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August 12, 2014

6 p.m. Tuesday: Local radio shakeup; ABC/ESPN/Simmons news; Dolphins, Canes, Heat

Please scroll down for Dolphins, UM and Heat chatter. First, an update on two broadcast developments today:

### WQAM-560 will announce a lineup shakeup shortly.

Orlando Alzugaray, a longtime host on the station before leaving in 2010, is returning Aug. 25 to host a show from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays. That slot has been filled in recent months by Alex Donno and Brandon Guzio.

Donno will switch to the 7 to 10 p.m. slot, replacing Kevin Rogers.

Rogers and Guzio were dropped by the station earlier today.

Donno also will replace Rogers as WQAM's host on Florida Panthers broadcasts.

The station declined to comment on the moves, which have not been announced.

Alzugaray left WQAM in 2010 to take an afternoon drive slot on WMEN-640, a job he has held for the past four years.

### Bill Simmons, a polarizing figure on the ABC/ESPN NBA studio show, is leaving the program to launch The Grantland Basketball Show, an 18-episode series that will air during the season on ESPN.

ABC and ESPN haven't decided who might replace Simmons on NBA Countdown or whether to replace Simmons at all. The network said the show's other hosts --- Sage Steele, Doug Collins and Jalen Rose --- are all expected back.

No studio show in network sports television has had more turnover in recent years than NBA Countdown, which has shuffled through numerous hosts and analysts, including Stuart Scott, Michael Wilbon, Magic Johnson, Jon Barry and Chris Broussard, among others. 

Simmons, perhaps America's most popular sportswriter, often dominated the conversation on Countdown last season, and too often Collins wasn't given enough time to speak.


Biggest surprise of Dolphins training camp so far?

Any conversation would probably begin with Dallas Thomas.

Despite the Dolphins’ deficiencies on their offensive line last year, Thomas was entrusted with just three offensive snaps all season.

But Thomas, to this point, has held off free agent acquisition Shelley Smith and rookie third-round pick Billy Turner for the starting job at right guard, though coach Joe Philbin cautioned it’s still an ongoing competition. (Smith has been spending his time recently at left guard, behind Daryn Colledge.)

“Really explosive, real athletic,” left tackle Branden Albert said of Thomas. “He’s got a lot of tools I don’t have. He’s going to be a hell of a player.”

Thomas, selected in the third round in 2013, said Tuesday “it hurt that I had my chance in training camp last year but blew it.”

That made him determined to add muscle and reduce his body fat this offseason, which he achieved by hiring a nutritionist and refining his diet.

“He has performed pretty well,” coach Joe Philbin said. “He got better; you could tell when you watched the tape last year that he was developing. Obviously, fans didn’t get to see that on Sundays.

“Then he had a very good offseason program. He was one of the guys that was here voluntarily in February and March, working with our strength and conditioning guys.”

The Dolphins believe Thomas can play tackle if needed, but for now, they’re having him focus on guard.

Thomas is comfortable playing alongside rookie first-round pick Ja’Wuan James, his former teammate and roommate at the University of Tennessee. Philbin said James played “pretty well his first game” but “I wasn’t crazy about his start.”

###  The Dolphins remain resistant to making Dion Jordan a linebacker, even though he’s likely not going to be on the field much on first down as long as he remains primarily a defensive end.

“There is only X amount of time that you have on the practice field and you have to decide how you want to spend his time,” Philbin said. “One of the things we’ve wanted him to practice on a continual basis is pass rush. So if we’re going to give him an opportunity to compete as a linebacker, you’re taking him out of that element… in his practice time.”

The view here: The Dolphins would be remiss if they don't give Jordan an extended look at linebacker at some point in the next year. Ideally, he would be a 3-4 outside linebacker, though the Dolphins are 4-3 team and the staff has shown no inclination to change that, which is understandable in the sense that the Dolphins have more quality depth on the line than at linebacker.

### Cornerback Will Davis continued his strong training camp by intercepting a poorly thrown pass from Brady Quinn on Tuesday. “I feel so much more technically sound,” Davis said.

Jamar Taylor, competing with Davis for playing time, was beaten by Rishard Matthews for a touchdown, on a Ryan Tannehill pass, on the final play of practice. But Taylor also had a sack on a blitz.

### Rookie receiver Jarvis Landry got some first-team snaps instead of Brandon Gibson on Tuesday.

### Sidelined for the Dolphins on Tuesday: running backs Daniel Thomas (who has begun running) and Mike Gillislee (both with hamstring injuries), offensive tackle Jason Fox (chest), defensive tackle A.J. Francis (knee), tight ends Charles Clay (knee) and Harold Hoskins (hamstring) and defensive end Micajah Reynolds (knee).

### We're taking a one-day break on Dolphins and UM quarterback talk after posting a lot on the subject in recent days, but Adam Beasley has a story on Brady Quinn's first day as a Dolphin on the home page, and Susan Miller Degnan has more on the UM quarterback situation in her story, also to be posted on the home page.   

### As many as nine starting jobs on UM’s defense remain up in the air, and nose tackle has emerged as a four-way battle with Earl Moore (wore a starter’s jersey until Monday when Calvin Heurtelou replaced him), Heurtelou, Courtel Jenkins and Michael Wyche (still trying to lose weight).

Heurtelou was somewhat of a disappointment when he arrived in the spring, but Al Golden said Monday that he “changed his body dramatically, got himself in great condition the past five months.” And Golden said Jenkins “is having a great camp.”

### Expect Duke Johnson to catch more passes this season, Golden said. “Every time he touches the ball, he’s trying to go 20 to 30 yards.”

### UM’s defensive backfield is so deep that barring injury, it’s difficult to envision a defensive role for Ray Lewis III.

UM, at least for now, decided against moving Lewis back to running back, where he played in high school.

Lewis, who was suspended for UM’s bowl game, admitted to reporters on Monday (including Susan Miller Degnan): “I feel like I wasn't mature enough to handle some of the things that were thrown at me when I came to Miami. You don't got mommy with you anymore.  Everything's on you, everything's on how much you mature, on whatever your parents instilled in you over time. They definitely did teach me right, and I feel like I kind of got sidetracked when I first got here.”

### The Heat officially announced the signing of guard Reggie Williams to a non-guaranteed contract… The NBA’s tentative schedule circulated to teams and networks the past two weeks had Miami’s opener against Washington being aired on TNT on Thursday, Oct. 30. But the NBA has made a last-minute change, opting to air LeBron James' first regular season game back with Cleveland, instead of a Heat game, that night. The Wizards-at-Heat game has been moved to Wednesday, Oct. 29.

According to a league source, the Heat’s first TNT game is Nov. 20 at home against the Clippers. The schedule will be released at 6 p.m. Wednesday.