Two days after Dallas Thomas was overwhelmed by Tampa Bay All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, the Dolphins tinkered with their offensive line on Monday, giving another look to the veteran free agent addition they originally expected would emerge as a starter.
Shelley Smith replaced Thomas with the starters at right guard during Monday’s practice, returning to the position he held throughout May and June practices.
But coach Joe Philbin said afterward that Smith has not been anointed the starter, the job remains an open competition and he does not know who will start at right guard in Saturday’s third preseason game against Dallas at Sun Life Stadium.
“We don’t have a first-team right guard right now,” Philbin said.
Philbin said left guard also remains open and he doesn’t know who will start at that spot, either. Daryn Colledge has started at left guard for the first two preseason games and played most of the first-team snaps at practice.
“We don’t have clarity at those two positions yet,” Philbin said. “We are going to have a good week of practice and make the determination of who that’s going to be. Just because that person starts, he may start the next week, may not.”
There is also some measure of uncertainty at center, where a timetable on Mike Pouncey’s return from hip surgery remains undetermined. Pouncey, who hasn’t been cleared for practice, said Monday he hopes to return by the fourth game of the season, Sept. 28 against London in Oakland, a game that is followed by a bye week.
One thing is clear: The Dolphins need much better blocking in the running game. The Dolphins, who averaged 4.1 yards per rush last season, averaged 2.5 yards per carry in their preseason opener at Atlanta and 1.8 in the Tampa game.
“There was too much penetration,” Philbin said. “That was problem number one. Problem two is we didn’t break a lot of tackles.”
The Dolphins had entrusted Thomas with first-team right guard duties before Saturday’s disaster, when he allowed a strip/sack, a quarterback pressure, committed two penalties and also was beaten on two negative running plays.
On Monday, Thomas took snaps at backup right guard. Rookie third-round pick Billy Turner, who had been the backup right guard, played behind Colledge at left guard.
Smith, signed to a two-year, $5.5 million contract in March, was the Dolphins’ first-team right guard throughout offseason workouts. He began training camp at center, filling in for Pouncey, but had several errant snaps.
After the Dolphins signed Samson Satele, Smith was shifted to second-team left guard. That finally changed Monday.
“Shelley is going to be a heck of a player for us,” Pouncey said. “He does a heck of a job in the zone scheme, gets underneath the defenders.”
Asked Monday if he was pleased to be with the starters again, Smith said: “You never know what’s going to happen. I’m ready to go wherever needed. We’ll see how it shakes out.”
Smith played left and right guard in his three seasons in St. Louis, which included eight starts.
“It will take some reps to get back in the swing of things on the right side, but I feel comfortable there,” he said.
As for Pouncey, he said Monday he’s “just praying that they don’t put me” on the physically unable to perform list to start the regular season, which would require sitting out the first six games and also would prohibit him from practicing during that time. He said he’s not sure when he will be cleared for practice.
“In my head, right now I feel I can [practice] because I’m a competitor,” he said. “But they’re taking the safe route and make sure I won’t have any relapses when I come back. I appreciate them letting me get stronger every week. I’m thinking I’m ahead of schedule. I feel really good. I can’t wait until they set me loose.”
The Dolphins’ kicking situation has become more interesting than anyone expected, to the point that Philbin said Monday he’s not sure who will be his kicker for the regular-season opener against New England.
Caleb Sturgis, who had been sidelined with a groin injury earlier in camp, re-aggravated the injury before Saturday’s game and will miss multiple practices. John Potter remains in contention to win the job after hitting 48- and 51-yard field goals against Tampa.
### Tight ends Charles Clay and Harold Hoskins, running back Daniel Thomas and offensive tackle Jason Fox returned to practice. Clay, who had missed two weeks with a knee injury, said “there was never any point in time where I thought it was bad.”
### Center Sam Brenner (shoulder), cornerback Jalil Brown (thigh), defensive end Terence Fede (knee), defensive tackle Anthony Johnson (shoulder) and receiver/returner Marcus Thipgen (thigh) will miss multiple practices.
Defensive tackle AJ Francis (knee) and running back Mike Gillislee (hamstring) remained sidelined with previous injuries.
### The Dolphins signed undrafted Villanova defensive end Rakim Cox and released running back Cameron Marshall.
Until the Coral Gables police files charges against the seven 18- and 19-year olds who walked uninvited into Ray Allen's home late Wednesday, expect to hear comments like this one posted on Facebook by Miami criminal defense attorney David Edelstein:
"When black teenagers sneak into a white person's house in the middle of the night, it's called burglary. But when well off white kids sneak into a black person's home, it's a silly prank."
None of the seven people who entered Allen's home are black. According to the Coral Gables PD, six are Hispanic males and one is an Hispanic woman.
After studying Florida Statutes on Sunday, I suspected Coral Gables police were making a mistake by deciding not to level a burglary charge against the seven young adults who entered Allen’s home.
That view has been reinforced when I spoke with a couple of credible people today.
Police spokeswoman Kelly Denham had said the state attorney’s office initially advised detectives that elements of a burglary had not been met and that the appropriate charge was trespassing. Denham said today that trespassing is the likely charge but would not rule out a burglary charge, either, after saying earlier that burglary would not be the charge.
Originally, Coral Gables police said they did not intend to charge the teenagers with anything, but that apparently has changed in the wake of Ray Allen complaining and hiring an attorney.
Despite what the Gables police are saying, a former captain for the Miami-Dade County police department and a former Miami-Dade County prosecutor said a burglary charge would be justified in this case.
“In my opinion, they should have been charged with felony burglary,” said Charlie Miller, a former captain with the Miami-Dade police who ran the division’s burglary unit during a 30-year career before retiring 10 years.
“Let it go through the system. We would always charge in this case and later plea bargain or reduce if they made restitution, apologized, did community service. These are adults. These are not juveniles. This is a felony burglary. It was an occupied residence. They knew right from wrong. It doesn’t matter whether the Allens are home or not.”
Allen’s wife and their four children were home at the time.
Antonio Jimenez, a Miami-based criminal defense attorney who previously worked as a prosecutor for Miami-Dade, said the teenagers “should have all been arrested for burglary and at that point let the prosecutor decide whether to file formal charges or reduce it to a trespass.”
Denham said the teenagers explained to the officers that they merely were curious to see what the home looked like. She said there was no burglary charge because there was no intent.
But Florida Statute 810.07 said “proof of entering… a structure… stealthily and without consent of the owner or occupant is… evidence of entering with intent to commit a crime.”
And using the Coral Gables PD's initial reasoning (remember, they originally planned to file no charges against the teenagers), someone who tries to break into your home, walks in, and then changes their mind because the alarm went off would be charged with nothing? That's preposterous.
Said Jimenez: “You are inside the home, there is an assumption in the law that you are intending to commit a crime. The crime can be anything. You can even make the argument that the crime itself is trespassing. If you are in there, that’s a burglary, which is a second-degree felony.”
Jimenez said prosecutors then would have had 21 days to determine if there’s enough evidence to file a charge of burglary or reduce it to trespassing or take no action.
Police said Allen’s door was unlocked; Allen’s attorney said it was locked. Denham said in the police report that Allen’s wife, Shannon, said the door that was entered had a “problem with the lock and easily [could] be opened.”
But Jimenez said that “makes no difference’ in determining whether a burglary charge is warranted.
Jimenez said “black clients don’t get away with things as much as wealthy, white juveniles might. If they [the seven teenagers] were in a mansion next to Ray Allen, they were friends with someone wealthy or someone with a wealthy family.
“You have that dynamic. I’ve seen how Gables PD treat wealthy residents. They would arrest them sometimes but said, ‘Let’s all move on.’ Cases would get resolved a lot easier than other residents.
“If you have a case involving resident with the parents [having] real money, it’s not that difficult to get case to go away. You just notice there are certain cases in Pinecrest, Gables, Miami Beach, certain cases easier to resolve than others. A lot of times it comes down to money.”
Denham said he had no response to Jimenez’s comments and she knew nothing about the socio-economic status of the seven teenagers because “it’s not pertinent to the investigation.”
By the way, Denham said that Shannon Allen never called 9-1-1 when the teenagers walked into their home but instead called the Tahiti Beach guard shack, who contacted the police.
Please see the last post for lots of Heat chatter, plus UM, Dolphins and Marlins.