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August 20, 2014

Wednesday evening Dolphins and Hurricanes chatter; Stanton's future; Heat

Dolphins and UM notes on a Wednesday night:



### Tough break for rookie safety Walt Aikens, who had been coming on strong before a left hand injury in practice this week. Though a firm timetable hasn’t been established, he’s out indefinitely. With Aikens out, Don Jones moved up to the second team at safety, alongside Michael Thomas.

Jones, Thomas, Jordan Kovacs and Jalil Brown appear to be fighting for at least two roster spots. Thomas has had a good camp and seems to have a good chance of sticking. That is, unless the Dolphins find somebody they like better on waivers.

### The Dolphins and Dan Marino continue to talk about a potential role in the organization, and Marino has been visible recently.

On Wednesday, he attended practice for the second time in seven days. He spoke for at least 10 minutes with Joe Philbin and Dennis Hickey (separately) during practice, spent much of the rest of practice with Dawn Aponte and chatted with Cortland Finnegan and Reshad Jones and Brent Grimes during a break.

“He was here to observe and chat,” Joe Philbin said. “Great to have him here. I told him he’s always welcomed anytime.”

### Difficult to envision Brady Quinn making the team after throwing five interceptions over the past three days. He threw two picks today: one to Jamar Taylor and another that Jimmy Wilson returned for a touchdown.

The Dolphins seem likely to keep two quarterbacks and sign at least one for the practice squad --- perhaps Seth Lobato or recently released Pat Devlin.

### Will Davis made a couple of more outstanding plays to break up passes and remains ahead of Jamar Taylor, at least for now, in the battle for the No. 3 cornerback job.

### In Davone Bess, Dan Carpenter and Derrick Shelby, the Dolphins have had some success finding undrafted rookies who make the team and contribute. Who’s likely to be this year’s Bess?

We explore that in a story on the Herald’s sports home page that will be posted this evening, but Chris McCain appears to have the best chance. He had a sack on Matt Moore today and has flashed an interesting skill set and the versatility to play linebacker or defensive end.

Anthony Johnson, the undrafted LSU d-tackle, still has a decent chance to stick, but he missed some practice time this week with a shoulder injury.

Damien Williams, the undrafted Oklahoma running back, has just 22 yards on 17 carries in preseason but Joe Philbin blamed that largely on blocking. “These next two weeks for him are going to be very important,” Philbin said.

### On Wednesday, Knowshon Moreno looked the best he’s looked since returning from June knee surgery, scoring on a 15-yard run. “I feel good,’ he said.

He said the Dolphins want to see him practice Thursday before deciding whether he will play Saturday against Dallas. But Moreno says he’s ready. He said his conditioning is fine and that he’s at the weight he will play at.


### UM coach Al Golden indicated today that he isn’t sure when he will name a starting quarterback. Offensive coordinator James Coley said it remains “pretty heated, pretty close.”

Jake Heaps was back at practice after missing the Monday scrimmage with soreness in his elbow. Doctors advised he sit out Monday. But Golden said "he threw the ball well today" and Heaps says he's fine.

Golden said Brad Kaaya, who is battling Heaps for the starting job, “is poised, unflappable.”

Golden also made a point to praise Kevin Olsen today, saying: “I have no doubt he’s made a longterm commitment.”

### Philip Dorsett said it doesn’t matter who wins the QB job and offered this comparison between Heaps and Kaaya: "One has played in games and one hasn't. One has the experience in big-time games and one just came from high school. I don't know if that'll play a big part in the decision, I don't think it would. We'll just go with the better guy - whoever wins, wins."

### We mentioned yesterday how UM coaches have been impressed with Braxton Berrios. Golden said today he’s rising up the depth chart at receiver because “he’s smart and he’s tough. Not afraid to block. Wants the ball. It's ridiculous what he's doing” after offseason ACL surgery.

### Al Quadin Muhammad, who had two sacks in Monday’s scrimmage, is now the first-team defensive end opposite Anthony Chickillo, overtaking Trent Harris.

### Some musings from defensive coordinator Mark O’Onofrio about Monday’s scrimmage:

Olsen Pierre “did well. Calvin Heurtelou and Courtel Jenkins did a nice job. Anthony Chickillo did a really good job, made a lot of plays. He's just doing an unbelievable job of doing his job on every play. Now he's making more plays than he ever has. It's exciting. Chad Thomas is doing some nice things.

“I thought Thurston Armbrister played really well. Thurston has been great. He has had a tremendous training camp. He's our most versatile player, has played multiple positions.

"Jermaine Grace had a really good scrimmage. He just has to finish a few more plays. Very productive. He was as productive as anybody we had out there."

D'Onofrio says in the secondary that "the corner position, there wasn't a lot of separation throughout camp in those five guys [in the mix to start] --- Artie Burns, Corn Elder, Tracy Howard, Ladarius Gunter and Antonio Crawford.

“A couple of guys created maybe a little separation based on this last scrimmage, but that's been an ongoing battle. I think that's the No. 1 position where we have the most competition right now, but there is competition at every position….

"Artie had a really strong performance [in Monday’s scrimmage]. He competed like crazy. He made a lot of plays, was really good. And Corn was a playmaker in the scrimmage; his technique was really good."

### ESPN assigned Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer and David Pollack to UM’s Labor Day opener at Louisville.

### Please see the last post, if you haven't yet, for news on Giancarlo Stanton's future and Heat free agents discussions.