A few nuggets from UM football practice Wednesday:
• UM's defensive line, already weakened by the dismissal of Al-Quadin Muhammad, now is dealing with injuries to defensive end Trent Harris (fractured hand) and tackle Anthony Moten (shoulder). Mark Richt said today he expects one of them to play Saturday against Florida A&M but wouldn't say who's more likely.
But coaches said today that they believe Harris can play with a club on his hand.
• Chad Thomas, Harris and Demetrius Jackson are UM's only game-experienced defensive ends.
"Demetrius is 260 pounds, physical; he's going to be a force vs the run and pass," defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski said. "He has shown more toughness on the field" since the spring.
• Kuligowski also seems confident about freshmen ends Pat Bethel and Joe Jackson.
"Joe Jackson is very physical, great speed," he said. "I think they are going to be great."
But Kuligowski wondered this about his freshmen ends: "When we get to the locker-room, will they [be] puking?"
• At defensive tackle, Richard McIntosh and Kendrick Norton are entrenched as starters. "They're playing like big, talented guys," Kuligowski said. "Consistent, trust-worthy."
• McIntosh, moved from defensive end to tackle by Kuligowski (a very smart move), said today that he and tackle Gerald Willis (expected to be suspended for the opener) are cross-training some at defensive end after AQM's dismissal.
• I asked coordinator Manny Diaz a bunch of questions about losing Grace and AQM, but he insisted that won't be an excuse.
"Who we put out, the expectation is they play fast, tough and physical. Everything else will work out," Diaz said. "Everything is an excuse for me not to play my best. If everybody does their job in a violent manner, we're going to pleased with the outcome... What's changed?... Nothing has changed. We're going to play young guys. We put our trust in those guys. We put trust in anyone we put on the field."
• Diaz said both Jamie Gordinier and Mike Pinckney will play a lot at weakside linebacker. That's one of the few spots where a starter has not been named.
"Pinckney has been excellent since he got back up to speed last week," Diaz said. "We want to continue to grade them out every day in practice but both will [play] a bunch."
WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN
With Chris Bosh going on the offensive this week, the message to the Heat is clear: Getting salary cap relief for Bosh’s contract, if he isn’t cleared to play, is going to be a mighty contentious struggle.
We’re told the Bosh camp remains frustrated with the Heat’s handling of his situation, and that’s part of the reason Bosh and wife Adrienne have gone on a social media blitz this week. As one NBA official said, Bosh wants the public to know he wants to play amid the Heat’s silence.
The Heat has declined to say if Bosh will be cleared – Bosh has been awaiting word himself - but the team disputes any notion that it is trying to keep him off the court to remove his salary from the cap.
And here’s the problem: Though the Heat can apply to remove Bosh’s future salaries ($25.3 million in 2017-18, $26.8 million in 2018-19) from its cap as early as Feb. 9 (a full calendar year since his last game), the odds are against Miami being granted that relief if Bosh fights this.
The reason: To clear Bosh off the cap, the labor agreement says “a doctor that is jointly selected by the league and players association” must agree his condition "is career-ending, or severe enough to put him at risk if he continues playing.”
Bosh disputes any notion that he cannot play and --– barring another blood clot --– he, in tandem with the players association, likely will oppose use of any doctors who say he cannot play and presumably will try to find a doctor who will say he can. And the process might not even get to that point.
Bosh previously found one doctor who told him about taking a new blood thinner that would be out of his system in eight to 10 hours – an idea the Heat rejected in April but an approach that has again been discussed this summer.
Incidentally, the Heat faces a Wednesday deadline to use a stretch provision on Bosh that would allow Miami to cut him and spread his $76 million remaining in cap hits over seven years. But it's unlikely the Heat will do that.
On Tuesday, Bosh tweeted a picture of himself and Dwyane Wade after a workout. And Bosh’s wife said this week that Bosh will play this season.
The reason Bosh’s situation is so complicated: There are differences of opinion in the medical community about whether someone who has had two clotting episodes in 12 months (but like Bosh, doesn’t have the gene making him pre-disposed to clots) should remain on thinners, and whether an NBA player – more susceptible than non-athletes to leg trauma - should take the new blood-thinning medication that’s out of the system in eight hours.
“There are many players in different sports that do play with that condition, and they're on and off programs on blood thinners and stuff," Heat president Pat Riley said last month. "But I think when it comes down to a final protocol, or if it gets to a formula in how this has to be done, then that's what we'll deal with."
• A year after saying 2015 would be “the year of the Dolphins in the AFC East,” ESPN’s Jon Gruden told me earlier today, in this post, that he won't be fooled again.
Meanwhile, CBS lead analyst Phil Simms told me Tuesday: “Do I look at the Miami Dolphins as a Super Bowl contender? I do not. I have watched their preseason games. I expect Ryan Tannehill to have a really good year.
“He has looked terrific at times in the preseason. I'll be surprised if he doesn't put up good numbers. He is going to be a so-called franchise quarterback and now they have to get the other parts around him to win more than six games. Do they look like a great team on paper and watching them in preseason? No, they do not.”
• Though the Dolphins (as Armando has reported) are planning to put cornerback Chris Culliver on PUP, which would sideline him for six games, Culliver said Tuesday that waiting for Game 7 is “too long” and he would be ready to play after a game or two. He broke an MCL and ACL in a Thanksgiving practice with Washington last season.
Culliver makes $156,250 for each game he's on the active roster.
• For a lot more Dolphins nuggets from earlier today, including Adam Gase's candid thoughts on three of his receivers, please click here.
• Add this to the list of creative things this UM coaching staff does: Offensive tackle Tyree St. Louis said “if you keep messing up” repeatedly, offensive line coach Stacy Searels orders the player to run to the practice field wall and touch the photo of former UM great Bryant McKinnie, who addressed the team in the spring.
• UM offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said today starter Mark Walton and backup Joe Yearby will split carries and was non-committal on Gus Edwards.
“Once he realizes he can impose his will and play behind his pads, he will become a better player,” Brown said of Edwards.
• Practice observers have been impressed with Mark Richt’s play-calling, with lots of screens, draws, deep balls and unpredictability. Marquez Williams’ strong performance has made coaches inclined to use a fullback at times.
• Marlins first baseman Chris Johnson, on Barry Bonds’ evolution as hitting coach: “At first, it was a little weird. He didn’t say too much. You wondered: What are we going to get? He explained he was just watching. [Since then], it has been fantastic. He can tell you in words and show you with the bat what to do.”
• Former UM center Tonye Jekiri signed to play in Turkey. Earlier this summer, his ex-teammate, Angel Rodriguez, signed in France and Sheldon McClellan signed with the Washington Wizards.
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