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2 posts from August 30, 2014

August 30, 2014

11:30 p.m.: Heat shakes up coaching staff; UM schedules series with FIU; Ex-players vocal on UM program; Heat summons FA center; Dolphins, Marlins

Quick 11:30 p.m. update: As Yahoo! reported tonight, Erik Spoelstra is shaking up his coaching staff.

Ron Rothstein and Bob McAdoo will no longer be in the significant positions they've held for years and have been offered other jobs in the organization. Juwan Howard is expected to take one of their spots on the bench.

The other spot held by Rothstein and McAdoo might go to a former NBA coach (Yahoo! said that has been discussed) or possibly to Dan Craig, who has coached the Heat's summer league team the past two years.

Meanwhile, David Fizdale, 40, will become Spoelstra's unquestioned lead assistant. He joined the Heat's staff in 2008, one of Spoelstra's first hires as coach, after holding assistant jobs with the Warriors and Hawks. He declined overtures to interview for Portland's job a couple of years ago, saying that he wanted to remain with the Heat.

Rothstein, 71, was the Heat's first coach and has been a Heat assistant for the past 11 seasons. McAdoo, 62, has been a Heat assistant for the past 20.




Hurricanes chatter as we approach Monday's season opener:

### Eight years after an ugly football brawl created a rift between UM and FIU, the schools have struck a deal to resume their cross-town rivalry. Look for UM and FIU to announce that they have scheduled football games in 2018 at Sun Life Stadium and 2019 at a site-to-be-determined.

The 2019 meeting is technically an FIU home game, but the game will not be at FIU Stadium because it’s too small; it figures to be played at Marlins Park (the Marlins would be interested) or Sun Life. The schools also will resume playing in other sports.

Emotions have thawed since 13 players were ejected and 31 assessed one-game suspensions after a bench-clearing brawl in their 2006 game. After that incident, UM said it would not schedule any more football or basketball games with FIU, beyond the 2007 football game already scheduled.

### I asked several UM players and officials for tangible reasons why this defense will be better after finishing 89th last season.

Among their answers: better defensive line depth with the additions of Chad Thomas, Trent Harris and Demetrius Jackson; the instincts and physicality that Dallas Crawford will bring to safety; talent and depth at cornerback; and the belief that Calvin Heurtelou, Courtel Jenkins and eventually Michael Wyche will be slightly better at defensive tackle than Curtis Porter (out of football), Justin Renfrow (cut by Arizona last week) and Luther Robinson (cut today by Green Bay).

Anthony Chickillo cited another reason: “Our defense is an NFL system and you have to put in the work. Guys are taking the initiative to learn it more” than past years.

Cornerback Tracy Howard said one reason for that increased player diligence is “we got a lot of distractions out of the program,” declining to elaborate.

Still, one UM person voiced concern about how UM will defend runs to the perimeter.

In general, “how they play defense is just crazy,” Fox analyst and former UM assistant and ex-Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt said. “I’m pulling for them but they have some issues.”

### Some former UM players are restless with the state of the program.

“It’s a short leash this year,” Brett Romberg said this offseason. “Excuses are over. You’ve getting good athletes. No excuses any more! You’re seeing the same mistakes, and that’s coaching.

“They aren’t capable of running a 3-4 defense [which they will play sometimes]. Their linebackers aren’t capable of holding the gap in a 3-4. Bill Belichick was able to get the most even when he didn’t have great talent on his lines.”

Clinton Portis likes Al Golden --- "he's the right man for the job" --- but said: “For what we’re used to in a defensive coordinator, it’s not up to our standards. But we also don’t have the defensive linemen, linebackers and secondary we’re used to, don’t have playmakers who command double teams, don’t have linebackers who wreak havoc. But you have to give Mark D’Onofrio something to work with.”

And Randal Hill said: “Fans are spoiled because it’s Miami. And rightfully so. Butch Davis went through sanctions and won games. You can’t just win against only teams with losing records. A lot of former players want to see better defense and a better team. Are they going in the right direction? My jury is out.”

### Offensive coordinator James Coley insists UM has no intention of playing conservatively because Brad Kaaya is a freshman. “But you wouldn’t know he’s a freshman,” receiver Malcolm Lewis said, noting his poise and sound decision-making.

Provided Kaaya fulfills expectations, the future --– regardless of whether suspended Kevin Olsen sticks around --- looks promising at quarterback with Kaaya, Malik Rosier, 2015 Tampa-based oral commitment Dwayne Lawson (rivals.com’s 23rd-ranked dual threat quarterback who also has offers from UF, FSU and Ohio State) and 2016 four-star UM oral commitment Jack Allison, the 6-5 Palmetto High junior whom analyst Charles Fishbein calls “elite” and comparable in ability to Kyle Wright.

### Running backs coach Tim Harris predicts freshman Joseph Yearby “is going to be very special this season and the future, one of the great ones that comes through here. He reminds me of Clinton Portis. He has that type of ability to make guys miss in space and accelerate for a long run.”


### What do Las Vegas bookmakers think of the Dolphins? Not much.

Miami’s over/under for wins at the MGM Grand and 12 Nevada casinos is 7.5 and its odds to win the Super Bowl are 60-to-1. Only three teams have longer odds: Buffalo (80 to 1) and Tennessee and Jacksonville (125 to 1).

### Remember that committee that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross formed to review the team’s conduct policies and make suggestions? Tony Dungy told me last week that the group (Dungy, Dan Marino, Jason Taylor, Don Shula, Curtis Martin) never even met and has no plans to.

### The injury to Dolphins rookie linebacker Jordan Tripp is a bruised sternum, and the team is hopeful he will be back this week or next.... Please see the last post for a wrap-up of the Dolphins' roster moves, as chronicled in our running blog Saturday.

### The Heat, looking to add another veteran backup center, summoned 6-11 Nazr Mohammed, 34, for a workout and meeting with team executives on Thursday. Mohammed, who has career averages of 5.9 points and 4.8 rebounds, played in 80 games for the Bulls last season.

Among free agent centers, the Heat is most intrigued by Emeka Okafor. But ESPN said he might not play until midseason because of a herniated disk. The Heat also has inquired about 6-11 free agent center Andray Blatche, who has a home here.

### One veteran NBA scout said of the most prominent shooting guards still available last week --- Ray Allen, Jordan Crawford, Golden State-bound Leandro Barbosa, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Heat-bound Shannon Brown --- the Heat signed the worst in Brown, who’s an erratic shooter.

But the Heat wanted a backup two-guard with size (6-4) and one who can defend, and there were concerns about Barbosa’s defense and durability, and maturity questions about Crawford, who remains available. Also, Brown was willing to take a non-guaranteed deal, according to basketballinsiders.com.

The Heat would love for Allen to come back but know that’s unlikely. Associates say he has been conflicted about whether to retire or sign with Cleveland or another top contender (the Clippers and Spurs also want him).

Incidentally, before they were charged with trespassing, the seven teenagers who traipsed through Allen’s home tried to placate Allen and his wife by sending them flowers. The Allens refused to accept the flowers.

### Though David Beckham’s two preferred MLS stadium sites were rejected (PortMiami and the boat slip), a friend said Beckham remains very optimistic about finding another Miami location (downtown or nearby) to place a team here. Broward's interest, to this point, has not been reciprocated.

### Among the perplexing Marlins’ developments: how right-handers have gone from hitting .185 off closer Steve Cishek in 2013 to .289 in 2014, entering the weekend.

Teams have hit .279 off Cishek since the All-Star break and .248 overall, compared with .211 last season. One scout said his “slider is not as hard as it was; he’s a little shaky for me” and his overall velocity is down from last year.

Cishek (4-5, 3.74) has a good save percentage (31 for 35) and should command trade interest this winter. He would top $4 million in salary if he goes to arbitration, and the Marlins will need to decide if they believe he’s worth that.    

### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

5 p.m. Saturday update: A look at Dolphins' 53 left standing; Dolphins, UM, notable cuts

We'll update some Dolphins and other notable cuts around the league over the next couple of hours.

### 10 a.m.: Among UM players released in the past day: cornerback Brandon Harris (Houston), quarterback Stephen Morris (Jacksonville), fullback Maurice Hagens (Atlanta), guard Jared Wheeler (Buffalo). Jacksonville wants to re-sign Morris to the practice squad.

### 11 a.m.: The Dolphins have released cornerback Kevin Fogg, per our Adam Beasley. Tight end Kyle Miller was cut yesterday, leaving Miami with 20 more moves to make.

### 11:05 a.m.: Tampa Bay has released former UF running back Jeff Demps.... Minnesota cut former Dolphins DT Fred Evans... Carolina released G Andrew McDonald, who was among players harrassed in the Dolphins locker-room last year, according to the Wells Report.

### 11:15 a.m.: The Dolphins have cut Marcus Thigpen, leaving Jarvis Landry as the team's likely punt returner.... Kevin Cone has been cut.... Daniel Thomas also is expected to be released. He was summoned to team headquarters today to get the news. And so another second-round bust exits, stage left. Thomas' final rushing numbers in three years for Miami: 1312 yards, 3.6 per carry, 8 TDs.

### Noon update: Per our Adam Beasley, Rishard Matthews definitely will not be cut.

### 12:10 p.m. update: The Dolphins have released OL David Arkin and WR Matt Hazel. They want to re-sign Hazel to the practice squad, but there's a chance he might get claimed by another team. Hazel, a sixth-rounder, is the Dolphins' first rookie draft pick to be cut.

Arkin lost out in his bid for the team's ninth offensive line job. Miami is scanning the waiver wire for offensive linemen. As of 11:30 this morning, Mike Pouncey hadn't been informed if he's going on PUP.

### 12:20: The Dolphins have cut Andrew Wilson, the undrafted Missouri linebacker.

### 12:30: The Dolphins have cut quarterback Seth Lobato but have told him they likely will sign him to practice squad. They like his arm.

### 12:35 p.m.: The Dolphins have told Kemal Johnson, the undrafted Temple defensive tackle, that they are placing him on season-ending injured reserve with a torn miniscus.

### 12:40 p.m.: The Dolphins have informed undrafted running back Orleans Darkwa that he has made the 53-man roster, according to agent Brian Michael Hannula. Darkwa also was left with the impression that undrafted running back Damien Williams would make the team as well. (He is not a client of Hannula.)

Obviously, the Dolphins could change their mind in the coming days if they find a back they like better on waivers. But for now, two undrafted rookie RBs are on the team, according to Darkwa's camp.

### 12:45 p.m.: The Dolphins have cut safety Jordan Kovacs.

### 1:10 p.m.: The Dolphins have told defensive end Tevin Mims and defensive tackle Garrison Smith that they are being released. But they are interested in signing Smith to the practice squad; he had a sack and tackle for loss in Thursday's game against the Rams.

### 1:20 p.m.: The Dolphins have released offensive linemen Evan Finkenberg and Tony Hills. The Dolphins have announced nothing today, but the aforementioned moves account for 15 of the necessary 20 roster moves today.

### 1:30 p.m.: With Caleb Sturgis recovered from his groin injury, the Dolphins have released kicker Jake Rogers.

### 1:45 p.m.: The Dolphins have told undrafted rookie tight end Harold Hoskins that he has made the team, according to agent Jarian Lyons. Hoskins, at the moment, is slotted as the No. 3 tight end behind Charles Clay and Dion Sims.

But the Dolphins also are auditioning tight ends this weekend, including undrafted Central Arkansas rookie Chase Dixon (six TD catches in 7 games last year before breaking his leg, cut by Seattle recently) and Jacob Maxwell, an undrafted rookie from Louisiana-Lafayette who was released by the Detriot Lions when they signed ex-Dolphins TE Michael Egnew this past week. (Update: The Lions have released Egnew, according to Yahoo!)

### 1:48 p.m.: The Dolphins have cut defensive tackle Isaako Aaitui and guard/center Sam Brenner. They have left open the possibility of Brenner returning to the practice squad but there's no firm commitment on that. With Arkin and Brenner cut, Jason Fox looks to be in good shape for a roster spot. 

To the moment, the Dolphins have cut 17 players and put one on IR. The team hasn't announced anything yet but will later in the day.

#### 2:15 p.m.: The Dolphins have released defensive end D'Aundre Reed, the third-year player from Arizona. Nearly all of the team's roster moves are done, with a pending decision on whether to put Mike Pouncey on PUP.

### 3 p.m.: Undrafted rookie Anthony Johnson announces he has made the 53-man roster, as expected.

### 3:05 p.m.: The Dolphins have released tight end Evan Wilson. That means they now have room to keep every remaining player on the 53-man roster (including Mike Pouncey) without cutting any else, unless (and it's a big unless) they sign any players off waivers. And teams generally sign players off waivers after the Labor Day weekend roster cuts.

That means, for the moment, the Dolphins have kept six receivers (including Damian Williams), four backs (including the two undrafted rookies) and eight linebackers. But again, all that can change in a heartbeat if the Dolphins find players they like on waivers. And they are working out several this weekend.

### 3:10 p.m.: The Dolphins have decided to keep Pouncey on the 53-man roster instead of putting him on PUP. He would have been sidelined for six games if he had gone on PUP, but the Dolphins are encouraged he will be back before then. Pouncey said recently he's targeting Game 4 against Oakland in London.

### 3:40 p.m.: The Jets released former Dolphins cornerback Dimitri Patterson.

### 4 p.m.: The Rams released former UM OL Brandon Washington and DE Michael Sam, the NFL's first openly gay player.

### 4:30 p.m.: The Jets cut former Dolphins receiver Clyde Gates.... Carolina cut former UM DT Micanor Regis.... The Colts cut former UM basketball player Erik Swoope, who was trying to make the transition to football in one summer. He might join Indy's practice squad... Dallas cut former UM receiver Laron Byrd.... Cincinnati cut former FSU RB James Wilder Jr.... Atlanta cut former UM guard Harland Gunn.


Quarterbacks: Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore

Running backs: Lamar Miller, Knowshon Moreno, Damien Williams, Orleans Darkwa

Tight ends: Charles Clay, Dion Sims, Harold Hoskins

WRs: Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson, Jarvis Landry, Rishard Matthews, Damian Williams

OL: Mike Pouncey, Samson Satele, Brandon Albert, Shelley Smith, Daryn Colledge, Dallas Thomas, Ja'Wuan James, Jason Fox, Nate Garner, Billy Turner

DL: Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon, Terrence Fede, Anthony Johnson, Derrick Shelby, Earl Mitchell, Randy Starks, Jared Odrick

LB: Philip Wheeler, Dannell Ellerbe, Koa Misi, Chris McCain, Jason Trusnik, Jonathan Freeny, Jordan Tripp, Jelani Jenkins

Safeties: Louis Delmas, Jimmy Wilson, Walt Aikens, Michael Thomas, Don Jones

Corners: Brent Grimes, Cortland Finnegan, Will Davis, Jamar Taylor

Specialists: Brandon Fields, Caleb Sturgis, John Denney

Note: Dion Jordan and Reshad Jones -- both suspended for four games -- don't count against the 53.

Please check the last post for the weekly media column, if you haven't read that.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz