7 p.m. Sunday UM news; Steve Ross on the Dolphins' search for a new stadium name; Sunday 1 p.m. Brandon Harris story; Sunday morning Gase and Fins news; More buzz on Marlins' trade and Heat's Waiters pickup; Fins, UM football chatter
Two quick 7 p.m. Sunday UM notes: 1) Nebraska grad transfer Andrew White will visit UM on Monday, CBS first reported. White, a 6-7 wing player, averaged 16.6 points and shot 41 percent on threes last season. White, who's also considering Syracuse, would be potentially a big addition for UM, which has one scholarship left.
2) Linebacker Raphael Kirby, who did not sign with a team following the NFL draft because he was still recovering from last year's knee injury, announced on Twitter that he's joining the Detroit Lions.
After posting this column, I added more Dolphins chatter at the bottom (in italics), including a look at former UM standout cornerback Brandon Harris, who was signed by the Dolphins today.
SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN
Several Sunday morning Dolphins notes in addition to the 15 we posted here earlier on Saturday:
• The Dolphins are hoping to finalize a deal for stadium naming rights in the next few weeks, and Hard Rock International remains a top contender.
Asked if he expects Hard Rock to be part of the stadium’s name, owner Stephen Ross said: “I hope.”
So will it definitely be Hard Rock? “We have a lot of other different opportunities, but I like the [brand] name.”
Sun Life's naming rights deal with the Dolphins ended early this year.
• Adam Gase, on Dion Jordan, who is sidelined for a few weeks after knee surgery and was placed on the non-football injury list: "He has a fresh start with me. Whatever happened in the past is irrelevant. His job is do everything he has been told to do right. That check list is fairly long. This is good fresh start for him, a chance to start his career over."
Gase said Jordan's timetable is similar to Xavien Howard's. He could be out two to three weeks.
Gase said the knee surgery was "news to us."
Jordan said: "I'm a good person... I've made mistakes." He's now at 275 pounds, meaning he likely will stay at defensive end.
• Gase said Arian Foster "was really ready to go" after last October's Achilles tear. He said Foster "annihilated" his conditioning test. "We've got to be smart; he's coming off a major injury. When I watch him run routes, he's so smooth. Looks effortless."
• The Dolphins signed former UM cornerback Brandon Harris, who sat out last season with a torn ACL. (More on him later today.) Gase said defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, who coached Harris in Houston, was a fan of his.
• Haven’t heard a single player say a negative thing about Gase or his staff, which is very unusual in these parts over the past 15 years.
Asked how practice is different from last year’s camp under Joe Philbin, defensive tackle Jordan Phillips said: “Definitely different. I felt like we got a lot of work done [Friday]. It was a lot better practice.”
Center Mike Pouncey said it’s different because Gase “brings energy every day. We enjoy going to meetings because we know it’s going to be exciting. He has a young mindset dealing with the players. It’s easy to have a conversation with him. Very outgoing personality. It’s a different feeling. First time in a long time we’ve had that feeling around here.”
And there’s this from linebacker Koa Misi: “We've got to trust in the calls [coaches] are making and work together as a team. Sometimes in the past, that [was] the reason why we weren't winning games.”
• Pro athletes often shrug off whether starting is important to them, but that’s not the case with Earl Mitchell and Jordan Phillips, who are competing to start at defensive tackle. “We’re not out here to be second; I want to start,” Phillips said, adding he’s quicker after dropping from 325 pounds to 316.
Mitchell so far has had the majority of first-team snaps.
• Though the Dolphins haven’t ruled out extending or restructuring safety Reshad Jones’ deal after he ended his offseason protest, Jones said that hasn’t happened yet and he’s no longer concerned. “Just worried about helping my team win.”
• Please click here for a lot more Dolphins personnel notes from today, including Dion Jordan, starting lineup battles and a cornerback they auditioned.
• Beyond the fact they really like Andrew Cashner, another reason the Marlins were comfortable making the Padres trade is that Colin Rea is under team control for six seasons and Marlins president/baseball operations Michael Hill said the Marlins believe Rea “has the potential to be a solid No. 3” starter.
If you missed it, Rea left his Marlins debut with elbow pain. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right elbow sprain; Nefi Ogando was recalled. Rea reportedly will undergo an MRI on Monday.
• Hill said there have been no discussions about a new deal with Cashner, an impending free agent: “We haven’t yet given that thought.”
• Hill said it was “extremely difficult” to trade injured Carter Capps but the Marlins were comfortable with their bullpen depth led by AJ Ramos, Kyle Barraclough, Fernando Rodney, plus prospects Brian Ellington, Nefi Ogando and Austin Bryce, among other.
• Hill said the Marlins wanted minor-league right hander Tayron Guerrero, the third pitcher obtained in the deal, because “we love the arm. Throws 100 mph. We felt he could be an impactful third piece. Very intriguing.” Guerrero, 6-8, has been pitching in relief but the Marlins might make him a starter, Hill said.
• Another Marlins official said other teams repeatedly asked for JT Realmuto, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna and the Marlins would not consider dealing any of them.
• ESPN analyst and former Nationals GM Jim Bowden, by phone: “The price was exorbitant [for the Marlins], but sometimes you have to… overpay. I don’t think the Marlins make the playoffs without making this move. I credit Jeffrey Loria for going for it. When good, Cashner is a third starter. You look at the stuff and think he could be more. His breaking ball is an issue. Rea is a back of the rotation guy.”
Bowden said the Marlins are plus 14 in infield runs saved, and the Padres minus 18, and Cashner “will benefit from the Marlins’ infield defense.”
• Some nuggets on Heat addition Dion Waiters: The Heat is looking at him as a potential starter at shooting guard and his numbers are similar in 179 career games as a backup and 110 as a starter. But last season, he was far better as a backup, especially on threes (38.5 percent on threes as a backup, to 27.6 percent on threes as a starter)….
Opposing players shot slightly worse when they were defended by Waiters last season (43.1 percent) than they did overall (43.6). For perspective, players guarded by Dwyane Wade shot 42.7, Josh Richardson 44.9, and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan 47.3….
Erik Spoelstra might look at how OKC coach Billy Donovan used Waiters, which Waiters appreciated. Donovan put the ball in Waiters’ hands more when Russell Westbrook was on the bench --- “Dion just loves to have the ball in his hands,” Kevin Durant said --- and unlike past coaches, allowed Waiters to roam without the ball instead of sticking him in the corner.
“There are a lot of things that Dion does that do not show up in the stat sheets,” Donovan said earlier this year. “He's a really, really good defensive player. He can put the ball on the floor. He can generate shots for others. He's a smart player, got a good feel for the game.
“Listen, there's been some times where he's not played great and I've had to take him off the floor and put him back in later on, but overall I trust Dion in terms of even when he's not playing well he can kind of refocus himself and get back to where he needs to get back.”…
Waiters struggled in the clutch (7 for 23) and his 17 points per 48 minutes ranked 37th among 54 shooting guards… He struggles finishing in the basket area; he shot just 49 percent within five feet, in the bottom quarter of shooting guards – Wade was at 63 percent – and missing two of 19 dunks.
• During his spring booster tour, UM coach Mark Richt said he asked all his players two questions after spring ball ended: What can your teammates count on you for? And who do you think is a leader?
This staff quietly has worked to create a bond among players and coaches. “We’re spending quality family time inside and outside of the facility,” Kc McDermott said. “We've had the occasional meal over at coach [Stacy] Searel's house.”
Richt also has players at each unit working out together in the weight room, which players say is new.
“It’s going to be interesting,” ex-Canes great Reggie Wayne said. “One thing that has been lacking in the program is the fellowship, getting to play for each other, letting your teammate know, ‘I got you.’ It seemed like a bunch of individuals [the past few years]. Our teams did everything together.”
MORE SUNDAY FINS NEWS JUST ADDED
When Lamar Miller and Olivier Vernon left in free agency this past offseason, the Dolphins lost their only two players who grew up in South Florida and attended the University of Miami.
They now have another who fits that unique criteria: Brandon Harris, who on Sunday joined a crowded competition for the Dolphins’ final cornerback job.
The former Hurricanes and Booker T. Washington standout hopes to revive a career sidetracked 14 month ago by a torn ACL in his left knee.
“It is so special to be at home, going back to the same stadium where that allowed me this opportunity to be in the NFL, where I made my name on a national stage,” said Harris, who joins former Melbourne Central High alum Rashawn Scott as the only former Hurricanes on the Dolphins’ roster. “I am excited to play in front of my family and friends every day in training camp.”
After tearing the ACL in his left knee at a Tennessee Titans minicamp practice in June 2015, Harris sat out last season, then visited the Dolphins for a medical checkup in May.
The Dolphins called him last week and asked him to audition on Saturday, along with two other corners: former Ravens and Patriots corner Rashaan Melvin and ex-Chicago Bear Albert Louis-Jean. Melvin was signed after the workout, but Harris left without an offer.
“Figured I would get ready for my next move, and then I get a call early [Sunday] morning [from the Dolphins] saying come on back,” he said.
Harris said his knee simply wasn’t ready earlier this offseason. Now, “the knee feels great. First time I’ve been in pads since the last regular season game of 2014.”
Harris posted on Instagram that it has “been a long year of recovery after tearing my ACL. I cried so many nights fearing I'll never play again, that all changed this morning. Miami I'm Home.”
Harris has played in 42 NFL games but has started none of them and has no interceptions.
Drafted in the second round (60th overall) by Houston in 2011, he appeared in 31 games over three seasons for the Texans, who cut him before the start of the 2014 season. He played 11 games for the Titans in 2014.
Coach Adam Gase said Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph likes Harris, whom he coached in Houston.
“I would have liked to have had more of a household name at this point,” Harris said. “I take pride in playing physical. Playing with a lot of energy is my biggest strength.”
Harris, 5-10, said he has played most of his NFL snaps in the slot. “That’s where I am most comfortable [but] I am excited to go outside a little bit, too,” he said.
After cutting Tyler Patmon on Sunday, the Dolphins now have several defensive backs competing in the slot: Bobby McCain, safety Michael Thomas, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Harris and Jordan Lucas.
With Xavien Howard recovering from knee surgery, the 6-2 Melvin gives Miami another option on the boundary, with projected starters Byron Maxwell and Tony Lippett, plus Chimdi Chekwa. Olomu and Lucas also can play outside.
Melvin, cut by the Patriots in May, said his strength is “putting my hands on guys and being a physical corner, using my size to my advantage.”
On adding two corners and cutting one this weekend, Gase said: “We want competition. If we feel like it’s time to move on from somebody, we’re going to do it and try to bring somebody else in.”
• Sunday notables: Ryan Tannehill completed a perfect 40-yard sideline pass to DeVante Parker, who extended over Lippett… Andrew Franks kicked a 59-yard field goal and continues his very good summer, dating back to May practices… With Branden Albert given the day off, Laremy Tunsil opened with the starters at left tackle…Sam Young and Chris McCain got into a brief shoving match after a drill... Dolphins quarterbacks haven’t thrown an interception in three days of camp.