August 21, 2016

Dolphins hope Howard comes to rescue; Heat (Bosh/training camp/Williams); Marlins; UM (more Richt changes); Canes just miss top 25

 

SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN

 

There are reasons why, as Joe Philbin might say, we’re queasy about the Dolphins. Cornerback and run defense top the list.

But at least on Sunday they welcome back a second-round rookie who coaches say will need to play a lot ASAP, after missing training camp (knee surgery) before being activated from PUP on Thursday. 

There’s much to like about Xavien Howard --- his size (6-1), ball skills (nine picks and 23 pass breakups the past two seasons at Baylor) and physicality. He made a fantastic interception off Ryan Tannehill in minicamp that amazed even Adam Gase. There also are two concerns:

• At Baylor, besides allowing seven touchdowns in 2014, Howard the past two years was beaten several times on deep balls that weren’t caught, for whatever reason.

Concerns about Howard’s speed were eased after he ran a 4.41 in the 40 before the draft, but draft analyst Tony Pauline said “you have to protect him in a deep coverage” with safety help.

“He’ll lose feel for receivers at the break point,” CBS draft analyst Lance Zierlein said. “Quicker than fast with questionable long speed. Handsy and panics when he thinks he might get beat.”

• Howard had 14 pass interference and five holding penalties the past two seasons. "I need to chill out with a lot of penalties I had in college,” he said.  

Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said many cornerbacks have “one redeeming quality. It could be size but not movement, but [Howard has] both. He’s a 6-foot guy with a 5-foot-10 corner’s movement skills. That’s special.”

ESPN’s Mel Kiper, by phone, said Howard “had some games with his size and physicality, that he looked like a guy who could be a shutdown corner. But there were times he wouldn’t turn properly or had an eye on the ball and couldn’t make the play. On talent, he’s a top 15 pick. He just didn’t play to that talent on a week to week basis. If they can round off rough edges, he can be a hell of a value in the second round.”

The Dolphins better hope so. With Chris Culliver working back slowly from knee surgery (could miss six regular-season games), Howard or Tony Lippett figures to start opposite Byron Maxwell Sept. 11 at Seattle. The Dolphins would love if Howard can seize the job.

Lippett didn't play well Friday, as Nat Moore noted on the broadcast. 

And Howard will begin this week behind Lippett on the depth chart released Sunday. Howard said he will practice Sunday but won't play Thursday against Atlanta.

"Hopefully we can get him in a game before we hit the regular season," Gase said. "We just don't know yet. We have to see how his body feels, we have to see how his legs feel, we have to see how his movement skills are. There's a lot of little check marks we have to make before we throw him into a game."

“From college to the NFL, my game is going to improve with Vance Joseph getting me ready to be an NFL cornerback,” Howard assured me earlier this summer.

CHATTER

• With this draft class, Laremy Tunsil, Howard and Jakeem Grant should help immediately. The one variable is running back Kenyan Drake, who’s fifth on the depth chart and sidelined with a hamstring (his ninth injury in the past five years).

Though he caused 44 missed tackles last season on 142 offensive touches at Alabama, it seems less likely he beats out Damien Williams (or Isaiah Pead, if he sticks) for playing time as the No. 3 back early in the season.

• The Dolphins gave Grant just one snap on offense against Dallas, opting instead to play other receivers. He remained the primary returner, of course.

• This UM staff believes better teaching will help solve two huge problems from the Al Golden era: too many penalties (worst in the country last season) and poor tackling. But there’s something else Mark Richt is doing:

Safety Rayshawn Jenkins said Richt, after practice, calls out a list of players who committed penalties, missed tackles or did something coaches don’t like.

They’re then punished by having to push sleds or do “whatever hurts,” Jenkins said, adding this is different from Golden’s approach.

Jenkins believes that will help solve the problem because “people don’t want to be here doing that.”

• The perception is UM’s talent remains below FSU’s and top SEC teams. True?

“We have enough talent to be successful [but] we’re not as deep as we need to be at certain spots,” offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said. But "from a talent standpoint, the guys at the top are pretty freaking good.”

• UM is 26th (first in 'others receiving votes') in the first AP football poll released this morning. The Gators are 25th. Alabama is No. 1, followed by Clemson, Oklahoma and FSU.

• UM basketball already has made a scholarship offer to a familiar name -- Class of 2019 power forward Vernon Carey Jr., son of the standout former UM and ex-Dolphins offensive lineman. Carey averaged 13 points and 8 rebounds at University last year and has multiple offers, including from USC and Louisville.

But Carey told Canesport he has no favorites: "I'm keeping things wide open... I talked to the [UM] coaching staff when I went to visit the campus. They said they need me badly there."

• Though it was widely reported the Marlins have a $2 million team option on reliever Fernando Rodney for 2017, it has grown by another $1.5 million because of incentives met (games finished and appearances), and could potentially rise by another $750,000, with a max of $5 million total.

With Rodney erratic since being acquired, it’s questionable if Miami will exercise his option or pay a $400,000 buyout. In his defense, he has been much better since replacing injured AJ Ramos as closer...

David Phelps has been a huge help since moving into the rotation, with 2-1 record and 1.31 ERA in 20 2/3 innings. 

• With the Heat’s Chris Bosh, conversations are continuing regarding potential use of blood thinners that could be out of his system by game time. It remains undecided if the Heat will be OK with that approach (they weren't when he suggested that last spring) or whether they will clear him to play.

There are mixed opinions in the medical community about whether a player who has had two clotting episodes in the span of a year (but doesn't have the gene that makes him pre-disposed to clotting) should remain on blood thinners beyond the normal six-month cycle. Bosh falls into that category.

• The Heat has been discussing potentially holding training camp in the Bahamas, which they've done once before. It's not definite, but the Heat is trying to make it happen (and there are hoops to go through for this, no pun intended).

• The Heat wants forward Derrick Williams, who shot 29.3 percent on threes (seventh-worst among the 161 players who tried at least 150 of them last season), to get back to the attacking player he was in college at Arizona.

"With us, he can come here, be aggressive with his ability to attack the paint, get to the free throw line," Erik Spoelstra said last week of a player drafted second overall by Minnesota in 2011. "We will put him in situations where he can play anywhere on the floor, much like he did in college. You didn't know what position he was in college. You just know he was a basketball player. He can guard 1 through 4. He can handle, can play off the ball, play in the post, do a lot of different things.

"A lot of times with young players like a Derrick Williams, it's about the right fit, the right place and right time in your career. And we think this really is all three things with Derrick."

• Despite repeated delays in David Beckham’s MLS stadium pursuit (Beckham continues a search for investors), Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said last week he is not yet skeptical: “Things are going on. Still hopeful” on the Overtown site.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

August 19, 2016

Exclusive: Another UM player investigated; postscripts, stats and more from Dolphins' 41-14 loss to Dallas tonight

2 pm Saturday: UM's investigation into players who might have used cars from a South Beach luxury car rental agency, in exchange for future promises, has expanded and now includes UM receiver Stacy Coley, according to a source with direct knowledge.

As we have previously reported, Al Quadin Muhammad and Jermaine Grace also are being investigated by UM for using cars from South Beach Exotic Rentals. UM, not the NCAA, is handling the investigation.

UM has declined to say if any of the players will be suspended. Some UM players are expecting short suspensions for the players, but it remains unclear if that will happen.

UM is still in the process of determining what, if any, discipline will be doled out.

DOLPHINS TALK

Well, at least we can all stop complaining about the offense this week. Ryan Tannehill was terrific (12-20, 162 yards, two touchdowns, 119 rating). Kenny Stills was dynamic (3 catches, 71 yards). And though starting right guard Jermon Bushrod allowed a sack, rookie starting left guard Laremy Tunsil was outstanding in pass protection.

The defense? We’ve been concerned about every aspect of this group for months (check our archives) and those worries were reinforced tonight, with Dallas piling up 300 yards and 27 points in the first half, scoring on five of their six possessions, then needing only two plays to march 59 yards for a touchdown to start the third quarter.

"It's tough when you get drummed like this - let's call it what it is," Adam Gase said. "[The run defense] surprises me a little bit, considering the amount of time we spend on tackling. We need to clean that up. We're doing the right thing in practice and reverting back when we get back on the field to being a little sloppy."

After three series --– against primarily Dolphins starters and a few backups --- Cowboys quarterbacks were 8 for 9 for 125 yards and a 115.8 passer rating, and the Dallas running game (primarily Alfred Morris) was averaging 7 yards per carry.

And oh yes, Dallas backup QB Dak Prescott had a perfect 158.3 passer rating (12-15-199 yards).

Dallas closed with 433 yards and averaged 5.0 yards per rushing attempt.

Nat Moore says “the defense was supposed to be the strength of this football team.”

Really? Why would he –-- or anybody –-- think that? What evidence of that was there was last season, or what about the offseason personnel moves suggested this group would be really good?

So we ask this again: What, specifically, is this defense going to be above average doing? They’re subpar against the run --- 28th last season and having added players who graded out well below average against the run last season (if you believe PFF, and we know some of you don’t).

Their pass defense is leaky, primarily because of a suspect group of cornerbacks. (Hopefully, Xavien Howard will be something of a panacea. But the kid is a rookie and mistakes are inevitable.)

The linebackers aren’t game-changers and historically, not particularly durable.

The Dolphins assume they will be well above average rushing the passer, and that could be the case. But against a high-quality Dallas offensive line (and with Cam Wake held out), the Dolphins didn’t get any sort of rush, finishing the night without a sack.

Breaking down the specific defensive miscues against the starters (and some backups) early on:

• There was a Tony Lippett pass interference against Dez Bryant before the Dolphins forced a punt, the only one they forced for hours.

“Lippett really struggled; he’s got to learn to locate the football,” team employee Nat Moore said late in tonight’s game broadcast.

• The second defensive series was a disaster, filled with breakdowns. Bryant beat Byron Maxwell for 18 yards, without a whiff of a pass rush. Jason Witten beat Kiko Alonso for 12 yards, with Alonso completely out of position.

Lippett was then out of position on a corner blitz, and Chris Jones was knocked away on a 13-yard run by Alfred Morris. Witten then beat Jelani Jenkins for another first down, with Jenkins missing the tackle. (Can’t wait to see Dion Jordan have a chance to defend big tight ends again.)

On Morris’ 15-yard touchdown run, Andre Branch missed a tackle, and Terrence Fede and Chris Jones were swallowed up. Not good.

• Prescott and the Cowboys did as they pleased on Dallas’ third series, with Isa Abdul-Quddus beaten for a 20-yard reception; Mario Williams embarrassingly whiffing on a tackle against Morris, which turned a play which should have been no gain into a 20-yard jaunt; Cole Beasley shaking free, completely uncovered in the slot, and then Bryant beating Maxwell for a touchdown.

• Later, on Prescott’s 20-yard TD run, Chris McCain was knocked to the ground while Prescott was still in the backfield, and Thomas, Fede and Lippett all failed to tackle Prescott as he sprinted to the end zone. That drive would have ended much earlier if an Abdul-Quddus pick hadn’t been negated by a roughing the passer penalty against Andre Branch, who didn’t have a good night.

• Then to start the second half, Brice Butler beat Bobby McCain for 58 yards on a terrific deep pass from Prescott, and then Butler beat Rashaan Melvin for a two-yard TD pass.

Other things:

• Pedestrian night for Jakeem Grant, who had 9 yards combined on two punt returns and 49 yards combined on two kickoff returns. Offensively, he didn't have a catch.

• Spencer Paysinger is serviceable and Neville Hewitt had some moments (including a blitz that forced a third-down incompletion), and Mike Hull had six tackles. But backup linebacker remains a question. James Michael Johnson looked lost on a screen pass, then whiffed on a tackle on special teams.

The Dolphins appear disinclined to spend much money on any free agent linebackers. They asked accomplished starter Steven Tulloch to work out a couple weeks ago, but Tulloch wasn’t interested because the Dolphins were only looking to sign linebackers to a very low-money deal. (They signed Danny Lansanah, who was gone less than a week later.)

Tulloch remains available, but the Dolphins haven’t shown interest in him (or apparently any linebacker) at the type of money he’s seeking.

• Arian Foster’s Dolphins debut was uneventful: 2 for minus 5 yards. Jay Ajayi ran 6 times for 19 yards, just 3.2 per carry.

The other backs: Isaiah Pead 4 for 48, Daniel Thomas 7 for 30 and Damien Williams 4 for 2.

• The Dolphins have put their tight ends on notice that more is expected, and Jordan Cameron disappointed by dropping a very catchable four-yard pass that should have been a touchdown. Three more plays (including incomplete passes to Landry and Kenny Stills) foiled that drive, but Tunsil was very good in pass protection on all three passes close to the goal line.

• Tunsil got snaps at left tackle and left guard in the second half, and had a terrific block on Pead’s 45-yard run.

• Matt Moore left late in the second quarter with a head injury on an illegal hit, meaning an earlier than planned appearance for Brandon Doughty.

Backup center Anthony Steen’s high snap was the first misstep in Doughty’s fumble late in the first half, leading to more Cowboys’ points.

Steen, surprisingly, has been ahead of Jamil Douglas and Kraig Urbik at backup center for the first two games.

Doughty, incidentally, was 2 for 3 for 7 yards before being lifted late in the third quarter. Zac Dysert (3-6-44 yards) finished the game.

• Rookie tight end Thomas Duarte, a skilled pass rusher not known for his blocking, whiffed on a block that led to Matt Darr’s blocked punt.

Dominique Jones, making a case for the No. 3 tight end job, had two catches for 36 yards but dropped a pass for the second week in a row.

• The Dolphins had four tackles for loss, only one by a player who might be on the team (Chris Jones).

• The Dolphins were 0-3 and outscored 94-45 last season in games televised to the entire nation. NFL Network witnessed this Dolphins drubbing tonight, and NBC nationwide get to see them against Atlanta on Thursday.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

August 18, 2016

Hassan back at work; Spo's challenge; Media column: ESPN uniting Butch Davis, Vilma all season and their reflections months after their involvement in coaching search; Media notes

2 p.m. update: Hassan Whiteside isn't showing any signs of contentment or complacency after signing his four-year, $98 million contract. He has been working with Heat coach at AmericanAirlines Arena, part of a large group of Heat players working individually and collectively with the staff.

"He doesn't want to live off the status quo," Erik Spoelstra said in a video posted on the Heat's web site today. "He wants to improve. He wants to add new elements to his game. I'm not going to put a ceiling on what he can become as a player.
I want him to be one of the best players in this league.

"He has that type of potential. Low post scoring is the No. 1 thing he wants to work on and I'm all for it. He will also work on his skill level top of the floor, handling the ball, getting us into second situations as a play-maker. Rebounding off the glass and continuing the overall development with his body, getting stronger while maintaining his weight and flexibility."

Whiteside averaged 29.6 minutes per game last season and that will increase.

"He will have to be able to absorb more minutes, more responsibility, more games, which is a different level of training in the weight room," Spoelstra said.

Spoelstra, looking back on Whiteside's development, said: "It was a two-year introduction. We were able to really learn about each other for two seasons. I was very impressed with Hassan's motivation, work ethic. He wants to be great. He's not afraid of putting in the time. Where he started to where he finished up at the end of two years is remarkable. Hassan has committed to the process of trying to get better every single day.... In order for our team to accomplish what we want to accomplish, Hassan has to continue to improve and maximize his potential."

• The Heat made partial season-ticket packages available today, with Chicago's appearance (Dwyane Wade's return) in the highest price tier.

 

MEDIA COLUMN

 

Butch Davis and Jonathan Vilma will forever be linked during two critical times in UM football history.

A Davis recruit, Vilma played for an 11-1 UM team in 2000 before Davis left, the start of a three-year run that featured only two losses and the most talented teams in Hurricanes history. They were intertwined again late last year, when Vilma was named to an advisory committee to help select UM’s next football coach, and Davis was a finalist for the job.

Now the two have been reunited for a third time. ESPN is expected to announce next week that Davis and Vilma will paired as studio analysts on ESPN2’s college football coverage on Saturdays this fall, alongside host Chris Cotter. Vilma, new to ESPN, replaces Fox-bound Robert Smith.

“I’m very excited about it; I love college football,” Vilma said. “I still remember when Butch first recruited me. I remember seeing Butch for the first time, and he was bigger than I thought: 6-4.  

“I think back to that time and everything has run its course. Now I get to sit alongside the guy who recruited me to UM and jump- started my career. We can’t have a Canes love-fest (on the air). It will be a lot of fun to talk football with him.”

Though the mark they left at UM came around the turn of the century (mostly before, in Davis’ case, after in Vilma’s), both figured prominently in this offseason’s coaching search.

Davis badly wanted the job and was immensely disappointed he didn’t get it. He said recently that he has moved on and voiced no complaints about the process.  

“I would have loved the opportunity; I have a lot of affinity for them; it was a very memorable place for me,” Davis said. “We [helped] rebuild the program and gave it back its character and integrity and put them in position to play for three national titles. It didn’t work out. The things I had accomplished weren’t what they were looking for.”

He presented his specific vision to UM during his interview and said he told UM that if he had gotten the job, he believes he would “have won a national championship in four years” because “we were not going to lose 31 scholarships in four years” as he did (no fault of his) during his tenure at UM.

Davis said he’s not sure how close he came to getting the job, and that’s up for debate.

One former UM assistant coach said he was told specifically by the top of the UM administration that Davis would have gotten the job if Mark Richt didn’t become available. But a prominent Board of Trustees member said UM had concerns about how Davis explained his hiring of assistant coach John Blake, who was later barred from college coaching for three years for taking money from an agent, and that Davis wasn’t UM’s second choice.

What does Davis think of the Richt hire? Don’t expect effusive praise. 

“I have no familiarity with him,” Davis said, even though Richt has been on a prominent national stage for 15 years. “I never coached against him. If you ask him, I'm sure he would say his record stands for itself.”

(The view here: Davis would have done a good job here and he deserves a chance to coach again. But Richt was the safer choice; he has been in the game more recently than Davis, who hadn’t coached since 2010 and at 64 is eight years older than Richt.)

As for Vilma, you have to admire the initiative he took in helping get the former players a voice at the table in the coaching search.

Three years earlier, Vilma “rocked the boat,” so to speak, during his battle with Commissioner Roger Goodell over his alleged role in the New Orleans Saints Bountygate controversy. Vilma vehemently denied any involvement; his NFL suspension was twice overturned but his defamation lawsuit against Goodell eventually was dismissed.

So it wasn’t surprising Vilma was the ringleader in efforts to get players input in the UM coaching search. He reached out to two dozen former players, called athletic director Blake James and several Board of Trustee members and eventually landed a coveted spot (with Vinny Testaverde) on the six-member coaching advisory committee.

“What made me want to do it,” Vilma said, “was watching” former players give opinions on social media and wanting to unite and galvanize them.  “We were all so fragmented,” he said. “I said I knew we would have a stronger voice if we talked behind closed doors [and not on] social media.”

Before going to James, “I first wanted the blessing of every era that you can think of that went through UM before saying I am going to speak on behalf of the players,” Vilma said. “I said, ‘Hey look, this is a group effort.’ We all care about UM, though we show it in different ways. For us to be involved in a productive manner was the emphasis.

“I spoke to Blake and I spoke to some of the board members. They thought it made sense not to alienate some of players who felt they were alienated. There has to be interaction between former players and the current players in as legal a scenario as possible. We love the university and we want to make sure we see it successful again. Having everyone come together in a productive manner was the first step of many to get back to where we want to be.”

Though Vilma declined to confirm whether he sat in on any interviews, he said he “was given input.”

He said “it’s not wrong for people to think” that he wanted Davis to get the job, but added the players “wanted the qualities that Butch represented when he was the coach. He instilled discipline and toughness and recruited well. We wanted someone with those qualities. We felt it may or may not be Butch.”

Vilma, a former first-round draft pick of the Jets who retired in 2014 after a nine-year NFL career, was fine with UM hiring Richt:  “He’s a very good coach. His resume speaks for itself. It doesn’t ensure future [success].”

He doesn’t believe UM necessarily would have gone wrong with any of the four finalists: Richt, Davis, Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen or ex-Tampa Bay and ex-Rutgers coach Greg Schiano.

“But you never know until three or five years from now,” Vilma said. “We don’t know if Dan Mullen gets fired [eventually].”

Whether Vilma’s involvement in UM administrative decisions continues remains to be seen. He hasn’t asked James for any input since the coaching hire.

“Always my philosophy is let the coaches coach,” he said. “I love to come by. It’s not my job in my 10 minutes to think I have all the answers.”

As for these Canes, he says this could be a top 25 team but “we’ve looked on paper for many years at the talent we’ve had and we all assumed we would put out good teams and for some reason we didn’t.”

Davis, who still hopes to coach again, didn’t study the UM roster in depth before his interview with James and said he doesn’t know enough yet about the personnel to assess Miami’s chances. But he said quarterback Brad Kaaya “is a terrific kid and a great player. He has outstanding mobility, good arm. The unanswerable question is the offensive line and does he have supporting cast, which I have no idea.”

Davis wishes he could have been coaching Kaaya this fall.

Incidentally, ESPN senior coordinator producer Lee Fitting said: "It’s cool that he and Butch have the connection to Miami, but that wasn’t the reason for hiring Jonathan. We hired Jonathan for the commentating and analyzing skills he demonstrated in the last couple of years, in addition to the potential that we see in him.  Furthermore, he was a prominent figure in the sport for a long time, both in college and in the NFL. Adding that all together, it made a ton of sense.”

• Please click here for 12 on-field UM football nuggets from earlier Thursday.

• One other prominent former UM defensive player has found a broadcasting gig: DJ Williams will work four weekly shifts on 790 The Ticket --- with Ethan Skolnick and Chris Wittyngham on their show at 4 p.m. Mondays (as well as Friday this week); Jonathan Zaslow, Brett Romberg and Amber Wilson from 7 to 8 a.m. Tuesdays;  Wednesdays from 1 to 3 p.m. with Brian London and Leroy Hoard; and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday on the station's "Aqua and Orange Pre-Game Show."

• Sirius XM Radio airs a UM football preview, featuring Gino Torretta, from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday. There's some interesting stuff from Mark Richt, Manny Diaz and others.

• Former 790 The Ticket morning host Joy Taylor is getting another high-profile gig on Fox Sports 1: host of the Skip Bayless/Shannon Sharpe debate show.

• Miami-Fort Lauderdale's prime-time NBC Olympic ratings rank 42nd among 56 metered markets, with a 15.4 average.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

August 17, 2016

Thursday 2 p.m.; UM football news, nuggets: Nuggets on UM's defense and more personnel items; Heat adds Beno Udrih; the fallout and where the roster stands; Lots of Wednesday Dolphins news - Three fights, Doughty's push and more

A dozen UM football items from Thursday:

1) We're going to be hearing a lot of comparisons between Shaquille Quarterman and great UM linebackers of yesteryear, and Rayshawn Jenkins offered this one today: "Shaq and Denzel Perryman basically are the same player, as far as mindset and physicality."

2) Who played well defensively in Wednesday's scrimmage?

Manny Diaz mentioned Quarterman first, then his three safeties: Jaquan Johnson, Jenkins and Jamal Carter, and also cited Corn Elder, who returned an interception for a touchdown (according to Diaz), and Gerald Willis, who had five solo tackles.

3) Willis is challenging for more playing time, but Richard McIntosh and Kendrick Norton remain the top two d-tackles. Though Willis has impressed, Diaz also mentioned "an issue of not being where he's supposed to be" at times.

4) But Diaz emerged from the scrimmage with some concerns: He said the starters are playing like starters, and the backups like backups, and the "disparity is growing larger and larger. It's hard for us to be above average if we can only rely on our first-level starters."

5) And this was Diaz's other concern: Of the five scrimmages UM has held since the spring, "our physicality and tackling was at its lowest level" Wednesday.

6) Linebacker Darrion Owens, off last year's major knee injury, didn't participate in Wednesday's scrimmage, and Richt is unsure if he will be ready for the opener.

"I don't know what he used to look like," Richt said, "but he doesn't look like he's flying around."

7) With Owens limited and a hamstring still sidelining Mike Pinckney, we're seeing a lot of Jamie Gordinier with the starters at weakside linebacker. "He's physically gifted, has a really bright future," Diaz said. But UM wants him to play with more confidence.

8) Cornerback Malek Young is making a move. "Malek is fast and tough," Diaz said. "The arrow is pointing up."

9) We hear none of the backup quarterbacks were very impressive Wednesday. Richt said he will narrow the race to two on Thursday, and it will be SOMEWHAT surprising if Evan Schirreffs and Malik Rosier don't make the cut. But we'll see. Maybe Jack Allison or Vinny Testaverde will sneak in there. Rosier took the first second-team snaps in Wednesday's scrimmage.

10) Diaz said UM needs Jenkins "to be one of best players" and that he's "more bought into" what UM is doing than he did under the previous regime. Asked UM's leaders on defense, Richt first mentioned Jenkins.

11) Richt reiterated that he expects receiver Dionte Mullins to be admitted before the season starts. [UPDATE: MULLINS HAS BEEN CLEARED TO ENROLL, UM ANNOUNCED AT 5:30 p.m.]

12) Told again today that Mark Walton was very impressive in the scrimmage. He keeps doing damage on screen passes, draws and traditional carries.

 

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Heat and Dolphins and Hurricanes notes on a Wednesday:

 

CANES CHATTER

• Hurricanes players love UM’s new 4-3 attacking defense after reluctantly tolerating ousted coordinator Mark D’Onofrio’s read and react approach in recent years. But here’s the unknown variable: Does new coordinator Manny Diaz have enough skilled personnel to play this bold style, especially if Al Quadin Muhammad and Jermaine Grace are disciplined for the rental car scandal?

"We have what we need to be a good defense,” Diaz said when I asked him last week. “The question is: do we have enough? Do we have the depth?... And we need to grow up in a hurry at some spots, which is rather obvious. There will be growing pains; it's unavoidable.”

What works in Diaz’s favor is a potentially strong group of pass-rushers, less so if Muhammad misses much time (UM had nine sacks in the first scrimmage last week), plus cornerbacks that Diaz believes can play press.

"You have to be able to get to the quarterback, and we feel we’ll be able to do that better this year,” Diaz said. And “to be one of our corners you have to be able to [play press]. Sheldrick Redwine, Corn Elder and Adrian Colbert have that ability. The first defense we called in spring and in fall was bump and run man to man.”

We’re told UM has blitzed a lot in practice, and the defense has generally gotten the better of the offense. But one UM official expressed some concern about how the corners will hold up playing more press.

Even though Diaz plans to blitz and wants to use more press coverage than D’Onofrio did, he won’t accept a flurry of explosive plays against his group. Blitzes will be dialed back if his players can’t handle the bold new style.

That puts pressure not only on the corners, but also the safeties – Rayshawn Jenkins and Jamal Carter, who have not yet joined the class of great safeties at UM. That needs to change.

“Assignment-wise you can't grade 95 at safety," Diaz said.

Case in point: Even though safety Jaquan Johnson forced two fumbles in the scrimmage last week, Diaz was bemoaning how he made two critical errors.

Safeties coach Ephraim Banda predicts Jenkins and Carter “are going to be special if they continue to trend this way. There is nothing like coaching two senior safeties who are dying to be good. I have their ear right now. I can tell them almost anything and they will execute it.

“Rayshawn’s urgency is at a whole other level. Jamal has always had the urgency. Now I’m teaching him how to understand the game and see it. They really grew.”

• Also critical: UM defenders cannot miss nearly as many tackles as they did in past years.

To correct that, UM has taught players rugby-style tackling --- which Mark Richt says takes the “helmet out of the tackle” and emphasizes wrapping up below the waist ---  and one UM official said the tackling is appreciably better than it was a year ago.

And the defensive tackles are in better shape and quicker, players say. Richard McIntosh and Kendrick Norton look like they’re going to be a stout, effective combo at tackle, one UM official said.

Diaz’s defenses, which typically forced a lot of tackles for loss, are measured not only by points allowed but by something he calls a chaos index: "We take our tackles for loss, our sacks, our PBU's (pass breakups) and forced fumbles - it's all the times you can disrupt an offensive play," Diaz said. "Then you divide that by the amount of plays you had.”

But Diaz doesn’t want fans or players to believe the new scheme is the panacea. “We told the players immediately, `Do not expect the scheme to save you.' We have to get our players better. That's the nutrition, conditioning.”

• UM is placing renewed emphasis on speed in recruiting – partly because of the way the college game has evolved. More and more ACC teams are going to use spread offenses this season, which puts an emphasis on speedy defensive backs or linebackers with coverage skills.

“You really have to be able to run now," Diaz said. "And it's speed of thought (too), guys that are instinctive. You have to have guys that can process things quickly. And you defend space - with the faster guys you have, the more that space shrinks.

 "We should be able to run on defense, recruit kids down here that can run and play fast. The coaching changes have really changed the dynamics. You look at Virginia Tech, Virginia, NC State from a coordinator standpoint, Syracuse on the other side - it is more of a spread league this year than even it was a year ago. So you have to make sure you can handle the tempo offenses are going to play with yet still maintain the physical edge."

• A UM official who has watched practices said (before Ahmmon Richards' toe injury), there was  reason to feel much better at receiver than UM did a month ago: Stacy Coley has been great on double moves and impactful and developed great chemistry with Brad Kaaya; Braxton Berrios is consistent; no player at any position has been appreciably better than Malcolm Lewis; Dayall Harris has been better than expected before a couple of drops this week; before his injury, Richards has been catching everything thrown his way (“he runs like a horse; he’s going to develop into a top player in the country,” Redwine said); and Sam Bruce dashed by a corner and safety for a long catch the other day…

That official said Travis Homer already is UM’s best breakaway threat at running back…. Fullback Marques Williams has impressed everyone with his punishing blocking and pass-catching ability.

• The past regime didn’t want players to feel the pressure of living up to UM’s tradition. This regime is different.

"I want you to feel the weight of putting on a UM jersey," Diaz says. "I tell recruits `It's crazy that this guy [like Michael Irvin or Ray Lewis] knows who you are. You're in high school and this great player knows who you are.' There's an accountability that comes with that.”

 

HEAT CHATTER

• Point guard Beno Udrih agreed to re-sign with the Heat today, adding more depth to a crowded Heat backcourt.

Udrih will sign a one-year guaranteed deal at the veteran's minimum of $1.4 million.

Udrih, 34, averaged 4.4 points and 2.5 assists and 16.3 minutes in 36 games for the Heat last season after a November trade from Memphis. He missed the final two months of the season with a foot injury and sacrificed $100,000 in salary as a favor to the Heat to keep them under the luxury tax threshold.

According to a source at Octagon basketball, Udrih had a standing offer from the Heat for more than a month. He had other options but felt comfortable with the organization. Coach Erik Spoelstra made no assurances about playing time but has asked Udrih to provide veteran leadership.

His signing gives the Heat 19 players, with teams permitting to take 20 to training camp but keep no more than 15 during the regular season.

Barring trades, Udrih's signing will make it challenging for the Heat to keep any of their developmental prospects -- point guard Briante Weber, forwards Stefan Jankovic and Okaro White and guard Rodney McGruder.

The Heat likely will try to stash several of those players in its D-League affiliate in Sioux Falls, S.D., though Weber appears in line to land an NBA job somewhere, and his skill set intrigues the Heat.

Players signed during July and August cannot be traded until Dec. 15.

Udrih gives the Heat a natural backup point guard behind Goran Dragic, but there's no assurance that he will get playing time, because the Heat wants to give regular minutes to combo guards Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson.

Johnson said the Heat has emphasized improving as a point guard during his offseason workouts.

The Heat signed shooting guards Dion Waters and Wayne Ellington during the offseason, and Waiters is the front-runner to start.

Here's how the roster stands:

Centers: Hassan Whiteside, Willie Reed

Forwards: Chris Bosh, Justise Winslow, Derrick Williams, James Johnson, Josh McRoberts, Udonis Haslem, Luke Babbitt, Jankovic, White

Guards: Dragic, Waiters, Ellington, Richardson, Johnson, Udrih, McGruder, Weber

DOLPHINS CHATTER

The Dolphins ended training camp with anger and agitation, as three separate fights broke out in a 30-minute period.

Receiver Jarvis Landry and cornerback Bobby McCain exchanged punches in the first drill, after they became physical with each other on a pass play.

"Nothing personal; no hard feelings,” Landry said. “Showing a little team love to each other.”

The second fight, involving more than 20 players but relatively tame, began when McCain and receiver Kenny Stills started jawing at each other. The third featured shoving between offensive lineman Jermon Bushrod and defensive lineman DeAndre Coleman.

“I like to see a little bit of that, a little bit of attitude, a little bit of swagger, we’re not going to take some crap,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. “We don’t want four or five in a practice. A little bit of that is OK.”

Coach Adam Gase didn’t object: “It’s football. It happens. No one got hurt. I don’t want that to happen every day. But it’s going to happen once in a while….One guy makes a play and starts talking. Bobby is not going to take that. It got heated from there. Wide outs protecting their guy. DBs protecting their guy. That’s what happens.”

•   The Dolphins haven’t been inclined to keep a third quarterback on the 53-man roster to start the season in recent years, but rookie seventh-round pick Brandon Doughty is giving the Dolphins incentive to possibly reverse that pattern.

His accuracy, quick mind and poise have impressed coach Adam Gase, who has final say on the 53-man roster.

Doughty was 7 for 9 for 66 yards in the preseason opener against the Giants and “I saw a guy that was very comfortable,” Gase said. “I felt good calling plays for him. I didn’t have any concerns. I wasn’t sitting there [saying], ‘I can’t call this, I can’t call this.’  Watching him react to everything I called, it was like there was nothing that was bothering him.

“He’d get hit, he’d bounce back up, look right at me. I love that part of him and then his progressions were really good. He was always in the right spot, which is good to see [because] it’s different in practice.”

In fact, Gase said Doughty’s performance was atypical of a rookie.

“I’ve been [around] a few times where it looks like, ‘Uh oh, what’s going to happen?’” Gase said. “He was good. He’s been in the shotgun a lot in his career. If there’s one thing that I would say he needs to really work on is just to make sure that he feels comfortable working under center.”

And that’s not the only thing Gase likes about Doughty.

"In this league, that window closes so fast,” Gase said. “As soon as you’re trying to evaluate whether that guy is open or not, he’s probably going to get covered by the time the ball gets there. With him having a great feel of the route concepts and turning the ball loose,… He’s done a great job as far as being that consistent in anticipation.”

Gase said Doughty’s next step is “controlling everybody,” correcting mistakes and correcting mental errors by others..

The Dolphins could put Doughty on the practice squad unless they believe another team would claim him and put him on their 53-man roster.

“I have a chip on my shoulder; my talents are a little better than a seventh round pick,” Doughty said Wednesday. “I’m excited to prove everybody wrong.”

• Gase said he anticipates playing everyone who is healthy on Friday against Dallas. Players who remain out: cornerbacks Chris Culliver, Xavien Howard and Chimdi Chekwa, running back Kenyan Drake, linebacker Zach Vigil, defensive end Dion Jordan and defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, who is out indefinitely with a calf injury.

• Gase said he hasn't decided how much to play the starters and will go by feel. With Arian Foster: "I am going to be smart, especially with him, his history. How much do any of us really need to see? We know what he can do. I want to get him in rhythm with guys up front where he gets comfortable playing at line of scrimmage. He’s been in a huddle offense most of his career."

• Gase said he and his staff “tweaked a couple things” with Tannehill’s mechanics “that were in minor.. that he brought up himself.”

• Laremy Tunsil, who split first team left guard reps with Dallas Thomas, said it would be “nice” to start Friday (which Armando has reported is likely) but hadn’t received word, and Gase declined to say. Tunsil is now the heavy front-runner to start opening day at Seattle.

• As we first reported on Twitter (@flasportsbuzz), Hard Rock's deal for Dolphins stadium naming rights is 18 years. The press conference is at 2 p.m.

For a lot more Dolphins nuggets, the Marlins' plans regarding Tim Tebow and a prominent free agent on the Dolphins' radar, please click here.

Here's the full Olympic TV schedule for the final five days (when and were to find each event of interest to you).

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

 

August 16, 2016

Dolphins pushing hard for more from tight ends; LB on radar; Marlins on Tebow; Spoelstra's message; UM battle

 

TUESDAY NIGHT BUZZ COLUMN

 

Already blessed with the NFL’s most destructive tight end in Rob Gronkowski, the New England Patriots further strengthened themselves at the position by trading for Marcellus Bennett, giving them two tight ends who combined last season for 125 receptions and 1615 yards.

If the Dolphins get even half of that yardage production from their top two tight ends this season, it will be reason for a parade.

Tight ends were often an afterthought in the Dolphins’ passing game last season, with Jordan Cameron (35-386-3 touchdowns) and Dion Sims (18-127-1) combining for 53 catches and 513 yards. They weren’t prominently featured early in training camp or in Friday’s win against the Giants.

But they made a bunch of catches in practice Tuesday, including a touchdown by Sims, and Dolphins coaches are clear that they want to incorporate them more in the passing game.

“We need some big plays out of that room,” offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said. “That’s where your matchups are on third down. They’ve got to win and we’ve got to have some good stuff for them. We’re not there yet.”

Cameron said he accepted a $1.5 million pay cut, to $6 million, to stay with Miami partly because “one of my good friends, [Jaguars and former Broncos tight end] Julius Thomas, who played for [Adam Gase], said, ‘You've got to play for this guy.’ He does a good job of putting [tight ends] in spots to succeed.”

But Cameron said this week he isn’t sure how much more he will be targeted this season and insists it doesn’t matter to him.

“I’m tired of… these questions about my role; I really don’t care,” he said. “I want to win. I haven’t won. I haven’t had a winning season in the NFL. I’m tired of that. I just want to win games.”

The utilization of Cameron last season was somewhat puzzling considering he caught 80 passes for 917 yards and seven touchdowns for Cleveland in 2013, then averaged 17.7 yards on 24 catches in 10 games for the Browns in 2014.

But two things happened: The previous offensive staff asked Cameron to block more than he ever has. And his chemistry with Ryan Tannehill wasn’t very good.

Cameron caught only 50 percent of the 70 passes thrown to him. Among 51 qualifying tight ends, only Jacksonville’s Marcedes Lewis caught a lower percentage (43 percent).

Most good tight ends catch more than 60 percent of their targets, some more than 70 percent, including league leader Brent Celek (77 percent). Gronkowski was at 60 percent and Sims was at 72 percent, though Sims was thrown only 25 passes. In Cameron’s defense, some of his targets were deep throws.

Cameron’s low completion percentage, in the eyes of coaches, was partly a byproduct of erratic throws but also the result of Cameron’s inability to come down with enough contested balls despite his 6-5 frame.

“Contested passes - that’s something Jordan specifically is really working on,” tight ends coach Shane Day said. “It’s something we’ve talked about since the offseason when we were doing evaluations and he’s aware of it. We’re working on it every day.”

So can the Dolphins ever expect the type of production from Cameron that he gave the Browns?

“I don’t want to predict anything,” Gase said Tuesday. “I feel like what’s going on with him right now is that there’s a little bit of a learning curve for him. We went through some struggles there in the spring and a little bit at the beginning of camp. The thing about the tight end position is that there’s a lot of responsibility you have. You’re doing multiple phases of the game,…have a lot of responsibilities…. It’s just a lot on his plate.

“I went through the same growing pains with Julius Thomas. It wasn’t like that thing happened overnight. It was two years of he didn’t play and once it clicked for him, it clicked. Obviously with Jordan being a little more experienced, it’s going to happen a little faster.”

With Sims, Gase made clear in March that “potential has been used a lot with Dion. I told him this is probably the year we get this thing rolling.”

Day said Sims is “learning to use more of his size along with his speed, use more of his length to his advantage.”

Whether a legitimate No. 3 tight end emerges remains unclear. MarQueis Gray, third on the depth chart, remains out with a leg injury. Dominique Jones, who has caught three passes in 13 regular-season games for three teams, caught two for 25 yards Friday but also dropped an easy one.

Seventh-round rookies Thomas Duarte caught a touchdown against the Giants and must “utilize his strengths, which are his quickness and his speed to get on guys quickly and use his hands,” Day said.

And from a blocking perspective, “we’re kind of starting from ground zero because at UCLA he really wasn’t asked to play in-line tight end,” Day said.

How did Duarte do with in-line blocking against the Giants?

“I think there’s a little bit of a learning curve there for him,” Gase said. “I know the effort is there, which that’s the number one thing you want to see from a guy that really hasn’t had to do it before or asked to do it before. Hopefully sooner than later it will just keep getting better. Of course, you’d love to jump to step 100; but it’s early in his career and we’ve got a ways to go here before that first game and figuring out who (are) going to be our guys. But I see improvement and I see a guy who is willing to try to do the right thing.”

Gase has been pushing his tight ends hard, and Cameron said: “We have a good relationship. He holds us to a high standard. We’ve got to make the plays when they’re there for us.”

CHATTER

• Free agent middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch, a Miami Killian alum and a longtime NFL starter for Tennessee and Detroit, is on the Dolphins’ radar. Miami wanted to bring him in for a workout recently, but the Dolphins made clear they were looking to add a linebacker on a low-money deal and Tulloch is waiting for something better than that. Tulloch, 31, released by Detroit last month, had 107 tackles in 16 starts last season.

• Though there’s a good chance Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan will begin the season on NFI, coach Adam Gase said: "Every time he’s supposed be somewhere, he’s been there. He’s been engaged in everything we’ve done. I see a guy that seems to be excited to be here and, for him, it’s like the first thing I told him, ‘Whatever’s happened in the past is irrelevant. You got a fresh start so make the most of it.’”

Please click here for a ton more Dolphins news, including one player lashing out at Donald Trump.

• UM running back Trayone Gray is out for the year with a serious knee injury, a source confirmed tonight. (The Palm Beach Post reported this a few minutes ago.) Gray likely wasn't going to get much playing time this year.

We're told that Gray was sixth in the hierarchy among UM backs, behind Mark Walton and Joe Yearby (who are competing to start), Gus Edwards, fullback Marquez Williams and freshman Travis Homer, who has impressed coaches with his speed. Gray would have been fifth if you don't count Williams.

Gray carried 23 times for 145 yards last season.

Malik Rosier, competing with Evan Schirreffs and Jack Allison for the backup quarterback job, said coaches indicated "whoever has the best performance throughout this next scrimmage [Wednesday] is probably going to be the No. 2 guy."

“I feel very consistent with my footwork," Rosier said. "During the spring I was very off. Sometimes I didn’t know what I was doing. Sometimes I was doing it wrong. This time I know what I’m doing. It feels natural now.”

UM coaches were unhappy with Rosier's penchant for turnovers in the spring, but Rosier said QB coach Jon Richt told him "through the fall I've gotten more and more consistent."

Schirreffs fits the Mark Richt drop-back mold better than Rosier, but he must play decently Wednesday.

The No. 2 offense will go against the No. 1 defense in this next scrimmage.

• While receiver Dayall Harris has impressed throughout camp (and he's now getting even more first-team reps with Ahmmon Richards injured), Darrell Langham has been underwhelming, though he played better the past two days (according to Mark Richt).

• Team president David Samson said he doubts the Marlins will send anyone to Tim Tebow’s audition for big-league teams. “Nothing is harder in sports than hitting a baseball and to not take a swing in [a game] for 10 years” makes this difficult for Tebow, Samson said.

• For a look at Heat coach Erik Spoelstra's message to fans today, please click here.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz 

August 15, 2016

3 p.m.: Spo with message for fans; Dolphins player lashes out at Trump; Stadium gets new name; Isa A-Q ideal complement for Jones; Tunsil makes his move; Late Monday night Dolphins and UM personnel notes

Lots of Heat and Dolphins on a Tuesday:

• The Dolphins and University of Miami football team’s home field will not only have a new appearance after $500 million in upgrades, but also will feature a new name: Hard Rock Stadium, according to a source with direct knowledge.

An announcement is expected Wednesday.

Hard Rock Stadium will play host to its first event on Sept. 1, a Dolphins-Tennessee Titans preseason game, then play host to the University of Miami’s football opener against Florida A&M two days later. The newly renovated stadium will feature a canopy that will cover most seats.

Hard Rock will become the stadium’s fourth corporate naming partner since the facility opened as Joe Robbie Stadium in 1987.

The others: Pro Player (a former division of Fruit of the Loom), Land Shark (associated with a brewing company) and Sun Life, a Toronto-based financial services company.

The stadium was called Sun Life Stadium from 2010 until this past January. The Dolphins were determined to find a new naming rights partner by the start of the regular season.

Hard Rock International, an Orlando-based company founded in 1971, owns and operates restaurants, hotels and casinos in North America (including Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood), as well as the Caribbean and Central America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Asia Pacific.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said last month that several companies expressed interest, but he preferred the Hard Rock name.

• Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who hasn't spoken to the media since Dwyane Wade left, delivered this message in two videos on Heat.com: "You learn pretty quickly in this league that your roster is going to change, sometimes your staff changes. Expectations change. It's like that every year.

"Just when you get comfortable, it will change. This is a new challenge. We're embracing the change. We're excited about the future, excited about the guys we have on our team. You also have to have the right kind of players.

"There's some things that will never change with this organization. Our expectation  to win. Our expectation to compete for an NBA championship regardless of who we have in this uniform. And to do those things, you have to commit to a championship level defense.

"Now, you also have to have the right kind of players. We feel we have defensive minded players. It starts with a defensive player of year candidate in Hassan Whiteside, somebody that can defend the rim as well as anybody in this league and as well as anybody has done it in a long time in this league.

"But we also have defensive minded young players, which is unique. Josh Richardson is a defensive minded, versatile, long guard. Justise Winslow came in as a defender, Tyler Johnson is a competitive defender. And now as we build around those guys, we're looking for two-way basketball players that want to compete at both ends.

"In 21 straight years working for Micky Arison and Pat Riley, the expectations do not change. We're not looking to come into the season as an underdog. It's much more exciting, much more purpose when you're playing with great expectations."

Notably, the initial videos of Spoelstra rolled out by the Heat today do not include a mention of Chris Bosh. The Heat is cautiously optimistic, but not certain, he will be cleared to play this season after being diagnosed with a blood clot in February, the second time that had happened in 12 months.

 

DOLPHINS NEWS

In Isa Abdul-Quddus, the Dolphins hope they finally have acquired the ideal complement at safety to Reshad Jones – a high-IQ player who’s physical and disciplined, and more durable than Louis Delmas, who couldn’t stick longterm in the role because of knee injuries.

The Dolphins also have something unique in their new starting safety: He’s one of the NFL’s few Muslim players.

“It’s real big with my mother, so we pray together,” he said Tuesday.

And Abdul-Quddus is open about his opposition to Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has proposed banning Muslims from entering the United States.

“I hope people are smart enough to not elect that man,” he said Tuesday about Trump. “He says a lot of ridiculous things. I can only imagine what he’ll do in office.”

Regarding Trump’s suggested ban on Muslins from entering the country, Abdul-Quddus said: “I don’t even get offended any more because it’s like every day, he says something ridiculous. You can’t even take him serious anymore. I chalk it up to him trying to get press, trying to get his name in the newspaper.”

Abdul-Quddus,  a native of Newark, N.J., has been saddened that terrorist attacks by radical Islamists have created an anti-Muslim bias among some Americans.

“It's giving it a bad name, because that's the only way Muslims get into the news anymore,” he told the Detroit Free Press last December. “Like, you don't really see anything positive. It's only negative. So now (some) people think evil is correlated with being Muslim, and that's messed up. The majority of the religion -- 99.99 percent -- aren't that. But that 0.01 is what ruins it for all of us.

“I just think people need to be a little more open-minded about [generalizing about Muslims], because if a Christian came and killed thousands of people, they wouldn't say, 'Oh, I hate Christianity and we need to kill all Christians.' I think we really need [to avoid] specifying this group of people as being evil, and just see that evil is evil, and it's not about religion.”

Abdul-Quddus expresses himself articulately, and the Dolphins like his communication skills on the field because too often last season, communication issues led to breakdowns in coverage.

Before he signed a three-year, $12.75 million deal with the Dolphins in March, Pro Football Focus called Abdul-Quddus the No. 1 bargain in free agency, noting he ranked 19th overall among safeties, “was particularly effective against the run” and had “positives grades in coverage and as a pass-rusher.”

The Dolphins liked his work as a starter in Detroit over the final eight games last season as well as his physicality, defensive backs coach Lou Anarumo said.

They also like his intelligence, and believe with Abdul-Quddus in the back end, the defense won’t be compromised if Jones, a Pro Bowler last season, gambles for a turnover. Abdul-Quddus has two career interceptions, none since 2012.

“He’s done a great job,” coach Adam Gase said. “We knew what we got when we signed him. He has really shown what we saw on tape.”

Dolphins defensive tackle Ndadumukong Suh said “he will complement Reshad very well. They’re both great tacklers. Isa is a head hunter and finds the ball and makes plays. I enjoyed playing with him in 2014 in Detroit.”

The Dolphins consider their safeties interchangeable – they don’t designate a strong safety and free safety – and that has strategic benefits.

“It makes it tough because you can't predict where everybody's going to be,” Gase said. “Maybe if [Jones] was always the down guy, at least [the opponent] could say 'Hey, I'm always going to run away from him.'…  But when those guys can either go down, in the middle, it makes it tough as a play-caller. Now you don't have that advantage to stay away from somebody."

The pairing with Jones excites Abdul-Quddus because “we both can do a lot. We just make sure we can disguise everything.”

Abdul-Quddus, who went undrafted out of Fordham in 2011, said he “was so mad at myself” for missing a tackle on the Giants’ first drive in Friday’s preseason game. “That’s why I was taking a conscious effort on tackling this week.”

After started 16 regular-season games in five seasons with New Orleans and Detroit, Abdul Quddus is heartened by the prospect of becoming a full-time starter for the first time.

“It shows,” he said, “that at the end there is a rainbow sometimes.”

• The Dolphins held off making Laremy Tunsil a starter from the outset of camp, but the rookie first-round draft pick appears closer than ever to becoming one.

On Tuesday, Tunsil received his most first-team work at left guard in any of the team’s 14 practices to date. Dallas Thomas, who started the preseason opener, received just a few first-team reps at left guard. And Tunsil performed well during his extended look Tuesday.

“I like what he’s doing,” coach Adam Gase said of Tunsil. “I like the fact he’s giving everything he has and trying to make sure mentally he’s on the same page because there are two other guys counting on him.”

The Dolphins haven’t wanted to rush Tunsil because “this is a league where confidence does matter," Gase said. "I’ve seen rookies before, you throw him in and be like, well, he’s got to play. And two years later, everyone is calling for his head. We’re going through the process we need to go through.”

The Dolphins still must make a decision at right guard, where Billy Turner opened with the starters Tuesday, as usual, but Thomas and Jermon Bushrod also received some first-team work.

Branden Albert was given the day off Tuesday, but the Dolphins split first team left tackle reps between Ulrick John and Sam Young instead of moving Tunsil to tackle – something they had done earlier in camp. That suggested a desire to have Tunsil focus on guard.

 

MORE DOLPHINS

Some late Monday night tidbits:

Though the Dolphins cornerback situation beyond Byron Maxwell has evoked considerable concern among fans, and some level of concern inside the organization, defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said this week he’s pleased with the young corners’ growth.

“I'm excited about the group,” he said. “They are all big guys that can run, outside of Bobby (McCain) and Brandon Harris. It's what we are looking for as far as corners."

With Xavien Howard not yet cleared for practice after offseason knee surgery, Tony Lippett continues to get most of the first team work opposite Maxwell. He broke up three passes during Monday’s practice.

"I thought Lippett played well [Friday against the Giants],” Joseph said. “He had one play… he gave up a slant route inside, which he can't do….. That's stuff we can fix and coach. I'm excited about Lippett. He's obviously improved since the first day.”

Joseph said he also was “really impressed” with McCain, who started on the boundary in Maxwell’s absence Friday and is competing with Michael Thomas to be the first-team nickel corner. McCain’s interception was “a great play in the slot on the vertical seam ball,” Joseph said.

Of the McCain/Thomas slot corner battle, Joseph said:   “At that spot, that's a mixture of a [defensive back], a linebacker and a safety at times. So I'm looking for a guy that's going to communicate, not make errors and going to tackle."

Joseph said Harris “has played more ball than most of our guys in the back end, besides [safety Reshad Jones]. So I'm not surprised he's very solid in the slot."

• Even though linebacker Kiko Alonso missed a tackle on a touchdown run Friday, Joseph said: “He's done fine. Obviously the missed tackle, I didn't like. We had a bunch of missed tackles in that gameFriday. That's expected; it's preseason. That should get rectified pretty soon but he's done fine.”

• Joseph said Chris McCain, who is competing with Terrence Fede and others to be the Dolphins’ fifth defensive end, is “a natural NFL pass rusher. That's a long, athletic, fast defensive end who can definitely rush the passer.”

But…  “he's got to play the run better, as far as setting the edge,” Joseph said. "He needs to separate from the block and make the play. Friday, he had a couple of plays where he knocked the guy back and the running back still circled us. That guy can't circle him.”

• Special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi said Jakeem Grant’s work as the primary returner Friday (two kickoffs for 53 yards, four punt returns for 60) “was a good start. For a guy catching a punt (in) his first game ever - probably since high school - it was nice to see.

“There were some things he still has to work on. The first punt that kind of landed on the ground and bounced a little bit, I'd like to see him maybe get that ball and see what we can do with the ball in his hands.

“Right now, it comes down to him making the right decisions, being at the right depth, fielding the ball cleanly. Once he has it in his hands and takes care of the ball, he obviously is a dangerous weapon…. My comfort level [with Grant] is going to be really dependent on how these next three weeks go, and then we'll go from there."

• For a lot more Dolphins talk from earlier today, including offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen's thoughts, please click here.

QUICK CANES ITEMS

Chad Thomas said all the right things today, including this self-analysis: "I made some plays, but I didn't make enough" the past two years.

It's similar to what Thomas told me earlier this summer in this piece I wrote on d-line coach Craig Kuligowski.

UM coaches have been pleased with his toughness and effort, but as one UM person told me today: We need to see it before we're convinced he will live up to his five-star status. It's nice that he's doing the right things. But he must show in games that he was worthy of his status coming out of high school. He's UM's only 5-star player left.

• If Al-Quadin Muhammad is suspended, Trent Harris likely would step in. Kuligowski raved about him today, saying he has performed the best of all the d-linemen in practice this month.

• One UM official said there's little difference among the top contenders for the backup QB job (excluding Vincent Testaverde) and that none have exactly seized the position. That person rated Evan Schirreffs a bit ahead of Malik Rosier, but Rosier remains very much in the mix, too, and it wouldn't be surprising if either gets the job.

But Schirreffs better fits the Mark Richt prototype as a natural drop-back passer. And Rosier's penchant for turnovers in the spring left serious concerns about some UM staffers.

• Unfortunate that Ryan Mayes is out with a shoulder injury. Mayes had begun to emerge as the No. 4 corner and Robert Knowles as the No. 4 safety. But freshman cornerback Malek Young has looked good in recent days.

• With Mike Pinckney out and Darrion Owens still rounding into form, Jamie Gordinier is making a case for himself at weakside linebacker.

Here's where Todd McShay ranks Brad Kaaya among all QBs who will be draft eligible next spring.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz 

Monday 1 p.m.: Kaaya gets high ranking from McShay; Dolphins OC Clyde Christensen wants more from Tannehill, his TEs and his line, with decisions looming; full Olympic TV schedule

Monday 1 p.m.: ESPN's Todd McShay said today he rates UM junior Brad Kaaya second among all QBs who will be draft-eligible next spring, behind only Clemson's Deshaun Watson.

McShay's take: "Kaaya is listed at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, so he'll need to add some bulk and strength to his frame. But he can really excel in a precision/timing-based offense. Decisive with his full-field reads, Kaaya showed very good accuracy on short-to-intermediate throws and consistently made good pre-snap decisions."

LOTS OF DOLPHINS

Dolphins offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said Monday that the starters will play more in Friday’s second preseason game against Dallas, that the team would like to know its starting offensive line before the third preseason game and that his entire offense simply must get better. And quickly.

“We are going to play our guys a little bit more [in game 2]," Christensen said. "Coach Gase said 'We are going to play them.'  When he’s seen enough, then we’ll put them out. I’m excited about that. We’ll get a chance to look at guys play a little bit more, get in a little bit more of a groove.”

Christensen made clear today that he expects more from Ryan Tannehill (especially in getting the ball out more quickly), his offensive line, his tight ends (not enough impactful plays) and his receivers (in terms of beating man coverage).

Here’s what Christensen had to say:

• Has the offensive line met your or the team’s standards? “Probably not yet. These next two weeks, everything should speed up. We should play better. We have to protect our quarterback better. We have got to run it better. We got to throw and catch it better. These next two weeks, if we don’t see some big improvements, then we better get a little bit nervous. We should see some big improvement these next two weeks.”

• Do you have a sense who starting guards will be Sept. 11? “I don’t. I’m kind of making sure I don’t. At the end of this [Dallas] game, we have to start thinking about it a little bit because the third game is when we’re trying to play the starters a good chunk, and the fourth game is kind of a wash. I do think coming out of this game we got to start funneling the thing down and getting a lineup and giving them a chance to play together.”

Dallas Thomas, as usual, started and ended team drills as the starting left guard, with Billy Turner at right guard. But Laremy Tunsil also got some first-team work at left guard, with Jermon Bushrod at right guard. Thomas also got some right guard snaps.

• Are you confident you will emerge with a good offensive line? “I am confident. I am extremely confident we are going to end up not only with a good offensive line but a deep one. I think we are going to end up pretty good. I think we’re going to have more guys than you usually have at this point. You’re always nervous about left tackles. We’ve got them stacked on top of each other. So that’s a luxury and I believe we’ll end up being a really good offensive line and deep.”

• Why has your group sputtered to extent you have? “Knowledge and too much thinking. We’ve given them a lot to think about. That slows folks down. We look like a team that’s kind of thinking and making sure we’re trying to do the right thing. Once you know and you don’t have to think about how to get lined up, and what the play is, now you can go do it faster. We’re challenging them, these two weeks, that ought to start showing up. Stuff ought to look sharper. We ought to beat man coverage better. And we ought to do everything better and faster.”

• What did Isaiah Pead show you Friday in gaining 50 yards on 10 carries? “Pead has been extremely impressive all through the offseason and all through training camp and he’s stayed healthy and he’s doing a good job on special teams. I don’t think anything is set. We’ve got to turn some question marks into exclamation points.”

“Pead has been extremely impressive. DT [Daniel Thomas] was extremely impressive in the fourth quarter. DT stayed healthy through the camp. Special teams will have a lot to do with those positions.  There are going to be hard decisions there.”

• Is Tannehill getting ball out as quickly as you want? “No. I don’t think anything is as quick as we want. Nothing – the protection, the run game, the pass game, the routes, nothing is as quick as we want. That has to all speed up if we want to get where we want to go. Especially the up-tempo and some of those things all have to become second nature. I hope in the next two weeks, we start seeing the results.”

• Is doing everything more quickly as simple as repetition? “It’s knowing what you’re doing and it should be the technique stuff. Beating man coverage takes some time. It’s hard to do. Blocking them one on one. Pass protecting one on one, all those things that I think probably the defense is ahead of us right now. We have to catch up and be good at it.”

• How tough is it to judge Tannehill? “He played seven snaps, got hit a little bit. When we did protect it up, we had some miscues. And quarterbacks made their miscues. It’s hard to evaluate a lot of things until things start hitting right. That’s what the preseason is for. Get some combinations, find some guys who can do it.”

• What about Miami's talent? How good is this team’s offensive talent? “It’s hard to judge it until we see them go fast. It’s premature to do it until we give them a chance of hey, now I know what I’m doing. Let’s see what we can do… today, third down wasn’t very good. That’s where it shows up. We come out of this game and get a great evaluation. Now we got to start making some decisions. Guys got to make some plays and show what they can do. That’s what these next two weeks are for. Fourth preseason game will be kind of getting ready for opening day. These are two huge weeks for the offense, personnel wise, schematically in every way.”

• Has Jakeem Grant done enough to create a package for him? “I don’t think there’s any doubt that he’s on his way… that every time he goes in there something good happens. Brandon Doughty as a third quarterback has been that way. Those guys aren’t very pretty but they both have an ability to run a wrong route and converts a third down. Or make a wrong read and we get a completion. That’s a good ability to have but we have to fine tune it and corral it.

"He [Grant] has shown he’s a playmaking guy. Every practice we’ve put him in since we’ve been here, he’s made something happen. That’s this league. In this league, you’ve got to get some big plays out of people. When you have that ability, that’s a great trait to have, when everytime you go in there, something big happens.”

• What about your tight ends. Why no more activity or production?

“We had a couple shots in the game. We dropped a ball that should have been a 20-yard plus play. Of every position, the tight end position is the most learning. They have to know the protection, they have to know the run game, they have to know the pass game. They will be the last ones who the speed I'm talking about shows up where it just becomes natural. They’re out wide, they’re in the slot, they’re part of the run unit, they’re in the backfield as a protector. Their's will be the slowest. We need some big plays out of that room. We know that, that’s where your matchups are on third down. They’ve got to win and we’ve got to have some good stuff for them. We’re not there yet.”

• The Dolphins practiced for about 15 minutes in driving rain today. How did the offense look?

“We didn’t look good enough. I was disappointed. We’re going to play in some rain games. That was great work for us. We need wet balls and we fumbled a couple snaps and that’s unacceptable but as a coach I’m glad it came up where we can address it. We had too many fumbled snaps and operation issues in the ball game. That can’t happen. We needed that wet day. We needed some of that. Like to tell you we were way ahead of the game and we’re not. We got to clean that up.”

 

OLYMPIC TV

Here's the full week 2 Olympic TV schedule, telling you exactly what is on every network at every time of day.

Please follow me on Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

Here's the full TV schedule for the final week of the Olympics

WEEK 2 OLYMPICS SCHEDULE

OLYMPIC TV PROGRAMMING FOR WEEK 2

 

MONDAY, AUGUST 15 (DAY 10)

NBC

10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Track & Field (LIVE)

               Women’s 200m – Round 1

               Women’s Hammer Throw – Gold Medal Final

               Women’s 3,000m Steeplechase – Gold Medal Final

               Men’s 400m Hurdles – Round 1

Men’s Volleyball – U.S. vs. Mexico (LIVE)

1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Women’s Water Polo – Quarterfinal

2:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Canoe/Kayak – Sprint Semifinals

Synchronized Swimming – Duet Qualifying

Men’s Beach Volleyball – Quarterfinals (LIVE)

8 p.m. – Midnight

Men’s Diving – Springboard Qualifying

Track & Field (LIVE)

               Men’s Pole Vault – Gold Medal Final

               Men’s 800m – Gold Medal Final

               Women’s 400m – Gold Medal Final

Gymnastics – Individual Event Gold Medal Finals

               Men’s Rings

               Men’s Vault

               Women’s Balance Beam

Men’s Beach Volleyball – Quarterfinal (LIVE)

12:35 a.m. – 1:35 a.m.

Men’s Beach Volleyball – Quarterfinal

Canoe/Kayak – Sprint Semifinals

1:35 a.m. – 4:30 a.m.

Primetime Encore

NBCSN

2 a.m. – 6 a.m.

Primetime Encore

6 a.m. – 7 a.m.

NBC Late Night Encore

8 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Canoe/Kayak – Sprint Qualifying Heats (LIVE)

Track & Field (LIVE)

               Women’s Hammer Throw – Gold Medal Final

               Women’s 3,000m Steeplechase – Gold Medal Final

Women’s Swimming – Open Water 10k Gold Medal Final

11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Women’s Field Hockey – Quarterfinal (LIVE)

1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Wrestling – Greco-Roman Qualifying

Cycling – Track

Men’s Beach Volleyball – Quarterfinal (LIVE)

4 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Men’s Volleyball – Russia vs. Iran

Cycling – Track Gold Medal Final

6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Spain vs. Argentina (LIVE)

8 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Wrestling – Greco-Roman Gold Medal Finals

Men’s Weightlifting – 105kg Gold Medal Final

9:30 p.m. – Midnight

Men’s Volleyball – Brazil vs. France (LIVE)

Boxing – Men’s Heavyweight Final

USA

9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Women’s Field Hockey – Quarterfinal (LIVE)

10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Equestrian – Individual Dressage Gold Medal Final (LIVE)

12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Badminton – Quarterfinal

Women’s Table Tennis – Team Semifinals

MSNBC

12 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.

Men’s Handball – Poland vs. Slovenia

1:15 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Nigeria vs. Brazil (LIVE)

3 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Women’s Water Polo – Quarterfinal (LIVE)

Badminton – Quarterfinal

Sailing – Gold Medal Finals

CNBC

5 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Women’s Water Polo – Quarterfinals (LIVE)

GOLF CHANNEL

9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Golf Central Live From the Olympics

6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Golf Central Live From the Olympics

BASKETBALL SPECIALTY CHANNEL

1:15 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Nigeria vs. Brazil (LIVE)

3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Nigeria vs. Brazil Encore

4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Nigeria vs. Brazil Encore

6 p.m. – 7:45 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Spain vs. Argentina (LIVE)

7:45 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Spain vs. Argentina Encore

9:30 p.m. – 11:15 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Lithuania vs. Croatia (LIVE)

TELEMUNDO

3 a.m. – 5 a.m.

Late Night Encore

10:30 a.m. 1 p.m.

News Recap

Volleyball

1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Boxing – Elimination Matches

Basketball

Midnight – 2 a.m.

TBA

NBC UNIVERSO

6 a.m. – 8 a.m.

Late Night Encore

3 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Men’s Beach Volleyball – Quarterfinal

Volleyball

6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Basketball

Boxing – Elimination Matches

TUESDAY, AUGUST 16 (DAY 11)

NBC

10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Track & Field (LIVE)

               Men’s Triple Jump – Gold Medal Final

               Women’s Discus – Gold Medal Final

11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Men’s Water Polo – Quarterfinal (LIVE)

Equestrian – Team Jumping Qualifying

1 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.

Women’s Volleyball – Quarterfinal (LIVE)

2:45 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Men’s Diving – Springboard Semifinal

Beach Volleyball – Semifinal (LIVE)

8 p.m. – Midnight

Track & Field – Gold Medal Finals (LIVE)

               Men’s High Jump

               Women’s 1500m

               Men’s 110m Hurdles

Gymnastics – Individual Event Gold Medal Finals

               Men’s Parallel Bars

               Women’s Floor

               Men’s High Bar

Beach Volleyball – Semifinal (LIVE)

12:35 a.m. – 1:35 a.m.

Men’s Diving – Springboard Gold Medal Final

1:35 a.m. – 4:30 a.m.

Primetime Encore

NBCSN

2 a.m. – 6 a.m.

Primetime Encore

6 a.m. – 7 a.m.

NBC Late Night Encore

8 a.m. – Noon

Canoe/Kayak – Sprint Gold Medal Finals (LIVE)

Track & Field (LIVE)

               Men’s Triple Jump – Gold Medal Final

               Women’s Discus – Gold Medal Final

Men’s Swimming – Open Water 10k Gold Medal Final

Noon – 3 p.m.

Women’s Soccer – Semifinal (LIVE)

Cycling – Track Events

Canoe/Kayak – Sprint Gold Meal Finals

3 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Women’s Soccer – Semifinal (LIVE)

Badminton – Doubles Semifinals

5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Women’s Basketball – Quarterfinal (LIVE)

7:30 p.m. – 9:15 p.m.

Wrestling – Greco-Roman Gold Medal Finals

Men’s Boxing – Light Gold Medal Final

Men’s Weightlifting – Superheavy Gold Medal Final

9:15 p.m. – Midnight

Women’s Volleyball – Quarterfinal (LIVE)

Women’s Table Tennis – Team Gold Medal Finals

MSNBC

Noon – 2 p.m.

Wrestling – Greco-Roman Qualifying

Women’s Handball – Quarterfinal (LIVE)

2 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Men’s Water Polo – Quarterfinal (LIVE)

Sailing – Gold Medal Finals

USA

9 a.m. – 11 a.m.

Women’s Volleyball – Quarterfinal (LIVE)

11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Men’s Field Hockey – Semifinal (LIVE)

Badminton – Doubles Semifinal

1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Synchronized Swimming – Duet Gold Medal Final (LIVE)

Women’s Table Tennis – Team Bronze Medal

3 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Men’s Beach Volleyball – Semifinal (LIVE)

Badminton – Doubles Semifinal

CNBC

5 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Cycling – Track Gold Medal Finals (LIVE)

Women’s Volleyball – Quarterfinal (LIVE)

7 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Men’s Field Hockey – Semifinal

GOLF CHANNEL

9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Golf Central Live From the Olympics

6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Golf Central Live From the Olympics

BASKETBALL SPECIALTY CHANNEL

10 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

Women’s Basketball – Quarterfinal #1 (LIVE)

11:45 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Women’s Basketball – Quarterfinal #1 Encore

1:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.

Women’s Basketball – Quarterfinal #2 (LIVE)

3:15 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Women’s Basketball – Quarterfinal #2 Encore

5 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.

Women’s Basketball – Quarterfinal #2 Encore

5:45 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Women’s Basketball – Quarterfinal #3 (LIVE)

7:30 p.m. – 9:15 p.m.

Women’s Basketball – Quarterfinal #3 Encore

9:15 p.m. – 11 p.m.

Women’s Basketball – Quarterfinal #4 (LIVE)

SOCCER SPECIALTY CHANNEL

Noon – 2 p.m.

Women’s Soccer – Semifinal #1 (LIVE)

2 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Women’s Soccer – Semifinal #1 Encore

3 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Women’s Soccer – Semifinal #2 (LIVE)

5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Women’s Soccer – Semifinal #1 Encore

6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Women’s Soccer – Semifinal #2 Encore

8 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Women’s Soccer – Semifinal #1 Encore

9:30 p.m. – 11 p.m.

Women’s Soccer – Semifinal #2 Encore

TELEMUNDO

3 a.m. – 5 a.m.

Late Night Encore

10:30 a.m. – Noon

News Recap

Noon – 3 p.m.

Women’s Soccer – Semifinal

Synchronized Swimming

Midnight – 2 a.m.

TBA

NBC UNIVERSO

6 a.m. – 8 a.m.

Late Night Encore

3 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Women’s Soccer – Semifinal

5 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Beach Volleyball – Semifinal

Boxing – Elimination Matches

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 17 (DAY 12)

NBC

10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Track & Field (LIVE)

               Men’s 3,000m Steeplechase – Gold Medal Final

Equestrian – Team Jumping Gold Medal Final (LIVE)

Gymnastics – Gala

1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Men’s Volleyball – Quarterfinal (LIVE)

3 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Canoe/Kayak – Sprint Qualifying Heats

Women’s Water Polo – Semifinal (LIVE)

Gymnastics – Gala

8 p.m. – Midnight

Track & Field – Gold Medal Finals (LIVE)

               Women’s Long Jump

               Women’s 200m

               Women’s 100m Hurdles

Women’s Diving – Platform Qualifying

Women’s Beach Volleyball – Gold Medal Final (LIVE)

12:35 a.m. – 1:35 a.m.

Women’s Beach Volleyball – Medal Round

1:35 a.m. – 4:30 a.m.

Primetime Encore

NBCSN

2 a.m. – 6 a.m.

Primetime Encore

6 a.m. – 7 a.m.

NBC Late Night Encore

8 a.m. – Noon

Canoe/Kayak – Sprint Qualifying Heats (LIVE)

Track & Field (LIVE)

               Men’s 3,000m Steeplechase – Gold Medal Final

Noon – 2 p.m.

Men’s Soccer – Semifinal (LIVE)

2 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Cycling – BMX Qualifying

3 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Men’s Soccer – Semifinal

Gymnastics – Gala

5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Quarterfinal (LIVE)

7:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Gymnastics – Gala

Women’s Wrestling – Freestyle Gold Medal Finals

Men’s Boxing – Welter Gold Medal Final

Women’s Boxing – Elimination Matches

9 p.m. – 11 p.m.

Women’s Beach Volleyball – Bronze Medal (LIVE)

Men’s Basketball – Quarterfinal (LIVE)

11 p.m. – Midnight

Men’s Table Tennis – Team Gold Medal Final

Taekwondo – Gold Medal Finals

MSNBC

11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Women’s Field Hockey – Semifinal (LIVE)

1 p.m. – 2 p.m.

Women’s Wrestling – Qualifying

Men’s Handball – Quarterfinal

2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Gymnastics – Gala (LIVE)

3:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Men’s Handball – Quarterfinal

Sailing – Gold Medal Finals

USA

9 a.m. – 10 a.m.

Men’s Badminton – Singles Quarterfinal

10 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

Men’s Basketball – Quarterfinal (LIVE)

11:45 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Women’s Water Polo – Semifinal (LIVE)

Men’s Badminton – Singles Quarterfinal

1:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Quarterfinal (LIVE)

3:15 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Men’s Badminton – Singles Quarterfinal

Men’s Table Tennis – Team Bronze Medal

Taekwondo – Quarterfinals and Semifinals

CNBC

5 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Men’s Volleyball – Quarterfinal (LIVE)

Women’s Field Hockey – Semifinal

GOLF CHANNEL

5 a.m. – 6:30 a.m.

Golf Central Live From the Olympics

6:30 a.m. – 9 a.m.

Women’s Golf – 1st Round (LIVE)

9 a.m. – Noon

Women’s Golf – 1st Round (LIVE)

Noon – 3 p.m.

Women’s Golf – 1st Round (LIVE)

3 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Golf Central Live From the Olympics

11 p.m. – 5 a.m.

Women’s Golf – 1st Round Encore

BASKETBALL SPECIALTY CHANNEL

10 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

Men’s Basketball – Quarterfinal #1 (LIVE)

11:45 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Quarterfinal #1 Encore

1:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Quarterfinal #2 (LIVE)

3:15 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Quarterfinal #2 Encore

5 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Quarterfinal #2 Encore

5:45 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Quarterfinal #3 (LIVE)

7:30 p.m. – 9:15 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Quarterfinal #3 Encore

9:15 p.m. – 11 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Quarterfinal #4 (LIVE)

11 p.m. – Midnight

Men’s Basketball – Quarterfinal #4 Encore

SOCCER SPECIALTY CHANNEL

Noon – 2 p.m.

Men’s Soccer – Semifinal #1 (LIVE)

2 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Men’s Soccer – Semifinal #1 Encore

3 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Men’s Soccer – Semifinal #2 (LIVE)

5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Men’s Soccer – Semifinal #1 Encore

6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Men’s Soccer – Semifinal #2 Encore

8 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Men’s Soccer – Semifinal #1 Encore

9:30 p.m. – 11 p.m.

Men’s Soccer – Semifinal #2 Encore

11 p.m. – Midnight

Men’s Soccer – Match of the Day

TELEMUNDO

3 a.m. – 5 a.m.

Late Night Encore

10:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.

News Recap

Men’s Soccer – Semifinal

Athletics

2 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Boxing

Men’s Soccer – Semifinal

Midnight – 2 a.m.

TBA

NBC UNIVERSO

6 a.m. – 8 a.m.

Late Night Encore

5 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Volleyball

Basketball

Boxing

 

 

 

THURSDAY, AUGUST 18 (DAY 13)

NBC

10 a.m. – Noon

Track & Field (LIVE)

               Men’s 400m Hurdles – Gold Medal Final

Canoe/Kayak – Sprint Gold Medal Finals

Noon – 2 p.m.

Women’s Volleyball – Semifinal (LIVE)

2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Women’s Diving – Platform Semifinal

Men’s Cycling – BMX Quarterfinals

3:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Men’s Water Polo – Semifinal (LIVE)

Synchronized Swimming – Team Qualifying

8 p.m. – Midnight

Track & Field – Gold Medal Finals (LIVE)

               Men’s Shot Put

               Women’s Javelin

               Men’s 1500m Decathlon

               Women’s 400m Hurdles

               Men’s 200m

Women’s Diving – Platform Gold Medal Final

Men’s Beach Volleyball – Gold Medal Final (LIVE)

12:35 a.m. – 1:35 a.m.

Men’s Beach Volleyball – Medal Round

1:35 a.m. – 4:30 a.m.

Primetime Encore

NBCSN

2 a.m. – 6 a.m.

Primetime Encore

6 a.m. – 7 a.m.

NBC Late Night Encore

8 a.m. – 11:20 a.m.

Canoe/Kayak – Sprint Gold Medal Finals (LIVE)

Track & Field (LIVE)

               Men’s 400m Hurdles – Gold Medal Final

11:20 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Men’s Water Polo – Semifinal (LIVE)

Women’s Wrestling – Freestyle Qualifying

Men’s Field Hockey – Bronze Medal

2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Women’s Basketball – Semifinal (LIVE)

4 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Women’s Wrestling – Freestyle Gold Medal Finals (LIVE)

6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Women’s Basketball – Semifinal (LIVE)

8 p.m. – 9:45 p.m.

Men’s Boxing – Light Heavy Gold Medal Final

Men’s Beach Volleyball – Bronze Medal (LIVE)

9:45 p.m. – Midnight

Women’s Volleyball – Semifinal (LIVE)

Taekwondo – Gold Medal Finals

MSNBC

2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Sailing – Gold Medal Finals

Women’s Handball – Semifinal (LIVE)

USA

10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Men’s Triathlon (LIVE)

Women’s Badminton – Doubles Gold Medal Final

CNBC

5 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Taekwondo – Quarterfinals and Semifinals

Modern Pentathlon – Fencing

6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Men’s Field Hockey – Gold Medal Final

GOLF CHANNEL

5 a.m. – 6:30 a.m.

Golf Central Live From the Olympics

6:30 a.m. – 9 a.m.

Women’s Golf – 2nd Round (LIVE)

9 a.m. – Noon

Women’s Golf – 2nd Round (LIVE)

Noon – 3 p.m.

Women’s Golf – 2nd Round (LIVE)

3 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Golf Central Live From the Olympics

11 p.m. – 4 a.m.

Women’s Golf – 2nd Round Encore

BASKETBALL SPECIALTY CHANNEL

2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Women’s Basketball – Semifinal #1 (LIVE)

4 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Women’s Basketball – Semifinal #1 Encore

6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Women’s Basketball – Semifinal #2 (LIVE)

8 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Women’s Basketball – Semifinal #2 Encore

10 p.m. – Midnight

Women’s Basketball – Semifinal #1 Encore

Midnight – 2 a.m.

Women’s Basketball – Semifinal #2 Encore

TELEMUNDO

3 a.m. – 5 a.m.

Late Night Encore

10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

News Recap

Synchronized Swimming

1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Athletics

Beach Volleyball

Midnight – 2 a.m.

TBA

NBC UNIVERSO

6 a.m. – 8 a.m.

Late Night Encore

4 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Volleyball

Boxing

 

 

FRIDAY, AUGUST 19 (DAY 14)

NBC

10 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.

Equestrian – Individual Jumping Gold Medal Final (LIVE)

Canoe/Kayak – Sprint Semifinals

Synchronized Swimming – Team Gold Medal Final (LIVE)

12:10 p.m. – 2 p.m.

Men’s Volleyball – Semifinal (LIVE)

2 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.

Cycling – BMX Gold Medal Finals (LIVE)

Women’s Water Polo – Gold Medal Final (LIVE)

3:45 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Equestrian – Individual Jumping Gold Medal Final

Rhythmic Gymnastics – Individual Qualifying

8 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.

Track & Field – Gold Medal Finals (LIVE)

               Women’s Pole Vault

               Men’s Hammer

               Women’s 5000m

               Women’s 4x100m Relay

               Men’s 4x100m Relay

Men’s Diving – Platform Qualifying

11:35 p.m. – 12:35 a.m.

Canoe/Kayak – Sprint Semifinals

12:35 a.m. – 3 a.m.

Primetime Encore

NBCSN

2 a.m. – 6 a.m.

Primetime Encore

6 a.m. – 7 a.m.

NBC Late Night Encore

7 a.m. – 11 a.m.

Men’s Track & Field – 50k Walk Gold Medal Final (LIVE)

11 a.m. – 2:15 p.m.

Men’s Wrestling – Freestyle Qualifying (LIVE)

Taekwondo – Qualifying

Rhythmic Gymnastics – Individual Qualifying

2:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Semifinal (LIVE)

4:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Women’s Soccer – Gold Medal Final (LIVE)

7:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Men’s Handball – Semifinal (LIVE)

9 p.m. – Midnight

Men’s Volleyball – Semifinal (LIVE)

Women’s Modern Pentathlon

Boxing – Semifinal

Taekwondo – Gold Medal Finals

MSNBC

11 a.m. – Noon

Women’s Badminton – Singles Gold Medal Final

Noon – 2 p.m.

Women’s Soccer – Bronze Medal (LIVE)

2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Women’s Modern Pentathlon

Men’s Handball – Semifinal (LIVE)

4 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Women’s Field Hockey – Gold Medal Final (LIVE)

USA

9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Men’s Badminton – Singles Semifinal

Women’s Water Polo – Bronze Medal (LIVE)

11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Women’s Field Hockey – Bronze Medal (LIVE)

Men’s Badminton – Singles Semifinal

CNBC

5 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Men’s Wrestling – Freestyle Gold Medal Finals (LIVE)

6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Semifinal (LIVE)

GOLF CHANNEL

5 a.m. – 6:30 a.m.

Golf Central Live From the Olympics

6:30 a.m. – 9 a.m.

Women’s Golf – 3rd Round (LIVE)

9 a.m. – Noon

Women’s Golf – 3rd Round (LIVE)

Noon – 3 p.m.

Women’s Golf – 3rd Round (LIVE)

3 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Golf Central Live From the Olympics

11 p.m. – 4 a.m.

Women’s Golf – 3rd Round Encore

BASKETBALL SPECIALTY CHANNEL

2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Semifinal #1 (LIVE)

4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Semifinal #1 Encore

6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Semifinal #2 (LIVE)

8 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Semifinal #2 Encore

10 p.m. – Midnight

Men’s Basketball – Semifinal #1 Encore

Midnight – 2 a.m.

Men’s Basketball – Semifinal #2 Encore

SOCCER SPECIALTY CHANNEL

Noon – 2 p.m.

Women’s Soccer – Bronze Medal (LIVE)

2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Women’s Soccer – Bronze Medal Encore

4:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Women’s Soccer – Gold Medal Final (LIVE)

Women’s Soccer Medal Ceremony (LIVE)

7 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Women’s Soccer – Gold Medal Final Encore

Women’s Soccer Medal Ceremony Encore

9:30 p.m. – Midnight

Women’s Soccer – Gold Medal Final Encore

Women’s Soccer Medal Ceremony Encore

TELEMUNDO

3 a.m. – 5 a.m.

Late Night Encore

10:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.

News Recap

Synchronized Swimming

Athletics

2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Beach Volleyball

Boxing

4 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Women’ Soccer – Gold Medal Final (LIVE)

Women’s Soccer Medal Ceremony

Midnight – 2 a.m.

TBA

NBC UNIVERSO

6 a.m. – 8 a.m.

Late Night Encore

4 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Women’s Soccer – Gold Medal Final (LIVE)

Basketball

7 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Semifinal (LIVE)

 

 

 

SATURDAY, AUGUST 20 (DAY 15)

NBC

10 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Women’s Triathlon – Gold Medal Final (LIVE)

12:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Canoe/Kayak – Sprint Gold Medal Finals

Men’s Diving – 10m Platform Semifinal

Women’s Golf – Final Round (LIVE)

2:30 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.

Women’s Basketball – Gold Medal Final (LIVE)

4:45 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Men’s Water Polo – Gold Medal Final (LIVE)

8 p.m. – Midnight

Track & Field – Gold Medal Finals (LIVE)

               Women’s High Jump

Men’s Javelin

Men’s 1500m

Women’s 800m

Men’s 5000m

Women 4x400m Relay

Men 4x400m Relay

Women’s Volleyball – Gold Medal Final (LIVE)

Men’s Diving – 10m Platform Gold Medal Final

12:30 a.m. – 1:30 a.m.

Rhythmic Gymnastics – Individual All-Around Gold Medal Final

1:30 a.m. – 5 a.m.

Primetime Encore

NBCSN

2 a.m. – 6 a.m.

Primetime Encore

6 a.m. – 7 a.m.

NBC Late Night Encore

Noon – 2 p.m.

Men’s Soccer – Bronze Medal (LIVE)

2 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Men’s Wrestling – Freestyle Qualifying

Women’s Cycling – Mountain Bike Gold Medal Final

4:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Men’s Soccer – Gold Medal Final (LIVE)

MSNBC

Noon – 2:30 p.m.

Women’s Volleyball – Bronze Medal (LIVE)

Men’s Badminton – Bronze Medal

2:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Women’s Handball – Gold Medal Final (LIVE)

USA

9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Rhythmic Gymnastics – Group Qualifications (LIVE)

10:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Women’s Basketball – Bronze Medal (LIVE)

12:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.

Men’s Water Polo – Bronze Medal (LIVE)

Women’s Handball – Bronze Medal

2:15 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Rhythmic Gymnastics – Individual All-Around Gold Medal Final (LIVE)

Men’s Badminton – Singles Gold Medal Final

8 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Boxing – Gold Medal Finals

Men’s Wrestling – Freestyle Gold Medal Finals

10 p.m. – Midnight

Men’s Modern Pentathlon

Taekwondo – Gold Medal Finals

GOLF CHANNEL

5 a.m. – 6:30 a.m.

Golf Central Live From the Olympics

6:30 a.m. – 9 a.m.

Women’s Golf – Final Round (LIVE)

9 a.m. – Noon

Women’s Golf – Final Round (LIVE)

Noon – 3 p.m.

Women’s Golf – Final Round (LIVE)

3 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Golf Central Live From the Olympics

11 p.m. – 4 a.m.

Women’s Golf – Final Round Encore

BASKETBALL SPECIALTY CHANNEL

10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Women’s Basketball – Bronze Medal (LIVE)

12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Women’s Basketball – Bronze Medal Encore

2:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Women’s Basketball – Gold Medal Final (LIVE)

5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Women’s Basketball – Gold Medal Final Encore

7:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Women’s Basketball – Gold Medal Final Encore

SOCCER SPECIALTY CHANNEL

Noon – 2 p.m.

Men’s Soccer – Bronze Medal (LIVE)

2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Men’s Soccer – Bronze Medal Encore

4:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Men’s Soccer – Gold Medal Final (LIVE)

Men’s Soccer – Medal Ceremony (LIVE)

7 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Men’s Soccer – Gold Medal Final Encore

Men’s Soccer – Medal Ceremony Encore

9:30 p.m. – Midnight

Men’s Soccer – Gold Medal Final Encore

Men’s Soccer – Medal Ceremony Encore

TELEMUNDO

3 a.m. – 5 a.m.

Late Night Encore

11 a.m. – Noon

New Recap

Noon – 3:30 p.m.

Men’s Soccer – Bronze Medal (LIVE)

Boxing – Gold Medal Finals

3:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Men’s Soccer – Gold Medal Final (LIVE)

Medal Ceremony

Midnight – 2 a.m.

TBA

NBC UNIVERSO

6 a.m. – 8 a.m.

Late Night Encore

 

 

 

SUNDAY, AUGUST 21 (DAY 16)

NBC

8 a.m. – 11 a.m.

Men’s Track & Field – Marathon (LIVE)

11 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Rhythmic Gymnastics – Group Gold Medal Final

12:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.

Men’s Volleyball – Gold Medal Final (LIVE)

2:15 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Gold Medal Final (LIVE)

7 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Rio Gold

8 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.

Closing Ceremony

11:35 p.m. – 3 a.m.

Primetime Encore

NBCSN

2 a.m. – 6 a.m.

Primetime Encore

6 a.m. – 7 a.m.

NBC Late Night Encore

10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Bronze Medal (LIVE)

12;30 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Men’s Wrestling – Freestyle Gold Medal Finals

Boxing – Gold Medal Finals (LIVE)

USA

8 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Men’s Volleyball – Bronze Medal (LIVE)

10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Men’s Handball – Bronze Medal (LIVE)

11:30 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.

Men’s Cycling – Mountain Bike Gold Medal Final (LIVE)

1:15 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Men’s Handball – Gold Medal Final (LIVE)

BASKETBALL SPECIALTY CHANNEL

10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Bronze Medal (LIVE)

12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Bronze Medal Encore

2:45 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Gold Medal Final (LIVE)

5:15 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Gold Medal Final Encore

TELEMUNDO

3 a.m. – 5 a.m.

Late Night Encore

Noon – 3 p.m.

Men’s Volleyball – Gold Medal Finals

3 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Men’s Basketball – Gold Medal Final

12 a.m. – 2 a.m.

TBA

NBC UNIVERSO

6 a.m. – 8 a.m.

Late Night Encore

 

August 14, 2016

4 p.m. Sunday: Fallout on Stanton's season-ending injury and A-Rod to be considered; Local coaches, prospects thrilled with Richt & UM staff after changes to recruiting; Marlins/A-Rod; Heat/Bosh; Dolphins

4 p.m. update: Don Mattingly said moments ago that Giancarlo Stanton will miss the remainder of the season with a serious injury (a grade 3 groin strain), delivering a blow to the Marlins' hopes of ending MLB's second-longest postseason drought. (Mike Hill didn't rule out the possibility of Stanton returning at the very end of the season.)

A-Rod is now more of a possibility for the Marlins (more on that in a minute).

This latest Stanton injury reminded me of a conversation I had with a top Marlins executive during the winter.

I asked the question: Did you worry about Stanton's durability issues, or spend much time discussing that concern, before (in November 2014) giving him the largest contract in baseball history (13 year, $325 million). The Marlins official gave me a quick and unequivocal no.

But here's the bottom line: In six full seasons, Stanton has played in more than 123 games only twice. His final number of games for the past five seasons: 123, 116, 145, 74 and 103.

And there's this: After being a relative bargain at $6.5 million last season and $9 million this season, Stanton's salary jumps to $14.5 million next season, then $25 million in 2018 and $26 million in 2019 and $26 million in 2020, after which he can opt out of his contract.

But if he doesn't opt out, his salary for the eight years that follow are mind-blowing: $29 million, $29 million, $32 million, $32 million, $32 million, $29 million, $25 million and $25 million (with a $10 million buyout for that final season).

With one of MLB's lowest payrolls, the Marlins ultimately will not be able to afford spending that much IF Stanton can't stay healthy. 

Stanton finishes 2016 with a .244 average (a career low), plus 25 homers and 70 RBI.

Nothing comes easily for this franchise, and this blow is simply the latest.

At least the Marlins are fortunate to have a consummate pro like Ichiro available as a fourth outfielder (and now their third outfielder), but this means fewer days off for Christian Yelich and struggling Marcell Ozuna. And for all Stanton's struggles this season, his bat will sorely be missed in the middle of the lineup, especially with Justin Bour out until September.

Marlins executive Michael Hill told reporters minutes ago that he will give consideration to signing Alex Rodriguez, something (which we mention below) has been discussed internally in recent days. If A-Rod plays first, that would free others (Derek Dietrich, Chris Johnson) to play some outfield.

 

SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN

 

Local high school coaches and prospects are raving about Mark Richt and his staff and the changes they’ve made in UM’s approach with South Florida recruiting. And the efforts have paid off, with the recent addition of several local prospects, including four-star Columbus cornerback Trajan Bandy.

“They are doing a terrific job sending the right coaches after the kids they’re recruiting,” said Booker T. Washington coach Tim Harris, who was on Al Golden’s UM staff. “It’s a matter of time before they are going to be able to keep all the kids in South Florida that they want. Coach Richt’s record speaks for itself in terms of the character and integrity that he has and walking into a household with families that can trust he is going to take care of their son.”

Plantation American Heritage coach and former Dolphins cornerback Patrick Surtain put it this way: “The guy won at Georgia and guys respect that. He has a plan and guys want to follow that plan. He’s getting recruits that in past years were going to Florida State and Florida; he’s getting those kids to stay home. He’s bringing an SEC mentality, getting big up front on the lines. The skill guys will [always] come.”

Local coaches cite a few changes that Richt has made from Golden.

For starters, “I see the coaches around much more than the previous staff,” Fort Lauderdale Dillard coach Lorenzo Davis said. “And they come in droves, the maximum you can bring at a time – at least three.”

Central’s Navaughn Donaldson, a UM oral commitment rated the nation’s No. 4 guard and 80th best prospect by Rivals, committed to UM when Golden was coach but said the new staff “is more aggressive, more into it. They do things different. They want me coming out to the U, to spend time with the team. That makes me feel [wanted]. I like it.”

Miami Southridge coach Billy Rolle praised Richt for his novel idea of making regular appearances at youth football leagues in local parks, cultivating future relationships.  “I haven’t seen a coach do that,” Rolle said. “I don’t even do that! Everyone was impressed.”

Another change: Richt held five seven-on-seven camps on campus this summer. Golden had only one (in 2015), none before.

“Their summer camp set up is more advantageous to the kids [than the previous one],” Columbus coach Chris Merritt said. “The past staff had different philosophies with the camps but I like the idea of not traveling all over the entire state to go to 7 on 7 competitions when I can go down to Coral Gables a couple of times during the summer.

Richt's recent Paradise Camp for high school prospects, which lured star assistant coaches (Ray Lewis, Michael Irvin, among others) “was impressive,” Dillard’s Davis said. “You had guys who played at the highest level of football.”

What’s more, Dillard high-end defensive line prospects Jon Ford (Rivals’ No. 22 strongside defensive end who is orally committed to UM) and Jordan Wright (who’s strongly considering UM) are convinced that the new staff’s defensive philosophy will get UM better defensive linemen.

When the previous staff recruited Ford, he said he wasn’t interested because “the defensive scheme wasn’t my type, just sitting on the line and reading [and reacting]. I like to get to the quarterback as soon as possible and make a play in the backfield. I like their [new] attacking style; no waiting. I see a big change coming into Miami; I just know Miami will be the Miami it used to be.”

Bottom line, Central coach Roland Smith said, is Richt and his staff are “doing a phenomenal job, starting out on the right foot. He comes across as truthful. You can tell when you talk to him he’s a spiritual guy and guy who’s trustworthy.”

• Donaldson said there’s a better “than 70 percent” chance he will stick with UM, though UF and FSU are pushing hard.

CHATTER

• Though Don Mattingly said he isn't aware of any discussion of the Marlins signing Alex Rodriguez, the Marlins front office has indeed tossed around the idea, according to someone with direct knowledge. (FanRag's Jon Heyman reported likewise.)

Marlins players apparently wouldn’t object. David Phelps, who played with Rodriguez in New York, said people have a perception of A-Rod and “they don’t see the guy he is behind the scenes, in the clubhouse, helping guys develop.”

Corner infielder Chris Johnson, whose playing time could be affected if Rodriguez joins the Marlins, said he would be fine with it. “We have a club that would welcome anyone that would help us win a game. If he helps, let’s do it.”

• According to Andy Slater this morning, the Marlins are placing Giancarlo Stanton (groin) and Adam Conley (hand) on the disabled list and bringing up Robert Andino. They're also bringing up reliever Hunter Cirvenka. Stanton injured himself in the ninth inning of the Marlins' loss Saturday.

[UPDATE: MATTINGLY SAID AFTER THE GAME THAT STANTON WILL MISS THE REST OF THE SEASON].

• In his letter to fans last week, Heat owner Micky Arison included Chris Bosh in discussing this year’s team. And the latest is that the Heat is cautiously optimistic that he will play this season, though nothing is yet certain.

• The Dolphins’ Dallas Thomas, one of South Florida’s most criticized athletes the past few years, struggled again Friday. But he says he fully expects to be a starter again this season. 

Laremy Tunsil has been backing him up at left guard but is expected to emerge as the starter there. That would leave Thomas, Billy Turner and Jermon Bushrod competing at right guard.

“I didn’t come in to come off the bench,” Thomas said.

Does he want to prove his critics wrong? Thomas said he didn’t have the slightest idea fans criticize him because “I’m not even on social media so I don’t see nothing, I don’t hear nothing. Social media gives people balls to say things they wouldn't say to your face.  I feel like I’m doing good.”

Pro Football Focus ranked Thomas 80th of 81 qualifying guards last season, but Dolphins coaches have liked his work this summer UNTIL he allowed too much penetration against the Giants.

Thomas began Sunday's practice with the starters at left guard, despite Friday's struggles. But Tunsil later got some first-team work, with Thomas flipping to right guard.

• Richt recently surprised every former Hurricanes player in the NFL by mailing them “swag bags.” Brandon Harris, who said Al Golden did something similar, got his quickly, the day after he signed with the Dolphins.

Dolphins rookie receiver Rashawn Scott said “it was a great eye-opener when he sent that because it wasn’t just a little bit of stuff. It was a lot of clothes, seven, eight pieces – shorts, long sleeves, jackets. I know everybody appreciates that and has mad love for the school.”

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

August 12, 2016

Adam Gase's postgame thoughts, Tannehill's views, and 20 notes, thoughts, numbers and nuggets from the Dolphins' preseason opener

Twenty notes and thoughts from the Dolphins’ 27-10 preseason win against the New York Giants:

• Adam Gase's thoughts, afterward: "On offense, we once again, 2nd and 3, run the ball, get called for holding [Ja'Wuan James was the culprit]. And we're third and long. Not ideal for us.... It's part of the process. Couple drives. We need to get better from it. We can't have the penalty. That just kills us. We need to get in third and manage-ables. We didn't get that with the ones.... I'll watch [tonight's tape of Ryan Tannehill] on the flight home. I don't know how much of an opportunity he had to really kind of do anything."...

On Jakeem Grant: "I've been waiting for that since we drafted him, to get him out in space and see what he can do."... On Matt Moore's interception: "That surprised me, very unusual from what I've seen running that play in practice. I felt it loosened him up."...  On Laremy Tunsil: "It was great we got him a ton of reps. It's harder in practice because it's not real. This is our best evaluation."... On Brandon Doughty: "He never looks like he's in any kind of duress -- just calm. Never seems like he's got any kind of panic in his face."...

Gase said: "I loved the fact [the backups] came out great energy, flying around the field."... On Bobby McCain: "He kind of got thrown out there last minute and got a good rhythm, playing tight coverage."... Byron Maxwell didn't play because "he couldn't get loosened up. It was smart not taking a chance, make sure he's ready to go when we start the season."... He said "it was good to see both" Daniel Thomas and Isaiah Pead run well.

• As I asked on Twitter, if the Dolphins first need an offensive line that will keep Ryan Tannehill clean before we can fairly evaluate him, how many decades must we wait for that?

There are no more excuses for this offensive line, the fifth-highest paid in football.

Tannehill threw four passes in two series and was heavily pressured on three of them, with Dallas Thomas (the starter at left guard) allowing himself to be pushed back on a 3rd and 9, and Jordan Cameron and Branden Albert providing no resistance on Olivier Vernon on another third down, forcing Tannehill to throw the ball prematurely. And the aforementioned James penalty wiped out a first-down run.

Dolphins coaches believe Thomas has been superior to Tunsil entering tonight, but it’s clearly time to insert the rookie and let him get most or all of first-team snaps before his regular-season indoctrination in Seattle. Tunsil came off the bench and played into the fourth quarter tonight.

“He’s going to be a 10-year player for us,” Mike Tannenbaum said on the WFOR-4 broadcast.

At times during practice the past two weeks, Tannehill held onto the ball too long. But few quarterbacks could have done anything with the lack of time he was given tonight.

Tannehill left after completing two of the four passes for eight yards, with Miami failing to get a first down in either of his series.

"We didn't move the ball like we wanted to," Tannehill said. "Frustrating. Limited sample size there. But there were some good things we did well. Some things we need to clean up as soon as possible. Definitely some things to build on. We're not coming to any conclusions or jumping to anything to assume what we are. It's just another step in the process. Nothing to stress, nothing to worry about.... You've got to be able to protect the quarterback, get the ball in the playmakers' hands. It's all part of the formula to great offense."

How did having audible power feel tonight? "It felt good," he said. "Didn't have many checks at the line, maybe a couple. Guys were confident in what we were doing. They made a couple of plays on us up front and forced us to get the ball out quickly. You have to give credit to them. We had Jay [Ajayi] in the flat and weren't able to make that play."

• Positives? Start with electrifying jitterbug Jakeem Grant, who might give Miami the type of explosive presence this team badly needs. (DeVante Parker, who has the potential to be a high-impact presence, sat out, with the team cautious about his recent hamstring injury.)

Grant was the delightful story of the night: He caught four passes for 68 yards, returned two kickoffs for 53 yards and had four punt returns for 60 yards. Grant never returned a punt at Texas Tech (only kickoffs).

This was dynamic, folks.

The only negative: He injured a rib and missed the fourth quarter.

"I wanted to show my teammates they could rely on me," Grant said. "I wanted to prove to them I'm a receiver, too. I'm anything you want me to be. Wherever coach puts me, I'm going to try to shine as much as I can. Once I got the first [punt return] out of the way, I started to get my groove. Speed has always been part of my ability. All I have to do is slow the game down."

Tannehill: "He's going to help us a lot in special teams and we see what he can do at receiver in practice. We will keep developing there."

Mike Tannenbaum mentioned how Grant winning the return jobs would ease the load on Jarvis Landry. Grant is the heavy front-runner after tonight

“He has a high floor and an even higher ceiling working him into the offense,” Tannenbaum said.

There were several impressive plays by the Dolphins’ young defensive backs. Walt Aikens, who is much improved, had a quarterback strip, forcing a fumble that Spencer Paysinger recovered.

Bobby McCain made a scintillating interception on a deep throw, and had another pass deflection.

Lafayette Pitts, who started four years at Pittsburgh but went undrafted, made a nifty deflection that fellow undrafted rookie AJ Hendy intercepted. Former Hurricane Brandon Harris, trying to revive his career after missing last season with a torn ACL, made a nice play in coverage.

Isaiah Pead, competing with Damian Williams and Daniel Thomas, ran with purpose to start the second half, closing with 50 yards on 10 carries. “I’m really happy how well he’s playing,” Tannenbaum said.

And Leonte Carroo used his excellent hands to make a difficult catch, from Moore, by the sideline.

As Mel Kiper told me this summer, "The thing with Carroo is he’s thick and a tough guy. He is like smaller power forward like Charles Barkley who can muscle you around. When it looks like he’s covered, he’s not because he shields defenders very well and has vertical stretch ability. I am not going to say he’s Anquan Boldin but he’s a good player.”

• Granted, Miami sat its starting defensive line, Reshad Jones and its best cornerback, Byron Maxwell. But the poor tackling early on was disconcerting.

Isa Abdul Quddus was faked out on a 15-yard run and Kiko Alonso missed a tackle on the Giants’ TD run on their first drive. James Michael Johnson, Alonso’s backup, missed a tackle later.

• Foolish penalties were also hurtful – a Jordan Phillips hand to the face, a Chris McCain offsides that negated a negative play for the Giants on a high snap. McCain redeemed himself later with a sack and a tackle for loss. He sustained an elbow injury during the game.

• The Dolphins hope Xavien Howard is healthy enough to start the opener, and Tony Lippett didn’t exactly instill confidence tonight. He allowed an easy release inside to Jeremy Davis and was beaten on a 26-yard passing play. Unless Lippett is very good over the next three weeks, a strong case could be made to let McCain play on the boundary opposite Byron Maxwell, and Michael Thomas in the slot, until Howard is healthy and can become a starter.

• The Dolphins didn’t get a first down until tight end Dominique Jones caught a 19-yard pas from Matt Moore midway through the second quarter. But Jones dropped an easy pass later.

• The Dolphins’ second-team o-line featured starting right guard Billy Turner at right tackle, but he whiffed badly on a sack during his stint tonight at tackle. Anthony Steen, not Jamil Douglas, was the backup center. Ulrick Jean, at tackle, was beaten a couple times and allowed a sack. Matt Moore was sacked three times operating behind backup linemen, including Tunsil.

• With the Dolphins resting their starting defensive ends, Terrence Fede started ahead of Chris McCain and made one terrific play, forcing a tackle for loss.

• Tannenbaum said of the preseason offense: “We’re going to be very bland and basic. We might have missed some blocks. There are some things we have to clean up but there were some positives.”

• Asked about cornerback, Tannenbaum said: “We wanted to get longer at corner. A lot of big receivers in our division with Eric Decker, Brandon Marshall, Sammy Watkins,… Byron Maxwell, Xavien Howard, Chris Culliver, Tony Lippett… are long.” He mentioned Howard’s injury, then said: “By opening day, we’ll feel better about it.”

• Tannenbaum said he hopes Kenyan Drake returns next week from a hamstring injury… Julius Warmsley left with a concussion; he has been disruptive defensively at times in camp and had two sacks tonight… Aikens and Chris McCain had Miami’s other sacks.

• Andrew Franks hit a 49-yard field goal and has missed only two in 35-plus attempts since camp start… Marshall Koehn, facing an uphill climb to unseat Franks, hit from 27 yards.

• Brandon Doughty entered seven minutes into the third quarter and finished 7 for 9 for 66 yards. “Good, not great arm strength, high completion percentage,” Tannenbaum said. “Processes information quickly.”

• Matt Moore finished 10 for 14 for 122 yards, his numbers helped by the Matt Hazel 50-yard TD pass off an AJ Cruz deflection.

• Linebacker Mike Hull helped his chances a bit tonight with seven tackles and a stout third-down stop.

• Zac Dysert finished the game at quarterback and threw a touchdown to rookie seventh-rounder Thomas Duarte, whose receiving skills intrigue this staff.

• Running back numbers, beyond the aforementioned Pead: Jay Ajayi 2 for 6, Damien Williams 7 for 13 and Daniel Thomas 10 for 40.

• We mentioned during the offseason that the Dolphins told free agent defensive ends that it wanted to move Cam Wake, ideally, into a designated pass rusher role. So we found it interesting that Dolphins employee Nat Moore, on the broadcast tonight, said he expects Jason Jones to start at defensive end, opposite Mario Williams, with Wake playing off the bench.

• For a lot more Dolphins nuggets from earlier today, plus Heat news and 10 newsy items from UM football practice today, please click here.... And please follow me on Twitter (@flasportsbuzz).

• And finally tonight, the Dolphins' receiving numbers:

Jakeem Grant 4 68 17.0 0 24 5
Matt Hazel 1 51 51.0 1 51 1
Dominique Jones 2 25 12.5 0 20 3
Leonte Carroo 3 18 6.0 0 8 3
Thomas Duarte 1 16 16.0 1 16 2
Damien Williams 1 10 10.0 0 10 1
A.J. Cruz 2 9 4.5 0 5 3
Kenny Stills 1 7 7.0 0 7 1
Daniel Thomas 2 7 3.5 0 4 3
Dion Sims 1 3 3.0 0 3 2
Jarvis Landry 1 1 1.0 0 1 1
Jay Ajayi 0 0 0.0 0 0 2
Isaiah Pead 1 -3 -3.0 0 -3 1
TEAM 20 212 10.6 2 51 28