August 29, 2016

Monday Dolphins report: McCain traded; Updated position-by-position look at roster battles; Lots of personnel notes

6 p.m. update: The Dolphins have traded defensive end Chris McCain to the Saints. Miami received a conditional seventh-round pick in return, according to a source.

Signed originally as an undrafted free agent out of California, McCain had seven tackles and two sacks in 18 games over two seasons for the Dolphins. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said recently that McCain had proven himself as a pass-rusher but still needed to improve against the run. 


Except for their specialists in the kicking game, the Dolphins face difficult decisions at every position when rosters must be cut from 75 to 53 on Saturday.

And though these are group decisions, the final say ultimately goes to coach Adam Gase, who the team says has final say on the 53-man roster.

The Dolphins stand at 78 players, with three more cuts required by 4 p.m. Tuesday and 22 more on Saturday.

Assessing the tough calls at each position:

• Running back: A week ago, it looked like Kenyan Drake could begin the season on short-term injured reserve, with Isaiah Pead on the 53. Now, that could be reversed, with Pead potentially beginning the season on short-term IR with a hamstring injury expected to sideline him at least two weeks.

Pead said he’s unsure of a timetable. Short-term IR requires missing eight games.

If Miami keeps Pead on the active roster, that likely would mean cutting Damien Williams – who has value on special teams and as a receiver out of the backfield – because the Dolphins likely won’t keep more than four backs, and Arian Foster, Jay Ajayi and Drake are in good position for three of those spots. So placing Pead on short-term IR makes some sense.

The Dolphins also could cut Pead if they believe they will be able to re-sign him when he’s healthy. Drake, meanwhile, said he’s fully recovered from his hamstring injury and will play Thursday against Tennessee.

• Receiver: It was telling that Griff Whalen got some snaps in four-receiver sets with the first team against Atlanta. He also has handled that No. 4 receiver job recently in practice.

So Whalen potentially stands to make the team as sixth receiver if the Dolphins decide that he’s better equipped to be their fourth receiver, for now, than third-round pick Leonte Carroo or returner Jakeem Grant. That would necessitate Miami keeping six receivers. Former UM receiver Rashawn Scott is a candidate for the practice squad.

• Tight end: The Dolphins could scan the waiver wire for a No. 3 tight end behind Jordan Cameron and Dion Sims. None of the remaining candidates – MarQueis Gray, Dominique Jones and Thomas Duarte – has won a job. Jones has six catches for 72 yards but also has two drops.

• Offensive line: Beyond the five players who started the Cowboys game, Dallas Thomas, Billy Turner and backup center Anthony Steen are well positioned to win three backup jobs, leaving potentially one opening among Kraig Urbik, Sam Young, Jamil Douglas and Ulrick John. Young and John are better equipped to play left tackle than Urbik, but Urbik and Douglas (a long shot) can play center.

• Quarterback: A couple of weeks ago, there was some sentiment to keeping Brandon Doughty as a third quarterback. But Doughty now faces an uphill climb.

Zac Dysert (10-15, 117 yards, 112.4 rating in preseason) is now receiving consideration, too, and that's only if Miami keeps three quarterbacks, which they might deem to be unfeasible. Doughty (12-16, 87 yards, 87.2 rating) could land on the practice squad.

No. 2 quarterback Matt Moore returned to practice from a concussion on Monday.

• Defensive line: Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph suggest he expects the team to keep nine. Seven of them would be Cam Wake, Mario Williams, Ndamukong Suh, Earl Mitchell, Jordan Phillips, Jason Jones and likely Andre Branch. Terrence Fede said his sprained MCL is the least serious among MCL injuries and expects to be able to play within a couple of weeks.

So Fede, emerging tackle Julius Warmsley and former Patriots defensive tackle Chris Jones are essentially competing for two jobs. Warmsley (three sacks in preseason) has been the most impressive of the four in games.

• Linebacker: With Jelani Jenkins’ status for the opener in doubt because of knee surgery, the Dolphins could begin the season with seven, though six seems more likely longterm. Beyond starters Jenkins, Kiko Alonso and Koa Misi, two other jobs appear likely to go to Spencer Paysinger (Gase spoke this week of how valuable he is because he can play any linebacker position) and Neville Hewitt.

That likely leaves the final spot (if Miami keeps sixth) for Mike Hull (team-leading 16 tackles in preseason), James-Michael Johnson or any one of dozens of linebackers who will be on waivers this weekend.

• Defensive backs: If the Dolphins keep nine, there’s likely one job open behind cornerbacks Byron Maxwell, Xavien Howard, Tony Lippett, Bobby McCain and safeties Reshad Jones, Isa Abdul-Quddus, Michael Thomas (can also play a cornerback-type nickel role) and Walt Aikens (good special teams value).

The Dolphins could fill that position with a player who will be cut by another team this week. If not, internal options include Chimdi Chekwa (has played in 32 NFL games but missed the past three preseason games with a hamstring injury), former Ravens and Patriots corner Rashaan Melvin, sixth-round corner Jordan Lucas, undrafted rookie corner Lafayette Pitts and safeties Shamiel Gary and A.J. Hendy. Chekwa might be the best option in that group.


Coach Adam Gase said Thursday that quarterback snaps during Thursday’s fourth and final preseason game against Tennessee will be split pretty evenly between Zac Dysert and rookie seventh-round pick Brandon Doughty.

“I want to give them a fair shot to compete,” Gase said. “If for some reason, Zac has a heavy play amount in the first half, maybe Doughty goes in early.”

Gase said against the Titans, he won’t play backup Matt Moore, who returned to practice after being a sidelined more than a week with a concussion. He also said Ryan Tannehill is unlikely to play.

Dysert played ahead of Doughty against Atlanta last Thursday and completed six of seven passes for 57 yards.

“The other day was a huge step for him,” Gase said. “He did a really good job of running our offense, getting first downs. The whole week, he had a different mentality. And he played like he practiced.”

•  Gase said he had no immediate update on left guard Laremy Tunsil and receivers DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills, who left practice for undisclosed reasons. Stills left the practice facility, holding his back, after coming up lame when running a route. His back locked up but he's fine. Tunsil should be fine, too. Unlike Tunsil and Stills, Parker stayed to watch the remainder of practice.

• Linebacker Zach Vigil, who played a lot early last season, is expected to begin the season on PUP as he recovers from a back injury. The Dolphins are hopeful he will be ready to play as soon as he’s eligible to come off PUP after six weeks of the regular-season, or very soon after that.

• Linebacker Jelani Jenkins, coming off knee surgery, declined to say if he believes he will be ready for the Sept. 11 opener at Seattle. Spencer Paysinger and Neville Hewitt are filling at weakside linebacker in his place.

• Besides Jenkins, others who missed practice included defensive linemen Ndamukong Suh (ankle; not considered serious); Earl Mitchell (calf), Terrence Fede (knee), Dion Jordan (knee); linebackers Vigil and James-Michael Johnson (thigh), center Mike Pouncey (hip); running backs Isaiah Pead (hamstring) and Damien Williams (ill) and cornerback Chris Culliver (knee).

Jordan and Culliver won’t be required to take up spots on the 53-man roster when the season starts.

• Longtime NFL tackle Jermon Bushrod, playing guard for the first time in his career, continues to work with the starters at right guard and said he’s feeling increasingly comfortable there but isn’t at the point where he’s convinced that he will be a quality NFL guard.

But Gase said “right guard been a little inconsistent. We have some really good snaps and then some snaps that’s not good enough. He said it’s possible multiple players could be rotated at the position.”

• Kicker Andrew Franks found out he had won the kicker job when his grandmother texted him on Saturday that undrafted rookie Marshall Koehn had been cut. Special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi made it official Sunday, telling him congratulations.

Franks shanked a 37-yard field goal against Atlanta but said that including practice, he believes he has missed only four field goals in more than 50 attempts since practice began in late July. “I will miss a kick; I’m human,” he said. “I got it out of the way.”

• Regarding Jakeem Grant’s work on returns, Gase said: “He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s done it well. We’re not looking for just a specialist. We want guy who can do returns and contribute on offense. He’s making strides. It’s tough when you come from completely different system. He hit that wall and is starting to make those steps up.”

• Suh, asked about 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand for the national anthem, said: “You’ve got to respect the man’s opinion as well as his actions. I definitely understand where he’s coming from and him choosing to do what he did. A lot of [us have a duty] as leaders, especially with young kids, to make a good, proper announcement if you feel the need to. I think that’s what [Kaepernick] is doing.” Kaepernick cited “police brutality” as one reason for not standing for the anthem.

• Paysinger said the Dolphins began looking at Seahawks film on Monday in preparation for the opener.

• If you missed our inside look at changes made from Al Golden to Mark Richt, through the eyes of Joel Rodriguez (who worked for both), please click here.... And please follow me on Twitter, where I reported a lot of news on Chris Bosh and all of our teams today (@flasportsbuzz)

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

August 28, 2016

Joel Rodriguez with a unique perspective, lots of interesting things to say on state of UM program; Marlins inexplicably lose fans while winning more


Former UM standout offensive lineman Joel Rodriguez sees the Hurricanes through a unique lens: He’s the only member of the UM football program who played on an elite Canes team (2000-2004, including a national title team) and worked under both Al Golden and Mark Richt.

Now UM’s director of player development, Rodriguez –-- initially hired by Golden 14 months ago --– offered some interesting perspective on the state of the program in an extended conversation at a UM community service hosptial event earlier this summer:

• The hope, of course, is to be a top 25 program this season. But how far is UM from being a top-10 caliber team?

“I think we’re not far at all,” Rodriguez said before Al Quadin Muhammad and Jermaine Grace were dismissed from the team. “The frontline talent on this roster is without question top 10 worthy.”

But in terms of having depth to field a national championship caliber team, “we’re probably still a couple years away... When Miami has been at its best historically, which is early 2000s or mid to the early 1990s, you had incoming freshmen and redshirt freshmen and true sophomores that were backups that were just an opportunity away from being first-round draft picks. Sean Taylor and Vince Wilfork were backups on the ’01 team. Frank Gore was a backup.

“Are we that deep where we have backups like that? You would probably say no, and a big reason is we don’t have [the maximum] 85 scholarships [until next year]. Where you are missing five to seven scholarships, if you’re recruiting well, that’s probably two or three first-round draft picks.

“The limitations on scholarships and the remnants of that are still hurting the depth of the program a little bit. But all it takes is one or two recruiting cycles and all of a sudden you’re back where you want to be. But the frontline talent here is pretty good.”

No team in college football is going to measure up with UM’s loaded teams to start the century, and UM’s certainly doesn’t even before losing AQM and Grace (my words).

But in comparing rosters before this weekend's dismissals, Rodriguez said: “If you do a side by side comparison of the last national championship team in 2001, to this one at the start of the spring game, this team might be bigger. I don’t think there’s much speed deficiency [this team compared to that one].

“From a physical talent standpoint, I would take Brad Kaaya and I love Kenny [Dorsey]. Kaaya is physically more talented, has a chance to be one of the best, or the best, to ever play here. The advantage Kenny had is he played in the same system for a long time.

“Kaaya has got everything you would want in your franchise quarterback. He’s got all the physical talent to make all the throws. He’s got natural leadership ability and he’s got equity now where he’s made some big plays in some big games and taken some big shots and guys respect him naturally.

“He has the mentality of being humble and hungry. He still works as if he were a freshman fresh off the plane. He’s the first one in the meeting room, last one out. He’s grabbing coach Richt, saying, ‘How about this or that?’ He’s providing different ideas. We’re lucky to have him.”

As for comparing other positions to great UM teams…

Jermaine Grace [now gone] might be the fastest linebacker to ever play at Miami. He’s a sub 4.5 guy. Shaq [Quarterman], Mike [Pinckney] and Zach [McCloud] had great springs. We’re not going to anoint a midyear freshman as the next Jon Vilma or DJ Williams. We’re not doing that anytime soon. But do they have the talent to do that? The ability to do that? Absolutely.”

Rodriguez likens Stacy Coley with Andre Johnson in terms of both being “phenomenal talents,” though Coley has a ways to go to be a top-10 pick or anything close to Johnson.

There’s still seemingly a sizable gap in talent on this defensive line between this UM team and the great ones (my words, not Joel’s), but Rodriguez insists there are players in this group who can be every bit as good as past UM greats.

“[Defensive line coach] Kool [Craig Kuligowski] has a record of producing nothing but defensive forces wherever he’s been,” Rodriguez said.  “Chad Thomas is super talented. When he’s on, he’s as big and long as you want. Extremely fluid, hell of an athlete. He’s smart. Plus, the change in defense, putting those guys with their hands down on the edges and letting them go, playing their gap in the backfield as opposed to playing it at the line of scrimmage, is going to help.

“Those guys probably aren’t as big as you would want to take on a lot of double teams and how we’re aligning them helps not get double teamed. That will help those guys a little bit.”

But what about the defensive tackles? Rodriguez said in Richard McIntosh, Kendrick Norton, Gerald Willis, Anthony Moten and Courtel Jenkins, “we have five guys that can really play. A dominant interior defensive lineman can affect the game more than anyone on the field except the quarterback. Those guys have the ability to be that guy and they’ve done it in spurts in practice. Now the question is can they do it 40 plus times a game.”

There’s clearly no Bryant McKinnie on this offensive line. But Rodriguez said Danny Isidora and Alex Gall “have the ability to play in the NFL” and that Trevor Darling and Nick Linder “absolutely” can be high-end linemen.

• Rodriguez, who played for Butch Davis and Larry Coker and worked for several coaches including Golden, Ed Orgeron and Houston Nutt, says Richt “is the best I’ve been around [and by this, he means worked for] in terms of being able to balance the coolness and the calmness and being approachable. But when the hammer has to drop, he’s not afraid to say, ‘This is how we’re going to do it. You didn’t do it this way, and so this is the consequence for it.’

“He doesn’t do it in a yelling, screaming in your face, demeaning way. He’s been very demanding on our players especially, but he’s not the least bit demeaning.

“In terms of the layering of detail in teaching and the work environment he has created in terms of being a soothing, calming, empowering presence but also being the boss, he’s the best I’ve ever been around in terms of being able to balance that.

“There are some guys who are like, ‘I’m the boss,’ and super alpha-doggish and they’re almost unapproachable. Other guys are quote, unquote player coaches where they show up to work when they want to work with no set schedule. Those guys tend to lose their teams a little bit. He’s the best I’ve been around of juggling the two.

“He has created a very positive work environment for the other coaches, the rest of the staff. It has become an empowered work environment, to where like, ‘This is your job. I don’t need to know all the details. Just want you to do it and do it the right way, do it with excellence. And if you do it, I am going to give you an 'attaboy' but I’m not going to micromanage.’

“He’s got enough irons in the fire being the head coach, the lead fundraiser, the offensive coordinator, helping coach the quarterbacks, raising money for the indoor facility, speaking to community groups, speaking to the media, being at 7 on 7 camps. He has done a great job of delegating because he has to, and bringing in quality employees and truly trusting them to do their jobs. Obviously, I’m biased because I’m on staff here.”

Rodriguez says Richt “doesn’t want to hire you to look over your shoulder. I doubt he has walked into a d-staff meeting and said, ‘Hey Manny [Diaz], you’ve got to run this coverage.’ I can almost guarantee you he hasn’t done that because he hired Manny Diaz to run the defense, hired Stacy Searels to coach the o-line.

“That has been a very positive work environment on the second floor and that permeates to the locker-room. The players see when you’re in the office early with a smile on your face. Coach Richt is different from any head coach I’ve worked for in terms of poise. Nothing seems to frazzle him. He’s definitely cool. If he wasn’t a football coach, he’d probably be a great poker player.”

• What about Richt as a teacher? “I sat there in the offensive staff room one day and listened to him go on for about 25 minutes just on center/quarterback exchange, both from the shotgun and under center,” Rodriguez said.

“In terms of coaching points, hand placement, what does it sound like and where should the quarterback’s eyes be and where should the center’s eyes be. When somebody could put that much detail into something as minute as the snap, which usually is one of the most undercoached things being a former center myself, imagine what he could do talking about concepts in the passing game.”

• Rodriguez said one big difference in the program’s transition from Golden to Richt “has been more manpower. We have five full time guys who work with football [in the weight room] and an army of interns. As opposed to having three or four coaches coaching 20 guys, and kind of trying to watch all 20 guys, [new strength coach] Gus Felder literally breaks it down to this guy has these two players.

“Recruiting now is a four-person operation as opposed to a two-person operation. We have a director of recruiting, Matt [Doherty]. He truly is the head coach of the recruiting operations. Don Corzine is truly our operations head coach, summer camps, travel, hotel. We have an army of interns in recruiting and operations. Those guys fill the gaps.

“Overall, more manpower, and this has been the trend in the SEC. I’m sure when [Richt] came here, he said this is what we need. Thank God [athletic director] Blake [James] and [deputy director of athletics] Jenn Strawley and the administration have said yes to a lot of things.”

• Another thing Rodriguez has noticed in the move from Andreu Swasey to Felder: “Essentially, it’s working to fatigue. As opposed to saying we’re going to do five sets of five, we are going to do five sets of four and the fifth one will be into fatigue. You might get 20, you might get three.

“What it’s doing is forcing guys to get to the point where they physically can’t push any more. It may not be the same physical movement they are going to do in the fourth quarter or on play 14 of a drive, but it’s trying to instill that mindset to where you always have more than you think in the tank.

“[Felder] has staff meetings at 5:15 in the morning before the first guys come in and they go over in detail what the workout is, what are the coaching points. It’s awesome. I was fortunate to play for Swasey for five years, so I’m not knocking him at all. It’s just different, much more of let’s create a great student/teacher ratio mentality and use all these interns and all this help we have.

“Same with Kyle Bellamy [who this offseason became UM’s first football-only nutritionist].  He has two [staffers] that work under him. One guy can’t do everything. While Gus and his crew are crushing guys in the weight room and really getting after it, Kyle and his crew are in the back in the garage making smoothies and shakes and fruit kabobs. Some of them are individual to [specific players]. It’s awesome.”

• If you missed it, here is a look at Mel Kiper's assessment of the UM program and thoughts on Kaaya possibly moving to the top of the draft.

• Marlins manager Don Mattingly said he’s expecting a mid-September return from Justin Bour, out since July 2 with a severe high ankle sprain, but Bour – who says he’s now pain free – says he has no target date….

The way David Phelps generally has pitched since returning to the rotation, “you have to look at him as a starter” longterm, Mattingly said. “The only thing you don’t know is what innings will do to him.”

• The Marlins believed winning would help attendance, but do you know how many more fans the Marlins are averaging from 2015 (when they went 71-91) to this year (when they’re in wild-card contention)? None. In fact, they've lost 123 fans per game, on average! (From 21,632 to 21,509, after the weekend).

“There’s a lot to do in Miami, so it doesn’t surprise me too much,” catcher JT Realmuto said.

• Losing two of three to San Diego, and losing four of six on this homestand, was hurtful in Miami's pursuit of a playoff spot. They're 1 1/2 games behind St. Louis and one behind Pittsburgh for the second wild card berth.

• The Marlins will be at Tim Tebow's audition. Click here for more, plus weekend Heat news.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

August 27, 2016

Kiper sees Kaaya potentially rising to top of draft; Eye-opening Tannehill number; Dragic without Wade; Whiteside; Mattingly/Marlins-Tebow




Once dubbed Quarterback U, the University of Miami hasn’t had a quarterback drafted in the first round since Vinny Testaverde (main draft) in 1987 and Steve Walsh (supplemental draft) in 1989. More surprisingly, UM hasn’t had a quarterback selected before the seventh round since Craig Erickson was taken in the fourth in 1992.

That’s very likely to change. ESPN’s Mel Kiper not only ranks Kaaya the 13th-best prospect among players who will be draft-eligible in April, but also tells me he could see Kaaya rising to the first or second pick overall next April. If that’s the case, it would be awfully tempting for Kaaya to turn pro, though he’s not in great need financially. Kaaya, mature and sensible, has made clear he won’t speculate on the issue because it would be a disservice to teammates.

“Kaaya could be this year’s Jared Goff; no reason he can’t be,” said Kiper, referring to the former California quarterback who was selected first overall by the Rams in April. “You look at where Kaaya is in August, I have him in the middle of the top 25. No reason he can’t jump to 1 or 2. The way he can throw it, there’s a lot of Goff there. I was conservative in my ranking. Some may have Kaaya higher.

“There’s nothing Kaaya is lacking. The kid can make every throw you want. Good head on his shoulders. He has that it factor. He’s a natural. If he can put together the year he’s capable,” then going in the top five becomes very realistic.

One scout told me Kaaya still has to prove he can throw with defenders in his face. What else does he need to prove?

“The consistency week to week,” Kiper said. “The defense has to improve a lot. You don’t want to get into a situation like Clemson last year, where [Clemson] scores four or five touchdowns and [Miami] can’t make a play. You have to give this kid a fighting chance. He has weapons around him. He has got the receivers. Stacy Coley has enormous talent.”

NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah said: “Kaaya is very smooth and has plenty of arm talent. I'll be looking for him to show more poise under pressure this fall. If he can clean that up, he will take his game to a new level. He also needs to work on connecting his feet to his eyes. He quickly works through progressions with his eyes but sometimes his feet fail to catch up, which causes some balls to sail.

“His deep-ball accuracy is another area that needs improvement. It will be interesting to see how he functions in Mark Richt's system. I see some similarities to Jared Goff and Teddy Bridgewater. They share similar physical builds and arm talent, but I thought Goff and Bridgewater performed better under duress. [Kaaya] is at his best on quick-rhythm throws. The ball comes out quickly and accurately. He isn't much of a threat as a runner but he will occasionally escape and buy time.”

• Among UM’s other prospects who will be draft-eligible, Kiper said Coley “flashed early of being a star, and I want to see him step forward. He has a chance to emerge. Corn Elder has a decent grades. Elder showed he can be a decent corner. [Center] Nick Linder will be a future standout.”

Kiper said Al-Quadin Muhammad had a "decent" grade, but not a first round grade, before he was dismissed from the UM team on Saturday. Muhammad, a redshirt junior, has college eligibility remaining.

A UM source said safety Rayshawn Jenkins also has been attracting interest from scouts in the past month.

• Where has the talent in the UM program diminished over the past decade?

“Front seven on defense,” Kiper said. “That has been their staple, going back to the great defensive tackles and pass rushers, the middle linebacker brigade. It was like Linebacker U and defensive tackle U --- one after another. They had it all; that’s what allowed the defensive backs to have great success. They still have [quality] DBs but just haven’t produced the front seven players.”

• Kiper, on Richt: “Richt recruits very well. He is a pleasure to be around, classy, considerate, respectful. Players love playing for him. Nobody is not going to like Mark Richt. Nobody can have a bad word to say about him.  He is a Miami guy. Pays attention to detail, gets a good staff around him.

“You are getting a guy with great recruiting ability, very good offensive mind. He has run a top level SEC program under enormous pressure. They were never going to be satisfied at Georgia unless won a national title. He’s not Nick Saban. He’s in that next level.”

• According to a UM official, this staff not only believed last year’s team was not mentally or physically tough enough, but also wanted to eradicate a sense of entitlement among players. As one player said, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz likes to tell his players: “If you can’t do this [a particular skill], you can’t play.”

• For a look at how UM replaces AQM and Jermaine Grace (both dismissed from the team today) and the two reasons why they were dismissed, please click here.


• It’s time to put to rest criticism of Ryan Tannehill’s deep ball, and not because of the long throw to Kenny Stills against Dallas. Consider: says Tannehill was accurate on 54.4 percent of 68 passes thrown at least 20 yards in the air last season, which includes well-thrown balls that were dropped. That was tied with Tyrod Taylor for fourth-best in the NFL behind Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck and Cam Newton.

“He can throw a deep ball fine and it will definitely improve,” Dolphins quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree said.

And on all passes, Tannehill lost 717 yards last season (second behind only Newton) on catchable passes that weren’t caught. And that doesn’t even include potential yards after catch.

• Biggest surprise of camp pushing for a roster spot? Defensive lineman Julius Warmsley, who entered the weekend tied for the NFL preseason lead in sacks (three).

• Click here for a look at where the Dolphins' draft class stands with a week left in preseason.

• The Heat will expect Goran Dragic to be more assertive offensively without Dwyane Wade.

So how did Dragic play without Wade?

Since joining the Heat, Dragic has averaged 14.8 points and 5.7 assists and shot 48.3 percent overall.

In the eight games he played without Wade, he produced bigger numbers (17.6 points, 6.6 assists) but shot worse (43.2 percent).

Erik Spoelstra, who likes to strengthen relationships with his players during the summer, is visiting Dragic in Slovenia this weekend. And Spoelstra said on a Heat video released Friday that he wants to accommodate Dragic's preferred style of play.

"It only makes sense for us to maximize Goran's strengths, and Hassan [Whiteside's] strengths, Justise Winslow's strengths," Spoelstra said. "Their strengths are their speed, their athleticism. Goran is one of the best fast-break, transition point guards in this game. He will force tempo regardless of how you want to play or how you want to defend. Goran is going to run....

"You don't find many players that can attack, that can play fast, that can make other players better in that type of game. And he's relentless in getting to the rim. And Goran is that kind of player. And I think young players gravitate to Goran. They want to play that style."

 • Whiteside, who finds fuel in snubs, has another: The NBA released video of the 50 best blocks last season and not a single Whiteside block was among them, even though his 3.7 blocks per game were the NBA’s highest since Theo Ratliff in 2000-01.

When asked about that by a fan on Twitter, Whiteside said: “The NBA never gave me much love” and that most blocks “go out of bounds and give the team the ball back. Guess that's cooler.”

• Though the Heat is capped out, the Panthers have $9.8 million in cap space (perhaps to use on an in-season trade) after Thursday’s Dave Bolland deal with Arizona.

▪ The Marlins plan to attend former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow’s workout for teams Tuesday in Los Angeles, according to a source. The Marlins have a scout based close to where the workout is being held and are merely doing due diligence.

Tebow, 29, was an all-state baseball player as a junior in high school before winning two national championships with the Florida Gators.

Tebow, who hasn’t played baseball in more than 10 years, was drafted by the Denver Broncos and last played in the NFL for the New York Jets in 2012. He has been working as a TV analyst for ESPN in recent years.

More than 20 teams reportedly will attend the workout. Tebow’s representation said he has been training for an opportunity to audition for MLB teams and insist this is not a publicity stunt.

• Don Mattingly entered August with 18 consecutive winning months (14 with the Dodgers, four with the Marlins) – which is third-longest among managers since 1946 - and his hiring has been an unquestioned success, regardless of whether Miami makes the playoffs. The Marlins entered this weekend's series 9-13 in August.
“This,” he said in a quiet moment, “has been one of the most enjoyable years of my career, trying to get these young guys to another level. And it has been really good for my life, getting back on the East Coast.” That’s partly because his wife, who has children, spends some time in Indiana during the season.

Mattingly, thoroughly respected in the clubhouse, said he never fretted about two issues that concern some others: “I never worried about the payroll here; that was part of the enticement. I saw a club with a lot of young players that could buy time through the system where you don’t have to go buy position players for the next couple of years....

"I heard a lot of Jeffrey [Loria] type stuff but I wasn’t concerned. I like working for him. He wants to win. A lot like [deceased former Yankees owner George] Steinbrenner like that.”

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

August 26, 2016

UM's top two defensive players removed from team; Assessing Dolphins rookie draft class with week to go in preseason

UM kicked its arguably its top two defensive players, defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad and linebacker Jermaine Grace, off the team today for their role in a luxury car rental scandal.

According to a source, UM determined Muhammad and Grace were given luxury car rentals by South Beach Exotic Rentals in exchange for the company receiving a stake in their professional futures.

Both players were informed today.

UM did not offer specifics on their violations, but released this statement:

"The University of Miami announced today that red-shirt junior Al-Quadin Muhammad and senior Jermaine Grace have been permanently dismissed from the Hurricanes football program for violating NCAA rules.  The University will, however, continue their financial aid through graduation.  The decision was made in consultation with outside counsel and after discussions with the NCAA enforcement staff.  As no staff members or boosters were involved in the violations, the program will not be subject to sanctions and, at this time, the University deems this matter closed."

Besides breaking NCAA rules, a source familiar with the case said Muhammad and Grace were not honest with UM about their wrongdoings or their interaction with the South Beach Exotic Rentals. 

If they had been more truthful with UM, the discipline likely would have been less severe, according to someone with knowledge of the situation.

Linebacker Juwon Young was also implicated in the car rental scandal and was thrown off the team recently. He has enrolled at Marshall.

UM also had investigated receiver Stacy Coley in the matter, but he will not be punished unless new information surfaces. UM considers the matter closed, at this point.

The news was shocking to other players, one of whom said they were expecting only short suspensions.

In Muhammad, UM loses its best pass rusher and its top defensive pro prospect. He likely will be replaced by Demetrius Jackson or Trent Harris. Jackson has done a good job rushing the passer in practices in all month, according to a UM person who was watched practice. And Manny Diaz has praised Harris on multiple occasions.

Muhammad's loss leaves UM without a fourth experienced defensive end behind Chad Thomas, Jackson and Harris.

That fourth defensive end role likely will be filled by freshmen Pat Bethel or Joseph Jackson. Scott Patchan continues to recover from a torn ACL.

"Our mentality is we’re getting all those guys ready to play,” Diaz said on Friday of the fourth defensive end job. “As far as Pat and Joe, we are getting them game ready. They’ve got to get in, got to get snaps. Both those guys have flashed. Both have skills in terms of against the run and the pass…. Will the moment be too big for them? That’s the hard part for freshmen.”

Grace, UM's most experienced linebacker and best linebacker in pass coverage, likely will be replaced by freshman Zach McCloud or Charles Perry.

With freshman Mike Pinckney competing with Jamie Gordinier for the weakside linebacker job, and freshman Shaq Quarterman in line to start at middle linebacker, it's possible UM could start three natural freshmen at linebacker.

 “Zach is a runner and hitter, he might be as hard a hitter as anyone we have maybe on the whole defense. He’s learning the discipline of playing linebacker … but because he’s tough we’ll always have place for him,” said Diaz of McCloud.

“He knows he’s one of our big bangers on our defense. We just have to make sure he’s hitting the right guy. It can’t be ‘ready, fire, aim.’”

Diaz said Perry “has the athleticism to play out there. The battle [for each of them] has been learning in the new scheme. The tiebreaker is going to be physicality and toughness. Right now that’s where Zach [is ahead].”

There will also be a lot of times that UM will play with two linebackers and five defensive backs.



• Before we get to a look at this Dolphins rookie draft class, a quick injury update: Though there was no announcement, we're told starting linebacker Jelani Jenkins required a clean-up procedure on his knee. Meanwhile, defensive lineman Terrence Fede was diagnosed with a sprained MCL.

It's unclear how long either will be out.

Chris McCain's shoulder injury isn't serious; it is believed to be a contusion. The Dolphins' next media availability is Sunday and they didn't announce any roster cuts today. Rosters must be sliced from 90 to 75 by Tuesday.



The Dolphins’ 2016 draft class already has netted them a very likely immediate starter at left guard in Laremy Tunsil, a potentially explosive returner in Jakeem Grant and possibly a soon-to-be starter at cornerback, if Xavien Howard displays enough off knee surgery to leap over Tony Lippett on the depth chart.

But questions swirl around the remainder of the eight-player draft class, with quarterback Brandon Doughty, tight end Thomas Duarte and cornerback Jordan Lucas fighting simply to make the roster, and receiver Leonte Carroo and running back Kenyan Drake trying to simply get on the field.

First, the good news: Tunsil started for the second consecutive game at left guard on Thursday and performed capably, especially in pass protection. In 90 snaps this preseason, Tunsil hasn’t allowed a sack or quarterback pressure. His run blocking still needs work, but the Dolphins like what they’ve seen.

“I thought he was arguably the best player in the draft,” NBC’s Cris Collinsworth said during Thursday’s broadcast.

Even though Howard has missed all three preseason games after June knee surgery, the Dolphins are ready to escalate his workload this week and believe he can contribute a lot in September, potentially as a starter if he can beat out Lippett, who has struggled at times.

“I wouldn't say he's far behind mentally because he's dialed in to what we're doing,” coach Adam Gase said last week . “For the most part, he's playing one-on-one coverage a lot of the times. That's his strength and I'm sure the more we've talked about it with [defensive coordinator] Vance [Joseph], we're going to try to lean on his strength of just matching him up with somebody and letting him go."

What the Dolphins like about Howard, Gase said, is “the fact that he gets his hands on a lot of balls and then when he does get both hands up to make a play on the ball, he usually catches it.”

Grant, meanwhile, appears close to winning the return jobs. He’s averaging 25.5 yards on four kickoff returns and 12.2 yards on seven punt returns. Less clear is how much the Dolphins plan to use him on offense.

He caught four passes for 68 yards in the opener but wasn’t targeted at all the past two games. In fact, Grant played only one offensive snap against Dallas and five against Atlanta, surprising considering the fact offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said recently that “every practice we’ve put him in, he’s made something happen.”

Grant said he wasn’t given a reason he has played so little on offense, and Gase was vague when asked whether he doesn’t want to show other teams how they plan to use him.

“I would like to play on offense and continue to prove I'm a great receiver,” Grant said.

After drafting Carroo in the third round, 86th overall, the Dolphins hoped he would seize their No. 4 receiver job, and he still might.

He showed flashes in the offseason program, with Matt Moore remarking in June that Carroo has “been great to throw to, strong hands, understands the offense for a young guy.”

But he has four catches for 23 yards in preseason and played only eight snaps against Atlanta –-- fewer than roster long shots Rashawn Scott (18) and AJ Cruz (12).

Carroo said it’s very important to him to win the No. 4 receiver job but he knows he needs to work on “little details” with route-running and wants to “come off the ball a lot faster.”

Drake, selected 73rd overall, has missed all three preseason games with a hamstring injury and stands no better than fifth on the depth chart. He seems unlikely to play much early in the season, and the only question is whether Miami stashes him on short-term injured reserve, which would mean missing eight regular-season games. Drake strongly opposes that idea.

“They are giving me everything pretty slowly, just trying to make sure I’m as healthy as possible going into the season,” he said. "I don't necessarily have to be in the backfield to make a play. With (Alabama offensive coordinator Lane) Kiffin, he allowed me to go into their offensive meeting rooms and then go out with the receivers and learn formations. I can see the field and have a broader, wide range of how to understand the offense as a whole."

Durability is the biggest concern with Drake, considering he had  seven injuries at Alabama and already has injured his hamstring twice with Miami. But the Dolphins like the skill set:

“The speed and quickness jumps out at you,” running backs coach Danny Barrett said. “His ability to catch the football, coming out of the backfield or lining up in space shows up naturally as well for him. He will be a special teams demon as well.”

Meanwhile, Lucas and Duarte appear to be facing uphill climbs to make the roster.

Duarte, curiously, played just two offensive snaps against Atlanta.

Duarte is a skilled pass catcher --- he has one TD catch in preseason --- but said he didn't do any in-line blocking at UCLA, and Dolphins coaches have said the adjustment to blocking remains a work in progress.

Lucas has played better at times recently, but to win the fifth corner job, he would need to outplay several veterans on the bubble on Thursday against Tennessee and convince the Dolphins he’s a better option than the dozens of cornerbacks who will be placed on waivers on Labor Day weekend.

As for Doughty, the Dolphins must decide whether to keep him on the 53-man roster or risk stashing him on the practice squad, where any team could claim him.

Doughty is 12 for 16 for 87 yards in preseason, and “as far as his accuracy, it’s great,” quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree said.

But Hardegree said recently that the Dolphins want Doughty and the other quarterbacks to do “everything… faster.”

When asked about Grant recently, offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen injected Doughty into the discussion, making the point that “those two guys aren’t very pretty. They both have an ability to run the wrong route and convert a third down or make a wrong read and we get a completion. That’s a good ability to have, but again, we have to fine tune it and corral it.”

• For some UM football notes from earlier today, and lots and lots of postscripts from Dolphins-Falcons last night, please click here.

And please follow me on Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

August 25, 2016

Noon Friday nuggets from UM football practice; Postscripts, notes, thoughts, stats from Dolphins' 17-6 win against Atlanta

Nuggets from Friday’s UM practice:

• Adrian Colbert said he’s splitting first-team snaps with Sheldrick Redwine, and that corner spot opposite Corn Elder remains unresolved, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said.

“It’s still back and forth,” Diaz said. “I don’t think we want to make a call on that because we don’t want the competition to end. That’s something we continue to evaluate every day. We need all those guys to play. As far as who’s out there first, it’s really undecided. Overall, you would consider their camps as being positive.

“They play a position where there’s just such little margin for error. A guy like Colbert, you can tell his age and experience, and the urgency of knowing this is my last go-around. A guy like Redwine, who we really like. All of a sudden, we hold him to a standard [of] an older guy, but we remind ourselves he’s only been here for a year. We need them both to have a chance."

• One concern is defensive end depth, especially if Al Quadin Muhammad is suspended. Such a scenario would leave only four game-experienced ends: Chad Thomas, Trent Harris and Demetrius Jackson.

With Scott Patchan still recovering from an ACL tear, that would leave freshmen Pat Bethel and Joseph Jackson potentially needing to play as a fourth end (if AQM is suspended) or fifth end otherwise.

“Our mentality is we’re getting all those guys ready to play,” Diaz said. “As far as Pat and Joe, we are getting them game ready. They’ve got to get in, got to get snaps. Both those guys have flashed. Both have skills in terms of against the run and the pass…. Will the moment be too big for them? That’s the hard part for freshmen.”

• Richt, by the way, declined to confirm any of the suspensions, which could include Sam Bruce, Gerald Willis and rental-car investigation subjects AQM, Jermaine Grace, and Stacy Coley.

“I'll tell you all if I want to tell you all about that,” Richt said. “I'm not going to give any information about that."

• Jamie Gordinier said he’s getting a lot of the first-team weakside linebacker snaps, with Mike Pinckney also competing to start there. Gordinier said he very much wants to start. “We have not made a decision with those two guys,” Diaz said.

• Zach McCloud, backing up Jermaine Grace at strongside linebacker, “may be as hard a hitter as we have on the whole defense,” Diaz said.

• UM’s defense allowed only 2.09 yards per rush in the scrimmage, but Diaz wanted more tackles for loss.

• Diaz said of the fourth safety battle: “We’ve been pleased by the development of Robert Knowles. We were pleased to see the plays Romeo Finley made yesterday [two interceptions]. But in terms of handling what offenses are throwing at you,… we need those guys to be game ready.”

• Richt, on the state of his team: "I think we're physically tough. I don't know if we're 100 percent mentally tough enough, through every bit of adversity, including yesterday, being behind or the smoking hot heat or guys that maybe have been a little bit under the weather. We're like, 'Hey, if it's game day, would you play?' 'Yeah.' 'Well then you practice.' Guys kind of fighting through a little bit of stomach issues or whatever it is, when they just don't feel great. You have to learn to fight through that mentally.

"For the most part, we're light years from where we were, but we still have a ways to go there. I told them we're not game ready yet. If we were game ready, we wouldn't have had four turnovers yesterday. If we were game ready, we wouldn't have had a targeting foul. If we were game ready, we wouldn't have a personal foul hands to the face of the quarterback. We wouldn't have given up a bomb to the scout team. If we were game-ready. We have to understand that we're not in a holding pattern. We're trying to get better."



Notes, stats and thoughts after the Dolphins’ 17-6 preseason win against Atlanta in Orlando:

• Yes, the pass rush wasn’t great and there were a few breakdowns by Miami’s young cornerbacks. But overall, this defensive effort was very encouraging.

Koa Misi was impactful and disruptive, serving up the type of performance that endeared him to the former staff. Ndamukong Suh made a great stop on a fourth-down run and anchored a run defense that was far, far better than a week ago. Kiko Alonso was usually around the ball and applied pressure on a blitz.

Byron Maxwell had a nifty pass breakup on that Alonso blitz and made two key tackles that prevented first downs. Cam Wake, in his preseason debut, got good heat on the quarterback in limited snaps.

Reshad Jones, the team’s biggest ball-hawk, made a nifty interception at the goal line. Jelani Jenkins, who left with an ankle injury, did a great job defending a screen pass. Michael Thomas did good work covering Julio Jones in one first half sequence, then forced a fumble early in the third quarter.

Most significantly, the Dolphins held Atlanta’s first-team offense to 116 yards, 10 yards rushing (on seven carries) and three points in the first half. This defense needed this type of performance against an offense with some good weapons.

The Dolphins defense held Matt Ryan to a 59 passer rating (12 for 22, 129 yards).

• Don’t want to nitpick about a good defensive effort, but Tony Lippett was again victimized, allowing a long gain to Julio Jones (he is hardly the first corner to be beaten on a crossing pattern by Jones) and committing a penalty against Justin Hardy. In his defense, Lippett also made a couple of decent plays in coverage.

But the conclusion exiting this game is clear: The Dolphins must hope Xavien Howard seizes a starting cornerback job early in the season, or Chris Culliver does in week seven (Culliver is expected to begin the season on PUP).

Bobby McCain also got some first-team work on the boundary and committed a pass-interference penalty against Jones, resulting in a 44-yard gain. Also Jacob Tamme beat Isa Abdul Quddus for a first down on a 3rd and 8.

• Jason Jones again started at defensive end, with Wake used off the bench.

• Ryan Tannehill threw a pick on the first series, on a ball deflected by Brooks Reed at the line of scrimmage, but was generally solid, closing 20 for 29 for 155 yards in one half of work.

And his numbers (including a 67.5 passer rating) would have been even better if Jordan Cameron had caught two catchable balls, if Jarvis Landry hadn’t dropped a ball he usually catches and if DeVante Parker had snagged another catchable pass for what should have been a 20-plus yard gain.

We liked one play when Tannehill rolled out, eschewed passing to Cameron for a three- or four-yard gain and instead threw to Dion Sims for nine yards. Tannehill also ran twice for 22 yards, including a read option play to start the game.

• Cameron’s problems continue. He dropped a pass for the second week in a row and a potential touchdown bounced off his faceguard. But he did make a good block on Arian Foster’s touchdown run.

• Foster had some good moments, including a first-half catch in which he swatted away a defender to pick up eight extra yards. But he ran for just 10 yards on five carries and Jay Ajayi wasn’t any better (7 for 11).

A lot of that had to do with poor blocking, but Ajayi so far hasn’t shown much ability to make something out of nothing. That’s disconcerting.

• Isaiah Pead got some work with the first team, as expected, and caught two passes for first downs in the first half. But his only carry (of the first half and the entire game) netted only one yard. Pead, who entered averaging seven yards per carry, then left with a hamstring injury.

Pead had 13 first-half snaps on offense, the same amount as Foster, according to Pro Football Focus. Ajayi had 19.

Damien Williams, who had one first half offensive snap, ran for 12 yards on his first carry of the game (to start the second half) and finished with 17 yards on five carries... Daniel Thomas had five carries for three yards.

• The Dolphins’ pass blocking again was considerably better than the run blocking. Laremy Tunsil and Jermon Bushrod started at guard, and though Bushrod wasn’t great as a run-blocker, he had no major breakdowns in pass protection.

Dallas Thomas worked one series with the starters in the first half, then opened the second half at right guard, with Tunsil remaining the left guard.

That meant Billy Turner, who was the first team right guard for much of training camp, didn’t get any work with the first team tonight. In fact, his first work of the night came at right tackle to begin the third quarter. Turner then moved to left guard on Miami’s second series of the second half, giving Tunsil his first rest of the night.

• Anthony Steen --- filling in for Mike Pouncey --- had one poor snap, and was beaten on a couple of running plays, but did good work in pass protection.

• Among the best developments of the night: no sacks allowed by the Dolphins.

•  Still doesn’t look like there’s a No. 3 tight end on this roster. MarQuies Gray made a terrific stop in punt coverage in the first half, then missed a tackle on the Falcons’ long kickoff return early in the second half. Didn't see much of Thomas Duarte, surprisingly.

• Jakeem Grant had an excellent punt return for 17 yards in the first half, but that was his only return of the night. Williams returned one kickoff for 15 yards.

• Suh left late in the first quarter with an ankle injury but is fine, Adam Gase said. Miami then gave some first-team snaps not only to Chris Jones (who has played a ton in preseason) but also to Julius Warmsley, who stopped one running play for a short gain, had a sack in the fourth quarter (his third of the preseason) and continued to make a surprising push for a roster spot.

In the battle for a backup defensive line job, Warmsley had a better night than Chris McCain (who left with an ankle injury) and Terence Fede (who left with a knee injury in the fourth quarter).

• Zac Dysert opened the second half and led Miami on a 42-yard scoring drive after a Falcons turnover, capped by Williams’ two-yard run. Thomas had a good block on that play. Dysert was 6 for 7 for 54 yards.

Brandon Doughty limped off after his first series but remained in the game was 3 for 4 for 14 yards.

• Final receiving numbers:








Kenny Stills







Jarvis Landry







Griff Whalen







Arian Foster







A.J. Cruz







Isaiah Pead







Jay Ajayi







Dominique Jones







Dion Sims







DeVante Parker







Jordan Cameron







Jakeem Grant







Leonte Carroo







Daniel Thomas







Damien Williams








  • Besides Warmsley, Cedric Reed had Miami’s only other sack.... Andrew Franks' shank on a 37-yard field goal to end the first half was surprising, considering he has been terrific in practice kicks all summer. Marshall Koehn, trailing Franks all summer, kicked a 45-yard field goal.


• Some interesting comments from the NBC broadcast: From Cris Collinsworth: “DeVante Parker may be the key to this team’s season.”… “I thought [Tunsil] was arguably the best player in the draft.”… “They are stunned at what a great leader Kenny Stills has turned into.”…

Tony Dungy on the Dolphins’ fast tempo: “Players are buying into it. They saw the Dallas players under duress. They’re excited about playing with a fast tempo.”

• Neville Hewitt had a good night, snuffing out a short pass and seemingly solidifying his roster chances. Mike Hull (team-high nine tackles) was again active, and Spencer Paysinger remains an asset on special teams. Overall, this was a much better night for Miami’s linebacker than the first two games. James Michael Johnson, competing for a backup middle linebacker job, didn’t play because of injury.

• Safety Shamiel Gary, who got more work with Walt Aikens sidelined by injury, forced a fumble with a big hit late in the game.

• A couple thoughts from Adam Gase: He said Steen and Tannehill "did a great job together" except for the one fumbled snap... "The run game is coming. We're starting to pop some runs here and there. I probably could have stuck with the run more in the first half, be a little more balanced. We wanted to make sure we established that tempo."

• Teams must cut from 90 to 75 players on Tuesday, then to 53 a week from Saturday.

• For a look at this season’s college football TV schedule, please click here.

• For some insight into UM’s scrimmage today, and some Dolphins and NFL media notes, please click here.

Please follow on Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

Thursday 2 p.m.: UM scrimmage insight; NFL/Dolphins media notes; College football TV schedule

UM coach Mark Richt didn't reveal a ton about today's scrimmage, but here are some details, courtesy of Richt and another UM official in attendance:

• Brad Kaaya threw the ball well, and at least one of his interceptions to Romeo Finley wasn't his fault. Finley had two picks off Kaaya, one the result of a deflection that hit a tight end in the hands. The ball bounced into the arms of Finley when the intended receiver was hit hard. 

Finley was playing the role of a FAMU safety. The scrimmage pitted UM's offense and defense against the scout team, with UM's scout team players wearing FAMU numbers in advance of Miami's Sept. 3 opener at Hard Rock Stadium.

The scout team was given a 28-0 lead by the coaching staff, with UM's offense and defense forced to rally. UM drew to within three, but couldn't make up the entire deficit partly because of the late Kaaya interception that wasn't his fault.

The other Finley interception also was deflected, according to someone in attendance. At least one of those picks went off David Njoku.

• Njoku made a couple of great catches today, including one that was SportsCenter worthy.

• Mark Walton had a long touchdown run on a screen pass in which he cut back across the field. 

Overall, UM ran the ball well today.

• Ahmmon Richards started in three-receiver sets. He dropped a pass but also had some good moments and did a good job blocking.

• Richard McIntosh and Kendrick Norton were against disruptive. They've been UM's first-team defensive tackles for three weeks.

• Jaquan Johnson continues to work in the slot in nickel packages. Adrian Colbert and Sheldrick Redwine continue their battle to start opposite Corn Elder.

• Safeties Jamal Carter and Rayshawn Jenkins administered several hard hits today. Coaches have liked how they've played all camp.

• Even with the possibility of suspensions for Stacy Coley, Al Quadin Muhammad and Jermaine Grace, that hasn't affected their playing time during scrimmages. They're still getting considerable work (with the first team, of course).

• Linebacker Jamie Gordinier, battling Mike Pinckney at weakside linebacker, continues to usually be in the right spot at the right time.

• There were too many turnovers today (four) and penalties remain an issue. We hear the scrimmage began today with a false start penalty on the offensive line. There was also a targeting call when a defensive lineman hit Kaaya.

And Richt said the ball got knocked out "at least twice."

• Malik Rosier and Vincent Testaverde, batting for the No. 2 quarterback job, did not play, according to Richt.


• Mike Tirico works tonight's Dolphins-Falcons preseason game on NBC, with Cris Collinsworth, and this was supposed to be NBC's Thursday night booth for nine November/December games.

But it won't be, because of a ridiculous decision by the NFL to force NBC to use its Sunday night booth (Al Michaels and Collinsworth) on Thursday games, as well.

NBC hired Tirico away from ESPN believing that the NFL wouldn't make an issue of Tirico working the Thursday games, because of Tirico's cache and experience calling Monday Night Football for a decade.

But the NFL said NBC was awarded the package with the understanding that it would use its lead announcing team. The NFL says it is not favoring Michaels over Tirico, and that NBC reserves the right to use whoever it wants in the booth on Sunday nights --- as long as it promises to use the same announcers on Thursday nights.

And with Michaels under contract and still on top of his game, there was no way NBC would (or should) replace Michaels with Tirico on Sunday nights.

So Tirico is left without NFL games this season, beyond two preseason games in the next four days. And Michaels, 71, who had no interest in adding to his workload with a Thursday package, is essentially forced to call the Thursday games.

Shame on the NFL for not compromising.

• CBS released its NFL announcing assignments for the first month of games, and the Dolphins have been assigned CBS' No. 2, No. 3, No. 5 and No. 1 teams. The assignments:

Dolphins-Seahawks Sept. 11: No. 2 team Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts

Dolphins-Patriots Sept. 18: No. 3 team Greg Gumbel, Trent Green

Browns-Dolphins Sept. 25: No. 5 team Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots

Dolphins-Bengals Thursday Sept. 29: No. 1 team Jim Nantz, Phil Simms (This one is airing only on NFL Network and not on CBS nationally, but CBS produces the game as part of its Thursday package during the first half of the season.)

• Jason Taylor joins Adam Kuperstein for NBC 6's Dolphins pre-game show at 7:30 tonight.

• For those who sometimes question Pro Football Focus' metrics (and we run a lot of them in this space), it's interesting to note that 24 NFL teams and 15 college teams are paying PFF for their analytics, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. Collinsworth is a part-owner in the site.

• For this season's college football TV schedule, please click our post here from a couple hours ago. This lists where and when to find all the early-season games, plus key games later in the season. The season opens Friday.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz


This season's college football TV schedule unveiled

College football season starts in less than 48 hours, and for those eager to plan their fall Saturdays (and Thursdays, and other days), here's a look at the games that have already have claimed by television networks.

Keep in mind that most games beginning Sept. 24 will be chosen by networks about two weeks in advance. And our thanks to and for this information.


Friday, Aug. 26, 2016

Matchup Time (ET) TV / Online
Cal vs. Hawaii (at Sydney, Australia) 10:00 pm ESPN / WatchESPN

Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016

Matchup Time (ET) TV / Online
Charlotte at Louisville 7:00 pm RSN / ESPN3
Maine at UConn 7:00 pm ASN / ESPN3
Presbyterian at Central Michigan 7:00 pm ESPN3
Tulane at Wake Forest 7:00 pm ESPN3
UT Martin at Cincinnati 7:00 pm ESPN3
Appalachian State at Tennessee 7:30 pm SECN / WatchESPN
Indiana at FIU 7:30 pm ESPNU / WatchESPN
William & Mary at NC State 7:30 pm ESPN3
Jackson State at UNLV 8:00 pm MWN
Rice at WKU 8:00 pm CBSSN
South Carolina at Vanderbilt 8:00 pm ESPN / WatchESPN
Southern Utah at Utah 8:00 pm Pac-12N /
Montana State at Idaho 9:00 pm ITVSN / ESPN3
Oregon State at Minnesota 9:00 pm BTN / BTN2Go
South Dakota at New Mexico 9:00 pm ROOT Sports
Weber State at Utah State 10:00 pm MWN
Friday, September 2nd
Army at Temple 6:00 pm CBSSN / CBSSN Video
Furman at Michigan State 6:00 pm BTN / BTN2Go Video
Northwestern State at Baylor 6:30 pm FSN Affiliates / FSGo Video
Colorado vs. Colorado State (Denver) 7:00 pm ESPN / WatchESPN
Kansas State at Stanford 8:00 pm FS1 / FSGo Video
Toledo at Arkansas State 8:00 pm ESPNU / WatchESPN



Matchup Time (ET) TV / Online
MVSU at Eastern Michigan 6:00 pm ESPN3
Albany at Buffalo 7:00 pm ESPN3
Army at Temple 7:00 pm CBSSN
Ball State at Georgia State 7:00 pm ASN / ESPN3
Colgate at Syracuse 7:00 pm ESPN3
Furman at Michigan State 7:00 pm BTN / BTN2Go
Northwestern State at Baylor 7:30 pm FSN / FS Go
Colorado vs. Colorado State (at Denver) 8:00 pm ESPN / WatchESPN
Kansas State at Stanford 9:00 pm FS1 / FS Go
Toledo at Arkansas State 9:00 pm ESPNU / WatchESPN
Cal Poly at Nevada 9:30 pm
Matchup Time (ET) TV / Online
Georgia Tech vs. Boston College (at Ireland) 7:30 am ESPN2 / WatchESPN
Boise State at UL Lafayette Noon ASN / ESPN3
Bowling Green at Ohio State Noon BTN / BTN2Go
EKU at Purdue Noon ESPNews / WatchESPN
Fordham at Navy Noon CBSSN
Hawaii at Michigan Noon ESPN / WatchESPN
Howard at Maryland Noon BTN / BTN2Go
Missouri at West Virginia Noon FS1 / FS Go
Oklahoma vs. Houston (at NRG Stadium) Noon ABC / WatchESPN
South Alabama at Mississippi State Noon SECN / WatchESPN
Western Michigan at Northwestern Noon ESPNU / WatchESPN
Liberty at Virginia Tech 12:30 pm ACCN / ESPN3
Villanova at Pittsburgh 1:30 pm ESPN3
Abilene Christian at Air Force 2:00 pm MWN
Rutgers at Washington 2:00 pm Pac-12N /
Kent State at Penn State 3:30 pm BTN / BTN2Go
LSU vs. Wisconsin (at Green Bay) 3:30 pm ABC / WatchESPN
Miami, OH at Iowa 3:30 pm ESPNU / WatchESPN
Murray State at Illinois 3:30 pm BTN / BTN2Go
Richmond at Virginia 3:30 pm ESPN3
SE Louisiana at Oklahoma State 3:30 pm FSN / FS Go
Texas State at Ohio 3:30 pm CBSSN
UCLA at Texas A&M 3:30 pm CBS /
Louisiana Tech at Arkansas 4:00 pm SECN / WatchESPN
UC Davis at Oregon 5:00 pm Pac-12N /
Georgia vs. North Carolina (at Atlanta) 5:30 pm ESPN / WatchESPN
Austin Peay at Troy 6:00 pm ESPN3
Florida A&M at Miami, FL 6:00 pm ESPN3
Hampton at Old Dominion 6:00 pm TBA
NC Central at Duke 6:00 pm ESPN3
Savannah State at Georgia Southern 6:00 pm ESPN3
Southern Illinois at Florida Atlantic 6:00 pm
Western Carolina at East Carolina 6:00 pm ESPN3
VMI at Akron 6:30 pm ESPN3
Alabama A&M at Middle Tennessee 7:00 pm TBA
Alabama State at UTSA 7:00 pm KMYS-CW 35
Rhode Island at Kansas 7:00 pm Jayhawk TV
San Jose State at Tulsa 7:00 pm CBSSN
SE Missouri State at Memphis 7:00 pm ESPN3
SMU at North Texas 7:00 pm ASN
South Carolina State at UCF 7:00 pm ESPN3
Southern at ULM 7:00 pm ESPN3
Towson at USF 7:00 pm ESPN3
Southern Miss at Kentucky 7:30 pm ESPNU / WatchESPN
UMass at Florida 7:30 pm SECN / WatchESPN
EWU at Washington State 8:00 pm Pac-12N /
Fresno State at Nebraska 8:00 pm BTN / BTN2Go
New Mexico State at UTEP 8:00 pm beIN SPORTS
Northern Iowa at Iowa State 8:00 pm
South Dakota State at TCU 8:00 pm FSN / FS Go
Stephen F. Austin at Texas Tech 8:00 pm FSN / FS Go
USC vs. Alabama (at Arlington) 8:00 pm ABC / WatchESPN
New Hampshire at San Diego State 8:30 pm TBA
Clemson at Auburn 9:00 pm ESPN / WatchESPN
Arizona vs. BYU (at Glendale) 10:30 pm FS1 / FS Go
Northern Illinois at Wyoming 10:30 pm CBSSN
Northern Arizona at Arizona State 10:45 pm Pac-12N /
Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016
Matchup Time (ET) TV / Online
Notre Dame at Texas 7:30 pm ABC / WatchESPN
Monday, Sept. 5, 2016
Matchup Time (ET) TV / Online
Ole Miss vs. Florida State (at Orlando) 8:00 pm ESPN / WatchESPN
Friday, Sept. 9, 2016
Matchup Time (ET) TV / Online
Maryland at FIU 7:30 pm CBSSN
Louisville at Syracuse 8:00 pm ESPN2 / WatchESPN
Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016
Boston College at UMass Noon ESPN3
Central Michigan at Oklahoma State Noon FS1 / FS Go
Cincinnati at Purdue Noon BTN / BTN2Go
Howard at Rutgers Noon BTN / BTN2Go
Indiana State at Minnesota Noon ESPNews / WatchESPN
NC State at East Carolina Noon ESPNU / WatchESPN
Nicholls State at Georgia Noon SECN / WatchESPN
Penn State at Pittsburgh Noon ABC or ESPN
Prairie View A&M at Texas A&M Noon SECN Alt. / WatchESPN
Rice at Army Noon CBSSN
UCF at Michigan Noon ABC or ESPN
Wyoming at Nebraska Noon ESPN2 / WatchESPN
Charleston Southern at Florida State 12:30 pm RSN / ESPN3
Troy at Clemson 12:30 pm ACCN / ESPN3
Lamar at Houston 1:00 pm ESPN3
Stony Brook at Temple 1:00 pm ESPN3
Georgia State at Air Force 2:00 pm MWN
Utah State at USC 2:00 pm Pac-12N /
Youngstown State at West Virginia 2:00 pm TBA
Ohio at Kansas 2:30 pm FSN / FS Go
Mercer at Georgia Tech 3:00 pm ESPN3
North Dakota at Bowling Green 3:30 pm ASN / ESPN3
Akron at Wisconsin 3:30 pm BTN / BTN2Go
Eastern Illinois at Miami, OH 3:30 pm ESPN3
Illinois State at Northwestern 3:30 pm BTN / BTN2Go
Kentucky at Florida 3:30 pm CBS /
Nevada at Notre Dame 3:30 pm NBC /
Old Dominion at Appalachian State 3:30 pm ASN / ESPN3
SMU at Baylor 3:30 pm FS1 / FS Go
Tulsa at Ohio State 3:30 pm ABC / WatchESPN
UConn at Navy 3:30 pm CBSSN
Wake Forest at Duke 3:30 pm ESPNU / WatchESPN
Western Kentucky at Alabama 3:30 pm ESPN2 / WatchESPN
Ball State at Indiana 4:00 pm ESPNews / WatchESPN
Middle Tennessee at Vanderbilt 4:00 pm SECN Alt. / WatchESPN
UTSA at Colorado State 4:00 pm MWN
Wofford at Ole Miss 4:00 pm SECN / WatchESPN
Portland State at San Jose State 4:30 pm TBA
Idaho at Washington 5:00 pm Pac-12N /
Idaho State at Colorado 5:30 pm Pac-12N /
Elon at Charlotte 6:00 pm
Florida Atlantic at Miami, FL 6:00 pm ESPN3
Morgan State at Marshall 6:00 pm beIN SPORTS
North Carolina A&T at Kent State 6:00 pm ESPN3
Arkansas at TCU 7:00 pm ESPN/ESPN2
Bethune Cookman at North Texas 7:00 pm
Maine at Toledo 7:00 pm ESPN3
Georgia Southern at South Alabama 7:00 pm ASN / ESPN3
McNeese State at UL Lafayette 7:00 pm ESPN3
NC Central at Western Michigan 7:00 pm ESPN3
Northern Illinois at USF 7:00 pm CBSSN
Savannah State at Southern Miss 7:00 pm TBA
SC State at Louisiana Tech 7:00 pm
South Carolina at Mississippi State 7:00 pm ESPN/ESPN2
ULM at Oklahoma 7:00 pm FS OK
UTEP at Texas 7:00 pm LHN / WatchESPN
Arkansas State at Auburn 7:30 pm SECN / WatchESPN
BYU at Utah 7:30 pm FOX
Eastern Michigan at Missouri 7:30 pm SECN Alt. / WatchESPN
Iowa State at Iowa 7:30 pm BTN / BTN2Go
Jacksonville State at LSU 7:30 pm ESPNU / WatchESPN
North Carolina at Illinois 7:30 pm BTN / BTN2Go
New Mexico at New Mexico State 8:00 pm AggieVision / ESPN3
Southern at Tulane 8:00 pm ESPN3
Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech (at Bristol) 8:00 pm ABC / WatchESPN
UNLV at UCLA 8:00 pm Pac-12N /
Sacramento State at Fresno State 10:00 pm TBA
Texas Tech at Arizona State 10:00 pm FS1 / FS Go
Washington State at Boise State 10:15 pm ESPN2 / WatchESPN
California at San Diego State 10:30 pm CBSSN
Virginia at Oregon 10:30 pm ESPN / WatchESPN
Grambling State at Arizona 10:45 pm Pac-12N /
UT Martin at Hawaii 11:59 pm TBA

Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016

Matchup Time (ET) TV / Online
Houston at Cincinnati 7:30 pm ESPN / WatchESPN

Friday, Sept. 16, 2016

Matchup Time (ET) TV / Online
Baylor at Rice 8:00 pm ESPN / WatchESPN
Arkansas State at Utah State 9:00 pm CBSSN
Arizona State at UTSA 9:30 pm ESPN2 / WatchESPN

Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016

Akron at Marshall Noon CBSSN
Florida State at Louisville Noon ABC / WatchESPN
Georgia State at Wisconsin Noon BTN / BTN2Go
Iowa State at TCU Noon FS1 / FS Go
Kansas at Memphis Noon ESPNU / WatchESPN
Miami, FL at Appalachian State Noon ESPN/ESPN2
Middle Tennessee at Bowling Green Noon ESPN3
New Mexico at Rutgers Noon ESPNews / WatchESPN
North Dakota State at Iowa Noon ESPN2 / WatchESPN
Ohio at Tennessee Noon SECN / WatchESPN
South Carolina State at Clemson Noon RSN / ESPN3
Temple at Penn State Noon BTN / BTN2Go
Vanderbilt at Georgia Tech 12:30 pm ACCN / ESPN3
Virginia at UConn 1:30 pm SNY / ESPN3
Idaho at Washington State 2:00 pm Pac-12N /
North Carolina A&T at Tulsa 2:00 pm
Florida Atlantic at Kansas State 2:30 pm FSN / FS Go
Eastern Kentucky at Ball State 3:00 pm ESPN3
Fresno State at Toledo 3:00 pm ESPN3
UNLV at Central Michigan 3:00 pm ESPN3
Alabama at Ole Miss 3:30 pm CBS /
Boston College at Virginia Tech 3:30 pm ESPNU / WatchESPN
Colorado at Michigan 3:30 pm BTN / BTN2Go
FIU at UMass 3:30 pm TBA
James Madison at North Carolina 3:30 pm RSN / ESPN3
Monmouth at Kent State 3:30 pm ESPN3
Oregon at Nebraska 3:30 pm ABC / WatchESPN
Pittsburgh at Oklahoma State 3:30 pm ESPN / WatchESPN
San Diego State at Northern Illinois 3:30 pm CBSSN
USF at Syracuse 3:30 pm ESPN3
Western Kentucky at Miami, OH 3:30 pm ESPN3
East Carolina at South Carolina 4:00 pm SECN / WatchESPN
New Mexico State at Kentucky 4:00 pm SECN Alt. / WatchESPN
Northern Colorado at Colorado State 4:00 pm ROOT Sports
UC Davis at Wyoming 4:00 pm WyoVision
Western Michigan at Illinois 4:00 pm ESPNews / WatchESPN
Idaho State at Oregon State 5:00 pm Pac-12N /
Eastern Michigan at Charlotte 6:00 pm
Old Dominion at NC State 6:00 pm ESPN3
ULM at Georgia Southern 6:00 pm ESPN3
Delaware at Wake Forest 6:30 pm ESPN3
Army at UTEP 7:00 pm ASN
Liberty at SMU 7:00 pm ESPN3
Louisiana Tech at Texas Tech 7:00 pm FSN / FS Go
Maryland at UCF 7:00 pm CBSSN
Mississippi State at LSU 7:00 pm ESPN/ESPN2
Navy at Tulane 7:00 pm ESPN3
South Alabama at UL Lafayette 7:00 pm ESPN3
Texas A&M at Auburn 7:00 pm ESPN/ESPN2
Troy at Southern Miss 7:00 pm beIN SPORTS
Georgia at Missouri 7:30 pm SECN / WatchESPN
Michigan State at Notre Dame 7:30 pm NBC /
North Texas at Florida 7:30 pm ESPNU / WatchESPN
Ohio State at Oklahoma 7:30 pm FOX / FS Go
Texas State at Arkansas 7:30 pm SECN Alt. / WatchESPN
Duke at Northwestern 8:00 pm BTN / BTN2Go
Portland State at Washington 8:00 pm Pac-12N /
USC at Stanford 8:00 pm ABC / WatchESPN
Buffalo at Nevada 9:00 pm MWN
UCLA at BYU 10:15 pm ESPN or ESPN2
Texas at California 10:30 pm ESPN/ESPN2
Utah at San Jose State 10:30 pm CBSSN
Hawaii at Arizona 10:45 pm Pac-12N /


Thu, Sep, 22 #2 Clemson at Georgia Tech 7:30 PM
Fri, Sep, 23 #13 TCU at SMU 8:00 PM
Sat, Sep, 24 Mississippi State at Massachusetts 3:30 PM ESPN 3  
Thu, Sep, 29 Connecticut at #15 Houston 8:00 PM
Fri, Sep, 30 #8 Stanford at #14 Washington 9:00 PM
Fri, Sep, 30 Toledo at BYU 10:15 PM
Wed, Oct, 5 Georgia Southern at Arkansas State 8:00 PM
Thu, Oct, 6 Temple at Memphis 8:00 PM
Fri, Oct, 7 #2 Clemson at Boston College 7:30 PM
Fri, Oct, 7 Tulane at UCF 8:00 PM

Fri, Oct, 7 SMU at Tulsa 8:00 PM

Sat, Oct, 8 #7 Michigan at Rutgers TBA

Wed, Oct, 12 Appalachian State at Louisiana Lafayette 8:00 PM
Thu, Oct, 13 Navy at East Carolina 7:30 PM
Fri, Oct, 14 Duke at #19 Louisville 7:00 PM
Fri, Oct, 14 Memphis at Tulane 8:00 PM
Fri, Oct, 14 Mississippi State at BYU 10:15 PM
Sat, Oct, 15 Western Kentucky at Middle Tennessee 2:30 PM ESPN 3  
Sat, Oct, 15 #6 Ohio State at Wisconsin 8:00 PM

Thu, Oct, 20 Miami at Virginia Tech 7:00
Sat, Nov, 12 #7 Michigan at #17 Iowa 8:00 PM

Tue, Nov, 15 Kent State at Bowling Green TBA

Tue, Nov, 15 Ohio at Central Michigan TBA

Wed, Nov, 16 Northern Illinois at Eastern Michigan TBA

Wed, Nov, 16 Ball State at Toledo 7:00 PM

Thu, Nov, 17 #19 Louisville at #15 Houston 8:00 PM
Thu, Nov, 17 Arkansas State at Troy 9:30 PM
Fri, Nov, 18 UNLV at Boise State 9:00 PM
Sat, Nov, 19 UTEP at Rice 12:00 PM ESPN 3  
Sat, Nov, 19 Middle Tennessee at Charlotte 2:00 PM ESPN 3  
Tue, Nov, 22 Akron at Ohio 7:00 PM
Tue, Nov, 22 Ball State at Miami (OH) 7:00 PM
Tue, Nov, 22 Central Michigan at Eastern Michigan 7:00 PM
Thu, Nov, 24 #5 LSU at Texas A&M 7:30 PM
Fri, Nov, 25 #23 Baylor vs Texas Tech 6:00 PM
Fri, Nov, 25 Arizona State at Arizona 9:30 PM

Tue, Nov, 1 Bowling Green at Northern Illinois 8:00 PM

Tue, Nov, 1 Western Michigan at Ball State 8:00 PM

Wed, Nov, 2 Toledo at Akron 7:30 PM
Thu, Nov, 3 #3 Oklahoma at Iowa State 7:30 PM
Thu, Nov, 3 Arkansas State at Georgia State 7:30 PM
Fri, Nov, 4 Temple at Connecticut 7:00 PM
Fri, Nov, 4 San José State at Boise State 10:15 PM
Sat, Nov, 5 Texas San Antonio at Middle Tennessee 2:30 PM ESPN 3  
Sat, Nov, 5 Florida Atlantic at Rice 3:30 PM ESPN 3  
Sat, Nov, 5 Louisiana Tech at North Texas 5:30 PM ESPN 3  
Sat, Nov, 5 Nebraska at #6 Ohio State 8:00 PM

Wed, Nov, 9 Toledo vs Northern Illinois 8:00 PM

Thu, Nov, 10 #22 North Carolina at Duke 7:30 PM
Thu, Nov, 10 Louisiana Lafayette at Georgia Southern 7:30 PM
Fri, Nov, 11 Boston College at #4 Florida State 7:30 PM
Sat, Nov, 12 North Texas at Western Kentucky 3:30 PM ESPN 3  



August 24, 2016

Dolphins draft picks, developmental players in jeopardy as cut-downs loom; Marlins, Heat notes


One of the toughest decisions for an NFL team is determining when to give up on draft picks and undrafted developmental success stories. The Dolphins have a bunch of them who stand at risk with roster cut-downs looming, to 75 on Tuesday and 53 on Sept. 3.

Among them, and updating battles at their positions:

• Chris McCain and Terrence Fede; defensive line. If Miami keeps nine linemen, which coordinator Vance Joseph hinted was likely, then Chris Jones, Terrence Fede, Chris McCain and emerging underdog Julius Warmsley are battling for two jobs. All except McCain can play defensive tackle.

Jones logged Miami’s second-most snaps on defense against Dallas (behind cornerback Tony Lippett) and two strong games should earn him a roster spot. He has drawn praise from coaches throughout camp but needs to close preseason well.

McCain – a skilled pass rusher -- played a lot on special teams against Dallas but had only 12 defensive snaps (compared to 30 for Fede) and Joseph said “he's got to play the run better as far as setting the edge.” McCain said he needed the special teams work (more than usual) to show he can handle it.

McCain said this week he feels very good about his chances of making the team. "I haven't had any bad feedback."

Fede has value because he can play both end and tackle, but he hasn't flashed as much as a pass-rusher during this camp/preseason as he did last August.

The Dolphins don’t need to create a spot on the 53 for Dion Jordan until he is activated from NFI, potentially in September.

The Dolphins could stash McCain, Fede or Warmsley on the practice squad, but another team could claim McCain.

• Jamil Douglas; offensive line. The Dolphins’ opening-day starter at guard in 2015 stands behind undrafted Anthony Steen at backup center and seems unlikely to stick.

If Billy Turner and Dallas Thomas make the 53 (likely), that leaves probably three more spots among Steen, Jermon Bushrod, Kraig Urbik, Sam Young and long-shots Douglas, Ulrick John and Vinston Painter.

To me, the decision comes down to Urbik and Young, because Bushrod has value as an experienced left tackle and guard and Steen is needed as the backup center, unless he flops the next two weeks.

• Damien Williams; running back. This could be one of the toughest calls, because of Isaiah Pead’s impressive work. Pead has done enough to stick unless he totally bombs the next two games. The fact Miami wants to get him some first-team work against Atlanta is telling.

The easiest solution? Place Kenyan Drake on short-term injured reserve (eight games) and open the season with Arian Foster, Jay Ajayi, Pead and Williams. As we reported in the previous blog, Drake, back from a hamstring injury, said Tuesday that short-term IR is “not a possibility. Period.” But this isn’t Drake’s decision. The Dolphins can do what they want with this.

Williams hasn’t shown a ton in preseason, but Gase keeps raving him “because he’s a big man that can run really fast and catch the ball.” Gase mentioned a practice sequence last week where Williams told the coach he wanted the ball and then made a big play. Williams has value as a receiver out of the backfield, and his special teams work is generally good, but his 3.5 career average (on 52 carries) is pretty mediocre.

Regardless, it looks likely that Miami will keep four backs.

• Brandon Doughty; quarterback: There is internal sentiment to keeping the rookie seventh-rounder as a third quarterback – coaches really like him. If Doughty plays well the next two games, it would be risky to try to sneak him onto the practice squad.

And Matt Moore's concussion (timetable for a return undetermined) could create an additional reason to keep a third quarterback.

• Thomas Duarte; tight end. Practice squad seems more likely for the seventh rounder, whose blocking error led to Matt Darr’s blocked punt Friday.

Gase said “we need somebody to step up” among the group of middling No. 3 tight ends, including Duarte, MarQuies Gray, Dominique Jones and Gabe Hughes. That group, Gase said, "is clumped in together."

• Matt Hazel; receiver. Caught a touchdown in the preseason opener, but odds are against him.

Jakeem Grant and Leonte Carroo are on the team. Hazel or Griff Whalen will need to show a lot (or an injury arise) to justify either sticking as a No. 6. Whalen did well in the offseason program when he got first-team work; he and Ryan Tannehill seemed to develop a good chemistry. But Whalen hasn't had that opportunity in preseason and isn't sure if he will.

One thing that could help Hazel or Whalen: If the Dolphins believe neither Carroo nor Grant is ready for a regular workload as a No. 4 receiver. Carroo is coming along slowly, and Gase said he doesn't want to overburden his returner (very likely Grant).

• Zach Vigil/Neville Hewitt/Mike Hull; linebacker. Their circumstances have changed since they signed as undrafted discoveries 15 months ago.

Vigil remains sidelined with a back problem and is unlikely to start the season on the 53; Hewitt is an asset on special teams and has a good chance to stick and Hull has helped his chances the past two weeks, though he still has work to do to make the roster. Spencer Paysinger will likely be on the team, and James Michael Johnson could stick unless the Dolphins can find a better option on waivers in the next two weeks.

• Sixth-round rookie cornerback Jordan Lucas and impressive undrafted rookie safety AJ Hendy. Both seem likely for the practice squad, with Brandon Harris, Chimdi Chekwa or someone currently on another roster better equipped for the No. 5 corner job and Walt Aikens (very good on special teams) seemingly secure as the No. 4 safety.

Lucas' play has been uneven and he hasn't done enough to earn a roster spot.

Hendy, who has impressed coaches, said he played slot corner at Maryland, but said Dolphins coaches have had him play safety exclusively here.

"Coaches have said I've done decent against the pass but need to be more of a run stopper," Hendy said. That sounds like a player who is more likely for the p-squad than 53, even though he has forced some turnovers and pass breakups in camp.


• Lefty Braxton Garrett, the Marlins’ first-round pick in June out of an Alabama high school, hasn’t pitched in a minor league game this season and won’t because the Marlins want to be cautious. "Garrett is fine," Marlins executive Marc Delpiano said. "We are taking it slow because he had never been built up. Plan is for him to pitch in [instructional league]."

Some already consider Garrett Miami's top prospect.

• Marcell Ozuna, whose career slopes and valleys remain puzzling, is hitting worse since the All-Star break (.207) than every other qualifying MLB center fielder except Washington’s Ben Revere. Ozuna left Tuesday's loss to the Royals because of a family emergency. He's hitting .277 overall after a terrific first half.

• New Marlins outfielder Oswaldo Arcia, claimed off waivers from Tampa, has a .241 lifetime big-league average, with 42 homers and 127 RBI in 272 games. He was batting .229 with six homers and 59 RBI in 53 games for Minnesota and Tampa this season. In 2014, he hit 20 homers for the Twins but has declined since.

• Though he was mentioned in trade rumors previously, the Heat has indicated to Josh McRoberts’ camp that he’s in the team’s plans for this season, his agent said, adding Miami called to go over his offseason training and make sure everyone is on the same page.

McRoberts will make $5.8 million this season and has a $6 million player option for 2017-18.

But the Heat will need to dump someone with a guaranteed deal if it wants to keep point guard Briante Weber. Free agent pickups this summer cannot be dealt until Dec. 15.

• reports that Blake Griffin fully intends to re-sign with the Clippers when he becomes a free agent next summer. Though a lot could change in a year, keep this in mind: If that's true, then there might not be a single star player that the Heat has a real shot to land next summer, with Kevin Durant, Steph Curry and Chris Paul all considered longshots for Miami.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

August 23, 2016

UM in mix for standout transfer; Tuesday Dolphins and UM personnel notes and nuggets; Another UM suspension

Lots of Dolphins and Canes nuggets after covering both practices today:



Dolphins coach Adam Gase said Tuesday he “would love” to get emerging running back Isaiah Pead some first-team work in Thursday’s preseason game against Atlanta. But juggling carries among multiple players at one of Miami’s most competitive positions is tricky.

Gase also needs to get first-half carries for Arian Foster (who has only two in preseason) and Jay Ajayi.

Pead is averaging seven yards per carry in preseason and “we will keep trying to slide him in there to give him that opportunity to run behind the first-team line,” Gase said. “Ideally, you would like to give all those guys that opportunity.”

Against Dallas last Friday, “our plan was to try to slide [Pead] in there and see how it would go with him,” Gase said. “It almost felt like more like a two-minute mode when he was in, so he didn’t really get a chance to run the ball…. That whole group has done a great job…. They have all taken advantage. It is going to be tough decision [at running back] as far as how many do we keep. Consistency they've shown has been really impressive.”

Meanwhile, among the biggest lineup decisions Thursday is whether Cameron Wake will make his preseason debut after last October’s ruptured Achilles. Gase said Wake will go through pre-game warmups and “we’ll see how he feels before the game…. I am going to kind of put it on him. Once he feels right, we'll get him out there.”

Wake declined to say whether he wants to play Thursday but suggested that for him, the importance of playing in a preseason game is overstated. "I've been playing since July 27,” he said. “More is made of it than it really is.”

Wake also indicated it isn't necessarily critical for Mario Williams, Ndamukong Suh and himself to be on the field together before the opener.

If we were all a bunch of rookies, that would be one thing,” Wake said. “But we've all been down this road, all played football, with a lot of success. And we've been playing together quite a few snaps in the past month. We've come together quite nicely. When the real games start, those questions will be answered.”

Asked if he trusts the surgically-repaired Achilles', Wake said: “I will trust it when I need to trust it. I'm not necessarily worried about it.”

And of those questioning him because of his age (34), Wake said: “I've been old for five years now. I just laugh at that comment.”

• Two players who had been out for awhile with injuries returned to practice: running back Kenyan Drake and cornerback Chimdi Chekwa.

Chekwa, who didn’t rule out being ready for Thursday’s game, will resume his competition with Brandon Harris and Rashaan Melvin, among others for the Dolphins’ final cornerback job.

Drake returned from his second hamstring injury since joining the Dolphins but said he won’t play Thursday.  

“It’s a very lingering injury, especially in my case because it’s the second one in a couple of months,” he said. “You have to continue to build the strength up in it because even if you feel you know good, you can run distances, it’s that burst that you kind of lack. Especially at my position. And my kind of game, I need that burst. So until I feel like I have that burst, I’m not going to feel 100 percent.”

Several of us in the media have speculated that one way for the Dolphins to keep both Pead and Damien Williams (as well as Foster and Ajayi, of course) would be to stash Drake on short-term injured reserve, which would sideline him for five games.

Of being on short-term IR, Drake surprisingly said: “It’s not a possibility. Period.” But ultimately, it’s the Dolphins’ decision, and Drake has no control over that.

• Gase said defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, sidelined the past two weeks with a calf injury, remains on pace to be ready for the Sept. 11 opener at Seattle.

• Quarterback Matt Moore (concussion) and center Mike Pouncey (hip) remain out.

• Bobby McCain said he and Michael Thomas again got about an equal number of snaps at first-team nickel corner in practice this week, and that competition continues.

• With Laremy Tunsil continuing to emerge at left guard, Billy Turner said he, Jermon Bushrod and Dallas Thomas all got work with the first-team at right guard this week.

Thomas, who also continues to work on the left side, said starting at right guard “would be my plan” if Tunsil wins the left guard job, as expected. Turner said he, too, naturally wants to start.

• With DeVante Parker back from a hamstring injury, Gase said “the biggest thing for us is we need him to practice because we need the timing with the quarterback, that feel with the other players on the field. We have to find a way to keep those soft issue injuries out of the mix…. He’s done a better job [at hydration]. It’s really hit him that this is real down here. If you don’t hydrate down here, you will have issues.”

• Several players said special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi has been splitting up special teams work, including on coverage teams, among a lot of players to see what they can do.

For example, Chris McCain said he barely played any special teams in Week 1 but played a ton of them in Week 2 “and I needed” it. And Damien Williams, one of Miami’s strong special teams players, said he played less of them than usual in Week 2.

Performance on special teams is often a determining factor for players on the bubble.



• 5 p.m. update: UM is now firmly in the mix for standout offensive tackle George Brown Jr., who is transferring from LSU. He was rated Rivals' No. 16 offensive tackle in the 2015 class. Our ace Herald contributor Peter Ariz has details here on his web site. He would be required to sit out next season.

• You would have hoped the Mark Richt era would begin would all Hurricanes players doing the right things and no discipline needed. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

As we’ve reported previously, UM was planning to suspend Sam Bruce for the first two games for his gun-toting photo in February, unless Richt has a dramatic change of heart in the next 11 days. Meanwhile, a source confirmed that defensive tackle Gerald Willis will be suspended for the opener for violating an unspecified team rule.

A UM player said players expect Stacy Coley, Al Quadin Muhammad and Jermaine Grace to be suspended to start the season (at least a game, perhaps two) because of the luxury rental car scandal, but we are not reporting that’s definite because a final decision hasn’t been made.

It’s difficult to get 120 kids to all behave. But all of this is disappointing, especially after Richt implored his players not to hang around with “fools” or do anything stupid.

• I asked Brad Kaaya what defensive players have emerged this month and are ready to contribute a lot.

Besides Shaquille Quarterman, he mentioned cornerback Adrian Colbert (“really good; he is running stride for stride with Stacy Coley and our fastest guys”) and linebacker Jamie Gordinier (“he’s looked good; he’s always in the right spot. Always around the ball. He’s going to surprise people).”

Richt said the starting weakside linebacker job remains open between Gordinier and freshman Mike Pinckney (back from injury the past two days).

He said Darrion Owens (still not fully back after last year’s knee surgery) is trailing in that competition. “Not likely to be a starter at this point; we just want him to be healthy,” Richt said.

• One of many differences between Richt and former offensive coordinator James Coley: Malik Rosier said “when nothing is there” or when a play breaks down, Coley’s order was to “make a play.” But he said this coaching staff says absolutely do not do that. “This staff is no, burn it, throw it away,” Rosier said. “You have to adjust your mentality.”

• Bruce missed practice with an allergic reaction. Richards, who had been battling turf toe, returned but Richt said he doesn’t look 100 percent.

• I asked receivers coach Ron Dugans what receiver is going to help a lot more this season than he thought when camp began.

“I think Ahmmon Richards has shown some flashes; he stepped it up,” Dugans answered. “The thing with him is he’s got to be consistent and keep him healthy. Sam Bruce is coming along. Finally have Dionte Mullins back. That will take some time. He has a good skill set for us. Look for Dayall Harris to do some big things.”

Malcolm Lewis has had a good camp, but Darrell Langham “has to show us he can do it on a consistent basis. He’s moving in a good direction. I hope he plays for us,” Richt said.

• Dugans said he’s not sure who will be the No. 3 receiver alongside Coley and Braxton Berrios when UM goes to three-receiver sets. “Game time decision,” Dugans said. (In a lot of cases, it will be an tight end in a pseudo receiver role.)

Harris said he had been taking the first-team snaps at X receiver with Richards out. Today, Harris and Richards split those first-team snaps.

On Harris, Dugans said: “Has good body control. Struggles to catch the ball at times. Then some times, he catches everything. Got a good skill set. Good route runner.”

• Dugans said Mullins, who just enrolled, is not too far behind to help this year. “He’s behind, but that’s possible.”… Dugans said Coley and Berrios “have been playing like veterans, detailed players.”

• Corners who have been toughest to go against? Harris mentioned Corn Elder (“real smart”) and Ryan Mayes (“been really good; patient with a lot of routes”).

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

August 22, 2016

Dolphins notes: Dolphins opting for unusual approach with offensive line; Pead thriving after he "blew" Dolphins workout

3:30 p.m. post-practice news from Dolphins coach Adam Gase: He said Xavien Howard, back from knee surgery, was able to do "a little" team drills today for the first time... Chris McCain was held out of practice, but it's nothing serious. He took hard hits both during Friday's game and in Sunday's practice and "we're just trying to be cautious."...

Matt Moore is out indefinitely with a concussion. "I'm not going to say he's doing OK," Gase said. "It was a pretty vicious hit. Still sore neck. It's going to be a minute [before he gets back]. We'll figure out who's going to go second and third [against Atlanta Thursday in Orlando]."  Expect to see Ryan Tannehill in the first half, with Brandon Doughty and Zac Dysert getting the rest of the work.

Does this make it more likely that the Dolphins keep a third quarterback (presumably Doughty)? "We'll evaluate and see where his health is," Gase said of Moore...

Jakeem Grant got only one offensive snap Friday, and Gase was vague when asked whether they didn't want to show other teams how they plan to use him on offense. "Any time I had a returner that was a specialist - you want to find ways to get him on the field but don't want to overdo it," Gase said.

Regarding Jordan Cameron, Gase said: "We have to figure out the right way to use him."...

Gase on Isaiah Pead: "Every time he touches the ball, something good happens for us."...

Defensive end/tackle Julius Warmsley continues his push for a roster spot. "You always see him penetrating," Gase said. "Seems like he's always causing some kind of problems. Always around the quarterback, always around the ball-carrier. You can tell something in him that I'm going to do everything I can to make this team."...

Gase said Jermon Bushrod "did pretty good" at right guard Friday but the competition at right guard might not be settled until just before the Sept. 11 Seattle game. (See below for a lot more on this.)

Reshad Jones was shaken up late in practice, and his lower left leg was examined on the side, but he seemed to be OK....

Besides McCain and Moore, Kenyan Drake (hamstring), Chimdi Chekwa (thigh), Mike Pouncey (hip), Earl Mitchell (calf), Dion Jordan (knee), Zach Vigil (back) and Chris Culliver (knee) also did not practice.



The Dolphins have taken a novel, outside the box approach to address their perennial, perpetual offensive line problems.

Instead of signing players with experience at the positions they’re being asked to play, the Dolphins are doing things a bit differently.

If, as expected, Anthony Steen starts at center in place of injured Mike Pouncey on Thursday against Atlanta, and if offensive-tackles-by-trade Laremy Tunsil and Jermon Bushrod again start at guard, that means that three of the five positions will be manned by players who NEVER played a single snap at those positions in a game before this month.

It’s not unusual for offensive linemen to change positions, but having three starters who have never played those positions before is unusual.

The Dolphins could have signed a traditional guard in free agency in March, but bowed out when the prices rose to uncomfortably high levels for veterans who were of interest to them, such as JR Sweezy, who got five years and $32.5 million to sign with Tampa.

Instead, they opted for a low-money one-year deal with Bushrod, believing the longtime left tackle could make a smooth transition to right guard. But as Adam Gase has acknowledged, the change in sides – from left to right – is just as difficult, if not more so, than changing positions.

Bushrod is doing all he can to master it, but the move has been far from smooth, partly because he missed offseason team drills recovering from shoulder surgery.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be the easiest physically or mentally,” he said. “I have to get over the mental battles. Hopefully I’ll put it together.”

Bushrod –- who is competing with Billy Turner and Dallas Thomas at right guard -- played 20 snaps on Friday, which included allowing a sack that foiled Miami’s first possession. How did he play otherwise?

“There are some things I would like to clean up in the run game and be consistent,” he said. “At times, I feel good. At times, I feel awkward. I need to focus on things I need to give me success.”

Does he regret signing with a team that changed his side and position? No, he said. “Once you are here, you are all in,” he said.

Though Bushrod would have value as a backup tackle, he said the Dolphins have limited his snaps exclusively to guard the past two weeks.

Meanwhile, Steen --– who played only guard for Nick Saban at Alabama –-- said today he was surprised when the Dolphins asked him earlier this year to play center.

Besides Pouncey, the Dolphins have two other players on the roster who have played center in a game --- Jamil Douglas (a guard/tackle at Arizona State who struggled at times when asked to play center last year) and Kraig Urbik (who took a lot of center snaps in Buffalo).

But Steen remains ahead of both of them.

As for Tunsil, the Dolphins were pleased with his pass blocking but not as pleased with his run blocking against Dallas.

• Isaiah Pead, one of the pleasant surprises of training camp, said today that when he worked out for the Dolphins March 31, “I thought it was one of my lesser workouts. Dropped a couple balls. It was bad. I told my agent, ‘I blew this one.’”

Yet the Dolphins signed him two hours later and he has thoroughly impressed, averaging seven yards per carry.

Pead was out of the league last season, after knee surgery, and said he considered starting a trucking business in Columbus, Ohio. He said he is playing on all special teams, which should help his chances of sticking.

Check back in a couple hours, after practice, for a lot more and please follow me on Twitter for fast updates (@flasportsbuzz)