competing offer. Nevertheless, they haven’t ruled out making an offer to Starks before the start of free agency.

Unofficial interest in Soliai has been significant this week at the NFL Scouting Combine. Soliai has moved out of his South Florida home but in the past has expressed a fondness for living in South Florida.

Free agents cannot sign with other teams before March 11 and can speak only with their current teams until March 8, at which point they can begin talking to any team.

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Tidbits from Jason Taylor’s charity golf tournament today:

### Cornerback Brent Grimes, arguably the most critical of the Dolphins’ impending free agents, said today he’s optimistic but not certain that he will re-sign with Miami.

He said his agent Ben Dogra has spoken to the Dolphins a few times.

“I’m pretty optimistic,” he said. “They said they like me here and want to have me back. Hopefully, it happens sooner than later, and I don’t have to worry about it.”

Grimes said the Dolphins have not discussed slapping him with the franchise tag, which likely will top $11 million. “Nobody wants to get franchise tag, another one-year deal.”

The deadline to use the franchise tag is next Monday. But even if a player is given the tag, negotiations on a contract can continue, and the tag can be lifted, until mid-July.

### Long snapper John Denney, the Dolphins’ union representative, hasn’t read Ted Wells’ 144-page report on the team’s bullying scandal and didn’t read media accounts of the report. But he nevertheless discredited Wells’ findings.

“I have a hard time believing,” Denney said, “that you’re going to pay a guy good money to take his time to do an investigation, spend three months on it --- All of us can agree he’s not going to walk out of there and address the table and say, ‘I’ve got nothing guys, sorry.’ You’ve got to come up with something. They’re paying good money to come up with something.”

Denney said he didn’t want to hear about the details of the report because “I’ve been in the middle of it, so I’ve got nothing to read or see or hear…. This whole thing nauseates me,” he said.

Why? “Because it’s a little too much. Everything has been blown out of proportion from my perspective.”

What about Wells’ claim that several players were harassed, not only Jonathan Martin?

“Ted Wells can go into any one of the 32 teams in the entire league and he is going to come out with the same investigation, same results,” Denney said. “Every single player in this league has been bullied if that’s what bullying is defined as. I was bullied as a rookie. Every one I’ve seen has been bullied as a rookie.”

Denney, who came into the league with the Dolphins in 2005, said he never witnessed any conduct that he considered to be over the line.

"If this is something that needs to be addressed, this should have been addressed my rookie year because nothing has changed since Day 1 that I’ve been in the league,” he said. “It hasn’t escalated. If it was bad now, it was bad then.

“I came from BYU. When I came in the league, the environment was a complete shock to me. It wasn’t something I was used to. I felt like it was something I could manage and it didn’t affect me. Everyone is affected differently. This is no blanket cure-all because everyone reacts differently to different situations. There’s no right or wrong. It depends on the person that’s been affected.”

Does Denney blame Martin because this wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t left?

“You answered your own question,” he said. “You know the answer to that. I’m not answering that question. It’s a little obvious.”

Would Martin be welcomed back to the Dolphins’ locker-room in the unlikely event it happened? “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” Denney said.

### Ryan Tannehill, speaking to reporters for the first time since the end of the season, said he isn’t permitted to speak to new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor in detail because of NFL rules prohibiting much contact between players and coaches this time of year.

But Tannehill said he has spoken some with Lazor and the offense “definitely will be different. It’s a completely different system. Bill runs a numbers system. Coach [Mike] Sherman was a West Coast style system. Everything is going to have a different name. It’s going to be re-programmed in my brain to work in a different way. It’s a big task.”

Will fans see a difference in how the offense looks? Tannehill said he doesn’t know because he hasn’t been able to talk X’s and O’s yet with Lazor.

“I’m excited,” he said. “He’s a fun guy to work with. Just his personality coming in seems like it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to when we can get into learning the offense. I’m just waiting on that date…. I’m really looking forward to taking a big step this year.”

Tannehill, on the Wells report: “I didn’t read it. I saw a few pages of it and got overwhelmed by a 140-whatever pages and skipped it. I’m just glad it’s out. We’ve had the consequences. Now we can put it in the past and move forward. It’s behind us. We’ll try to learn from it.”

I asked Tannehill if he’s ready to become a more vocal leader who would stand up and say something if he sees locker-room conduct that he doesn’t approve of.

"You definitely get comfortable speaking up,” he answered. “That goes with your time in a place, your time in the league. You get more comfortable, you speak up a lot more. The big thing is having other guys’ respect in the locker room. You can’t come in with no respect and try to own the place. At this point, hopefully I have some respect in the locker-room and now I can assert myself in that way.”