4 p.m. Wed.: Heat signs backup SG Brown; Dolphins lineup/roster decisions; Duke Johnson's NFL future; UM recruiting
4 p.m. update: Seeking help at backup shooting guard behind Dwyane Wade, the Heat today signed journeyman Shannon Brown, who has played for seven teams in eight NBA seasons.
Brown has averaged 7.7 points and shot 42 percent overall and 33.1 percent on three-pointers in 403 games, including 58 starts. The Heat offered him a contract after he worked out for team officials on Tuesday.
Brown, 28, played in just 29 games last season --- 19 for the Knicks and 10 for the Spurs --- and averaged 2.2 points on 36.4 percent shooting, while missing his only two three-point attempts. He averaged only 8.7 minutes per game last season, well below his career average of 18.0.
His best seasons were for Phoenix; he averaged 11.0 and 10.5 points in 2011-12 and 2012-13, respectively. His career high for three-point baskets in a season is 74, for the Lakers in 2010-11.
The Heat has spent several weeks looking for a shooting guard that it liked and was willing to accept the veteran's minimum.
Miami auditioned Chris Douglas-Roberts and also had direct contact with Jordan Crawford. Leandro Barbosa also received consideration. The Heat does not expect Ray Allen to re-sign with them; Allen reportedly is strongly leaning toward playing for Cleveland, though his agent has said he hasn't ruled out retirement.
Wade missed 28 games last season, which was one reason why backup shooting guard was Miami's biggest remaining priority before signing Brown. Heat president Pat Riley said last month that starting point guard Mario Chalmers also will play some shooting guard, and small forward Danny Granger will, too.
Brown, 6-4, was drafted 25th overall by Cleveland out of Michigan State in 2006.
Agent Mark Bartelstein declined to say whether his one-year, $1.3 million contract is fully guaranteed. Brown, who is married to R&B singer Monica, was released by the Knicks on July 23.
His signing gives Miami 16 players under contract. Teams can take 20 to training camp.
WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN
Asking and answering questions on the Dolphins and Hurricanes:
### Most interesting remaining Dolphins decisions? Our top 5:
1) Starting running back.
Lamar Miller and Knowshon Moreno split first-team snaps the past two days. Joe Philbin said the job is open but has been far more effusive and expansive discussing Miller than Moreno this week.
“I like everything Lamar has done since he’s gotten here,” Philbin said. “He’s had an excellent offseason and camp... I like everything he's done since April 21."
Philbin, conversely, has had only one thing to say about Moreno: "Knowshon ran the ball well [Saturday].”
Moreno is the better option on third down because of superior pass protection skills. And Moreno was the faster starter last year; in the first quarter of games in 2013, Moreno averaged 4.5 yards per carry, Miller 2.7.
Overall, Miller averaged 4.0 yards, 2.1 yards after contact and broke 20 tackles on 177 runs in 2013. Moreno averaged 4.3, 2.0 after contact and broke 21 tackles on 241 attempts for Denver….
2) Whether to start Mike Pouncey on PUP, which would sideline him six regular-season games.
The Dolphins are encouraged by his progress from hip surgery, even though he hasn’t been cleared for practice. Though a person involved cautioned that no decision has been made, the Dolphins now are at least strongly considering not putting him on PUP with the hope he can play in late September. Remember, he is not allowed to practice with the team if he's on PUP.
3) Third cornerback, which means playing well over half the snaps.
Will Davis has emerged as the clear front-runner over Jamar Taylor. Davis, in preseason, has allowed 4 of 12 passes thrown against him to be completed, for 40 yards, with a 43.7 quarterback rating against. Taylor has allowed 4 of 10 for 67 yards and a touchdown (to LaRon Byrd) and a 96.7 rating against….
4) Which of the undrafted developmental prospects to keep on the 53-man roster. The Dolphins very much like Damien Williams (24 carries, 55 yards in preseason), and he and Daniel Thomas are in a tight battle for the No. 3 running back job. Cutting Thomas would save $815,565 against the cap. Thomas still has some supporters inside the building, but fewer with Jeff Ireland gone….
Linebacker Chris McCain seems likely to make the 53; Pro Football Focus rates him Miami’s second-best defensive player this preseason, behind Jason Trusnik….
Defensive tackle Anthony Johnson's chances are helped by the Dolphins placing AJ Francis on IR today. That leaves Johnson, Kemal Johnson and Garrison Smith competing with Isaako Aaitui for the No. 4 defensive tackle job. Anthony Johnson has the most upside of the four…. Harold Hoskins has a legitimate chance to stick, as a No. 4 tight end or No. 3 if Miami can find nobody better on waivers. Otherwise, he's headed to the practice squad.
5) The last roster spots at offensive line (Miami wants to find help on waivers. Jason Fox is in serious jeopardy; Dallas Thomas was taking backup right tackle snaps Tuesday); receiver (coordinator Bill Lazor likes Marcus Thigpen, but his fate could hinge partly on returns on Thursday); linebacker (Philbin said Jelani Jenkins “has showed up the last couple games a little more, played more physical,” which leaves Jonathan Freeny in jeopardy); defensive back (Michael Thomas and Don Jones --- who have been getting work at both corner and safety --- have the edge over Jordan Kovacs).
### Is there any truth to the theory that Ireland's picks are more at risk with Dennis Hickey now in charge? Absolutely. In fact, one offensive player said a coach was overheard saying that “we don’t have to keep you anymore” because the former GM is gone.
### Everyone has heard a lot about Ryan Tannehill’s deep ball issues. But how are his deep ball throws compared with other quarterbacks?
Not good. Consider: Last season, Tannehill completed 16 of 64 passes thrown 20 yards or more (25 percent), compared with 27 of 60 for Seattle’s Russell Wilson, according to Pro Football Focus. Five of those 64 were dropped. (Heck, Jacksonville rookie Blake Bortles has completed 5 of 6 of those deep throws in preseason.)
Only Cam Newton (15 for 64) and Joe Flacco (17 for 88) completed a lower percentage of deep throws in 2013, and both also had drops.
Of those 64 throws that were in the air for at least 20 yards, Tannehill was 6 for 36 on passes to Wallace, 10 for 28 on passes to everyone else.
Good thing Tannehill seems to have improved in some other areas, including footwork.
### So how often do Tannehill and Mike Wallace practice deep balls?
Though Tannehill throws a bunch of deep balls in practice every week, he said Tuesday he probably throws only four or five a week to Wallace, including a 30-yard touchdown Tuesday.
So why don't Tannehill and Wallace practice deep routes more after practice?
“We aren’t going to keep a player, regardless of who it is, out for 20 extra reps if we don’t think it’s beneficial to his health,” Philbin explained. “…The game’s not that complicated. The guy’s open. We got to get him the ball.”
### What was one key area that distanced Brad Kaaya from Jake Heaps?
UM loves Kaaya’s feet and ability to escape pressure; his athleticism is superior to Heaps’, which gives UM more options in play-calling. Conversely, Kansas radio analyst David Lawrence said Heaps’ “ability to escape pressure was limited, no question about it.”
### Most pleasant surprises of Canes camp, beyond Kaaya?
Three-star freshman Darrion Owens pushing for a starting linebacker job; Dallas Crawford exceeding all expectations and becoming a starting safety; Corn Elder still running with the starters at corner (one of UM’s deepest positions) less than nine months after knee surgery; freshman receiver Braxton Berrios earning playing time eight months after ACL surgery. And one more: receiver Malcolm Lewis is finally back to pre-injury form after the gruesome ankle injury during his freshman season.
### Biggest disappointments?
Michael Wyche, supposed to be a savior at defensive tackle, lagging on the fourth team because of conditioning issues partly resulting from an Achilles’ tendon injury at East Los Angeles Junior College last season…. Tight end Beau Sandland –-- whom former UM assistant Mario Cristobal assured would be the “next Jeremy Shockey” before Cristobal bolted for Alabama --- making little impact, then transferring.
### Will this be junior Duke Johnson’s last year at UM and how do scouts rate him?
Johnson says he hopes to earn his degree this academic year and that it’s too early to tell if he’s turning pro. His mother told Herald colleague Susan Miller Degnan they will see how the season goes before deciding.
But an NFL scout who met with UM coaches this month said UM people are under the impression Johnson probably will turn pro after this season.
“Size wise, he’s not a first-round pick,” the scout said. “Fast, quick, explosive, good hands but not the kind of back you’re looking for in the first round because of concerns about blitz pickup.”
ESPN’s Todd McShay has a third-round grade on Johnson, noting durability issues (including “a history of migraines” and a concussion and last November's ankle injury).
“Burst is his greatest asset,” McShay said. “Patience is a bigger concern than vision. He gets a little impatient and can run up blocker’s backs.”
NFL draft analyst Tony Pauline said "if Johnson stays healthy, he's a top 45 player."
### Might one of Kaaya's highly-rated high school teammates be joining him here?
Chaminade (Hollywood Hills, Cal.) four-star prospect Bar Milo, rated by rivals as the 32nd best prospect in the 2015 class, told rivals.com that he is "definitely leaning toward Miami" and will announce Wednesday. He said Arizona State, Washington and Nebraska are also in the mix.
"Miami was great," Milo said. "The facilities are fantastic. Everything was great. Having Brad at Miami was awesome."
He said Kaaya has told him that offensive line coach Art Kehoe "is an amazing coach and I'll really enjoy him."
Couple other recruiting notes: Under-Armour All American game kicker Drew Galitz switched his commitment from UM to Baylor today... Highly-regarded Booker T. Washington running back Mark Walton, who ran for 163 yards on 20 carries in his school's opening win at 24th-ranked Oscar Smith (Virginia), said he continues efforts to graduate next spring --- a year earlier than the rest of his class --- so that he can enroll at UM next summer.