5 p.m. update: LeBron report shot down; Knee bothering Moreno and ten notes, postscripts, thoughts from Dolphins minicamp
Quick 5 p.m. update:
### Heat people and a source close to LeBron James vehemently denied a report from David Pingalore, an Orlando TV reporter, that James met for lunch with owner Micky Arison and "stormed off when asked about a pay cut."
The Heat and the associate of LeBron said none of that happened.
Pingalore went on Andy Slater's WINZ-940 show today to defend his story, insisting that James had a "few choice words" for Arison, a visual that seems ludicrous.
Again, the Heat and the LeBron associate said none of that happened.
### James, incidentally, was photographed in the Bahamas, where LeBron and his family are vacationing with Ray Allen and James Jones and their families.
Meanwhile, Bleacher Report today reported that Houston will vigorously pursue James in free agency. So, presumably, will the Clippers, who would need to dump DeAndre Jordan and Jamal Crawford and a few other pieces to clear out enough cap space to make him a max offer.
The Heat has long been considered the front-runner to retain James, who has remained publicly non-committal about his intentions.
James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have June 30 deadlines to exercise opt-out clauses.
"I can't think of a reason why LeBron would not just stay the course in Miami and put his trust in Micky Arison and Pat Riley," Jeff Van Gundy told Dan Le Batard's ESPN Radio show.
Ten tidbits following the conclusion of the Dolphins’ offseason program (and we’ll have a lot, lot more in the next week):
### Knees were an issue for two of the Dolphins’ top free agent pickups this week.
As Pro Football Talk and NFL Network reported today, Knowshon Moreno sat out practice with a knee injury this week and might need arthroscopic surgery, based on what a doctor tells him next week. If he needs the surgery, he likely would be available for preseason games, barring a setback.
Cornerback Cortland Finnegan sat out team drills last week because of a knee issue. But the fact he participated in less grueling work during practice bodes well. Still, it’s an issue worth monitoring, considering the Dolphins’ lack of veteran depth at the position.
Oddly enough, the one free agent who came to the Dolphins with a history of knee issues (Louis Delmas) hasn’t had any problems through the offseason program. Delmas didn’t practice for the Lions last season because of his knees but played in every game after missing eight in 2012 and five in 2011.
### Considering Rishard Matthews had been in Joe Philbin’s doghouse, I found it interesting that when Philbin was asked what stood out to him in the offseason program, the first name he mentioned was Matthews. "Rishard had a really good camp," Philbin said.
Philbin then mentioned four other names: Dallas Thomas, Jelani Jenkins, Jamar Taylor and Will Davis.
Matthews said he and Philbin ironed out their issues during an offseason discussion. Matthews admitted being late to a couple of meetings, among other things.
### Philbin said something about Reshad Jones that I could not recall him saying about any player in his time here. “It’s very noticeable that he’s practicing harder” than a year ago, Philbin said, also noting that Jones is “pursuing the football more consistently.”
The Jones/Louis Delmas tandem has playmaking potential, but Jones must regain his 2012 form.
What “we liked about him and the reason we brought him here (is) we liked his play speed,” Philbin said of Delmas. “He played the game physical and aggressively and confidently. He’s had great energy. He seems to really have fit in well here, seems to enjoy his teammates and coaching staff so far. It’s been a good mesh so far.”
### A trio of undrafted defensive tackles --- LSU’s Anthony Johnson, Georgia’s Garrison Smith and Temple’s Kamal Johnson ---- all made notable plays in the three-day mini-camp this week, and it wouldn’t be surprising if one of them makes the active roster and one makes the practice squad.
### Journeyman cornerback Jalil Brown, whose 37 NFL games include two starts for Kansas City in 2012, was impressive in the offseason program and is making a strong push for a roster spot. Brown clearly has been one of the team’s top five corners; rookie Walt Aikens has been beaten several times.
### Defensive end Olivier Vernon said Bill Lazor’s offense is doing “a lot of things I’ve never seen before. They confuse the heck out of me sometimes, but they’re moving fast. Ryan Tannehill’s taking control. He’s shown his leadership ability and a lot of the guys are very impressive, especially Jarvis Landry, Brandon Gibson, coming off his injury. You couldn’t even tell he got hurt.”
By the way, Cam Wake says there’s an upshot for Miami’s defense in having to defend an offense with a lot of pre-snap motion.
“We’re realizing that it’s helping us,” Wake said. “There are teams that are going to do the same things to us. You [now] have a little bit of awareness that, hey, ‘Maybe this guy is going to move or maybe they want to shift and what’s going to happen after that?’ So it keeps you on your toes. It makes you a little more prepared.”
### Dion Jordan said he wants to develop a pass rush move that Jason Taylor had (“a long arm stick right in the chest of the offensive tackle”) but “I haven’t been able to do that much because we’re not in pads.”
He said Taylor’s biggest value to him during the offseason program has been “teaching me a lot about fundamentals.”
### Jordan isn’t the only defensive end who has put on weight. Philbin said Derrick Shelby added five or six pounds, and Wake said he has done the same. Perhaps that makes all of them a bit more stout against the run. We'll see.
### You can’t question Mike Wallace’s work ethic. He was on the field far longer than any player on Wednesday, catching balls from a machine.
“You’ve seen him after practice; nobody is holding a bat to his head,” Philbin said. “This guy is out there working and doing the little things that can make the difference when the season comes around.”
As for Wallace’s mental state, “I’m happy,” he said. “I don’t have any complaints. I think this offense fits me really well. We shake it up all of the time, not do the same things as wide receivers usually do. Being able to come from the backfield, getting all of the way to the inside in the slot, moving around, motion a lot. Just throwing the defense off. It’s always going to be fun when it’s easier to get open.”
### Some have wondered why Miami hasn’t re-signed Dustin Keller, off a serious knee surgery, but keep in mind that the Patriots passed on him after bringing him in for a visit last month.
And while the Dolphins’ backup tight ends aren’t nearly as accomplished as Keller as a receiver (heck, they aren’t even in the same area code), all made plays in the passing game during the offseason program, from starter Charles Clay (no surprise there) to Michael Egnew (got open a lot), to Arthur Lynch (several impressive catches) to Dion Sims. The concern with this group is whether they’re good enough blockers --- an area that isn’t a strength for Keller.