08/15/2014

Midnight update: Ray Allen, wife speak out about home invasion; Notes, quotes, tidbits from UM's Media Day

Midnight update: Ray Allen, who is still deciding whether to play next season, and his wife are unhappy how local authorities and media reports have characterized what happened at his Coral Gable home very, very late Wednesday night/Thursday morning, when seven 18- and 19-year olds walked into their home.

Coral Gables police spokeswoman Kelly Denham said police did not charge the teenagers with burglary because there was no forced entry, no intent and nothing taken. The teenagers, who had been attending a party next door,, told police they were curious to see Allen's home and didn't believe anyone was inside.

Allen, who was not home at the time, has hired an attorney to handle the matter. Here's what Allen and his wife said late tonight in a joint statement:

“We want to correct the erroneous information being reported about the crime committed in our home this week. On Thursday morning at 2:30 a.m., my wife Shannon was awakened by loud voices in our bedroom where she had been sleeping with our four young children. 

"She heard male voices loudly discussing our personal property and sat up in a state of alarm to find at least five people inside our bedroom with large flashlights. She was immediately fearful for the safety of her own life, but more importantly the lives of our young children. When she screamed at them, the intruders quickly fled the scene and laughter was heard as they made their way out of our bedroom, down the stairs and out of our house.
 
"As these individuals were fleeing our house, Shannon immediately called security and the police for help. Shannon and I believe that a number of the public statements made through media outlets have mischaracterized certain important facts and what we believe to be the seriousness of this potentially devastating invasion upon our lives, home and family. 

"The suggestion that anyone can unlawfully enter into someone’s locked home and then into an occupied bedroom in the middle of the night without consequences is unsettling, regardless of the stated or actual reason for such unlawful entry. We are very fortunate that no one involved was physically harmed during this ordeal. Miami is our home and we are proud to be active members in this community. We pray that no one else has to endure this kind of intrusion on their home or their families' safety. Everyone deserves to feel safe in their own homes.  We have hired attorney Gregory Victor for representation in this matter.”

Victor said: “A serious crime was committed under Florida law.  A large number of young adults knowingly broke into Mr. and Mrs. Allen’s locked home on Thursday, August 14 at 2:30 a.m. and absolutely terrified their family.  The crime was not only egregious, but the police characterization of this as a silly prank is completely inappropriate. Every family deserves privacy and to feel safe in their own home. This violation of the Allen family was offensive. The reported intentions of these perpetrators as being simply voyeuristic in nature does not justify their conduct nor excuse them from the reasonable consequences of their reprehensible actions.

"We plan to meet with authorities promptly in order to seek the appropriate intervention of the criminal justice system and discuss the specific actions to be taken so that such unlawful conduct is not ignored and tolerated.”

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Chatter from UM's annual "Media Day" earlier Friday:

### In his first media availability since coming to UM, Brad Kaaya left an impression with his poise and maturity, much as he has on the field.

Kaaya, running neck and neck with Jake Heaps for the starting quarterback job, has been working with UM receivers since May, and that --- plus his impressive skill set and the fact he studies “a lot” --- have put him in this position to have a legitimate chance to win the job.

He studied UM’s offense before he got here --- “I’m about the action” ---  and “doing those [summer throwing sessions with UM players] really helped me, so now I don’t have any jitters,” he said. “If somebody picks me off, I’m OK. Next play. There are no true freshman jitters…. It feels like my fourth time around doing it.

“It gets pretty hectic [on the field] at times, but you have to calm yourself down. Stay focused on the play. Execute. [Make] the right decision.”

How important is being the starter? “For us, it’s how can I contribute? If it’s me starting, so be it. If it’s me giving the signals, so be it. If it’s me redshirting, so be it.”

Said offensive coordinator James Coley: “He’s a different type of freshman. He comes across like a junior, who has done this before. I’ve been on him like a dog the last two days. We put a lot of pressure on him. He doesn’t melt. He handles pressure really well.”

As Kaaya said: “I came here to play football. I wasn’t coming to Miami to just enjoy the extra stuff that Miami has.”

### Al Golden, on Kaaya: “The first thing that helped him is he came in at 228, is 206 now. He's lighter on his feet, better in the pocket. No. 2, he loves the game. This guy loves football and has devoted all his time to it. He's made that commitment. And he's blessed in terms of his ability to see and his arm down the field. The biggest thing with him is his ability to conceptualize the play. He knows where the H is going to be, the tight end, his checkdown is going to be. A little calmness you don't normally see (with a freshman).”

### Ryan Williams said he “definitely wants” to be back for the Nebraska game Sept. 20, if not sooner, but also understands he’s not going to be handed the job. (That obviously would depend on how his replacement and the team are playing.)

 “Hopefully I can play sooner [than Nebraska]," said Williams, who had knee surgery in April. "We don’t know what game I will be cleared for. It’s only been a little over four months, but I’m happy with my progress. I haven’t done full team reps yet, so I don’t know if I can escape the pocket and run from people yet. Everything else I’ve done is pretty good.”

### A year ago, UM people hoped Michael Wyche could come in and seize the starting nose tackle job, but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen immediately, barring something unexpected. But he isn’t in the doghouse; UM knew the process of getting him into optimum condition would be delayed by the fact he couldn’t enroll here in the spring. 

Defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio confirmed that Wyche and Courtel Jenkins are “batting for third” string. “Calvin Heurtelou is the leader right now. Earl Moore is second.”

Wyche, who came to UM at 360 pounds, said Friday he’s at 340 but needs to get to 335. He knew this would be a process. “I’ve got five more pounds in me,” he said. “Everything is falling into place.” He said he still expects to emerge as a starter at some point.

When will Wyche be able to make an impact? “This is no way to predict that,” D’Onofrio said. “We are trying to get him to his optimum weight, try to get him to understand the defense daily. It’s a long season. He’ll give us valuable reps when the time comes.”

Wyche and/or Heurtelou and Jenkins need to be as good as advertised, because UM was 78th against the run last season. “Unacceptable,” Chickillo said of that ranking. “We’ve got to be better in that category and I think we will be.”

### Who has exceeded D’Onofrio’s expectations? D’Onofrio mentioned end Trent Harris, linebacker Nantambu Akil Fentress (“he plays at a whole other level with speed; you see him passing people up all day”) and Heurtelou (“he got energy, he plays with emotion.”)

Harris, who has bulked up from 222 to 237, surprisingly remains first team at defense end, ahead of Tyriq McCord and Al-Quadin Muhammad.

“When I first got here, Tyriq took me under his wing and taught me a lot,” he said.  Coaches say he’s a quicker learner, follows his assignments and has been an effective pass-rusher.

Alabama offered Harris, who was a three-star prospect out of Winter Park, but he said he didn’t seriously consider it.

### Players can’t say enough about Dallas Crawford, who will bring physicality and instinctive play to safety. He’s close to nailing down a starting job.

Crawford is glad he made the move from running back; he believes he’s better at safety, having played there in high school.

“We thought he could be a starting safety,” D’Onofrio said. “He has shown us he can be.”

Or, as Ladarius Gunter said, Dallas “has brought excitement to [our secondary]. He can do it all.”

Where does Crawford excel? “Recognizing the formations and tackling,” he said. Don’t underestimate the second--- tackling has been an issue for UM’s defense.

### Prized five-star recruit Chad Thomas, who’s backing up Anthony Chickillo, said he hoped to start as a freshman, and still does. But what if he only ends up playing on third down?

“That would be a blessing just playing on third down," he answered. "I would like to get in more plays but I’ve got to wait my turn. I’m acting like a starter even though I’m not.”

Al Golden said he’s still in the mix for first and second down reps, besides an expected role on third down.

Since leaving Booker T. Washington, Thomas has gained 20 pounds and is now 260. “I’m way faster than high school. I have more power than I had in high school. I’m moving at a faster pace.”

Thomas said he’s comfortable when UM shifts him from end to tackle. “My whole senior year of high school, I played tackle.  I know how to rush against a guard or center…. It’s been a great learning experience, competing against the older guys with the second team.”

One lesson he has learned: “Don’t use my high school tendencies. Don’t use the same moves. I’ve got to rely on more moves.”

### UM wants to spot in speedy Trayone Gray, but only if he can pick up the system. “He’s behind but he’s definitely talented enough,” James Coley said. “Kind of like Gus Edwards was last year, because he wasn’t here throughout the summer. The moment it starts clicking, where you don’t have coach behind him telling him where to go every play, then he’s definitely talented enough” to contribute right away.

### Keep hearing lots of positive feedback on freshman receivers; Braxton Berrios is “as advertised,” James Coley said. And Tyre Brady, 6-3, has flashed an interesting skill set. One could get in the rotation with Rashawn Scott out indefinitely with an upper body injury (though not for the season, Golden said).

Receivers coach Brennan Carroll said Berrios’ return “is about as quick as you can get a kid back from that injury. He’s done a phenomenal job with his preparation and made the most of his opportunities. He’s quick, has got really good hands, has a great feel for routes, spacing, being in the right place. We’re going to try to find the best ways to use him.”

And Tyre Brady? “Big receiver,” Carroll said. "He’s done a good job. We’ve been a smaller unit, so he lengthens us out a little bit.”

### Muhammed expects to be a better rusher because “I’m definitely a lot stronger. Maybe 15 pounds heavier. I learned a lot. It wasn’t a bad year. Could I have done better in some aspects? Yes. But it wasn’t a bad year. I definitely think I’m going to be a better player.”

### I asked a bunch of defensive players for tangible reasons their unit will be better. Among reasons cited: Crawford, the new defensive tackles, strong secondary, the new pass rushers.

Plus, “we’re a lot more mature,” Anthony Chickillo said. “A lot stronger up front. Guys are understanding the defense and why we do things in certain situations.” Chickillo, who arrived at UM at 240 pounds, is now 280 but “I’m running the best I’ve run.”

### Joe Yearby said his surgically-repaired ankle is 90 percent. He already has surpassed Gus Edwards on the depth chart.

We'll run more tidbits from media day in buzz columns over the next week or two.          

08/14/2014

A dozen notes from Dolphins' final training camp practice; Lots of Thursday broadcast news

Nuggets from the Dolphins' final training camp practice:

### Mike Pouncey, making good progress in his recovery from June hip surgery, said Thursday he prefers not to begin the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list because that would eliminate any chance of playing before the seventh game of the season.

Pouncey said there’s “no question” that playing at some point in the first six games is realistic, though he declined to give a target date.

“We had a couple discussions about it,” he said of the PUP possibility. “I’m just letting them make the decision. I hope I’m not on PUP, but it’s not up to me. I want to play.”

Pouncey said his recovery has gone as well as can be expected. Privately, Dolphins officials also are encouraged by his progress.

“I’m going to keep doing my rehab and letting it get stronger each week and just waiting for the coaches to tell me when to play,” he said.

###  The Dolphins have been pleased by the development of rookie Walt Aikens, who has consistently been getting second-team snaps at free safety, often alongside Michael Thomas, and ahead of Don Jones and Jordan Kovacs.

Aikens, 6-1, played cornerback at Liberty last season but was a safety when he started his career at Illinois. He said the Dolphins are still giving him some snaps at cornerback.

“I am loving the transition,” he said. “The fact I can cover as a corner and transition into safety makes it a little bit easier. I am covering tight ends that are not as fast as No. 1 receivers. It’s great. I can read the whole offense now and see it from a different perspective.    [Defensive coordinator Kevin] Coyle stays on me. He’s correcting the mental errors I have.”

### Coach Joe Philbin said Knowshon Moreno, back from knee surgery, “is starting to look like kind of his old self” in the running game but stopped short of saying he would play Saturday in Tampa. “I don’t know about the passing game quite yet…. He’s looking better.”

### Though the Dolphins don’t seem too worried at this point, Philbin was non-committal when asked whether Charles Clay’s knee injury could put him at risk of missing the start of the season. “He’s day to day,” Philbin said. “The longer you’re out, the more of a period of getting acclimated back into football. I’d love to have him out here as soon as possible.” 

### Rishard Matthews, who displeased coaches at times in the past, said he expects to make the team in a crowded receiver competition. “It’s about being mature and growing up. I believe I’ve done that. It’s about consistency. Sometimes, I make good plays. The next day, I would be [subpar]. I knew I had to show the coaches I can get better. I think I’m doing that.”

### Before his 48-yard punt return against Atlanta, Jarvis Landry said he hadn’t returned a punt since his sophomore year at LSU. And he said he had never returned a kickoff before last Friday.

“It’s fun because you know you’re going to get the ball,” said Landry, who’s competing with Marcus Thigpen, among others, for the job.

### Notable from the final practice that will be open to the public this year (and the last one open to the media beyond the first 30 minutes): Caleb Sturgis, back from a groin injury, hit a 44-yard field goal while Danny Hrapman missed from 47 and from 42 yards… In 11 on 11 drills, Brent Grimes broke up Ryan Tannehill’s slightly underthrown deep ball to Mike Wallace. But Tannehill delivered a beautiful strike to Wallace on a deep ball, against Grimes, in 1 on 1 drills….

Linebacker Jordan Tripp got a bit of work with the starters in place of Dannell Ellerbe… Brady Quinn’s accuracy remained erratic in his second Dolphins practice. Matt Moore threw the ball well… Damien Williams, the undrafted Oklahoma running back, continues to impress in the passing game. He made a long gain today with a nifty over-the-shoulder catch…. In assessing his tight ends, Philbin withheld praise for Michael Egnew, who has been largely invisible since returning from a concussion this week. The next two games are big for Egnew’s roster chances.

BROADCAST NOTES

Three notable broadcasting personnel moves today:

### Hall of Famer Denis Potvin, surprisingly dropped as the Florida Panthers' TV analyst after 16 years, has been re-hired in the same role, alongside Steve Goldstein. Potvin, who spent the past four years with the Ottawa Senators, replaces Bill Lindsay, who was shifted to a studio and behind-the-bench role. Potvin never deserved to be fired four years ago.

### Courtney Fallon, the No. 2 sportscaster at NBC 6, said she’s leaving to take a job at CBS Sports Network, where she will be a college football sideline reporter this fall. Her last day is Aug. 31.

She said she couldn't do both jobs partly because "travel demands this fall are too high."

She will primarily report on Army games, with some other assignments as well.

NBC-6 will look for a new No. 2 sportscaster to back up Joe Rose, who also hosts a radio show on WQAM-560 and works Dolphins games on WINZ-940.

### Showtime made dramatic changes to the cast of Inside the NFL and announced the program will air at 9 p.m. Tuesdays, a day earlier than past years.

Bears receiver Brandon Marshall will become the first active NFL player to appear as a regular studio analyst on a network show, which will require him to fly from Chicago to New York for Tuesday tapings.

Phil Simms, Ed Reed and Boomer Esiason will be the other analysts besides Marshall. Cris Collinsworth left the program to cut down on his travel.

Greg Gumbel is replacing James Brown as host, with Brown relinquishing the job because he’s adding CBS/NFL Network Thursday studio duties to his Sunday studio gig.

 

           

08/13/2014

11 p.m. Wednesday: UM loses veteran; Full Heat schedule; Analyzing battles for Dolphins roster spots; Heat

11 p.m. update: UM junior safety Rayshawn Jenkins posted on his Facebook account tonight that he won't be playing this season.

UM declined to comment about his health, but if that's true, then UM's top three safeties will be, in no particular order, Dallas Crawford, Deon Bush and Jamal Carter. Either freshmen Kiy Hester or freshman Marques Gayot potentially could be in line for playing time.

Crawford had been holding off Jenkins for one safety job early in camp. Jenkins' play disappointed UM coaches last season. He required surgery for an undisclosed injury after the season and did not participate in the spring game.

UM is expected to address the issue on Thursday.

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Here's the full Heat regular-season schedule released moments ago:

OCTOBER
Oct. 29: WASHINGTON, 7:30 SUN

NOVEMBER
Nov. 1: at Philadelphia, 7, SUN
Nov. 2: TORONTO, 6, SUN
Nov. 4: HOUSTON, 7:30, SUN
Nov. 5: at Charlotte, 7, SUN
Nov. 8: MINNESOTA, 7:30, SUN
Nov. 9: at Dallas, 7:30, SUN
Nov. 12: INDIANA, 7:30, ESPN
Nov. 14: at Atlanta, 7:30, SUN
Nov. 16: MILWAUKEE, 6, SUN
Nov. 17: at Brooklyn, 7:30, SUN
Nov. 20: L.A. CLIPPERS, 8, TNT
Nov. 22: at Orlando, 7, SUN
Nov. 23: CHARLOTTE, 6, SUN
Nov. 25: GOLDEN STATE, 7:30, SUN
Nov. 30: at New York, 7:30, SUN

DECEMBER
Dec. 1: at Washington, 7, SUN
Dec. 3: ATLANTA, 7:30, SUN
Dec. 5: at Milwaukee, 8:30, SUN
Dec. 7: at Memphis, 6, SUN
Dec. 9: at Phoenix, 9, SUN
Dec. 10: at Denver, 10:30 ESPN
Dec. 12: at Utah, 9, SUN
Dec. 14: CHICAGO, 6, SUN
Dec. 16: at Brooklyn, 7:30, SUN
Dec. 17: UTAH, 7:30, SUN
Dec. 19: WASHINGTON, 7:30 SUN
Dec. 21: BOSTON, 6, SUN
Dec. 23: PHILADELPHIA, 7:30 SUN
Dec. 25: CLEVELAND, 5, ABC
Dec. 27: MEMPHIS, 7:30 SUN
Dec. 29: ORLANDO, 7:30 SUN
Dec. 31: at Indiana, 3, SUN

JANUARY
Jan. 3: at Houston, 8, SUN
Jan. 4: BROOKLYN, 6, SUN
Jan. 8: at Portland, 10:30 TNT
Jan. 11: at L.A. Clippers, 3:30, SUN
Jan. 13: at L.A. Lakers, 10:30, SUN
Jan. 14: at Golden State, 10:30, SUN
Jan. 16: at Sacramento, 10, SUN
Jan. 20: OKLAHOMA CITY, 7:30, SUN
Jan. 21: at Charlotte, 7, SUN
Jan. 23: INDIANA, 7:30, SUN
Jan. 25: at Chicago, 1:00, ABC
Jan. 27: MILWAUKEE, 7:30, SUN
Jan. 30: DALLAS, 8, ESPN

FEBRUARY
Feb. 1: at Boston, 1, SUN
Feb. 3: at Detroit, 7:30, SUN
Feb. 4: at Minnesota, 8, SUN
Feb. 6: at San Antonio, 9:30, ESPN
Feb. 9: NEW YORK, 7:30, SUN
Feb. 11: at Cleveland, 8, ESPN
Feb. 20: at New York, 7:30, SUN
Feb. 21: NEW ORLEANS, 7:30, SUN
Feb. 23: PHILADELPHIA, 7:30, SUN
Feb. 25: at Orlando, 7, SUN
Feb. 27: at New Orleans, 8, ESPN
Feb. 28: ATLANTA, 7:30, SUN

MARCH
March 2: PHOENIX, 7:30, SUN
March 4: L.A. LAKERS, 8, ESPN
March 6: at Washington, 8, ESPN
March 7: SACRAMENTO, 7:30, SUN
March 9: BOSTON, 7:30, SUN
March 11: BROOKLYN, 7:30, SUN
March 13: at Toronto, 7:30, SUN
March 16: CLEVELAND, 8, ESPN
March 18: PORTLAND, 7:30, SUN
March 20: DENVER, 7:30, SUN
March 22: at Oklahoma City, 3, SUN
March 24: at Milwaukee, 8, SUN
March 25: at Boston, 7:30, SUN
March 27: at Atlanta, 7:30, SUN
March 29: DETROIT, 6, SUN
March 31: SAN ANTONIO, 8, TNT

APRIL
April 2: at Cleveland, 8, TNT
April 4: at Detroit, 7:30, SUN
April 5: at Indiana, 6, SUN
April 7: CHARLOTTE, 7:30, SUN
April 9: CHICAGO, 8, TNT
April 11: TORONTO, 7:30, SUN
April 13: ORLANDO, 7:30, SUN
April 15: at Philadelphia, 8, SUN

Individual tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Aug. 20 at heat.com or ticketmaster.com or 1-800-4NBA-TIX.

Fans can purchase tickets from Heat season ticket holders through www.nba.com/heat/tickets.

Partial season-ticket packages, covering between 10 and 20 games of the purchaser’s choice, are already on sale, with all games available for that package. Games are placed in four categories, with prices at $15, $30, $55 and $100.

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As the Dolphins lurch through the monotony of training camp, you will not find many genuine battles for starting jobs. That’s limited mostly to defensive tackle, possibly right guard and perhaps running back.

But what you will find, as usual, is compelling competition toward the bottom of the roster, with uncertainty at virtually every position.

Assessing the races, heading into Saturday’s second preseason game at Tampa:

### Receiver: The Dolphins’ deepest position  presents difficult decisions. Rishard Matthews, who irked the Dolphins last season because of multiple issues (including tardiness), said he is now on the same page with coach Joe Philbin, and his work throughout camp has made him the favorite for the No. 5 receiver job barring a trade, behind Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson and Jarvis Landry.

But Matthews still must hold off Armon Binns, who has fallen off after a strong start to camp, and Damian Williams, who has flashed throughout camp but didn’t have a catch in the preseason opener. The Dolphins could keep six, which is even more realistic if they retain only two quarterbacks.

Then there’s the issue of what to do with Marcus Thigpen, who’s listed as a receiver (he plays the slot) but also can play running back. Thigpen would be expendable if Landry wins the punt and kickoff return jobs. Landry made a case for that with a 48-yard punt return against Atlanta.

But the Dolphins like Thigpen’s elusiveness and versatility and this decision will not be easy unless Landry repeats Friday’s punt return magic over the next three weeks.

Incidentally, because of the drafting of Landry, some NFL people believe it’s not a certainty that Gibson ($2.7 million salary) will be on this team, and that he could be traded. Gibson has a $3.7 million cap hit if he’s on the roster, $2 million if he’s not. But he’s too good a player to cut for nominal cap savings.

### Quarterback: It would be risky to entrust the No. 2 job with Brady Quinn – considering his poor track record – but this could become a consideration if Matt Moore flounders badly in preseason and Quinn plays well.  Keeping both wouldn’t necessarily make sense, especially if the Dolphins want to sign Seth Lobato to the practice squad. None of Quinn $855,000 contract is guaranteed.

### Running back: The Dolphins like the speed and pass catching ability of Damien Williams, the undrafted Oklahoma running back, and he’s battling Daniel Thomas and Mike Gillislee for one or two jobs behind Lamar Miller and Knowshon Moreno.

Thomas has averaged 3.5, 3.6 and 3.7 yards per carry in his first three seasons and his performance in camp had been pedestrian before being sidelined by a hamstring injury for the past 10 days. Gillislee also remains sidelined by a hamstring.

The Dolphins overlooked Thomas’ uninspiring work in recent years because they liked his potential as well as the notion of having a big back. But Thomas, the Dolphins’ tallest and heaviest back at 6-1 and 235, doesn’t always play like one. Philbin likes Gillislee and his pass-blocking has been solid, but there remain too many carries for marginal gains.

### Tight end: The Dolphins figure to keep four, because they’re a vital part of Bill Lazor’s offense. Charles Clay and Dion Sims have secured spots, and rookie Arthur Lynch seems likely to stick.

Michael Egnew could make the team for a third consecutive year, but coaches want him to improve his route-running. Brett Brackett has shown more as a receiver than Egnew during his brief time with the team. Harold Hoskins’ chances have faded because of a hamstring injury, and Kyle Miller does little to stand out. If the Dolphins part with Egnew, they could look for a fourth tight end after final cuts.  

### Offensive line: Jason Fox, signed to be the Dolphins’ No. 3 tackle, has performed unevenly so far and finds himself in jeopardy. If the Dolphins part ways with Fox, they could try to fill a short-term injury to Branden Albert or Ja’Wuan James by moving Dallas Thomas from guard to tackle, or using Nate Garner there, though Garner’s work at left tackle has been dubious. Such a move would be risky.

If Mike Pouncey begins the season on the physically unable to perform list --- which is no sure thing because it would sideline him the first six games --- then he would not count against the 53-man roster. Under that scenario, if the Dolphins keep nine, that would include the current starters, plus Shelley Smith and Billy Turner and potentially Garner and either Fox, Sam Brenner, David Arkin or someone claimed off waivers in a couple of weeks. There might be a need to keep 10 if Pouncey isn’t placed on PUP.

### Defensive line: Dion Jordan will not count against the 53-man roster while he serves his four-game suspension, creating a spot for promising rookie Terrence Fede as the team’s fourth defensive end to open the season. A.J. Francis was a cinch for the fourth defensive tackle job, but that’s in question because of a knee injury that has sidelined him indefinitely.

If Francis isn’t healthy enough to start the season on the 53-man roster, then Miami figures to keep two from among promising prospect Anthony Johnson, Kemal Johnson, Garrison Smith and Isaako Aaitui or players who will be cut from other teams.

### Defensive backs: Like Jordan, Reshad Jones will not count against the 53-man roster during his four-game suspension. Brent Grimes, Cortland Finnegan, Louis Delmas, Jimmy Wilson, Jamar Taylor and Will Davis will be on the team, and rookie Walt Aikens very likely will, too.

If the Dolphins keep nine defensive backs, that would leave two spots from among safeties Don Jones (recently dropped from second to third team), Michael Thomas and Jordan Kovacs and cornerback Jalil Brown, who was impressive during the offseason program and has shown flashes in camp when healthy.

### Linebacker: The three starters, rookie Jordan Tripp, versatile Jason Trusnik and Jelani Jenkins figure to stick. If Miami keeps seven, then incumbent Jonathan Freeny and undrafted California rookie Chris McCain would be in the mix, though a player also could be plucked off waivers.

### Kicker: The Dolphins have kept Danny Hrapmann around to protect themselves if Caleb Sturgis’ groin remains problematic.

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Please check back for the Heat's schedule when it is released shortly after 6 p.m. Miami's first two games: home against Washington at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 29 (Sun Sports) and Saturday, Nov. 1 at Philadelphia (Sun Sports).

08/12/2014

6 p.m. Tuesday: Local radio shakeup; ABC/ESPN/Simmons news; Dolphins, Canes, Heat

Please scroll down for Dolphins, UM and Heat chatter. First, an update on two broadcast developments today:

### WQAM-560 will announce a lineup shakeup shortly.

Orlando Alzugaray, a longtime host on the station before leaving in 2010, is returning Aug. 25 to host a show from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays. That slot has been filled in recent months by Alex Donno and Brandon Guzio.

Donno will switch to the 7 to 10 p.m. slot, replacing Kevin Rogers.

Rogers and Guzio were dropped by the station earlier today.

Donno also will replace Rogers as WQAM's host on Florida Panthers broadcasts.

The station declined to comment on the moves, which have not been announced.

Alzugaray left WQAM in 2010 to take an afternoon drive slot on WMEN-640, a job he has held for the past four years.

### Bill Simmons, a polarizing figure on the ABC/ESPN NBA studio show, is leaving the program to launch The Grantland Basketball Show, an 18-episode series that will air during the season on ESPN.

ABC and ESPN haven't decided who might replace Simmons on NBA Countdown or whether to replace Simmons at all. The network said the show's other hosts --- Sage Steele, Doug Collins and Jalen Rose --- are all expected back.

No studio show in network sports television has had more turnover in recent years than NBA Countdown, which has shuffled through numerous hosts and analysts, including Stuart Scott, Michael Wilbon, Magic Johnson, Jon Barry and Chris Broussard, among others. 

Simmons, perhaps America's most popular sportswriter, often dominated the conversation on Countdown last season, and too often Collins wasn't given enough time to speak.

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Biggest surprise of Dolphins training camp so far?

Any conversation would probably begin with Dallas Thomas.

Despite the Dolphins’ deficiencies on their offensive line last year, Thomas was entrusted with just three offensive snaps all season.

But Thomas, to this point, has held off free agent acquisition Shelley Smith and rookie third-round pick Billy Turner for the starting job at right guard, though coach Joe Philbin cautioned it’s still an ongoing competition. (Smith has been spending his time recently at left guard, behind Daryn Colledge.)

“Really explosive, real athletic,” left tackle Branden Albert said of Thomas. “He’s got a lot of tools I don’t have. He’s going to be a hell of a player.”

Thomas, selected in the third round in 2013, said Tuesday “it hurt that I had my chance in training camp last year but blew it.”

That made him determined to add muscle and reduce his body fat this offseason, which he achieved by hiring a nutritionist and refining his diet.

“He has performed pretty well,” coach Joe Philbin said. “He got better; you could tell when you watched the tape last year that he was developing. Obviously, fans didn’t get to see that on Sundays.

“Then he had a very good offseason program. He was one of the guys that was here voluntarily in February and March, working with our strength and conditioning guys.”

The Dolphins believe Thomas can play tackle if needed, but for now, they’re having him focus on guard.

Thomas is comfortable playing alongside rookie first-round pick Ja’Wuan James, his former teammate and roommate at the University of Tennessee. Philbin said James played “pretty well his first game” but “I wasn’t crazy about his start.”

###  The Dolphins remain resistant to making Dion Jordan a linebacker, even though he’s likely not going to be on the field much on first down as long as he remains primarily a defensive end.

“There is only X amount of time that you have on the practice field and you have to decide how you want to spend his time,” Philbin said. “One of the things we’ve wanted him to practice on a continual basis is pass rush. So if we’re going to give him an opportunity to compete as a linebacker, you’re taking him out of that element… in his practice time.”

The view here: The Dolphins would be remiss if they don't give Jordan an extended look at linebacker at some point in the next year. Ideally, he would be a 3-4 outside linebacker, though the Dolphins are 4-3 team and the staff has shown no inclination to change that, which is understandable in the sense that the Dolphins have more quality depth on the line than at linebacker.

### Cornerback Will Davis continued his strong training camp by intercepting a poorly thrown pass from Brady Quinn on Tuesday. “I feel so much more technically sound,” Davis said.

Jamar Taylor, competing with Davis for playing time, was beaten by Rishard Matthews for a touchdown, on a Ryan Tannehill pass, on the final play of practice. But Taylor also had a sack on a blitz.

### Rookie receiver Jarvis Landry got some first-team snaps instead of Brandon Gibson on Tuesday.

### Sidelined for the Dolphins on Tuesday: running backs Daniel Thomas (who has begun running) and Mike Gillislee (both with hamstring injuries), offensive tackle Jason Fox (chest), defensive tackle A.J. Francis (knee), tight ends Charles Clay (knee) and Harold Hoskins (hamstring) and defensive end Micajah Reynolds (knee).

### We're taking a one-day break on Dolphins and UM quarterback talk after posting a lot on the subject in recent days, but Adam Beasley has a story on Brady Quinn's first day as a Dolphin on the home page, and Susan Miller Degnan has more on the UM quarterback situation in her story, also to be posted on the home page.   

### As many as nine starting jobs on UM’s defense remain up in the air, and nose tackle has emerged as a four-way battle with Earl Moore (wore a starter’s jersey until Monday when Calvin Heurtelou replaced him), Heurtelou, Courtel Jenkins and Michael Wyche (still trying to lose weight).

Heurtelou was somewhat of a disappointment when he arrived in the spring, but Al Golden said Monday that he “changed his body dramatically, got himself in great condition the past five months.” And Golden said Jenkins “is having a great camp.”

### Expect Duke Johnson to catch more passes this season, Golden said. “Every time he touches the ball, he’s trying to go 20 to 30 yards.”

### UM’s defensive backfield is so deep that barring injury, it’s difficult to envision a defensive role for Ray Lewis III.

UM, at least for now, decided against moving Lewis back to running back, where he played in high school.

Lewis, who was suspended for UM’s bowl game, admitted to reporters on Monday (including Susan Miller Degnan): “I feel like I wasn't mature enough to handle some of the things that were thrown at me when I came to Miami. You don't got mommy with you anymore.  Everything's on you, everything's on how much you mature, on whatever your parents instilled in you over time. They definitely did teach me right, and I feel like I kind of got sidetracked when I first got here.”

### The Heat officially announced the signing of guard Reggie Williams to a non-guaranteed contract… The NBA’s tentative schedule circulated to teams and networks the past two weeks had Miami’s opener against Washington being aired on TNT on Thursday, Oct. 30. But the NBA has made a last-minute change, opting to air LeBron James' first regular season game back with Cleveland, instead of a Heat game, that night. The Wizards-at-Heat game has been moved to Wednesday, Oct. 29.

According to a league source, the Heat’s first TNT game is Nov. 20 at home against the Clippers. The schedule will be released at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

08/11/2014

10 p.m. update: Dolphins make three moves at QB (including Quinn): 20 notes from Dolphins camp Monday; Heat

Dolphins tidbits on a Monday afternoon and evening (updated tonight with Pat Devlin news):

### Brady Quinn will finally be joining the Dolphins, seven years after Dolfans were clamoring for the team to draft him.

According to two sources with direct knowledge, the Dolphins reached an agreement with the former Notre Dame quarterback late Monday afternoon, several hours after auditioning him.

To make room on the roster, the Dolphins informed quarterback Pat Devlin that they plan to release him, ending his three year association with the team.

The Dolphins opted to sign Quinn instead of Rex Grossman and John Skelton, who also worked out for team officials. Josh Freeman, Tim Tebow and Seneca Wallace were among other free agent quarterbacks that Miami passed on.

Devlin's release leaves Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore, Quinn and rookie Seth Lobato as the only quarterbacks on the roster. 

Whether Quinn challenges Moore for the No. 2 job remains to be seen. Coach Joe Philbin declined to answer directly earlier Monday when asked if Moore will be Ryan Tannehill's backup quarterback this season.

“We’re not really at that stage,” Philbin said. “We’re still in a competitive mode.”

Quinn has played in 24 games and started 20 in seven NFL seasons. He was cut by the Seahawks in training camp last August, joined the Jets but was released in October, and then finished the 2013 season with the Rams as the backup to fill-in starter Kellen Clemons.

Quinn set 30 records at Notre Dame and was named Cingular All-America Player of the Year in 2006, but his pro career has never met expectations.

As an NFL player, Quinn has thrown 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, with a subpar 64.4 rating. By comparison, Moore had 33 touchdowns, 28 interceptions and a 79.3 rating.

Quinn has thrown just 197 passes over the past four seasons --- all for Kansas City in 2012, when he had two touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Quinn, 29, signed with Fox earlier this month as a college and NFL analyst but told the network that playing this season remained his preference.

Before the 2007 draft, many Dolphins fans hoped the team would select Quinn with the ninth overall pick and reacted disdainfully when they chose receiver Ted Ginn Jr. instead.

Cleveland drafted Quinn 22nd that year.

Moore has been bothered by a sore shoulder and did not play in Friday’s exhibition opener. He worked during Monday’s practice and Philbin said he “threw the ball well.” Moore does not believe his shoulder soreness is anything serious.

Moore would make $4 million, with a cap number of $5.5 million, if he’s on the team this season, the second year of a two-year deal. But his cap hit would be only $1.5 million if he’s not on the team.

Moore has played three seasons for the Dolphins and performed capably in 2011, when he filled in for Chad Henne for 13 games, throwing for 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions, with an 87.1 rating.

But Moore has appeared in only three games and thrown 25 passes in Philbin’s two seasons. He threw two interceptions in six passes in his only appearance last season, when he replaced Tannehill against Buffalo.

Devlin received no work in 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 drills on Monday; he said he was unsure why. Hours later, he was released.

Devlin spent most of his first season (2011) on the Dolphins’ practice squad and the past two on the 53-man roster.

“I like him,” Philbin said before his release, which was not announced. “He’s definitely developed. He plays the game fast. He’s decisive when he’s back there. But he has to be out there on a more consistent basis to get a good, thorough evaluation.”

The Dolphins are intrigued by Lobato, but Miami scored only three points during the 10 possessions when he ran the offense against Atlanta. If the Dolphins want to keep him, he could end up on the practice squad.

There was one fewer quarterback on the roster Monday after Miami released undrafted North Dakota State rookie Brock Jensen.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins feel good about Tannehill, who went 6 for 6 and threw a touchdown on the only drive he led against Atlanta.

Lazor adjusted Tannehill’s footwork, and Tannehill said that has paid dividends.

“It’s helped me get the ball out faster, have more velocity on some of my throws, and just be more consistent,” Tannehill said Monday. “Some of the incompletions I’ve had in the past are due to inconsistent footwork. That was his big key coming in to say: ‘Hey, we’re going to get your feet right and then everything else will take care of itself.’”

Tannehill threw a 30-yard completion to Mike Wallace on Monday and said he believes he and Wallace “are more on the same page now than we ever have been. Not only on deep balls, but [overall]. No matter what the play is, we’re able to talk about things, be open with each other and be more on the same page.”

### On Monday, the Dolphins gave Jimmy Wilson first-team snaps, alongside Louis Delmas, as they prepare to play without safety Reshad Jones for the first four games of the season.

Jones can practice and play in preseason games but will miss the first four games of the regular season after testing positive for an undisclosed performance enhancing substance.

Wilson is expected to move over from nickel cornerback and fill in for Jones at safety. Meanwhile, Jamar Taylor, Michael Thomas and Will Davis all have received work at nickel cornerback over the past two days.

Another option would be moving Cortland Finnegan to the slot in nickel packages and playing Taylor or Will Davis on the outside, opposite Brent Grimes.

Thomas and rookie Walt Aikens, who has impressed the staff, have been taking snaps as the second team safeties.

### Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle believes Wilson is well-equipped to fill in for Jones.

“Jimmy has grown tremendously in the three years that we’ve been together,” Coyle said. “He’s probably one of the best communicators on the team. He has been able to direct the players on the field very, very well, as good as anybody we’ve had back there.

“When he’s been in big situations he’s come up big for us. We kind of nicknamed him ‘Red zone Jimmy’ because, down in the red area of the field, if you go back over the last couple of years, he’s constantly making plays that have impacted games.”

### As for the nickel job, Coyle said that decision largely would be based on performance in games. “We’re going to try to make sure that early in these games we get a lot of looks at some different combinations,” said Coyle, who noted that Finnegan has been “an outstanding nickel throughout his career.”

### After missing a bunch of tackles on Atlanta’s opening touchdown drive Friday, and Dolphins have spent considerable time working on their tackling the past two days, including a drill Monday in which linebackers tried to corral running backs and tight ends when they lined up 10 yards apart.

 “This week is still a very, very important fundamental training camp week,” Coyle said. “Hopefully… [the tackling] will improve dramatically.”

 ### Coyle said even though the plan is to stick with Koa Misi at middle linebacker, “we are working different combinations in the event that we don’t feel comfortable with it.”

### Coyle said linebacker Philip Wheeler “at times can be his own worst enemy when he plays out of control. He gives such great effort, but he, at times, overreacts to things. We’ve just got to slow him down, let the game slow down for him some and I think he’s going to be fine. He was a little anxious in the opening game.”

### The Dolphins failed to register a sack in the opener, and Coyle said: “I think we can get more out of [Dion Jordan] in the pass rush.”

###  Left tackle Jason Fox (chest), running back Mike Gillislee (hamstring) and long shot defensive tackle Micajah Reynolds (knee) will be out indefinitely, though Fox’s injury isn’t thought to be serious.

Running Daniel Thomas (hamstring) remained sidelined with a hamstring injury sustained a week ago, and tight end Charles Clay was wearing a knee brace on Monday and also remains out indefinitely.

Defensive tackle A.J. Francis (knee) and tight end Harold Hoskins (hamstring) also remain out, and linebacker Chris McCain was limited with a leg injury.

But running back Damien Williams returned to practice, three days after being carted off with a leg injury Friday in Atlanta.

### Because of injuries at running back, the Dolphins signed former Arizona State tailback Cameron Marshall, who had been released by the Dolphins twice in the past year, and cut quarterback Brock Jensen.

### Running back Knowshon Moreno participated in 11 on 11 drills for the first time since returning from June knee surgery and seemed to have good burst. “He looked better today,” Philbin said. “He’s definitely making progress.”

Moreno said he still has to “get into that football shape” and wasn’t sure when he would play in a preseason game.

### Receiver Brandon Gibson, returning from last October’s knee injury, is starting to “remind us more of the player we saw on film last year,” Philbin said.

### Philbin said tight end Dion Sims “is looking more like an NFL player.” He caught a TD pass from Tannehill today.

### Coyle said he likes the potential of defensive end Terrence Fede. "He's got good awareness," Coyle said. "He's got a chance to help us."

HEAT ITEM

A tentative copy of the NBA schedule, which is circulating around the league, has the Heat opening the regular season at home against Washington on Thursday night, Oct. 30. That schedule has the Heat playing its second game of the season at Philadelphia two nights later.


As we previously reported, the Heat also is scheduled to play host to Cleveland on Christmas Day, with ABC and the NBA prefering at 5 p.m. start. Miami is slated to make its first trip to Cleveland in mid-February, just before the All-Star break.


The league theoretically can change anything in the tentative schedule before its release at 6 p.m. Wednesday and that does happen occasionally.

 

 

08/10/2014

2 p.m. Monday: Dolphins narrow QB choices; Heat schedule update

2 p.m. update: After working out Rex Grossman, Brady Quinn and John Skelton today, the Dolphins still have interest in Quinn but are not expected to sign Grossman or Skelton. They also are considering looking at other available quarterbacks, with Josh Freeman, Kevin Kolb and Seneca Wallace among those still unsigned. Standing pat is also an option.

By the way, the NFL says that Pat Devlin, who has been on the Dolphins' 53-man roster the past two seasons, still has practice-squad eligibility remaining.

9:30 a.m. update: We're hearing that besides Rex Grossman, the Dolphins are also considering Brady Quinn and John Skelton and they also are expected to be part of today's workouts.

11 a.m. update: Quinn, Skelton and Grossman just emerged from their Dolphins auditions, inside the team's bubble. Joe Philbin declined to answer directly when I asked him if Matt Moore will be the team's backup quarterback this season. Ryan Tannehill and Moore did all the work in 11 on 11 drills today, with Pat Devlin (back from a hamstring injury) excluded from those drills.

Quinn has played in 24 games and started 20 in seven NFL seasons. He split time between the Rams and Jets last season but did not attempt a pass. In his career, he has thrown 12 TDs and 17 INTs and had a 64.4 rating.

As for Skelton, he has appeared in 20 games and started 17, all with Arizona, between 2010 and 2012. His career numbers: 15 touchdowns, 25 picks and 63 rating. He split last season between Tennessee and San Francisco but did not attempt a pass.

Please scroll down below for information on Grossman, the other quarterback who worked out for Miami today, and more on the team's QB situation.

11:30 a.m. update: A tentative copy of the NBA schedule, which is circulating around the league, has the Heat opening the regular season at home against Washington on TNT on Thursday night, Oct. 30. That schedule has the Heat playing its second game of the season at Philadelphia two nights later.

As we previously reported, the Heat also is scheduled to play host to Cleveland on Christmas Day. Miami is slated to make its first trip to Cleveland in mid-February, just before the All-Star break.

The league theoretically can change anything in the tentative schedule before its release at 6 p.m. Wednesday and that does happen occasionally.

 

######################################################################################

SUNDAY NIGHT UPDATE

Matt Moore and Pat Devlin returned to practice on Sunday, but that doesn’t mean the Dolphins are completely comfortable with their quarterback situation behind Ryan Tannehill.

Agent Drew Rosenhaus said on his WSVN-Fox segment Sunday night that the Dolphins will work out quarterbacks on Monday, and his client, veteran Rex Grossman, will be among those auditioning.

Grossman, 33, played for the Redskins the past four years but did not throw a pass in either of the past two regular seasons. He last appeared in a regular season game in 2011, when he threw 16 touchdowns and 20 interceptions and posted a 72.4 rating.

His overall career numbers: 56 touchdowns, 60 picks and a 71.4 rating. He spent his first six seasons with Chicago, then one with Houston, before moving on to Washington.

Though he was Chicago's quarterback in the February 2007 Super Bowl, Grossman has had a generally disappointing career considering he was drafted 22nd overall by the Bears, out of Florida, in 2003, and was once the Associated Press College Player of the Year.

Moore has been bothered by a sore shoulder throughout training camp and did not play in Friday’s exhibition opener. He worked during Sunday's practice, but the team did not conduct any 11 on 11 drills.

Moore does not believe his shoulder soreness is anything serious and does not believe it puts him at any risk of missing regular season games if he's needed. Still, the situation is somewhat troubling.

Devlin was sidelined with a hamstring injury for a week before returning for Sunday’s light practice. Though Joe Philbin has been a big supporter of Devlin the past two years, his roster spot is now very much at risk.

The Dolphins like undrafted Northern Colorado rookie Seth Lobato, but his best hope of sticking might be as a member of the practice squad.

Moore would make $4 million, with a cap number of $5.5 million, if he’s on the team this season. But his cap hit would be only $1.5 million if he’s not on the team.

Devlin’s salary and cap number would be $510,000 if he’s on the team, zero if he’s not.

Incidentally, the Dolphins released fifth-string quarterback Brock Jensen tonight.

Among other unsigned veteran quarterbacks still available besides Grossman: Kyle Orton, Josh Freeman, Kevin Kolb, Chris Redman, Seneca Wallace and Brady Quinn (who signed as an announcer with Fox but hasn't ruled out playing). Of course, Tim Tebow is also available, but there's no indication that any team in the league has any interest whatsoever in him as a quarterback. He's now a studio analyst for the new SEC Network, which launches this month.

08/08/2014

5 p.m. Saturday UM report; Postscripts from Dolphins' preseason opener; Pat Riley delivers firm message

A 5 p.m. Saturday UM update:

### I spoke to a bunch of Hurricanes recruits at today's annual high school football media day at Sun Life Stadium. We'll share their comments in the coming weeks, but here are a few news items:

As many of you know, UM has oral commitments from two four-star running backs name Jordan: St. Thomas Aquinas' Jordan Scarlett (rated 13th among all backs by rivals.com) and Westminster Christian's Jordan Cronkrite (ranked 20th).

Scarlett said today that he is definitely going to UM. But Cronkrite said that while he most likely will go to UM, he isn't sure and also is considering West Virginia, South Carolina, UF and Ohio State....

Westminster Christian four-star safety Tim Irvin said he's considering UM, UF, FSU, Clemson and Alabama and he has no favorite...

Plantation American Heritage quarterback Torrance Gibson said Ohio State is his front-runner but he's still considering UM, Tennessee, Auburn, UCF and Arizona. He wants to play quarterback and Miami has offered him as a quarterback, which is why the Canes are still in the mix. Gibson is rated the fourth-best "athlete" by rivals.com....

Gibson's teammate, five-star cornerback Tarvarus McFadden, disputed reports that FSU is his leader and is considering Georgia, LSU, FSU, Ohio State and UCF....

Five-star Coconut Creek Monarch stars Shawn Burgess Becker and Calvin Ridley reiterated that they are firmly committed to Alabama. But Becker wouldn't rule out Miami. He said both of them are determined to go to the same school...

St. Thomas Aquinas four-star receiver Devante Peete said he's strongly considering UM, FSU, Ohio State and Louisville and they're all equal in his mind....

Aquinas four-star cornerback Rashard Causey Jr. remains an FAU commit but said that's "iffy" and UM has a good chance of landing him....

Booker T. Washington running back Mark Walton, a highly-regarded UM oral commitment, said he will know soon whether he will graduate in June 2015 or June 2016. He said it's 50/50.

### No surprise here: Jake Heaps and Brad Kaaya are leading the UM quarterback battle. Heaps remains the front-runner because of experience, but Kaaya is at least giving UM something to think about.

On Saturday, Heaps threw an 80-yard touchdown to Malcolm Lewis, and Kaaya threw a 10-yard TD to Walter Tucker.

"A guy like Jake, he's very game polished," offensive coordinator James Coley said. "He comes in with a lot of experience. He's very fundamentally sound. He's a little older than the other guys. He's been fairly accurate, making great checks on the line of scrimmage. I've been very pleased with him.

"Brad Kaaya, I have no idea if he's a freshman or not --- he acts like he's a senior. Just very sharp. We threw the playbook at these guys and they've responded. ... Brad's been accurate. Throwing the ball really well. As the week's gone on both of those guys have got into a groove and got into a little zone right now. Those guys are competing extremely hard against each other."

Coley said Malik Rosier "has used his athleticism and he just has to get going with the other stuff that the other guys are ahead of him with right now --- just grasping everything with regard to the offense. ... Kevin Olsen has been consistent. He's getting better."

Al Golden said the quarterback competition would be cut to two after Wednesday's scrimmage.

### Golden, on tight end Clive Walford: "Clive's working harder right now than he ever has. He's finishing his routes, he's more detail-oriented. He's paying attention to the little things now and that comes with maturity, of course. It's a talented position, and it was made more talented by Chris Herndon's arrival."

### Receiver Darrell Langham, the final piece to arrive from UM's 2014 recruiting class, practiced for the first time Saturday.

### Golden said defensive end Demetrius Jackson has been a pleasant surprise; Jackson and fellow freshman d-end Chad Thomas had sacks on Saturday.

### Golden, on Anthony Chickillo: "The kid made a commitment back in February and really hasn't been the same guy. Just got his spirit back, got his focus back. We asked him to do a lot in his career, too much before he was ready to do it, and now he has an opportunity. His body is caught up with his experience and technique. His leadership has been phenomenal."

 DOLPHINS TALK

Notes, quotes and thoughts from the Dolphins’ 16-10 loss at Atlanta in their preseason opener:

Well, there were five inspiring minutes. The rest? Not so much.

The good news:

### Ryan Tannehill was terrific on the 10-play, 73-yard opening drive, completing 6 of 6 passes for 61 yards, including an 8-yard TD to Brandon Gibson and a 36-yard pass to Rishard Matthews. His line gave him ample time. Bill Lazor used a mix of formations and was creative in his play-calling, including an 8-yard pass to Gibson off a read option earlier in that possession.

And Miami did it all without Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Charles Clay and of course, Knowshon Moreno and Mike Pouncey.

### No kidding: The Dolphins began preseason with a TD on their first drive for the first time since 1988. Lorenzo Hampton scored that one.

### Also encouraging: The Dolphins’ run defense was generally stout, allowing 2.6 yards per carry on 32 attempts.

### Will Davis capably defended at least four passes.

### The return game was promising. Jarvis Landry broke two tackles on a 48-yard punt return and Marcus Thigpen had a 28-yard punt return. The return job looms as one of the most interesting in camp. Having Landry handle all returns saves a roster spot, but the staff also likes Thigpen.

### The offensive line allowed only one sack, when Billy Turner was victimized in the fourth quarter.

### Several players competing for roster spots made impressive plays, including tackles for loss from Anthony Johnson and Garrison Smith.... Tight end Brett Brackett was reliable as a receiver… Terence Fede made a tackle for a loss and Jordan Tripp was active and seems to have a nose for the ball (cliche alert!).

Here’s what’s discouraging:

### The Dolphins were outgained 372-229 and allowed the Falcons to march down the field for a touchdown on their first possession, with Matt Ryan finishing 7 for 8 for 53 yards on the 15 play, 77-yard drive that chewed up 9:16 of the clock.

### The Dolphins still can’t run the ball, certainly not with any consistency. Miami finished with 52 yards on 21 carries, equaling 2.5 per carry. Lamar Miller ran four times for 11 yards, Mike Gillislee 8 for 30,  Orleans Darkwa 2 for 9, and Damian Williams 6 times for just 2 yards.

### Williams, the undrafted Oklahoma running back who the Dolphins really like, had to be carted off with a foot injury late in the game. He was in a walking boot after the game.

### The Dolphins still do Dolphins-like things at inopportune times. With the Dolphins at the Falcons’ five yard line and just under three minutes left, Seth Lobato couldn’t handle Kyle Larsen’s snap, and the Falcons recovered.

“There are some things that have happened in practice that reared their ugly head at a bad time in the game,” Joe Philbin said. “When we had the ball at the 5, I would have bet my ranch we would win the game. Balls are on the ground too much in practice and on the ground again today at a bad time.”

### Lobato (14 for 28, 128 yards) quarterbacked the Dolphins for their final 10 drives but the Dolphins scored just three points during that time, and he committed the key late fumble. But he didn’t throw any interceptions and if Pat Devlin fails to impress when he returns from a hamstring injury, the Dolphins could keep just two quarterbacks (Tannehill and Matt Moore) and place Lobato or someone else on the practice squad.

Moore sat out to rest a sore shoulder and Brock Jensen didn’t play.

### Jason Fox, battling for a roster spot as a backup tackle, was beaten on a running play that resulted in a five-yard loss for Damien Williams.

### The defensive line failed to get any consistent pass rush. The Dolphins had no sacks. Miami’s only sack – on a blitz by linebacker Koa Misi – was negated by a holding penalty against Jimmy Wilson.

### As usual with this team, the linebacker play was spotty. Misi, adjusting to middle linebacker, was faked out on one play, leaving him shaking his head. Undrafted rookie Chris McCain, impressive early, missed a tackle and made a costly mistake in pass coverage on a pick, leading to a long gain. Philip Wheeler did nothing to disrupt the Falcons’ opening drive. Jelani Jenkins was beaten on a third-down catch.

### The Dolphins allowed the Falcons to convert 8 of 17 third downs. Lowlights included Jamar Taylor permitting a 15-yard completion to Courtney Roby on 3rd and 10 late in the first half, and Davis allowed a 12-yard pass on third and long.

### The worst news of the day: Reshad Jones was suspended four games for taking a performance enhancing substance.

“The NFL has stiff policies,” Philbin said. “If you don’t adhere to the policies, you have to pay the consequences. We’ve addressed it multiple times a year, that everyone is responsible for what they put in their bodies.”

Wilson, who figures to take over for Jones for the first four games of the season, wasn’t at his best. Michael Thomas, the star of last December’s Patriots win, also struggled. Don Jones limped off late. And rookie Walt Aikens, moving from cornerback to safety, allowed a 35-yard pass completion.

A few other random notes:

### Jared Odrick started at defensive end in place of Olivier Vernon, whose back locked up on him on Monday. Vernon had practiced on Wednesday.

### The Dolphins played without four tight ends: Clay, Arthur Lynch, Michael Egnew and Gator Hoskins.

### The Dolphins opened with Dallas Thomas at right guard and Samson Satele at center. Those two and starting right tackle Ja’Wuan James played the entire first half.

### With Daniel Thomas sidelined, Gillislee played the second series at running back and Williams the third.

### Oddest moment of the broadcast: Analyst Bob Griese not knowing Dennis Hickey's job title. Oy!

### Six players caught more than a single pass: Brackett (3 for 51), Matthews (2 for 40), Kevin Cone (for 19), the running back Williams (3 for 18), Brandon Gibson (2 for 14) and Miller (2 for 8).

### Caleb Sturgis sat out to rest a groin injury. Danny Hrapmann (with the always popular silent H) kicked a 42-yard field goal.

### Shelley Smith played backup left guard. This makes you shake your head: The Dolphins thought so much of Smith that he was the second offensive lineman they added in free agency in March, after Branden Albert. The Dolphins never made an offer to Daryn Colledge until June 30. And yet Colledge is starting and Smith isn’t.

Please see the last post for Pat Riley's Friday message and other Heat stuff.

Friday 5 p.m.: On day of LeBron rally in Akron, Riley and Heat go on PR campaign

On the day LeBron James attended a “Welcome Home, LeBron” rally in Akron, his first public event in Ohio since returning to the Cavaliers, the Heat showered fans with optimism, including the release of a Pat Riley video and the tweeting of a old photo showing Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem holding the Larry O’Brien trophy.

In a three minute, ten second video released on the Heat's Twitter account and web site, Riley said: “I’m really excited about the team we’ve put together. I am not going to make any guarantees. But I will guarantee you this: You will see one of the most competitive, one of most entertaining teams you’ve seen in a long time.

“I am as excited as I've ever been to let you know we are a contender. You cannot ever look at the Miami Heat and not think of us as being a contender. I’ve always been someone who believes in the big picture.... We have an owner who thinks big. We are not going to be satisfied with anything that doesn’t come close to winning a championship. That’s what we’re about.”

Riley acknowledged James in the video, saying: “We had a player here who we will never forget, LeBron James. He for four years, along with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, created an incredible frenzy in the city of Miami…. While we enjoyed those four years, we can also expect there might be another four or five more of those years in front of us, also. That’s what I’m looking forward to.

“With Chris Bosh at center or power forward and Chris Andersen… and the addition of Luol Deng and Josh McRobert and Danny Granger. New additions we feel are going to help us…. With Dwyane Wade, our franchise player for the past 12 years,… at the two guard, Mario Chalmers, a player we feel very confident about, back at starting point guard. Along with… the backbone of team, Udonis Haslem, we’re ready to move on into the future….

“I’ve been one for 19 years proud to say this is my home. I’m going on my 20th year. One message I want to communicate to you, as Micky Arison has stated in his letter,… is we have something very unique and very special for you in the future.

“We’ve had a great four years. It was an historic run. It was a fun run. Two championships, four finals, a lot of great highlights, a lot of great moments, a lot of great feelings. I want to let you know there is a lot more of that ahead of us.”

A Heat spokesperson said the Riley video was the first of several Heat videos that will be released this summer but said he did not know whether it was designed to coincidence with James’ event at the University of Akron, which was being held as part of his annual Wheelers for Education family event. Nearly 30,000 were expected to attend the event tonight.

The Heat said that its aggressive public relations approach should not be taken as any indication that ticket sales have fallen off. The Heat said that is not the case and that the deadline to renew Heat season tickets came before James left in free agency and the renewal rate was very high. Individual tickets are not on sale yet. The regular season schedule will be released next Wednesday at 6 p.m.

### If the Heat wants to add a veteran shooting guard to back up Dwyane Wade, free agent options are now extremely limited.

Jordan Crawford, Shannon Brown, Leandro Barbosa, Toney Douglas and swingmen Chris Douglas-Roberts and Jordan Hamilton are perhaps the only ones available who would have a chance to crack the Heat’s rotation. Most are hoping for more than the minimum deals Miami can offer. (Same with free agent small forward Shawn Marion, who reportedly is considering Cleveland and Indiana.)

Though a late-September addition from that group (or another player) remains quite possible, the Heat could end up playing Danny Granger and starting point guard Mario Chalmers at backup shooting guard.

Please check back later for Heat-Falcons chatter... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

08/07/2014

6 p.m.: Heat signings; Reax to ESPN benching Le Batard; Hardaway leaves; UM, Dolphins, Heat notes

The Dan Le Batard news of the day, plus much more is below. First, a 6 p.m. Heat update:

The Heat agreed to a one-year deal at the minimum with veteran journeyman forward Reggie Williams, who has played in 180 NBA games, with 32 starts, over five seasons.

But Williams played just three NBA games last season (on a 10-day contract for Oklahoma City) and spent time playing in the NBA's Development League and most recently in the Philippines.

Williams, 6-6, has averaged 8.5 points and 2.6 rebounds in his career, shooting 46 percent from the field and 37.1 percent on three-pointers (191 for 515). He spent his first two seasons with Golden State and his next two with Charlotte before spending most of last season out of the NBA, aside from the brief stint with the Thunder.

He averaged 15.2 points in 24 games as a rookie for Golden State, but his playing time and scoring average have plunged since, and he averaged just 3.7 points over his past 43 NBA games, spanning two seasons.

At Virginia Military, he twice led the NCAA in scoring.

Also, the Heat reportedly has extended a training camp invitation to undrafted Middle Tennessee State rookie forward Shawn Jones, who played at Hialeah High. Jones averaged 14.1 points and 8.7 rebounds last season and was named Conference USA Player of the Year. He impressed scouts playing for the Clippers in the Las Vegas Summer League.

The addition of Williams and Jones gives the Heat 16 players. Miami can invite 20 to training camp.

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4 p.m. update (please scroll lower for a 5 p.m. update with 790 The Ticket's reaction to this):

ESPN has removed Dan Le Batard from the radio for the next two days because it is upset that his radio show purchased several billboards that will be displayed for a month in the Cleveland/Akron area coinciding with James' Friday homecoming celebrating his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"Dan will be off the air for two days, returning Monday," ESPN said in a statement. "His recent stunt does not reflect ESPN's standards and brand. Additionally, we were not made aware of his plans in advance."

The billboards show the two NBA championship rings James won with the Heat and read, "You're Welcome, LeBron, Love, Miami." That was a jab at the fact James did not thank Heat fans in his essay in Sports Illustrated or at any time subsequently.

The show initially considered buying full-page ads with the same message, but newspapers in Cleveland and Akron rejected the ads before they officially were submitted.

Mike Ryan, the show's producer, was scheduled to be in Akron on Friday to report from the homecoming and whimsically poke fun at it.

But Friday's show has been canceled, and ESPN will not give Le Batard, co-host Jon Weiner or Ryan an opportunity to playfully mock the homecoming.

Reacting to the suspension, Le Batard texted Herald colleague Greg Cote: "I guess ESPN didn't find it all quite as funny as I did."

Le Batard explained Wednesday that taking out the billboards is "all meant in fun --- which, of course, will turn into Cleveland people getting filled with rage, poison and irrational hostility and want to use those billboards as a guillotine. Sports are so great, the more irrational the better. This is a publicity stunt disguised as a movement... It's just fun anarchy."

ESPN clearly was stung by the fact that James gave Sports Illustrated, and not ESPN, the exclusive news about James leaving the Heat for Cleveland. Though the network would not comment beyond its statement, ESPN seems determined not to have a direct role in anything else that would embarrass or anger James.

Still, what amounts to a suspension is excessive.

Le Batard's TV show, Highly Questionable, and his radio show will both return Monday. Highly Questionable wasn't scheduled to air Thursday or Friday.

Le Batard has said previously that ESPN Radio has never tried to dictate content on his show since it began airing his 790 The Ticket program last October.

[5 p.m. update]: I asked Maureen Lesourd, general manager of 790 The Ticket, if she thought the ESPN suspension was unfair and unwarranted. She said because 790 is an ESPN affiliate, "I don't feel I should comment one way or the other. Am I happy I don't have Dan's show on today? Of course I'm not happy. I love Dan. He's a great contributor to the station."

But later in the day, she said: "The fans were offended, so for The Ticket it was a brilliant local promotion and meant for fun, but I have to respect stunts like this don't work for a national outlet like ESPN."

Did the station give any thought to having Le Batard, Weiner and Ryan do Friday's LeBron-ribbing/Akron show merely for the South Florida audience?

Lesourd said no, for two reasons: Le Batard is an ESPN employee, not a Ticket employee. And though Weiner and Ryan are Ticket employees, "I'm a network partner. So in some cases I have to support the network's request" and ESPN felt strongly that Friday's show not be aired anywhere.

What's more, The Ticket is in the final stages of renewing its deal to retain its ESPN Radio affiliation. The contract is due to expire at the end of September, and Lesourd said "we have a deal to renew."

If The Ticket did anything to anger ESPN, then WQAM would swoop in instantly to try to swoop Le Batard and ESPN Radio away from The Ticket. So though Lesourd might be tempted to question ESPN's decision, she is acting sensible as the station's financial custodian.

Lesourd has decided, however, to carry local programming (Chris Wittyngham and Josh Friedman) instead of ESPN's fill-in Le Batard programming today and from 3 to 7 p.m. Friday.

Le Batard, incidentally, is a contributor to The Miami Herald but not a full-time employee.

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Tim Hardaway, who combined with Alonzo Mourning to help lead the Heat to four consecutive Atlantic Division titles and was at the epicenter of the compelling Heat-Knicks rivalry during that era, said Thursday he is leaving his job as a Heat scout to become an assistant coach on Stan Van Gundy’s staff in Detroit.

“I’m ecstatic,” he told me this afternoon. “It’s something I wanted to do. It’s all about teaching. I’m good at teaching and understanding players.”

And he was comfortable with Van Gundy, who was an assistant coach during Hardaway’s time with the Heat. “Stan and I have great rapport. [Heat president] Pat Riley said it’s a great thing for me and he’s happy for me.”

Hardaway --- who will join Brendan Malone, Bob Beyer, Charles Klask and former Heat forward Malik Allen on Van Gundy’s staff --- said a coaching job on Erik Spoelstra’s staff wasn’t realistic because “there are guys before me here and I didn’t want to take anything from them.”

The Heat acquired Hardaway and Chris Gatling from Golden State, for Kevin Willis and Bimbo Coles, in a midseason trade in 1995-96, and Hardaway and Mourning --- over the next 5 ½ seasons --- led the Heat to its most success as a franchise up to that point, though kidney disease sidelined Mourning for most of Hardaway's final season with the team.

Hardaway, 47, was first-team All-NBA in 1996-97 and fourth in MVP balloting. The Heat won 61 games that season but lost to Michael Jordan's Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Heat traded Hardaway to Dallas for a second-round pick in August 2001, and he later finished out his career with Denver and Indiana. But the Heat hired him in recent years and also helped him when he was in financial need, by reportedly purchasing his home in 2010 to help him clear debt.

He served as a scout and community and corporate liaison for the Heat for the past three years, and he was given more scouting duties than ever before this past season.

“It’s going to be hard, going to be sad [to leave the Heat],” he said. “I am always a Heat family guy. There will always be a big place in my heart for the Heat, Micky Arison, Pat Riley. We helped each other in many ways. Great people. I will miss them. It’s bittersweet.”

Hardaway --- whose son Tim Jr. plays for the Knicks --- also used the word “bittersweet” to describe Friday’s Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, which he will attend in Springfield, Mass.

Mourning and Mitch Richmond, Hardaway’s close friends and former teammates, will be inducted Friday, and Hardaway --- who was a finalist – hoped to be inducted as well. (Richmond and Hardaway played together in Golden State.)

“You have to wait your turn,” Hardaway said. “God has a plan for everybody. You’ve got to be optimistic [about being inducted eventually]. Zo and Mitch are my guys.”

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Some Thursday news and notes:

### The Heat so far has shown little interest in retaining Greg Oden. And Oden’s overall free agent prospects took a hit this morning when he was arrested and charged with battery after allegedly punching a woman that he says he dated for two years before a breakup two months ago. 

Police were summoned to the Lawrence, Ind., home of Oden’s mother at 3:30 a.m. Officers arrived to find the victim crying and lying across a bed holding her face.

“He punched her in the face,” a witness, described as the victim’s best friend, told police.

Police observed blood, swelling to the nose, lacerations to the forehead and nose area of the victim’s face, and also saw blood on the sofa, living room carpet and floor in a sitting area, as well as dirt from a flower pot that was knocked over.

Oden was calm and apologetic with police, telling them: “I was wrong and I know what has to happen.”

### The Heat likely will add another veteran center at the minimum to replace Oden, but it has to be someone who’s content with not playing much. (Barring injury or foul trouble, it’s hard to see many minutes available, with Chris Bosh and Chris Andersen sharing virtually all the time at center; and Josh McRoberts, Udonis Haslem, Birdman and occasionally Danny Granger at power forward.)

Among those still available: Elton Brand, Andray Blatche (Heat has avoided him before because of maturity, behavior issues), Charlie Villanueva, Ryan Hollins, Ekpe Udoh, Byron Mullins, Greg Stiesma and Andrew Bynum (who can’t stay healthy).

### Former Heat great Tim Hardaway, a scout and community and corporate liaison for the Heat, has discussed joining Stan Van Gundy's staff in Detroit, according to Yahoo.

### Why was Dolphins linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, of all people, staying late Wednesday catching passes from a JUGS machine?

“I reached out to Derrick Brooks and I asked him how to get all the interceptions like he did,” Ellerbe said. “He told me to catch 20 balls after practice every day, so I’ve been catching 30.”

### Ryan Tannehill’s play has been uneven (some good, some bad) in training camp, but here are two encouraging signs:

He’s consistently running for significant gains on read option plays, though he still needs to work on his sliding. And he still shows a knack for making plays outside the pocket, sometimes when he’s flushed and sometimes by design. As Grantland’s Bill Barnwell noted in a piece this week, Tannehill was the NFL’s fifth-best passer outside the pocket his first two seasons.

### UM badly needs Michael Wyche to play a lot at nose tackle, but his integration early in camp is being sidetracked somewhat by conditioning issues. Wyche is still spending a lot of his time on getting in shape. He has lost 10 pounds to get to 340, but UM coaches want him at 335.

"He's got a long way to go there," Al Golden said Wednesday evening. "He knows it, but as long as he makes incremental progress with his weight and just remains positive - that's the biggest thing with a lot of these guys when you have to lose weight and get in condition, just staying positive and knowing that there's a light at the end of the tunnel if you can get there."

UM, which alternates between a 4-3 and 3-4, has been using Earl Moore, Calvin Heurtelou, Wyche and Courtel Jenkins at nose tackle. Defensive end Ufomba Kamalu also has been getting time at tackle.

Of the defensive line overall, "That's the deepest we've been - no question,” Golden said. “You've got [Anthony] Chickillo, Kamalu, [Jelani] Hamilton and Chad Thomas mixing it in at end. Then you've got Kamalu playing on the other side as well with Olsen Pierre, Anthony Moten and Corey King. Then inside we've got a lot of guys rotating in there at nose.”

Golden unintentionally omitted Trent Harris, the freshman from Winter Park who has been getting some first-team work --- opposite Chickillo --- at defensive end. Harris, who enrolled in January, picked UM over offers from Alabama, FSU and UF, among others.

### Though he might not be needed much as a receiver this year because of UM's depth and experience at the position, it’s encouraging to see freshman Braxton Berrios make a strong comeback from an ACL injury. Berrios has made several plays during the first two days of camp, including taking a screen for 15 yards and running 20 yards on an end-around.

### Denzel Perryman obviously is entrenched as one starting linebacker, but there’s competition at the other spots with Raphael Kirby trying to hold off much-improved Jermaine Grace, and Darrion Owens and Thurston Armbrister also competing.

The Kirby/Grace WILL linebacker battle is especially intriguing. Grace proved in the spring he can be more than just a third-down contributor. Grace notes he has the “speed” to be “able to cover fast guys” out of the backfield. But he also showed in the spring that he is improved against the run.

UM coaches like Kirby’s skill set, but his inconsistency has frustrated them in the past.

### Freshman QB Brad Kaaya, who’s very smart, has developed a good on-field chemistry with Clive Walford…. Safety Jamal Carter, paired with Dallas Crawford or Deon Bush, has made a couple of pass breakups early in camp and continues to emerge…

Cornerback Antonio Crawford, with an interception already in camp, is giving Tracy Howard and Artie Burns all they can handle in the battle for the starting job opposite senior Ladarius Gunter, who also must fight to retain his starting spot…. Freshman safeties Marques Gayot and Kiy Hester have impressed Golden. 

08/06/2014

Heat adds guard; Tight end and QB developments; 15 notes, thoughts from Wednesday Dolphins practice

Quick Heat note before we get to Dolphins:

Undrafted Fresno State rookie guard Tyler Johnson has agreed in principle to a two-year deal with the Heat but has not signed it, agent Pedro Power told us earlier today.

Johnson, 6-4, impressed the Heat with his athleticism during summer league in Orlando and Las Vegas, averaging 12.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 0.9 steals and 22.3 minutes while shooting 54.8 percent from the field and 46.7 percent on three-pointers.

He averaged 15.9 points and 7.9 rebounds last season at Fresno State, while shooting 43.2 percent on threes (57 of 132).

Johnson's contract is not expected to be guaranteed, though his agent said he was still working through that with the Heat.

His addition gives the Heat 14 players under contract, 11 of whom have fully guaranteed contracts. Justin Hamilton has a partially guaranteed contract and James Ennis is non-guaranteed.

The Heat can bring up to 20 players to training camp. Miami is expected to add another veteran center and another veteran shooting guard by the end of September but can offer only minimum-salary contracts. 

DOLPHINS TALK

### The encouraging news about the Dolphins’ tight end situation: Dion Sims appears to be much-improved, especially as a receiver, and is in good position to land the No. 2 tight end job behind Charles Clay.

The unsettling development: Of the seven tight ends on the roster, only three are fully healthy: Sims, Kyle Miller and recent addition Brett Brackett.

Charles Clay (knee), Michael Egnew (concussion symptoms) and Harold Hoskins (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday, and Arthur Lynch remained limited with an undisclosed injury.

The Dolphins prefer not to play Lynch on Friday, but he is expected to be cleared to do everything as early as next week.

So Dolphins fans will see plenty of Sims, Miller and Brackett on Friday in Atlanta.

Sims has impressed throughout camp, catching several passes over the middle and finding ways to get open in the end zone.

“He’s catching the ball very well,” coach Joe Philbin said. “We’ve seen him in the passing game look and play faster. We’re encouraged by that. That’s something that can pay dividends for us this year. His blocking has gotten more consistent. He’s been more consistent” overall.

Sims --- who caught six passes for 32 yards as a rookie --- said he has watched tape of Clay, Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez in an attempt to learn nuances of becoming a better receiving tight end. At 6-4 and 265 pounds, “my height and body will help me in the passing game,” he said. “I’m getting better body position.”

Tight ends coach Dan Campbell said Sims “has come a long way. He had a heck of a spring. In camp, he has proven he's ready to take that next stride up.”

### Lynch, the team’s fifth-round pick out of Georgia, said blocking is his strength, but he has made several nice catches on intermediate routes going back to the offseason program.

“I’m doing fairly well,” he said, adding he can’t showcase his blocking as much without being able to practice fully. “That’s the frustrating thing with being limited. I won’t wow you with anything, but I can do a lot of things well.”

### Egnew, who hasn’t returned to practice since leaving for concussion tests on Monday, “has gotten better” as a player, Campbell said. “He took a step up last year. Yes, he didn’t catch a ton of balls, but Charles Clay caught a lot of those. Michael has helped us with roles that are silent roles that people don't quite understand. He filled the fullback role for us last year and did a heck of a job at it.

“He's progressed. He's done a nice job in run blocking. He's continually getting better in his routes. That's something he knows he needs to improve on to really be able to help us in the pass game. He's making strides. His attitude has been great. He works hard. He wants to be good. If you say what is one area he needs to work on, it's the pass game.”

Brackett, incidentally, has been impressive in the passing game but remains an underdog for a roster spot.

The Dolphins this week worked out veteran tight end Steve Maneri, who has 10 starts in four seasons, but did not offer him a contract after the workout.

### With Pat Devlin (hamstring) and Matt Moore (shoulder) unable to practice on Wednesday, undrafted quarterbacks Seth Lobato (Northern Colorado) and Brock Jensen (North Dakota State) got all the work behind Ryan Tannehill.

Lobato threw an interception to Jordan Kovacs but also made several strong throws, including a 79-yard touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry, who beat Kevin Fogg.

Tannehill’s play was up and down. He badly overthrew Brian Hartline on a deep ball and Jason Trusnik intercepted a pass that was batted away by Dion Jordan, giving Tannehill seven interceptions in three practices this week. But he made an impressive pinpoint throw to Damian Williams on a crossing route, beating Will Davis.

The Dolphins aren’t especially concerned about Moore but wanted to give him another day of rest.

### Olivier Vernon (back), Mike Wallace (hamstring) and Brian Hartline returned to practice, but running back Daniel Thomas (hamstring), cornerback Jalil Brown (knee), Clay and Hoskins remained out, and kicker Caleb Sturgis (groin) was limited.

### Dallas Thomas remained with the first team at right guard, with Shelley Smith sharing time at left guard with Daryn Colledge, who has received the majority of the first-team snaps.

“I’m rotating with Shelley,” Colledge pointed out after practice. “Shelley’s out there fighting to be the starting left guard also.”

Colledge, signed on June 30, “has picked up the system well, but it’s taken a little while,” Philbin said. “I don’t think it’s all the way there yet, but I’m hoping there is more development coming in the next couple of weeks.”

### Knowshon Moreno was activated from PUP but didn’t participate in team drills.

### Philbin likes what he has seen from rookie linebacker Jordan Tripp: “I like the way he plays. He moves fast. The guy is one of the first guys in the building every day and one of the last guys to leave. He has a chance to contribute. He’s very smart and studies his position. He’s very involved on special teams.”

### How much will the Dolphins conceal their offensive strategy during preseason games?

Philbin answered this way: “I can tell you that we’re certainly not going to create a new offense to send our future opponents down the wrong road because, again, we’ve had these guys in the building since April 21st and we’ve been installing pieces of the offense really since that day. Then we’ve re-done (the offense) a couple of times in the OTAs and now in training camp.

“So we are going to do what we do and I told the players that yesterday when we broke as a team, ‘Listen, we’re going to run over defense, we’re going to run under defense, we’re going to line up in a one-back formation. We are going to do certain things and we are going to get in empty.’

"That’s what we do and we are going to do that today and we’re going to do that against Atlanta and we’re going to do it against New England and we’re going to do it in December and January. That’s our system. That’s who we are. I think you have to be certainly cognizant of your tendencies, but I also believe it’s probably good to have a couple of tendencies.”

### Philbin said today he believes the Dolphins will run the ball better this season, based on what he has seen in camp.

Colledge agrees: “We’re playing against a defense that knows what we’re doing every day and we still find a way to run the ball a little bit!”

### Mike Gillislee has impressed me in recent days. He used a stiff arm to break a 10-plus yard run on Wednesday.

### Several undrafted defensive rookies made noteworthy plays Wednesday: Chris McCain knocked away a pass in the end zone to Brackett, Demetrius Wright jarred loose a pass to Marcus Thigpen and Garrison Smith had a sack.

### Nevertheless, Thigpen has had a good camp and it doesn’t hurt when Jarvis Landry (trying to wrest the punt return job from him) drops a punt during practice Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Damien Williams (the undrafted Oklahoma running back) dropped a kickoff return.

### Sometimes players say things you wouldn’t expect. Such as Dannell Ellerbe noting that one reason he’s excited about Friday’s game in Atlanta is that the Falcons “are on Hard Knocks, so I know this game will make TV. It’s going to be on HBO.”

### Only three more training camp practices open to the general public: Sunday at 2 p.m., and next Monday and Tuesday at 8 a.m.... NFL Network will air a taped broadcast of Dolphins-Falcons at 10 a.m. Saturday. CBS-4 will air the game live in Miami at 7 p.m. Friday, with Dick Stockton, Bob Griese and Nat Moore announcing.