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1 posts from April 2, 2014

April 02, 2014

10 p.m. Thursday: Burleson/Fins update; Seantrel controversy; Tidbits from UM Pro Day

10 p.m. update: Here's one final tidbit on what has become the world's longest blog post:

Heard tonight that receiver Nate Burleson plans to visit Cleveland after completing his Dolphins visit on Friday. Burleson dined with at least one Dolphins coach tonight and will meet with Dolphins officials at team headquarters Friday. (A veteran of his caliber is not expected to do an on-field workout.)

Burleson will then head to Cleveland on Friday night to meet with the Browns over the weekend.

So a decision on his future is not expected for a few days. Please scroll down for more on Burleson.

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3:30 p.m. Thursday update:

Tidbits from UM's Pro Day today:

### ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported a short time ago that Seantrel Henderson "quit" halfway through UM's Pro Day today and thus "didn't help himself."

David Levine, Henderson's agent, told me Henderson "did not quit" but could not participate in the final two drills because he was "dehydrated and felt sick."

Levine said Henderson met with Giants general manager Jerry Reese after the workout and did film work with Reese, and that Henderson also met with offensive line coaches from the Bengals, Jets and Seahawks after the on-field workouts concluded.

Levine said Henderson told all four teams that he didn't finish the on-field workout because of dehydration.

Saying he quit "was quite a mischaracterization," Levine said.

Levine said Henderson competed the bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, ran the 40-yard dash and did assorted individual drills before leaving the field early.

Henderson will dine with Dolphins officials next Thursday night, then work out for Miami (along with numerous other players with local ties) on Friday.

Hurricanes players Henderson, Stephen Morris, Allen Hurns, Asante Cleveland and Pat O'Donnell were invited to that Thursday dinner with Dolphins officials.

Reporters heard Henderson saying after Pro Day on Thursday that he was tired. He did not stop to talk to reporters.

Henderson weighed in at 339 pounds --- eight pounds heavier than during the season.

Henderson's physical skills are held in high regard by NFL teams, but there remain concerns among some NFL people about the fact that he was suspended at least three times at UM (including at least one for marijuana use) and the fact that he couldn't permanently hold down a starting job at UM because of inconsistent play. 

### Quarterback Stephen Morris was impressive today, according to officials from two NFL teams in attendance. Though the plays were not being defended, Morris and Eduardo Clements said Morris completed nearly all of his 67 throws. The only ones that weren't caught were dropped. "I got a lot of positive feedback [from NFL teams]," Morris said.

Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch, who previously held that position at UM, said Morris "looked really good today."

Morris will visit the Denver Broncos (who have Brock Osweiler as Peyton Manning's backup), Cleveland (which could draft two quarterbacks) and Carolina (where former Canes great Ken Dorsey is the quarterback coach).

Morris said his mechanics are much better because he has recovered from his troublesome Achilles' injury.

"When I was dealing with my Achilles', I wasn't even throwing off my right foot" last year, Morris said.

He has been working in Los Angeles with Tom House, the former MLB pitching coach who has become a guru on quarterback menchanics. During his work with House, he bonded with NFL quarterbacks Andy Dalton, Terrelle Pryor and Matt Barkley. 

(Susan Miller Degnan has more quotes from Morris in her UM blog, and Manny Navarro will have a full story on Pro Day posted later.)

### Allen Hurns said he "felt like I dominated" his private workouts with Houston and Cincinnati.

### Tight end Asante Cleveland also looked good today, according to an NFL official in attendance. He met with Philadelphia Eagles people last night and has a visit scheduled with Arizona.

### Miami's Joe Philbin was the only head coach in attendance. The Dolphins' Dennis Hickey, the Giants' Jerry Reese and Tennessee's Ruston Webster were the three general managers in attendance. Detroit senior personnel director James Harris also attended.

### The Dolphins sent 11 staffers to UM's Pro Day.

### Among other familiar faces on hand: Packers executive and former UM great Alonzo Highsmith (whose son AJ auditioned) and former UM tight end and assistant coach Rob Chudzinski (who was fired as Cleveland Browns coach after last season and is now a special assistant to Colts head coach Chuck Pagano). By the way, UM would have considered Chud for the head coaching job if Al Golden had left for Penn State.

### Every NFL team had an official in attendance except Chicago and Washington, according to UM. Six CFL teams also were represented. (Jacory Harris is still with the Edmonton Eskimos, by the way.)

### Tough break for UM defensive tackle Curtis Porter, who suffered a hamstring injury during the 40-yard dash and couldn't finish his workout.

### Eighteen UM seniors auditioned, plus former Canes players Aldarius Johnson, Davon Johnson, Vaughn Telemaque and Dyron Dye (who was tossed off the UM team last season because of his connection to the NCAA investigation, landed at Bethune Cookman and then received permission to work out Thursday).

Ray-Ray Armstrong, now with the St. Louis Rams, attended Thursday to offer emotional support for Dye, his former teammate at UM and Sanford Seminole High.

Richard Gordon, Kenny Phillips, Antrel Rolle and Micanor Regis were among other former Canes observing.  

### Fisch, on returning to UM: "It was great, a blast to see so many players that I coached or recruited. I visited with the coaching staff, Al, and all the players and coaches. The biggest difference is when you're the coordinator here and it's Pro Day, you're trying to give information that will help. When you're coming here in our capacity, now you're trying to get information. ... I know most of these guys, but it's still interesting to find out how did they work this year."

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9:45 a.m. update:

The Dolphins are bringing in veteran receiver Nate Burleson for a visit starting this evening --- a surprising move considering Miami’s depth at receiver.

Burleson, 32, has caught 457 passes for 5630 yards and 39 touchdowns in 11 NFL seasons. He spent his first three seasons with Minnesota, then four with Seattle and the past four with Detroit.

The Lions signed him to a five-year, $25 million contract in 2010 but cut him in February to clear $5.5 million in cap space. The Miami trip will be Burleson’s first free-agent visit since the Lions released him.

Burleson, 6-0, played in nine games for Detroit in 2013 and started eight, finishing with 39 receptions for 461 yards (11.8 average) and one touchdown.

In 2012, he had 27 catches for 240 yards in six games, including five starts.

But he missed 17 games because of injury over the past two seasons.

Last season, Burleson broke a bone in his arm in a car accident caused by his attempt to keep a pizza from sliding off the passenger seat of his car.

Burleson posted a photo on his Instagram account of a letter from DiGiorno Pizza offering him a year’s worth of free pizza along with a pizza cutter to use once they’ve been prepared. It read thusly:

“Hello Nate. We hope you are feeling better after your recent car accident and are on the road to recovery! DiGiorno Pizza understands the challenges that come with carryout and delivery so we’re sending you a gift along with a year supply of DiGiorno pizza so you can skip carryout.”

Burleson’s best NFL season was with the Vikings in 2004, when he caught 68 passes for 1006 yards. He was named a member of the Seahawks’ 35th anniversary team.

He is the first player to return three punts for 90-plus yards, but the Lions did not use him as a punt or kickoff returner last season. He hasn't returned a punt in an NFL game since 2009.

The Dolphins so far have offered a contract to every free agent that has visited, and Burleson’s visit is somewhat surprising because the Dolphins already have four solid receivers in Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson and Rishard Matthews. Also, Joe Philbin has said the team likes Armon Binns, who is coming off a knee injury that sidelined him all of 2013.

Gibson and Matthews are coming off knee injuries, but Philbin has said that both will be ready for the start of the season.

CBS’ Jason LaCanfora has reported that the Dolphins are trying to trade Wallace, but the Dolphins have vehemently denied that and Wallace’s understanding is that the CBS report is not true.

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Offensive tackle Jason Fox was the only acquisition announced by the Dolphins Wednesday, but we hear three other players also signed.

Those three --- receivers Kevin Cone and Mike Rios and quarterback Jordan Rodgers --- will try to overcome odds and earn a roster spot in the coming months.

The Dolphins signed those three after auditioning five players today. Former Houston Texans receiver Lestar Jean, a Norland High and FAU grad, and former West Virginia receiver J.D. Woods also auditioned but were not offered contracts, at least as of Wednesday afternoon.

All five players auditioned in front of general manager Dennis Hickey, coach Joe Philbin and the offensive coaching staff.

Rodgers, the brother of Packers star Aaron Rodgers, signed with Jacksonville after going undrafted out of Vanderbilt last June but was cut by the Jaguars on July 22.  Tampa Bay signed him to its practice squad Oct. 7 after Josh Freeman was released from the roster. The Buccaneers released Rodgers in February.

So in less than a year, he has now been a member of Florida’s three NFL teams.

Rodgers, 6-1, began his college career at Butte Community College, then played two years at Vanderbilt. In seven starts in 2011, he threw nine touchdowns, 10 picks and completed 50 percent of his passes. He was much better as a full-time starter as a senior, throwing 15 TDs, five interceptions and completing 59 percent of his passes.   

Rios is a nice story: He grew up in Kendall and played high-school ball at Belen. FIU showed interest in him coming out of high school, but he signed with Marist, where he set school records for career touchdowns (17) and receiving yards in a season (1173).

He signed with the Arizona Cardinals after going undrafted last April. The Cardinals released him in July only because he was injured, with a broken foot.

Rios auditioned at Marist’s Pro Day a couple weeks ago, and the Jets showed some interest. Rios, 6-2, ran a 4.38 in the 40 before last year’s draft.

Rios, who grew up a Dolphins fan, said signing with Miami is “a dream come true. I had an opportunity to sign with them after the draft last year but I thought had a better opportunity with Arizona.”

He noted “I’m Cuban and I’m happy to represent all Cubans” in his bid to make the Dolphins. He's also trying to become the first Marist player to appear in an NFL regular-season game.

Cone, who attended Georgia Tech, has played in 28 games in three NFL seasons with the Falcons, mostly on special teams. He has one career reception, for 12 yards.  Cone, 6-2, ran a 4.37 in the 40 coming out of college.

Jean, who also auditioned today, has 10 receptions for 186 yards and a touchdown in two NFL seasons, both for Houston. Woods, the other receiver who tried out today, grew up in Naples and was cut by the Steelers last August.

If he makes it to training camp, Rodgers will compete with front-runner Pat Devlin for the No. 3 quarterback job. The Dolphins also figure to add a quarterback either late in the draft or after the draft --- someone who will get snaps during rookie mini-camp and attend training camp if invited.

### Please check out the last post if you haven't read the Wednesday buzz yet. It has lots of UM info, plus Dolphins, Heat and Marlins.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz