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.

08/05/2014

Tuesday afternoon: News, notes, quotes from Dolphins and UM practices

DOLPHINS ITEMS

### Mike Wallace returned from a hamstring injury but just briefly: Just enough time for Ryan Tannehill to overthrow him on a deep pass.

The Tannehill/Wallace success rate on deep balls, so far in camp, is comparable to their awful 6 for 36 accuracy on balls that were in the air for 20-plus yards last season.

“I kind of wanted to see where I was,” Wallace said of a hamstring injury that is still bothering him a bit. “I told Coach (Joe Philbin) I wanted to get a couple of plays on deep balls. They didn’t want me to go in too fast, kind of working me back in a little bit. The two more runs I got there, I was like, ‘Shoot, I’m out here, might as well try to get some work in.’”

Is the hamstring hurting his progress with Tannehill?

“A little bit on the deep ball because I can’t go as fast as I want to go, but I think we’ll be all right,” he said. “I know the media has been saying that for a while, but he’s getting better with the deep ball. It was a problem overall with everybody not just me last year. Coach (Bill) Lazor is doing a good job staying on him.” 

But as far as practicing them, “I’m not about to sit out here and run 20 deep balls back-to-back to try to get timing. I’m just not about to do it. Not that I don’t want to do it. It’s not healthy for my leg just to keep running deep balls trying to get a feel for it. So when we’re in practice, when we do get those reps, we’ve just got to make them count. We had plenty of opportunities to do it. Coach Lazor does a good job of running those plays and actually calling them in practice, so we’re able to get the feel for it.”

 ### Cortland Finnegan has had a terrific camp; he had three picks today (two off Ryan Tannehill, one off Matt Moore). Even with Jamar Taylor’s improvements, Finnegan has been the better play so far in camp and figures to start opposite Brent Grimes.

“He’s got a lot left in the tank,” Wallace said. “He’s a really smart guy. He knows how to play the combinations of the routes. He’s seen every combination you could possibly bring.  Him and Brent (Grimes), they both take chances. I think they trust in their studies and jump those routes sometimes and they do a good job of it.”

Grimes, by the way, had two picks today --- one off Tannehill, one off Moore.

### As we noted over the weekend, Samson Satele wouldn’t sign with the Dolphins until he got a contract like Darren Colledge’s. Here are the specifics, as shared with us by someone with access to the contract: Satele, like Colledge, can make as much as $2 million. But like Colledge, only $250,000 is guaranteed.

Satele has a $1.25 million base salary, then would earn $46,875 every game he’s on the 46-man roster. So the Dolphins can save a bundle if they cut him when Mike Pouncey is healthy.

CANES STUFF

Planned to be at UM’s first practice today, but an assignment to cover the arrests of Tony Bosch, Lazaro Collazo, etc. prevented that. (Please see my story on the home page on that topic.) A few UM football notes from this afternoon:

Our Manny Navarro reported the first-team offensive line, from left to right, is Ereck Flowers, Jon Feliciano, Shane McDermott, Danny Isidora and freshman KC McDermott. KC’s presence with the first group was surprising because Art Kehoe raved about Taylor Gadbois' play in the spring.

“KC’s had a great summer; he’s in the mix,” James Coley said today.

### During the spring, UM had Anthony Chickillo and Ufomba Kamalu compete for playing time at the same end spot. But as The Palm Beach Post’s Matt Porter noted this afternoon, Chickillo and Kamalu were both on the field when UM played a 3-4, with new arrival Courtel Jenkins at nose tackle.

“I’m anxious to look at Courtel Jenkins,” defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio said. “We have options at nose tackle between Courtel, Olsen Pierre, Michael Wyche, Earl Moore.”

### Per Manny and others, freshman Brad Kaaya threw a 35-yard TD to Rashawn Scott. Kaaya later threw an interception to Artie Burns.

Jermaine Grace then intercepted Jake Heaps, who is the favorite to start.

But Kaaya is being given every chance to compete for the starting job, though it would be surprising if he or fellow freshman Malik Rosier is put in the spot of playing opening night at Louisville.

Coley said the best player will start, regardless of whether he’s a freshman.

“We are going to let them compete,” Coley said today. “If you are not ready, then the redshirt [for freshmen] is the right call.”

Coley said among the quarterbacks, “we’re going to designate a guy [each] day and see how they execute. They’re all being evaluated whether they’re with the 1s or the 2s. With the ones come the added pressure.”

Heaps got work with the starters today.

Coley called Heaps a “worker” who “wants to put in the extra time. He’s a sharp kid. He’s been impressive.”

Coley declined to discuss Kevin Olsen, who took snaps on Tuesday. Olsen refused to discuss his suspension, but Duke Johnson said Olsen has a one-game suspension, as previously reported by WQAM first and confirmed by The Herald's Susan Miller Degnan.

Ryan Williams seems a ways away after knee surgery and wouldn’t speculate when he might be ready to play. “If Ryan is the best guy at that point, Ryan plays,” Coley said.

### Coley said “we need to use [Stacy Coley] in different spots. He can go from slot to backfield to motion in different spots.”

### Speedy running back/receiver Trayone Gray is on campus and could be cleared to practice any day.

### D’Onofrio said freshman end Chad Thomas "has gained 15 pounds, worked his tail off. Really explosive, looked really good."…. D'Onofrio said: “This is the best depth we've had in the secondary and on the d-line" but said he needs to establish who the sixth and seventh linebackers will be after Alex Figueroa and JaWand Blue were expelled from school following arrests…. He loves how Dallas Crawford has adjusted to safety: “Very instinctive, physical mentality.”

08/04/2014

Everything Golden said today; Dolphins injuries mounting; More O-line changes; 10 notes and thoughts from Dolphins camp

Injuries are mounting for the Dolphins, with more than a dozen players sidelined altogether, limited in their participation or forced to leave during Monday’s practice.

Among the ramifications: The Dolphins are using two undrafted rookie quarterbacks behind Ryan Tannehill, finished Monday’s practice with only two healthy tight ends (Dion Sims and Kyle Miller) and practiced Monday without five key offensive players.

Among key starters sidelined besides Mike Pouncey (hip surgery), the good news is injuries are not considered serious for defensive end Olivier Vernon, who left practice after his back locked up on him; tight end Charles Clay (knee) and receiver Mike Wallace (hamstring).

Monday began with the Dolphins announcing that five players would miss multiple days with injuries: Clay, who had to leave Saturday’s scrimmage early but said afterward it wasn’t serious; quarterback Pat Devlin (hamstring), kicker Caleb Sturgis (groin), cornerback Jalil Brown (knee) and receiver Stephen Williams (ankle).

Those five joined Wallace, running back Knowshon Moreno (knee) and Pouncey (hip) as players who missed practice altogether, though Wallace caught some passes on the sideline.

Five others were limited: quarterback Matt Moore (sore shoulder), who threw some passes but none in 11 on 11 drills; running back Lamar Miller (got some 11 on 11 work); receiver Brian Hartline, who said afterward he has no ongoing medical issues; linebacker Jelani Jenkins (leg) and rookie tight end Arthur Lynch, who has been limited throughout camp with an undisclosed injury.

Six players were forced to leave during practice: Vernon, offensive lineman Nate Garner (forearm strain, not serious), tight end Michael Egnew (tested for a concussion, according to my colleague Armando Salguero), defensive tackle Randy Starks (ankle injury but returned to practice and said afterward he’s fine), running back Daniel Thomas (held area under his buttocks) and tight end Gator Hoskins (leg).

With Devlin out indefinitely and Moore limited, the Dolphins re-signed quarterback Brock Jensen, who was cut last week. Seth Lobato, who replaced Jensen on the roster last Wednesday, took second-team snaps.

### Samson Satele took many of the first-team center snaps on his first day with the team, with Sam Brenner getting some.

“I told [Satele] he’s competing for a job,” Joe Philbin said. “He plays the game the right way. Good technique. Gets movement in the run game.”

Satele said he looks forward to holding down center until Pouncey returns. “It’s not my first rodeo.”

### The signing of Satele gives the Dolphins some clarity at center until Pouncey returns, but there remains uncertainty at right guard.

Dallas Thomas took most of the first team snaps at right guard on Monday, with Billy Turner also getting some.

Shelley Smith, who was expected to be the starting right guard, worked Monday at left guard, mostly on the second team. With Satele signing, Smith no longer will be asked to play center, an experiment that ended midway through last week.

But Philbin cautioned not to read anything into Smith not working with the first team at right guard on Monday, adding he still wants to look at different combinations.

"We wanted to get him some work at left guard, get Billy Turner some work at right guard,” Philbin said. “It’s not really reflective. We’re nowhere near settled on a group inside.”

Smith, lured from the Rams during the offseason, said Monday he has no expectation that he would be an automatic starter here.

### Though there were no botched center/quarterback exchanges, the Dolphins committed at least five pre-snap penalties, including two by the first-team offense to begin 11 on 11 drills.

During their two-minute drill, a penalty was called because the Dolphins’ first-team offense didn’t have enough players on the line of scrimmage.

“Didn’t look very good,” Philbin said of his offense. “We want to draw the defense off-sides with their different cadences and we jumped twice. They ran a blitz, we didn’t pick up very well… You can’t win in football doing that stuff.”

### Not a good day for Ryan Tannehill. His badly overthrown pass to Rishard Matthews was intercepted by Will Davis, who fumbled while going in for a touchdown on the return. (Safety Walt Aikens recovered it for a touchdown.)

Tannehill threw two more poorly-thrown interceptions during 7-on-7 drills, to cornerback Cortland Finnegan (who returned it for a touchdown) and safety Reshad Jones.

And Lobato also threw an interception, off a tipped ball, to Aikens.

### Besides the interception, Davis broke up two other passes.

“Will is more consistent and still making good plays,” Hartline said. “Will and Jamar Taylor have elevated their games.”

### Hartline has a chance to become the first player in Dolphins history to produce three consecutive seasons of 1000 yards receiving.

“Any time you can do something no one else has done for a team in the NFL, it’s special,” he said.

### Hartline said the offense is “doing a lot more things that we haven’t done in the six years I’ve been here.”

What specifically? “The combination of routes are different, the way in which they’re called, the amount of screens. The ball on the perimeter is definitely a lot more. A lot of motions, a lot of shifts. You get the beat on who’s going to be where at what time. A lot of variance, compared to last year.”

### Philbin, on rookie seventh-round defensive end Terrence Fede: “I told him one day he had three penalties in the practice and he looked at me like I had three heads. [But] you love the enthusiasm. He’s getting better. Plays fast.”

### Philbin on undrafted rookie running back Damien Williams, who has impressed aside from being stripped of the ball by Jordan Tripp on Saturday: “He’s done a lot of good things. A lot of the opportunities he had Saturday, he looked very good. He looked natural, he looked physical running the ball. When it popped on the ground, it doesn’t work to his favor. But you can’t over-react to one particular play.”

Mike Gillislee also has been coming on in the running back competition. By the way, Daniel Thomas allowed Philip Wheeler to beat him on a blitz, for a sack, not long before his injury. 

GOLDEN SPEAKS (UPDATED)

Here's everything Al Golden had to say during his preseason news conference today:

### Opening Statement:


“Welcome to training camp. We’re excited to get going. Most of our kids are in already. Some are being processed today, but we expect everybody out there but two individuals tomorrow. We’ll reaffirm that as the day goes on. We’re still waiting on the arrival of Trayone Gray and Darrell Langham, just to save you that question. Welcome, we appreciate you coming, and with that, we’ll open it up to any questions that you have.”


### On linebackers coach Micheal Barrow’s sabbatical and subsequent staff changes:


“First of all, Micheal has always conducted himself with class, with dignity, with integrity. He has been a great leader here for a long time, not just on campus and with our team, but within our community. As I said to him as he was starting to try to figure out what direction he wanted to go, I said to him there is no calendar with family. If this is the direction you want to go, it’s our job to help you with this transition. It’s been difficult for him. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like over the next month – I don’t think he’s been in a situation like this since [his youth] where he’s not participating.

“We miss Mike, but at the same time, we had a chance to move Hurlie [Brown] back to defense, something that he’s very comfortable with. Being in the staff meetings and understanding the nomenclature of the defense and being the type of guy to have a rapport with everybody, I think he’s going to make the transition quickly.

“Then we elevated Ice Harris, who is more than deserving and obviously very grateful. Here’s a guy that’s been doing this for a quarter-century for this opportunity, and I know he’s going to give everything he has and going to make us better. Clearly we had an opportunity to bring on Kevin Beard, so we did that. Not the best of timing, but all that is is a circumstance. It’s not the definition of what’s going to happen moving forward and it’s not the result, it’s just the circumstance. It doesn’t determine anything. We have good veterans at those two positions, and I expect our guys to rally and be sharp during camp.”


### On the play of the linebacker group and specifically sophomore Jermaine Grace:


“Jermaine has had a good summer. He ran some of the fastest 40’s on the team, not just the linebacker position – consistently under 4.5 (seconds). He’s about 210 pounds now, he has more experience, he’s smart, he’s an excellent special teams player, he gives us three down value, he’s a competitor and a striker.  I’m excited about Grace.“Clearly [Darrion] Owens, you guys knew I was excited about his focus and his performance in the spring, and now he’s going to get a good opportunity at SAM along with Thurston Armbrister. We’ll start with [Terry] McCray over there as well.”

### On the team’s linebacker depth heading into fall training camp:


“I don’t think there’s any question we lost some depth, but we have some other guys that are going to rally. It’s going to give [Terry] McCray an opportunity, a guy like [Mike] Smith an opportunity, Demetrius Jackson an opportunity, Juwon Young, and obviously you mentioned [Jermaine] Grace. Those guys are all going to get an opportunity.“I’m excited about our group. I don’t want those that are not with us to diminish what the guys that are with us are all about. [Raphael] Kirby, we mentioned [Jermaine] Grace earlier. Denzel [Perryman] has had a great summer – 245 pounds now. [Darrion] Owens I mentioned earlier and [Thurston] Armbrister.”


### On how to educate his team given the dismissal of two student-athletes:


“I’m responsible for all 114 guys and every staff member. I’m responsible for everybody. It’s something we take seriously. It’s something that we’re very prudent with, in terms of being proactive. We have guest speakers now, we’re working with [Director of Student-Athlete Development] Shirelle Jackson. It’s something that’s disappointing but we have to continue to educate and communicate and make sure we’re making great choices in the community and making great choices on campus.”

### On the reports regarding the suspension of quarterback Kevin Olsen:


“With any of these instances, as I’ve said to you guys before, if somebody is suspended it’s going to come from [Athletics Director] Blake James and [Senior Associate Athletics Director] Chris Freet. In terms of how we’re approaching camp, we have four quarterbacks, we’re going to cut it to two after the second scrimmage - about two weeks prior to the first game - and we’ll have two that will get ready for the trip to Louisville.”

### On the return and summer progress of Duke Johnson:


“He’s doing great. He has an edge about him, he has a focus about him that he continued and grew since the spring. [It is] a physical, more durable, stronger version of Duke Johnson but faster. At 208 pounds, he’s now running his fastest 40’s as a Miami Hurricane. I’m excited about the edge he brings to this training camp. He was fully integrated long ago, and his conditioning is good.

"I don’t think we’re going to have any setbacks relative to that.“At the same time, we’re excited about that group in general, with the emergence of Gus [Edwards], [Joseph] Yearby, [Walter] Tucker gave us a lot of work there in spring, DeAndre Johnson. We have depth there, and I think Duke has done a good job of mentoring those guys.”

### On injuries to his team entering the first day of practice:

“You just never know for sure, and I’d hate to be wrong here. I would say that Ryan Williams…if you guys have specific questions on – I’d prefer to go that route. I have everybody being integrated right now. [Anthony] Chickillo is fine. [Matt] Goudis is fine. He did have a little issue this summer, but everything I understand is that he’s been much better the last two weeks, so he should be good. [Ladarius] Gunter has had a great summer. His shoulder’s great, and his conditioning has really improved.”


### On the return of wide receivers Herb Waters and Phillip Dorsett:


“Those two have emerged as leaders in the wide receiver group. I don’t know how you’d characterize their summers anything other than awesome. Faster than they’ve ever been, stronger. Herb’s pushing 200 pounds. I’m very excited about the progress they’ve made, and obviously they were missing at the end of the year.”

### On the status of redshirt senior quarterback Ryan Williams:


“I think he’s going to meet with the doctor tonight. Rather than me act like I know what I know what I’m talking about, we can get an idea of where he is. He’s had no setbacks, he’s doing great physically. His mind has always been tremendous, in terms of the game and leadership from that standpoint. Is he going to be a factor in this race in the next five weeks? I don’t know. It’s not worth speculating on. Let’s see what Dr. Kaplan and his staff say, and we’ll stay on track. He has much more experience in dealing with this and the integration part of it than we do.”


### On monitoring Duke Johnson during training camp after surgery in 2013:


“He’s fully integrated. He left that in 2013. He’s a different person right now. As I said he’s stronger, he’s more durable, he’s in great condition. He has a lot of guys around him. He has a lot of experience around him – both at wide out and tight end - and now he has some guys in the backfield who can help him carry the load. I don’t think we need to modify anything with Duke. We’ll be prudent with him like just we are with everybody. He wants to go. He’s ready to go. It’s not, ‘let’s get to camp and test it.’ He’s been testing it out here for all of Summer B, which I believe started June 28.”


### On what areas he thinks Duke Johnson could improve:


“I think the biggest thing is we all want to see him pick up where he left off. He was pressing his runs, they were hitting where they were designed to hit, so he had great discipline at the end of last year. He was running between the tight ends really well, then when he to second level, he would allow his talent to take over. He was very disciplined in that.

“I don’t know if you feel the same way as observers, but he was running differently in those last three and a half games. He was running as hard and as strong as I’ve ever seen him run, delivering stiff arms, lowering his pads, running where the ball it needed to be run. Just prior to the injury – I’m talking moments - he was running the ball at Florida State probably as well as anybody all year. We need him to pick up where he left off. We’ll go from there.”


### On his confidence in the defense heading into fall training camp:


“There are lot of things, especially coming out of the spring in terms of our tackling, yards per carry, three-and-outs, things of that nature. We’re attacking more. We’re stronger. We have seven guys now on the defensive front that do 225 30 times or more. Michael Wyche comes in and gives us great size and strength. Calvin Heurtelou comes in and gives us the same, Anthony Moten, Chad Thomas. In terms of depth, that’s the best we’ve been there on the defensive line in quite some time. We’re stronger.

“The biggest difference I hope – and this isn’t empirical, this is just watching – is the experience and quiet mind that we’re seeing in the secondary. Everybody’s back, everybody’s stronger, everybody’s experienced, the communication is really good, the belief in each other, the accountability. We have great leadership, to be honest with you. We had the best leadership we’ve had in quite some time. I thought [Anthony] Chickillo stepped up, [Ufomba] Kamalu stepped up, Jamal Carter, Denzel [Perryman] of course we mentioned earlier. A bunch of guys - Ladarius [Gunter]. Just a really good summer. Now they have to bring it into the season.”

### Do you guys have the size and depth up front to play more 3-4 full time?

“We’ve never really been 3-4 full time," Golden said. "We’re in and out of it depending on situations. It’s become a game of situations. Everyone thinks it’s a game of four quarters, it’s really not, it’s a game of situations and when they go 10 or 11-personnel, three or four wides, excuse me, when they go three or four wides, we’re going to match up a lot of times. Sometimes that means put the nickel out there, so you might see Deon Bush, Crawford or Tracy in the slot, okay, then bring another corner in. If Deon goes down in the slot, we have a bigger guy that’s kind of like a sam in space and we bring a safety in. As it relates to the front, we’re in and out of fronts constantly. Sometimes we’ll be in an odd front which is 3-4 based, other times we’ll be in over or under front, which is 4-3 based. We have the flexibility now because we’re stronger at the point of attack, we’re the strongest we’ve been there. Again, seven guys over 30 reps, that’s a big number. That’s a big number. That was a lot of hard work by Swasey and those guys, great jobs by the guys up front doing that, now we’ve got to see it pay dividends for us.”

### Is Kevin Olsen committed to being a Hurricane for the long term?

"In my mind sure. He's made a lot of progress this summer, grew a lot as a person. I'm anxious to see that tomorrow, just how much he's growing. Just being in meetings I can hear him - he's more vocal, more confident, understands the system a lot better. He's had a lot of opportunities to grow since the spring."

### With Olsen suspended are you considering moving Gray Crow back to QB?

"No. As a team we're committed to rally around whoever (the starting QB) is. We need wide receivers to step up, running backs to step up, tight ends to step up. And we need a quarterback that can manage the game, that's smart, that protects the football, that gets us in the right play when we need to be."

### What are the most important factors you want to see improve?

"Tackling is up there. Third down differential, your offense minus your defense - when that's not good your time of possession is not good. We need to get off the field better on defense and convert better on offense. That was a bad matrix for us last year, caused us to be on the field too long. The defense needs to attack more, get more three-and-outs. It's hard to say we'll get more sacks and turnovers than last year. Hopefully we will get more but if we can continue to get to the football those are all things we need to see early on."

### What is a realistic expectation for Chad Thomas?

"We don't look at Chad as a freshman, we look at Chad as a defensive end. His maturity, his leadership are well above his years. His expectations are high, but more importantly his standards are high. It's going to be hard for us to say `Chad, take it easy you're only a freshman.' Chad wants to make a difference just as Moten does, Demetrius (Jackson) does, Courtel (Jenkins). He's going to compete over there at end to start. Because of the summer we had a chance to separate Ufomba Kamalu, he's over there with Olsen (Pierre). Chad's going to be a big part of this including the third down pass rushing."

### What do you see in Anthony Chickillo?

"He's living in the moment, (doing) the process, ignoring everything on the outside. He has to continue to have a bunker mentality, continue to do what he's done because he's had a spectacular four months here, five months. 282 puonds, running as good as he has as a Hurricane, and strong, really strong. He ended up getting 30 reps. Like Tracy (Howard) and some other guys who played before they were ready physically, now that the body has caught up we need to put the body with the experience."

### How do you catch up with an FSU?

"They had a great team last year, deserved to be champions. We're on a different course, a different path. We're proud of the way we do things, excited about the direction we're going, about the resources and the commitment we've gotten from the administration and Blake James. We sat here a year ago and didn't know what the future held. We didn't have the fields, a medical center going up, the training table. So there's been a great transition here in the last 12, 13 months. … as bleak as it was a year ago, we're equally excited now. … I don't have time to worry about anyone else's program."

### Is it hard transitioning to a new coach at linebacker?

"We'll be good there. No. 1, I coached that position in this defense, Mark (D'Onofrio) has coached that position in this defense and Mark is a walk-around coordinator. (Raphael) Kirby, Denzel (Perryman), Thurston (Armbrister), those guys have a lot of games, starts under their belts so they can soften the transition. ... there's nobody talking about it. We all miss Micheal. I told him please come to practice - he knows he's always welcome here. He helped build it. We're going to make this a seamless transition."

### How is this team different than a year ago?

"Every team is different. This team is different than last year's team. A team is reborn every year. All these things the guys did in the spring and summer I want to see that translate into our brand. It's their time to show what type of team they are. That's the edge I want to see. It's always important - we play one of the greatest traditions in college football, we respect the heck out of that, but it's really important for these guys to represent right now, who they are. I want to see that because these guys have had a deferent approach to things since January. I want to see that with their accountability , being focused, unselfish, with being able to communicate really well."

### Is there any motivational thing you've sent out?

"I just think this camp for us is about just understanding how to just put your head down and keep going. Worry about your `one' - your play, bad play, go onto the next play. One series. One day. One practice. One game. That's what we have to (do). If we didn't learn from the bowl experience, being in that setting in Tallahassee, then we're not doing our job. We have to understand how to go from week to week irrespective of who our opponent is. They're all one game missions. I want to start that mindset now. One day at a time. We need to be accountable to it. If not there has to be consequences. We cannot go backward at any point during this camp."

QUICK UM HOOPS NOTE: The UM-at-UF men's game will be played at 7 p.m. Nov. 17 on ESPNU and serve as one of the first games for the ESPN family of networks' annual "Tip Off Marathon" tradition of 24-plus hours of games.

The game was relegated to ESPNU because ESPN has Monday Night Football and ESPN2 is airing a Baylor-Kentucky women's game.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

08/02/2014

Midnight update: Satele machinations; more QB changes; 20 Dolphins notes from scrimmage

Chatter on a couple of Dolphins developments tonight:

### The Dolphins actually tried to sign Samson Satele the day before camp started, according to a league source, but Satele wasn't interested in what the Dolphins were offering. He was seeking a deal similar to what Daryn Colledge got ($2 million), as opposed to the minimum $855,000.

The Dolphins raised their offer to meet his wishes, and Satele agreed to terms today on a one-year contract.

Satele, drafted 60th overall by Miami in 2007, started his first two NFL seasons for the Dolphins before being traded to Oakland in March 2009 for a sixth-rounder and an exchange of fourth-round picks.
The Dolphins parted ways with Satele after signing free agent center Jake Grove, a regrettable move in retrospect.


Satele, 29, then started three seasons for the Raiders, before moving on to Indianapolis, where he started 11 games in 2012 and 13 in 2013. Pro Football Focus rated Satele 31st among 35 qualifying centers last season ---- 18th as a pass blocker but last as a run blocker. He allowed one sack.

If Satele starts at center and Shelley Smith at right guard, then the four favorites for the backup jobs would be Nate Garner, Dallas Thomas, Billy Turner and Jason Fox, though Fox isn't automatic if the Dolphins are comfortable with Garner and Thomas as their backup tackles. Sam Brenner would be cheaper than Fox. 

### The Dolphins tonight summoned Brock Jensen back to team headquarters to re-sign him, four days after cutting him.

The reason: Both Matt Moore (sore shoulder) and Pat Devlin (lower body) are injured.

Seth Lobato, who replaced Jensen on the roster, also is sticking around.

That will give Miami three quarterbacks for Friday's preseason opener against Atlanta (Ryan Tannehill, Jensen and Lobato) in the event that Moore and Devlin are unable to play. It's unclear when Moore and Devlin will return, though Moore's shoulder isn't causing great concern internally.

TWENTY NOTES FROM SATURDAY SCRIMMAGE

## Even without throwing any deep balls, Saturday might have been Ryan Tannehill’s most impressive day of training camp for this reason:

During a scrimmage at Sun Life Stadium, Tannehill ran the offense intelligently, didn’t throw a pick, made no glaring mistakes and did it without four players expected to be among Miami’s best players on offense (Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Mike Pouncey and Knowshon Moreno).

Operating mostly out of the shotgun on passing plays, he threw short and intermediate routes, completing 15 of 27 passes for 139 yards and two TD passes.

No, it wasn't scintillating. But he did what he was asked to do.

The caveat: A bit more than half the time, he was operating against the second-team defense.

But of his two touchdown passes, one came against the first-team defense (a well-thrown seven-yarder to Dion Sims). And that drive should have ended successfully two plays earlier, when Rishard Matthews dropped a perfect throw from Tannehill in the back of the end zone.

Earlier, Tannehill and Lamar Miller perfectly executed a 9-yard wheel route for a touchdown. And Tannehill was on target to Sims for a two-point conversion.

“Thought he had better ball location,” Joe Philbin said of Tannehill.

### Tannehill raised his completion percentage from 58.3 as a rookie to 60.4 last season, and Philbin said Saturday that “we would like to see that get up into the mid 60s, ideally. We still want more.”

### Tannehill, after Saturday’s scrimmage: “I feel myself becoming more in tune with the plays coming in, just having an idea exactly of what to do with the ball every play and that’s exciting for me. Our offense [is] all timing. You can’t be back there holding the ball for three, four seconds and expect to not give up a lot of sacks.”

### As for the No. 3 and No. 4 quarterbacks, the news wasn’t nearly as encouraging.

With Matt Moore sidelined by a shoulder injury, third-string quarterback Pat Devlin and undrafted Northern Colorado rookie Seth Lobato received additional work. Neither especially distinguished himself.

Jimmy Wilson, entrenched as a regular in the team’s nickel package, intercepted a high throw from Devlin, off a tip from Jarvis Landry, and returned it 44 yards.

Cornerback Cortland Finnegan had the only other interception of the scrimmage, also against Devlin, who badly overthrew Kevin Cone. Devlin wasn’t even close on two 5-to-10 yard throws to receivers near the sideline.

Devlin finished 7 of 14 for 71 yards, with a touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry.

Lobato, victimized by a few drops and shaky pass protection, threw for just eight yards on 6 for 17 accuracy.

### More good news, besides Tannehill: The first-team offensive line didn’t give up a sack (though the backups allowed six).

“Good overall, looked OK” Philbin said of his o-line. “We gained some yardage on first down, which sometimes hasn’t been a strength of ours.”

Nate Garner took the first-team snaps at center, suggesting the Shelley Smith center experiment is over, barring a change of heart. Dallas Thomas and Billy Turner split time at right guard with the starters.

### Smith, who was signed with the expectation he would be the starting right guard, was the backup left guard Saturday. But Philbin suggested not to read much into that.

“Just rolling guys around,” he said when asked about Smith. “We’ll probably continue that for a little bit.”

### Sam Brenner returned after missing three days with an ankle injury and took second-team snaps at center behind Nate Garner. The only botched center snaps Saturday involved David Arkin.

### The Dolphins are still trying to get a feel for what they have in this rookie class beyond starting right tackle Ja’Wuan James and highly-praised receiver Jarvis Landry.

During Saturday’s scrimmage, two of their lower-round picks --- linebacker Jordan Tripp and defensive end Terrence Fede --- made a case for roster spots.

Tripp, a fifth-round pick from Montana, stripped undrafted Oklahoma rookie running back Damien Williams and returned it 73 yards for a touchdown. Tripp has been playing mostly with the third team on defense, but one of the second-team linebackers (Jelani Jenkins) missed the scrimmage with a leg injury.

“Jordan Tripp is good at a lot of things,” linebackers coach Mark Duffner said a few days ago. “He’s a highly competitive guy. He’s got great desire to be a great player and the athletic skills to do it and pretty good awareness. I’m excited what I see so far.”

Fede, a seventh-round pick from Marist, had one sack (beating backup tackle Stephen Baker) and knocked down a Tannehill later in the scrimmage.

Fede has displayed impressive athleticism throughout training camp and his chances of making the 53-man roster are helped by Dion Jordan’s four-game suspension to start the season. Fede could begin the season as the Dolphins’ No. 4 defensive end until Jordan returns.

“He’s got a lot of natural talent,” Dolphins defensive lineman Jared Odrick said of Fede. “There are a lot of things he can do and the coaches know he can do without him even knowing he can do it.  He’s got to realize what he has and put it to use. He’s doing it pretty well in this camp. It’s like night and day from what he did in the spring to what he’s doing now. He’s a quick learner.”

### Jordan had two sacks, both against Jason Fox. He said he is “definitely” a better pass rusher than a year ago.

He hasn’t added any new pass rush moves but “am trying to use them a lot more effectively than last year. Just learning how to use my body and my length.” The added bulk – from 250 pounds in January to 265 now – has helped, especially in the run game.

### Tight end Charles Clay left the scrimmage with a leg injury that is not believed to be serious, and eight others sat out besides Mike Pouncey, who’s out long-term: running back Knowshon Moreno (knee), receiver Mike Wallace (hamstring), receiver Brian Hartline (had wrap on leg but nothing believed to be serious), linebacker Jelani Jenkins (leg), Moore, defensive tackle Anthony Johnson (undisclosed), receiver Stephen Williams (undisclosed) and receiver Matt Hazel (concussion).

### Besides the two sacks from Jordan and one from Fede, Cameron Wake, Derrick Shelby and Dannell Ellerbe also had sacks. But none of the sacks were against the first-team offensive line.

### Marcus Thigpen, Jarvis Landry and former Tennessee Titans receiver Damian Williams all fielded punts. Landry made a couple of crafty moves for a 15-yard return. Thigpen also had a decent return.

### Philbin was pleased that Lamar Miller (6 carries, 36 yards) “broke some tackles. That’s one thing we would like him to do more.”

Miller was at his best on his first carry, when he faked out Jason Trusnik and Walt Aikens on a 14-yard gain.

### Damien Williams at times has been the most impressive of the running backs behind Miller and he led all backs Saturday with 39 yards on nine carries. But his day was tarnished by the fumble.

### Meanwhile, Daniel Thomas had five carries for 15 yards, Mike Gilislee 4 for 17 and Orleans Darkwa 5 for 17.

Thomas has essentially been the same guy for three years (3.5, 3.6 and 3.7 yards per carry). At some point, the Dolphins will move on, but they won’t yet if the three other options in camp aren’t better in preseason.

### Among receivers, Landry led the team in yardage (40, on two catches) but also had a drop.

Matthews had 30 yards on three receptions but dropped the touchdown pass.

Sims had the most receptions (four for 27 yards and a touchdown).

### Sims is holding down the No. 2 tight end job, and his development this summer has been impressive. Michael Egnew, third on the depth chart, had one reception for zero yards on Saturday.

### Other receiving numbers Saturday: Gillislee 2 for 12; Gator Hoskins 1 for 16; Thomas 2 for 11, Armon Binns 2 for 11; Damian Williams (the receiver) 1 for 9; Damien Williams (the running back) 1 for 5, Brandon Gibson 1 for 6, Charles Clay 1 for 5, Orleans Darkwa 1 for 10 and Ryan Spadola 3 for 3.

### The only starting defensive position that has changed during camp is defensive tackle. Jared Odrick and Randy Starks opened with the first team Saturday, but Earl Mitchell also played a lot.

### The Dolphins announced the four players who will be inducted into the team’s Walk of Fame on Sept. 21 against Kansas City: guard Ed Newman, running back Tony Nathan, cornerback Sam Madison and defensive end Jeff Cross.

“As a kid, I hated the Dolphins,” Cross said. “I don’t know if was Dan Marino’s Afro or Don Shula’s jaw.”

07/31/2014

1:20 p.m.: Olsen suspension; Heat signs Williams; Wade looks ahead, speaks on LeBron and other issues; Marlins trade fallout; Dolphin, Canes, Bosh

1:20 p.m. update: NBC 6's Adam Kuperstein reports that UM quarterback Kevin Olsen will be suspended at least one game for a failed drug test, his second suspension in the past nine months. (A Herald source has confirmed the suspension.)

That means Jake Heaps, the transfer from Kansas, likely will be UM's starter in the season opener at Louisville. Ryan Williams hopes to take the job back when he returns at some point; he's targeting mid-September.

UM has been concerned about Olsen's maturity for months, even before this latest failed test. After Olsen completed 7 of 21 passes in the spring game, a UM official said the program would be in trouble if it didn't add another quarterback.

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

 

1 p.m. update: The Heat added a 13th player today by signing journeyman 6-9 forward Shawne Williams to a guaranteed contract at the league minimum ($1.2 million), according to agent Happy Walters. The team has a team option for 2015-16. 

Williams averaged 5.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in 36 games for the Lakers last season (including 13 starts), while shooting 38 percent from the field and 32.6 percent from three-point range (42 for 129). He also spent 23 games last season with the Lakers' Developmental League team.

He has appeared in 251 NBA games, including 36 starts, over six seasons with Indiana, Dallas, the Knicks, Nets and Lakers. His career averages: 5.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, 40.3 percent shooting from the field and 33 percent on threes.

His best chances of contributing is if he displays the three-point shooting touch he did for the Knicks in 2010-11, when he hit 85 threes and hit 40 percent from distance. He's ideally a stretch four but also can play small forward and even some shooting guard. His rebounding numbers improved last season, which helps his chances if that trend continues.

Williams, who has averaged 21 minutes per game each of his past three NBA seasons, was drafted 17th overall by Indiana out of Memphis, in 2006.

The Heat now has 11 players with guaranteed contracts, and two non-guaranteed (Justin Hamilton and James Ennis), though half of Hamilton's salary for next season is guaranteed with the passing of a deadline today.

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

No, this was not the preferred course, not the way Dwyane Wade envisioned his Heat journey continuing, without the game’s best player alongside.

But Wade has handled the move gracefully --- accepting an $8 million pay cut, never expressing displeasure about LeBron James bolting to Cleveland even after Wade opted out of a lucrative contract and never attempting to persuade James to stay because of respect for his friend's wishes. 

And Wade’s initial disappointment has been replaced by motivation and determination to prove his skills have not diminished.

“I need it, I need it,” he said Friday of doubts about whether he can handle a bigger load.

Before the second day of his fourth-annual Fantasy Camp at the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood, he spoke of needing something “to challenge you” later in your career. This will undoubtedly do it.

“I can’t go back five years,” Wade, 32, cautioned, two days after Pat Riley said Wade might be able to return to what he was before James arrived.

“I ain’t trying to go back five years,” Wade said. “If we all could, we would, but that’s not likely … I really don’t know how it’s going to be. I’m used to something from the last four years. Until we get into training camp and the preseason games, you really don’t know how it’s going to be yet.”

But he knows there will be more shots, more responsibility, assuredly a higher scoring average (he was at 26.6 the last season without James and 19.0 last season) and an overriding need to stay healthier than last season.

He missed 28 games last season, with 13 attributed to “rest” for his knees, and has no intention of doing that again.  Asked if he expects to play in 75-plus games, Wade indicated that was the plan.

He hopes coming to camp lighter will reduce some of the load on his knees. While declining to divulge details, he said he weighs less than he did to start training camp last season and will continue to lose more. He’s doing it by following the Paleo diet program that was used last summer by Ray Allen, who recommended it to Wade and James.

Wade has finished the most restrictive 30-day part of the diet (“very tough”) and will continue the program all summer, before reincorporating carbohydrates when training camp begins.

“I’m not where I want to be. I’m not at the training camp weight I want to be at,” he said. “You take away all the good things we all love to eat. You’ve got to add more asparagus, more zucchini, it becomes a big part of the diet. It’s very challenging. One of the hardest things I’ve done. “

Wade offered clarity on several issues involving free agency.

He said based on conversations with James and instinct, he knew James would sign with Cleveland when they both disembarked from a Las Vegas to Miami flight on July 10, but that James did not tell him with certainty until the next day, shortly before his announcement.

“We had a long flight back from Vegas, and I probably knew then, without him telling me at that moment,” Wade said. “You can tell where someone’s heart is and what they’re thinking. Me as his friend, I just support him. As crazy as that might sound, I’m supportive of my friends and doing what makes them happy. You’ve got to do what makes you happy, selfishly. The decision to go back home was that.”

He said the Heat never asked him to come to Las Vegas to recruit James and he was there merely to spend time with James and enjoy himself.

“Just hanging,” he said. “You don’t really talk about the future, basketball every day.”

He said he did not opt out of the last two years and $42 million of his contract based on the belief James definitely would return.  He said he did it to give himself and the team more flexibility, even though he told his agent early in the process that he would not consider offers from other teams.

Wade took a two-year, $34 million contract instead of a longer deal some had expected. He said a shorter deal gives himself and the team more flexibility for the summer of 2016, when the cap could skyrocket to as high as $80 million, according to some projections. He trusts the organization will do right by him.

“You do what you feel is right,” he said of opting out and taking a pay cut. “I’m blessed financially. Not saying I want to give all my money away. I understand the position we’re in, if you want the success you want, you have to give a little.

“I’ve been the front-runner on that. I have taken the responsibility of trying to help put us in the right position as much as I can. It gives us a better chance to succeed. I will be a part of this organization for many, many years to come in some capacity. Hopefully, I can always help some way. I’ve been able to do it as a player. Hopefully, further on I can do it as well.”

He said after James announced his decision, he called Chris Bosh to gauge his intentions and that Bosh needed another hour or so to decide, before opting to stay with Miami instead of leaving for Houston.

Wade said he called only one Heat free agent target: Pau Gasol. He called him twice because he loved the idea of adding Gasol to the Big Three. But that was unlikely to happen even if James had stayed.

“Ownership has done a great job recovering from [James’ exit],” Wade said.  Riley “did a good job of recovering as good as you can. Obviously, we still have some work to do. It’s our job to come back next year and get the continuity we need. It’s a good Eastern Conference. It’s about how fast you can become a good team. Some teams, like ourselves and Cleveland, need to work to be that team because other teams are already ahead of them because they’ve been together. I’m confident in the guys we have.”

The immediate future includes his wedding; he and longtime girlfriend Gabrielle Union will marry on Aug. 30.

The longterm future? Wade hopes that includes finishing his career here.

“It’s very rare in sports” to play for one team,” he said. “I’m 11 years in, going into my 12th. It means something to me, my family as well. I’m blessed we have great ownership, great management. It’s a great city. I was put in a great position. So it made it easier for me to say, ‘Miami is my home.’”

### Wade spoke to two print/Internet reporters (myself and Ethan Skolnick) after the news conference, but his only one-on-one basketball-heavy broadcast interview was with WQAM, a title sponsor for his event, and airs on Danny Rabinowitz’s show at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

“We have good talent,” he said in that WQAM segment. “Obviously, other teams have younger guys that have talent.”

MARLINS NEWS 

### The good news on the Marlins’ six-player trade with Houston today: Right-hander Jarred Cosart has a 10-8 career record (very good considering how poor the Astros have been) and solid 3.57 career ERA, can hit the upper 90s on the radar gun (according to GM Michael Hill), is only 24 and won’t be a free agent until 2020.

He will be a clear upgrade in the rotation over Jacob Turner (5.69 ERA) and projects as a No. 3 or more likely No. 4 starter. And the Marlins needed an extra arm next year, considering Jose Fernandez MIGHT not return from Tommy John surgery until around the All-Star break….

Kike Hernandez can play second base, shortstop, center field and left field and has had a terrific year offensively (.337 in 67 games in Triple A Oklahoma City) and .284, with one home run in 28 games for the Astros. “We love the bat, and he’s a solid defender,” Hill said. If he keeps hitting like this, he could be the second baseman next season. And he’s under team control for six more years....

Outfielder Austin Wates, who was assigned to Triple A, gives the Marlins “a premium base stealer,” as Hill put it. He’s 98 for 121 in steal attempts in his career and he has hit between .293 and .310 in all four of his minor-league seasons (.309 this season)….

There are still serious questions about whether Jake Marisnick --– one of three players dealt to Houston --- would hit major league pitching.... Giving up third base prospect Colin Moran wasn't easy, but Casey McGehee is under team control through 2015 and the Marlins will want to keep him beyond that if his 2015 season is anything like his 2014 season.

### The bad news: Cosart has been awful in July, relinquishing 21 runs in 21 1/3 innings… He has allowed too many base-runners this season (170 in 116 innings). "He's got some delivery issues," ESPN's Keith Law said... Cosart's 4.41 ERA for the season ranks 80th of 94 qualifying MLB starters, and his .267 batting average against ranks 71st (though much, much better than Jacob Turner’s .319)….

Though Hernandez has made himself into a very good hitter, the hope is he doesn’t revert to his offensive form last season, when he hit .236 in 116 games in the minors….

The Marlins gave up a valuable 2015 competitive balance draft pick and they could ultimately regret trading Moran if he becomes a .300 big-league hitter. Moran was hitting .294 at Class A Jupiter.

“He’s going to a really special player,” Houston GM Jeff Luhnow said of last year’s No. 6 overall pick.

DOLPHINS NOTES

### Even with three more botched snaps Thursday (involving Nate Garner --- who took the first-team center snaps --- and David Arkin), Joe Philbin still insists: “I’m confident we can get it fixed.”

But even beyond the snapping issues and one or two unsettled offensive line positions, the passing game is not where the Dolphins want it.

“We still had a drop or two,” Philbin said. “We still had maybe an accuracy issue here or there. When the plays present themselves to make, we’ve got to do a better job making them on a more consistent basis.”

Brian Hartline put it this way: “You can see it coming along. You can see guys, myself included, playing better, playing faster. [But] we’re nowhere near where we want to be. We’re still working on timing. We’re still working on getting in and out of the huddle faster, getting lined up faster, maintaining our tempo through the heat. That will come with time.”

### The undrafted rookie running backs, Damien Williams and Orleans Darkwa, are both pushing Mike Gillislee, and Williams has been more impressive than Daniel Thomas at times.

“They are both fundamentally sound football players,” Philbin said Thursday of Williams and Darkwa. “I thought in the last drill we had, I think we ran an outside zone to the left and they do a good job of ball security. They are not afraid to step up there in pass protection. I like the group. I think it’s a good, young group.”

### Really like how the secondary is coming along. Reshad Jones has had a good camp, Louis Delmas appears to be an upgrade over Chris Clemons, Cortland Finnegan has been solid and Jamar Taylor seems much improved. And Brent Grimes remains one of the team's best players, of course.

BOSH SPEAKS

### Chris Bosh, speaking Thursday morning to 790 The Ticket’s Jonathan Zaslow and Joy Taylor, said of his five-year, $118 million contract: “The [Heat] stepped right up to the plate. That made my decision easy. It makes me feel special and extremely motivated. There wasn’t much to think about.”

### Bosh said he was “shocked” by LeBron James’ departure but “that got me excited for the next chapter, to rise up to the challenge. It gives us an opportunity to play with a chip on our shoulder. It’s revitalized my attitude toward basketball a little bit. We have a very good team.”

### Of assuming a bigger role offensively, Bosh said: “It’s cool to be in that situation again. I’m a much better player than I was the last time in that position.” 

UM CHANGES

Linebackers coach Micheal Barrow is leaving the program, going on a sabbatical because of a family medical issue. Barrow played at UM from 1989 to 1992 and has been on the coaching staff for seven seasons. Canesport.com said that Barrow's mother is sick and he wants to care for her.

Hurlie Brown will move from running backs coach to linebackers coach to replace Barrow, and Tim Harris --- who joined the program earlier this year --- will become running backs coach.

Former UM receiver Kevin Beard replaces Harris as assistant director of football operations.

07/30/2014

Riley opens up: Said he is shocked over LeBron leaving, said it has fired him up, much more; 15 Dolphins notes

A few minutes ago, Pat Riley spoke to seven reporters, including myself, in his first public comments since LeBron James left for Cleveland.

Here's most of everything he had to say:

 ### On LeBron’s departure: "Like Micky [Arison] said, both of us were shocked, but you recover. I don’t want to go back in history, but after 45 years, I think I’ve been around at least 15 transcendent players that have walked out the door – either left the team, retired, got traded, went somewhere else and you move on. We were shocked, but we recovered. People in this country have the right to do what they want to do. He wanted to go home. In our statements, we respected that. It was a tough blow."

### DId Riley feel like he was misled? "No. I don't think I was encouraged either. That's this business. They were free agents."

He said he reached out to LeBron through texts and emails throughout the free agent process but didn't get a response, though he obviously did get the meeting in Las Vegas two days before LeBron announced he was leaving for Cleveland. "I sent him a lot of emails and texts. I was communicating a lot with him. No response."

### On his late-June press conference encouraging players not to run out the door, he said he wasn't thinking at the time that LeBron would leave. "I wasn’t thinking that at all. My message that day was born out of just getting beat by a great team by 70 points in five games. We got our ass handed to us. You know how I react when things don’t go well. I get upset. We all get upset. That’s how I was after the particular loss. It wasn’t about making a direct comment to any one player because everyone on our team was a free agent or ready to become a free agent except Norris Cole. My message was we are going to come stronger than ever."

### Riley declined to say if he knew – when he met with LeBron in Las Vegas - that LeBron had met with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert four days earlier.

"There wasn’t anything in that meeting that told me that wasn’t going to happen [that LeBron was going to leave]. I’ve moved on quickly from that. We are going to build another championship team and that’s it. This business, as we find it, is tough. Sometimes you have those tough calls and sometimes things happen to you that you don’t like but you’ve got to move on."

### Riley said he went into free agency "with the thought he was coming back. I was selling that to players.”

He told LeBron before free agency he would tell players that. “He never said to me, No don’t do that. I went in with that premise and found out on the 10th [that wasn’t going to happen]. We were both very shocked when he did not come back. I was thinking all along he would come back.”

### Is he hurt by LeBron leaving? "I don’t get hurt. Very rarely do I get hurt. My wife will hurt me. My daughter might hurt me. You have an instinct about certain things. As soon as something happens, I had to react and we did. The hurt didn’t last very long."

### Can Riley see himself going through this in 2016 when the Heat has ample camp space?

"Yes, I can. It has fired me up. I don’t like to get beat at anything. I want this team to be as competitive as it has ever been. The team might not be as formidable from the social media standpoint as the team we had the last four years but a solid team that will be a great team to cover.

That process didn’t take anything out of me other than this one notion: Every [so often], you have a chance to build a generational team. You’re not going to win 10-12 years in a row. That chain has been broken prematurely. We are going to try to make it another generational team. That’s what my objective is."

### "There is no doubt we lost a great player" but he still expects to compete for a championship. "We’re not going to go in with this roster thinking there’s anything less than that. That’s how I am as a man."

### On Wade: "We are going to see where we are with him. With what he’s doing this summer and what he’s doing with his body and what he’s going to be doing with his conditioning, there is a possibility dwyane can return to what he was before he ceded a good part of his game to LeBron. And the same thing with Chris. A strong personality and strong player dictates a certain style of play that takes away from other great players. Dwyane and Chris sacrificed a lot. I think you will see both players probably have the best years they’ve had over the past four years."

### If LeBron had stayed, “we were always looking at 2016 as a possibility to be a player" in free agency, which the team will be now. "All of our players were aware of that. We always wanted a window in 2016.”

### Riley called Carmelo Anthony's agent after LeBron left but "that dance card had been punched. We were a little bit late to that party. I made a call but we were late in on that one." Anthony didn't resign with the Knicks until a couple days later.

### On giving Bosh a five-year, $118 million maximum contract: “Everything was off the table as soon as LeBron left. Whatever plans you may have had at that time, how you were going to negotiate with certain players was off the table. If something generated itself in two or three hours, you had to respond to that. He’s the most versatile big man in the NBA. That’s what the market was for him, and Micky stepped up to the plate, and we have a key, key component to this team. I’ll be damned if I was going to let him walk out the door and he didn’t want to either."

### On what he still needs to address: "The one area we want to shore up is another perimeter player who can swing between 2 and 3, maybe 2, 3, 4. We’re not in a rush now. Another wing man and also another big. We’ll be scanning the market."

"I always slot CB at the center spot, even though he plays across the board. Having Chris, Justin Hamilton at center, McRoberts and Haslem at 4, Deng, Ennis, Granger at 3. Wade, Cole, Chalmers, Napier."

### On Deng: “I truly believe if we were able to sign him that day [they met with him July 5, before LeBron left], he would have signed. He liked our team, competed against us for a long time. That discussion had to take a number of meandering rows. He knew we wanted him, would try to do whatever we could to get him.

At that time, when you took a look at our bottom line, we could have used all of our exceptions or gobbled up enough room to have maybe 10 or 11 million in cap space if you wanted to go that way."

### Why was Granger a priority? “I have been in this with players who have had injuries and had setbacks. It takes some time. He got caught up in a very awkward situation of coming back to a team where he really was the star [in Indiana].

"Three or fours years ago, think about the playoff series we had with Danny out there. Going through what he went through and then to come back, and having Paul George and Lance Stephenson be where they were. He has sort of been through the grinder. I have always liked him as a player. He’s a swing player, can play the four spot, can shoot from an outside, a good defender. It was low risk, high reward and he wanted to be here regardless of what the situation was.”

### On Josh McRoberts: “He flew under the radar a little bit. Last year was a breakthrough year for him. He’s a high motor guy. He’s a very high IQ from a basketball standpoint. He can shoot the basketball and he’s ultra competitive. The fact he led all stretch fours in assists and assist to turnover ratio. He can get three, four layups a game for some of our players on backdoor cuts. He can stretch the floor with a three. He’s an athletic guy, sort of a younger Chris Andersen that can do a few more things with the basketball. He felt he would be a great complement for Chris Andersen. When we go small, at times he plays the five."

### Except for LeBron, "all the guys wanted in here. Nobody tried to back out of this thing and tried to move somewhere else. For five or six hours, it was doing business as usual [when LeBron] left."

### Riley said "right now, we have not made any decisions" on Greg Oden. "He’s still on our board. We are going to give Greg some thought.”

### What about Michael Beasley? "Still a consideration. We talked to his people the other day."

### On Napier and whether LeBron's tweet praising him during the Final Four influenced the Heat drafting him: "The night of the draft, I said LeBron had good taste. We always liked him. We were not sure at that time, knowing Mario would be a free agent, whether we were going to be able to sign him back. We wanted to protect ourselves and we like him. He struggled this summer somewhat shooting the ball but we still feel he has a tremendous upside as a player. No truth to the fact that draft pick was made because of [LeBron’s] tweet.”

### Why give Chalmers two years and $8.3 million?

“We like him. Mario is a big game player. He learned more than ever in this series that you can never take anything for granted at this level of play when you’re playing championship caliber basketball. You’ve got to be in your best form and best mind. Sometimes, going to Finals four years in a year, you take it for granted....

"We’re looking at Mario differently in this roster. He’s a point guard but we’re also looking at him as a two. It’s big in this league, big for our coach. Mario can be very effective as a long armed 2 who can shoot the three. We are happy to have him back."

### The team we had over the last four years was a generational team. That generational team may have been disrupted temporarily. We have positioned ourselves not only temporarily to add players like Dwyane and Chris" in free agency in 2016.

"In 2016, there is going to be just about every team in the league is going to have more than $10 million in room. It tells how teams are positioning themselves for the future. The way the NBA is today, you always have to look ahead of the time at those possibilities. If you can and haven’t become roster matured with a great team, you want to be looking at that opportunities. We are going to be very competitive."

### He said Ray Allen's agent told him he "has not made a decision about anything. I’ve talked to his agent about a half dozen times." Allen has been considering retirement and the Heat can offer him only the $1.4 million minimum to re-sign.

### Riley opened with this: "To be able to put together and to get all the guys back we wanted and to add guys like Josh McRoberts and Luol Deng and Danny Granger and Shabazz Napier and James Ennis, I feel very good about where we are, with 12 guys under contract. We feel very good. Unlike a lot of the prognosticators, people who judge where we may be in the Eastern Conference, I feel that we are up to the challenge and going to be as competitive as anybody in the Eastern Conference. I feel great right now today making sure we have Chris signed and the core of our foundation and we’ll go from here."

### How competitive is the East? "Once the games begin to be played, we’ll find out. After 20 games, teams settle in and they usually are who they are going to be the rest of the year. There has been some change. Sometimes teams have a tendency to break through, get to a certain level and take a step back. If Derrick Rose is healthy, Chicago is going to be formidable. Is Cleveland going to be as good as everybody thinks they are? Nobody really knows. I am going to put my team in the mix with all those teams to be just as competitive."

### On James Ennis: "We see upside, athleticism, three—point shooting. He can stuff up the stat sheet. He can make six threes, get to the lane. Very athletic, high motor player. He needs a lot of work. He’s still really raw. For him to go to Australia was the best thing for him. Led the league in scoring, almost became the MVP. As we tracked him all year, we felt this was going to be a very good prospect.”

### Justin Hamilton's contract becomes partially guaranteed Aug. 1, and Riley said the Heat will keep him past that deadline.

### On James Jones going to Cleveland: "We wish him nothing but the best. He was a good soldier here the past six years.”

### Please see the last post for 15 Dolphins notes, quotes, tidbits and thoughts from Wednesday's practice, and another non-Riley Heat note.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz          

More Dolphins O-line changes; 15 notes, quotes, nuggets from camp; Wednesday Heat items

Please see below for a Heat schedule note from Wednesday.

Meanwhile, here are 15 items to chew on from Wednesday’s Dolphins practice:

### The Dolphins shook up their first-team offensive line, which is once again the team’s most worrisome position, during Wednesday’s practice after two more botched snaps from center Shelley Smith, giving him four over the past two days.

During the second half of team drills, Nate Garner replaced Smith with the first team at center, while rookie third-round pick Billy Turner replaced Dallas Thomas with the starters at right guard.

Meanwhile, Thomas got some work at right tackle, a position he played at times in practice last season.

Branden Albert is set at left tackle, while Daryn Colledge (left guard) and Ja’Wuan James (right tackle) are likely starters.

But the two other positions have proven problematic in light of Mike Pouncey’s hip surgery, which will force him to miss a chunk of the season.

Smith, who has never played center in an NFL game, has mishandled at least six snaps in five training camp practices. He lost his spot with the first team Wednesday after a low snap resulted in a fumble that was recovered by Isaaka Aaitui.

Smith said he wasn’t surprised he was replaced by Garner, who started two games at center last season and 19 games at various positions in his five seasons. But if the Dolphins determine Smith isn’t the answer at center, Smith would seem the logical starter at right guard.

### The Dolphins’ depth at center remains limited. Sam Brenner, who filled in for Pouncey at center during a practice in late June, missed practice Wednesday with an ankle injury. The Dolphins hope he can return in a few days.

### Free agent Samson Satele, who auditioned for the Dolphins on June 30, remains on Miami’s radar and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Dolphins go back to him if the center situation worsens. But the Dolphins are still looking at internal options.

### Coach Joe Philbin said in March that it was important to determine Thomas’ best position and leave him there. That still hasn’t happened. Thomas already has played three positions in the past two months: both guard spots and now tackle.

“We’ll see if he looks that much more comfortable [at tackle],” Philbin said. “I doubt that will be the case but it could be. I told the staff I want to see some guys in some different spots.”

### Besides Brenner, Pouncey and Knowshon Moreno, Mike Wallace (hamstring injury) also missed practice.

IMPROVEMENTS SOUGHT

### Dolphins special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi said Wednesday he wants improvement in the return game and also more consistency from second-year kicker Caleb Sturgis.

Rookie receiver Jarvis Landry and former Titans receiver Damian Williams are incumbent Marcus Thigpen’s top challengers for the punt and kickoff return jobs. A few rookies, besides Landry, are also in the mix, including former Oklahoma running back Damien Williams, who's battling for the kickoff return job.

“We put a depth chart up. Is [Thigpen] number one? Yes, because he has the most experience,” Rizzi said. “We will have other guys do it. We have a lot of options, a lot of competition. We have some insurance policies like Brent Grimes. There are probably more options on the roster for that job than we’ve we have had.”

In his second year as the Dolphins’ primary returner, Thigpen slipped to 19th in punt returns last season (7.8 average) and 18th in kickoff returns (22.5).

“We’ve got to get better in the return game as a whole. All 11 guys, not just the returner,” Rizzi said. “There were a lot of situations where our blocking could have been better. We got to get back to where we were in 2012, when we were top five in both categories.”

The Dolphins are eager to see Landry return punts and kickoffs in preseason games. “Obviously, the guy has good hands,” Rizzi said. “He has good judgment, very good athletic ability. The second step is can he do it with people around him, [with] gunners in his face?

“The question of whether he can do it in game time is going to be the biggest thing. He’s going to have some opportunities for sure [in preseason games]. He didn’t do it a lot in college [at LSU]. They had Odell Beckham doing it.”

### As for Sturgis, the Dolphins decided not to bring in another kicker to compete with him even though his 76.5 percent accuracy on field goals (26 of 34) ranked 29th of 32 kickers, ahead of only Houston’s Randy Bullock, New Orleans’ Garrett Hartley and Oakland’s Sebastian Janikowski.

“He’s got to get more consistent,” Rizzi said. “He had that lapse in the middle of the year where he had a 1 for 5 spell. A kicker can’t be on a roller coaster ride. You go out there for one play and you’ve got to get it done. Bottom line.”

Though there isn’t another kicker on the roster, “the specialist world is a little different from everywhere else,” Rizzi said. “You don’t necessarily need a guy in camp to feel pressure. There is always competition. It may not be in the building. [But] I have a lot of confidence in Caleb Sturgis.”

Sturgis was 8 for 10 from 40 to 49 yards but just 3 for 7 on field goals of 50 yards or longer.

### The offense was sloppy during Wednesday’s practice, with far too many drops on catchable throws. Brian Hartline dropped two after he beat Jamar Taylor and scored on a 70-yard passing play from Ryan Tannehill. Even Jarvis Landry had his first drop of training camp. Armon Binns, Stephen Williams and Gator Hoskins were among others with drops.

Tannehill continued to mix the good with the bad. His TD strike to Hartline was perfectly thrown. He ran for 25 yards on a read option and his accuracy on intermediate routes in the middle of the field has been pretty good.

But he also threw an interception to Cortland Finnegan to end teams drills and threw an interception to Jamar Taylor when he underthrew Hartline on another bomb.

On another play, Tannehill waited too long to throw deep to Kevin Cone, thus allowing Taylor and Walt Aikens to successfully defend the play. Also, defensive linemen Jared Odrick and Cam Wake knocked down two of his passes Wednesday.

Give the Dolphins’ defensive backfield credit; they’ve made a lot of plays in this camp. And Tannehill hasn’t been awful. But we’re still waiting for the day that Tannehill is super impressive, without any poor decisions. It hasn’t happened yet through five days.

### The Dolphins want to continue making use of Dion Jordan on special teams when his four-game regular season suspension ends.

“Dion played 300 plays on special teams,” Rizzi said. “He was exceptional on the return team as a blocker.”

### Philbin, asked why he believes his run defense is better this year than last year, when the Dolphins were 24th in that category: “We’re getting more guys to the football. I’m excited about our defense. They look good so far. Randy Starks, I told the team I think he’s practicing better than I’ve seen him practice.

“Our front has a chance to be pretty good. The changes we made at linebacker. Louis Delmas plays fast. Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler – I like what they’re doing. Philip has really improved. Dannell, the benefit of being the mike, has quickened his transition to outside linebacker.”

### Speaking of defense… A couple of quick thoughts from defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle today: “We’ve got very good speed on defense…. I’m extremely pleased with how Koa Misi has progressed taking on the challenge of becoming the Mike backer in the defense. There’s very few guys I’ve ever been around that have worked as hard as he has to get ready….

"This is the deepest group I think we’ve had in all the positions, guys that as you go down the list have proven that they are capable of competing in the NFL… I think our young corners are really starting to come along.” Yes, lots of happy talk. But the defense has been sharp through five days. Adam Beasley will have more on the defense in a story to be posted later.

### Cam Wake was among several Dolphins who were wearing a T-shirt with slogans that were selected by the players. Among them: “I am a warrior and member of an unbeatable team… I will always place the team first… I will never quit. I am a professional…. I am a Miami Dolphin.”

Philbin said the idea was hatched during his meetings with players. “The great teams I’ve been around, the players take control of them,” Philbin said. “The best thing to do is to give them some ownership. They did a good job, gave some consideration to it.”

The T-shirt is not being sold to the public.

### Rookie fifth-round pick Walt Aikens, who started his career as a safety at Illinois and finished it as a cornerback at Liberty, has been playing both positions.

“You look at him and say, ‘Hmm.’ He kind of looks like a safety,’” Philbin said. “He’s going to continue to get work at both spots.”

### Philbin, on his running backs: “Lamar Miller – I like everything he’s done. Daniel Thomas – he’s had a solid camp so far.”

### Undrafted California rookie linebacker Chris McCain has made a mark so far, including an interception of a ball that Pat Devlin tried to throw away.

“Chris McCain has impressed with his athleticism,” linebackers coach Mark Duffner said. He’s got good quickness, pretty good awareness. He’s going to give us a lot of value with the versatility he presents.”

### Among others who impressed us Wednesday: Former Oklahoma running back Williams (has shown more recently than Mike Gillislee), Dion Sims (nice lunging catch from Tannehill); Dion Jordan (knocked down a pass from Matt Moore); and Taylor, who recovered from getting beat to make at least three very good plays on the ball, including the pick on Tannehill’s second deep-ball attempt.

HEAT NOTE

No, the Heat won’t be showcased to the nation to the extent they were when LeBron James played here. But the networks aren’t going to ignore them either.

TNT wants to televise a Heat game during the first week of the season, and according to a league official, the tentative schedule includes a Washington-at-Heat game on Thursday, Oct. 30 on TNT --- two days after the season opens.

The person said there’s still a chance that game and other early-season games could change, so keep that in mind. But Turner wants to show the Heat early in the season. As we reported yesterday, Cleveland-Miami is also listed as a Christmas ABC game on a tentative league schedule.

The Heat-Wizards game, if it isn’t changed by the league, could be Miami’s first or second game. There’s a chance Miami could open on the road the night before, but that’s undetermined. 

### The Lakers worked out Michael Beasley today in Los Angeles, according to ESPN. The Heat has been non-committal with the free agent forward.

### The Marlins are aggressively pursuing a starting pitcher in a trade before Thursday night's trade deadline, and Fox said the Marlins might acquire Boston's John Lackey. But Herald colleague Clark Spencer reports there is no chance of that happening.

Brad Hand and Jacob Turner have pitched well in the fourth and fifth slots in the past couple weeks but the Marlins want a proven arm in their bid to earn a playoff spot.