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27 posts from June 2008

June 14, 2008

Things to address while on vacation

The Dolphins are officially on vacation now and although some rookies will be around the facility during the early part of July, most players won't be back until later in the month.

But just because everyone's on vacay doesn't mean stuff should not be happening. The Dolphins have work to do in certain areas over the next few weeks. And although not every issue will be fully resolved by the start of training camp, it wouldn't hurt the team to consider its options.

The issues?

1. Getting healthy: Miami needs to get cornerback Michael Lehan, linebacker Channing Crowder, guard Steve McKinney, and running back Ronnie Brown as close to 100 percent as possible.

Lehan suffered a significant ankle sprain during recent OTA action and was expected to be out about a month. That still puts him within reach of being ready for the start of camp but he obviously has to get treatment consistently to accomplish that.

Brown got his most work of the offseason in the last week of OTA work, taking snaps with the first-team offense in team drills rather than being limited to individual drills as he was earlier. But Brown still isn't 100 percent. The hope is another month of strength building and treatment and TIME will help the surgically repaired knee. I don't think you'll see him taking too many hits in training camp -- maybe not even the first preseason game. But he needs to show by the second or third preseason game he's ready to play because, otherwise, he would be showing he's not ready for the season.

Crowder is still not 100 percent following late-season knee surgery. He needs to get better for the team's as well as his sakes. Obviously Miami brought in a pair of veteran inside linebackers in Reggie Torbor and Akin Ayodele so Crowder will have to compete if he wants to retain his starting job. Then he is hoping to set himself up for a new contract and that cannot happen on the sideline. Finally, from a team perspective, a healthy Crowder makes the defense better and, at the minimum, improves depth.

As for McKinney, see a couple of paragraphs down.

2. Sign remaining rookies:

The Dolphins have three draft picks that remain unsigned -- second-rounders Chad Henne and Phillip Merling and third rounder Kendall Langford. None has missed mandatory minicamps or OTA days because of contract issues so the is hope the negotiations will be efficient and productive. But it is clear Miami cannot afford to let any of these three guys miss any significant amount of training camp time, so it is imperative they are present and accounted for at the opening of camp.

3. Fill the vacant guard spot.

Miami's OL seems pretty much set in four of the five spots -- with LT Jake Long, RT Vernon Carey, C Samson Satele, and G Justin Smiley looking solid. The problem is Smiley, a natural right guard, has been working at both sides and the side where he ain't is a question mark.

If Smiley lands at right guard, where he is more comfy, that leaves the possibility of putting two relatively inexperienced players to man the left side. If you put Smiley, a vet, at left guard, his experience would help Long but what about RG?

This won't get resolved before the start of camp, but it is an issue that needs monitoring. Veteran Steve McKinney, who would be a good veteran fill at LG, said recently he would be ready for the start of training camp "even if I'm not 100 percent." McKinney, added recently, is still recovering from knee surgery that forced him to miss most of 2007.

That is all for now. I will be out of the country starting Sunday evening for 10 days. Spare me the don't come back jokes. You will have one final opportunity to talk Dolphins football with me if you want.

I will be on 790-AM The Ticket Sunday morning from 9-11 to talk sports with you. So call me from anywhere in the US at 1-888-790-3776. And if you are not in So. Fla. you can listen on the web at 790theticket.com.

June 13, 2008

Marcus Vick pans out the way I thought he would

As Yoda might say: Sometimes wrong I am.

Deez from this blog just called me out for being wrong on the Jake Long post I had a few months ago. I wrote that because the Dolphins had like, a shadow, show up for Long's pro day, they apparently weren't too interested in the Michigan tackle. Woops.

But as Yoda would also say: Often right I am.

And so as I read this news story out of Norfolk, VA., I just had to shake my head. The story details a little incident involving former Dolphins practice squad receiver/returner/never was Marcus Vick. Seems Ron Mexico's younger brother got in trouble with the police. Again.

Vick, 24, and Miami woman Delicia Lenora Cordon, 24, spent time in jail last night after both were booked on DUI and public intoxication charges, respectively. Vick was released on bail about the time the East Coast was waking up this morning while Cordon was released on her own recognizance, the news account said.

Cordon has a myspace page that alleges she is an actress, model and "video vixen," whatever that is. [True story, first time I went on myspace was just now to access this link.]

Anyway, when Nick Saban took a chance on Vick back in 2006, I panned the idea. Absolutely hated it. Thought it was a recipe for disaster. Said it wouldn't work out. Fact is, this is exactly what I said:

"You've all heard about the report that the Dolphins are bringing Vick's less talented and much more trouble-prone little bro to this weekend's minicamp. Big mistake.

"I challenge any of you to name one former trouble-maker or druggie who simply turned things around and became a star for the Miami Dolphins. Outside of Irving Fryar, who turned into a productive player around the time he got born again, I cannot recall even one player who chased away the demons effectively enough to be productive on Sunday.

"On the other hand, I can recall off the top of my head a bunch of guys who were trouble when the Dolphins gambled on them, and continued to be trouble afterward.

"Chuck Muncie in the 1980s? He was traded to Miami and when he took his urinalysis, white powder came out.

"Tony Collins back in 1990 didn't work out. Clayton Holmes, he of three failed drug tests with the Cowboys, failed another drug test before he got out of training camp his only year in Miami.

"Demetrius Underwood came with emotional baggage and when that luggage landed in Miami, it detonated as Underwood tried to commit suicide during a bye weekend.

"Cecil Collins came to Miami with a prison record and rewarded Jimmy Johnson's confidence in him by sneaking into some lady's apartment -- while her husband was home. So, of course, he rectified the situation by jumping out the window -- never mind he had missed a game or practice or something because of a sprained ankle.

"LaCurtis Jones came to Miami in the 1996 draft with a reputation for violence, which seem OK if he channeled it strictly to the field. But when he got cut, he showed up at training camp with a gun. True story.

"Lawrence Phillips was a thug at Nebraska, was a thug in St. Louis and when the Dolphins signed him, guess what? He was a thug in Miami.

"Gene Atkins once punched out a teammate in New Orleans then came to Miami and argued with Louis Oliver and grabbed Tom Olivadotti on the sidelines.

"I can go on and on: Larry Webster (drugs) got suspended; Shane Burton (alcohol) got arrested for DUI; Tim McKyer (bad reputation) lasted only one year; Bobby Humphry (drugs) got shot; Tyrone Wheatley (I don't even remember his major malfunction when he came to Miami) got cut.

"Are you getting the drift that there is a reason these guys get traded or don't get drafted? Are you getting the drift that when the Dolphins add these guys to the roster, they are inheriting someone else's headache?

"Vick, according to three sources, was completely off the draft board of at least 21 NFL teams from my count. They obviously knew something about the kid that overshadowed his good arm and 4.47 speed.

"He got suspended in 2004 and was finally kicked off the Virginia Tech team after last season -- even after his older brother had taken him in and tried to set him on the right direction.

"So now he comes to the Dolphins for a tryout and the team will say it hasn't invested anything in the guy and it doesn't hurt to give the guy a chance because, what the heck, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

"But that's very shortsighted. Every snap he takes in this minicamp, is one less snap a more worthwhile player doesn't get. Every moment he spends with a coach, is one less moment that coach is investing on a player that isn't as likely to get into trouble down the road.

"The sad thing is sometimes guys like Mexico Jr. look like they've gotten their act together, make you start trusting that everything is fine and then ... poof, the air goes out of the good-guy balloon.

"They revert to their old ways and it always happens at the wrong time. Bobby Humphrey was great for the Dolphins for a while that 1992 season and then when Miami got to the AFC title game against Buffalo, he mysteriously shows up 30 minutes before the game and lays a huge egg that day.

"At the end of the day it simply is not worth it, people. These players come wrapped in much talent and potential but tear open the attractive exterior and you get a package full of unreliability."

Well, turns out Vick wasn't a very good football player to go along with the fact he is an arrest magnet. But the point I made about him and other troubled played back then remains true today.

They're simply not worth the trouble.

Thoughts ...

OK for players to be unhappy with signed deals?

I have traditionally sided with players in contract and other labor disputes because, after all, the game is about them. They are the stars that put people in seats at the stadiums and in living rooms.

I also have this thing about siding with David over Goliath and in the financial tug of war between players and owners, the millionaires are David and the billionaires are Goliath.

But ...

It seems this offseason, more than any I can remember, players are simply out of control with their complaining and manifesting and ridiculousness. You think Jason Taylor missing a MANDATORY minicamp because he wants out of Miami is out of bounds?

I wouldn't argue with you too much because, after all, he has two years remaining on his contract. But that is almost tame compared to what nearly a dozen players throughout the league are doing this offseason. They are missing offseason conditioning, voluntary OTA workouts, MANDATORY minicamps and more as they request trades or more money despite having iron-clad contracts they once gladly signed.

It is happening throughout the NFL.

In Buffalo, All Pro offensive tackle Jason Peters did not report to the team's MANDATORY minicamp this week because he is unhappy with the contract he signed a couple of years ago -- a deal that still has three years remaining. Despite being scheduled to earn $9.6 million the next three seasons and having banked a $5.75 million bonus when he signed the deal in 2006, Peters now reportedly wants a new deal that pays along the lines of the contract Dolphins rookie Jake Long signed this year.

Tight end Chris Baker is feuding with the New York Jets because he wants a new contract although he has two years remaining on his current contract.

Cincinnati receiver Chad Johnson wants a new contract or wants to be traded and he has generally made himself a pain this offseason to get his way. Oh, did I mention he willingly signed a $36.5 million contract extension prior to the 2007 season that runs through 2011?

New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress signed a contract in 2005 that runs through 2010. But he now wants a new contract, and to underline his point, he declined to do any on-field work during the team's MANDATORY minicamp.

Philadelphia's Lito Sheppard, Marques Colston in New Orleans, Jeremy Shockey with the Giants, Osi Umenyiora with the Giants. All are crying (look ombudsman, I'm doing it again) unhappy about their contracts or work situations. All have missed at least portions of this offseason's team activities.

I grant you it is hard to feel sympathy for teams in this increasing phenomenon because they often don't adhere to the spirit of contracts by cutting players before the deals are played out. Some teams also emboldened agents to do this stuff we are currently seeing by renegotiating contracts early when players outperformed their previous deals.

But somewhere, somehow, the current trend has got to stop because this is getting kind of crazy. How crazy?

Cleveland tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. was injured all but two games of his rookie season after he  broke his leg playing on special teams. Then he fell off his motorcycle and tore up a knee before his second season and missed that whole year. So he barely played his first two seasons but got paid handsomely anyway.

Well, Winslow finally played in 2006 and 2007 and guess what? Now that he actually did some work for his money, he thinks he deserves a new contract. Never mind that he's signed through 2010.

The nerve.

June 12, 2008

Dolphins finish offseason work with Thurs. OTA

The Dolphins finished their final OTA work of the offseason. They were scheduled to work Friday but Tony Sparano gave the guys the day off as a reward for their hard work.

In the next few weeks, rookies will be encouraged to show up and learn, and get bigger and stronger. But the vets are done until late July's start of training camp.

Today, Jason Ferguson, Jason Taylor and Joey Thomas were absent from the voluntary work. Ferguson was excused in that he told Sparano where he'd be. Thomas was held out for medical issues. Taylor was  ... never mind.

Interestingly, Bill Parcells, a sideline fixture at all the other workouts, was not at this one.

Running back Ronnie Brown, still recovering from knee surgery, took most of the first-team snaps in practice. That is the first time this offseason Brown does that as the team was bringing him along slowly.

Brown looked good in team drills but I did notice when he caught a pass and was tackled/fell down, he got back up by putting all the pressure on his left knee (the good one) while putting no weight on his right one (the surgically repaired one). It was an instinct thing that tells me Brown still isn't 100 percent certain about that surgically repaired knee. But that should eventually resolve itself with contact -- at least that is the hope.

ILB Channing Crowder, also held out of some team drills, got more work this week as he was eased back into the mix.

A couple of practice play notes:

Ricky Williams continues to impress and that includes with his pass-catching. Shuttling into first-team work in the two-minute drill, Williams caught a pass from first-team QB John Beck in the flat and turned it into a 5-yard TD.

The second-team offense, behind Josh McCown, also got in the end zone when MCown threw a 60-yard pass to tight end David Martin. The pass came against the first team secondary and LB corps. Martin's longest reception last year was 28 yards.

The third team offense did not score in the two-minute drill.

OT Julius Wilson spent a couple of moments on the turf when he bumped knees with another Olineman but seemed none the worse for wear afterward.

After practice Sparano threw some lesser-known players a bone when he said he was impressed with the work of WR Davone Bess, CB Scorpio Babers and NT Anthony Toribio during the weeks long OTA workouts.

By the way, former Redskins and Texans GM Charley Casserly was at practice today. He is doing work for CBS and the NFL Network and got the royal treatment he deserves from the Dolphins as GM Jeff Ireland spent much of practice with him while Sparano talked to him privately afterward.

And then I talked with him.

He told me he was impressed with the organization and pace of practice. He also told me the team definitely has an issue with the guard position opposite wherever Justin Smiley lines up -- either LG or RG. It is a void that is clear to any trained observer.

And that leads me to this: The Browns terminated the contract of LeCharles Bentley on Tuesday. He is 28 years old and a former Pro Bowl player who can play both center and GUARD. I realize he has a terrible injury history of late. But perhaps Miami's need, so obvious to everybody, will still cause Ireland/Parcells to take a look.


June 11, 2008

ESPN tackles Taylor saga in one fell swoop

A look at ESPN.com's football site this evening is not very kind to Jason Taylor.

The lead story is a column by Jeffri Chadiha on KC tight end Tony Gonzalez, who at 32 years old, is in the twilight of his career while stuck on a rebuilding team. Sound familiar?

It apparently struck a comparative chord with Chadiha who draws the obvious parallel between Gonzalez and Taylor. But then the author draws this distinction with Gonzalez after talking to him at the team's last minicamp:

"He wasn't griping or moping, and he definitely wasn't demanding a trade to a team with championship potential. He'd decided to do what professionals do -- which is worry about the things he actually can control -- and that philosophy has made life much easier for him to handle these days."

Meanwhile, the video linked to the column is a segment on NFL Live in which Trey Wingo, Eric Allen and Mike Golic discuss Taylor and Gonzalez. Their first topic of conversation is which of the two is in a "worse situation."

Armando Note No. 1: How can anyone making millions of dollars per year to play a game be in  a "worse situation?" Just asking.

Anyway, Allen said Taylor is worse off because, "pretty soon [Bill Parcells] is going to lay down the hammer," on him. Golic said "neither is in a good position," but Gonzalez on the field has no control over playing with bad or young teammates, particularly QBs. So Golic concludes the DE has it better off on the field.

Wingo then brings up how the two have handled their situations and both Allen and Golic, a former Dolphin, agree Taylor hasn't handled his situation well. Golic talks of not liking Taylor's press conference a couple of Sundays ago.

"Handle business behind doors," Golic says. "...You don't hear anything from Tony Gonzalez or what he's going through and that's fine although it's not good for my radio show. From a team aspect, I don't like it when it gets out in public."

Allen agrees. "Tony Gonzalez is doing it the classy way ...," he says.

Armando Note No. 2: That is precisely the way Taylor wanted it handled originally but things kind of got off course, I guess, and now he's scheduled to have yet another press availability Friday.

Anyway, the third and final offering from the monolith that is ESPN is a column by Sal Paolantonio, written following his visit to minicamp last weekend. SalPal, a fine writer before joining the TV business, gives an overview of the camp and much of it focuses on Taylor.

"Before minicamp, [Taylor] met with [coach Tony] Sparano and Parcells separately," SalPal writes. "In both conversations, Taylor reiterated his desire to play one more season -- somewhere else."

And then it gets worse for Taylor.

"Now that Taylor has pronounced that he is a one-year rent-a-player, his value has diminished. In essence, he's made himself into Tiki Barber, proclaiming he's done before he's done. And who's going to part with a first- or second-round draft pick for that headache?"

It is all quite a full plate of coverage. There's nothing dramatically new about it, but it definitely grabs one's attention. The coverage, however, doesn't include all the latest news.

And what is that? Well, the Dolphins are in the final days of their OTA program. It ends this week before players and coaches get some vacay time. Taylor, a Dolphins source says, has not attended this week's workouts so far.

Armando Note No. 3: Thursday morning's OTA workout will be open to the media although not to the public. I will blog as soon as something noteworthy happens.

June 10, 2008

Porter compares 2008 and 2007; likes 2008 better

Were you disappointed by Joey Porter last year? Seems so if one can believe the poll I conducted a couple of posts ago.

In the poll I asked which player you believed to be the best on the team right now. Of the 850 respondents so far, only 3.5 percent (about 30 people) picked Porter. Porter scored the lowest of any player who has actually played a game for the Dolphins so that is obviously not good news for him.

But Porter understands.

"It was a bad year," he says. "It was a bad year for everybody. But that year is over with. I don't really like living in the past, especially when you're talking about something so bad. It's a new year now. I'm just trying to move on."

Please do. In moving on, the Dolphins hope Porter returns to the past -- you know, his Pittsburgh days when he was a game-changer, a player the offense had to account for. He wasn't that with the Dolphins last year but he hints that will change.

"We have a whole new coaching staff," Porter says, "a whole new D coordinator, a whole new philosophy. All I can tell you is check it out when we start the season."

Porter is enthusiastic about this season because, apparently, he respects the current coaching staff. He didn't have that same respect for Cam Cameron, particularly at the end of last season when he challenged Cameron both verbally and by things he did.

(Remember he asked Cameron for permission to stay over after the Pittsburgh game and return on his own rather than with the team. Cameron said no. Porter did it anyway.)

"The whole mentality around here has changed," Porter says. "We brought some coaches in here that are not going to settle for less. The whole mindset around here has already changed from what I came into here last year. The guys' effort they're putting in now, the way they walk around here is totally different.

"I didn't know what to expect last year. I was a new guy so I didn't know how they ran the team, but seeing how we ran it last year to this year is night and day. Different better. Way better.

"These coach are not accepting just anything. Coaches now demand a whole lot out of you. They don't accept anything but your best. And even in OTAs, they're not accepting 50 percent or 75 percent of your effort. They want 100 percent."

Porter needs to be at 100 percent if the Dolphins are going to matter on defense this year. He says he's healthy, which he wasn't part of last year. And he is optimistic that what he was brought in to do last year, can happen this year.

What is that, you ask?

"I need to go out there and help this team become a No. 1 defense," Porter says. "Whatever I can do personally would be good, but at the same time, I just want to get back to playing high-energy football. I want this defense to be great."

Is that possible?

"It is," Porter says, "real possible."

What do you think?

June 09, 2008

Feely under microscope because of his mouth

I told you yesterday I was working on a Jay Feely column for the newspaper.

Well, the interesting column is up on the website.

So why is a column on Miami's kicker interesting?

Couple of reasons. First, Jay Feely is much more than just a kicker. He sees himself as something of a team leader, as a locker room spokesman and perspective guy, and as a valuable player.

One cannot argue the valuable player thing. Check out the 2007 NFL stats for field goal kicking and they reveal Feely was among the league's best. But that is not the reason he's under the microscope with the Dolphins.

Seems that his kickoff average is a concern and his average for the number of interviews and times he speaks out is a bigger concern for the team. The Dolphins want the guy to "keek ball, get check," and that's it. (Peronally, it was a shock for me to learn Fidel freakin' Castro resides at the Dolphins training facility.)

I asked Feely outright on Sunday if he had been told by the new administration to basically zip it with the media. I knew the answer already but wanted to hear it from him. Feely was straight with me. He said, "Yes..."

Amazing. But not unique.

I've covered a lot of players and teams that were at odds over how the players dealt with the media and how the team wanted them to deal with the media. Trace Armstrong, who I consider a friend, was forever under the gun when Jimmy Johnson became coach because ... well, because Armstrong had a mind.

Don Shula tolerated Mark Clayton because the receiver was outstanding. But the minute Clayton lost a step, Shula ushered him out and brought in Irving Fryar because Clayton's mouth was a pain for the coach.

I compare Feely's situation to that of Armstrong. The problem Feely encounters is a kicker is a lot easier to replace than a pass-rushing savant, which Armstrong was for a few years.

Anyway, the whole scenario raises a couple of questions.

1. Can Feely stop being himself to save his job?

I imagine a guy that bright feels like he's got a lot to add. But a guy that bright also has to realize it is better to be employed than not. So I assume he will try to dial back on his public opinions and spokesmanship. It won't be easy for him.

Example: Team brass noticed that Feely was the only player who asked a question of Ari Fleischer Sunday after the former White House Press Secretary finished a 45-minute presentation on how to deal with the media.

It's not a bad thing that Feely asked a question, in my opinion. But apparently there were eyebrows raised among Miami brass that Feely felt compelled to step up despite previously being told to step back.

The question apparently didn't help Feely, either. He asked how to he might go about defending the organization on issues he might not agree with.

"What I told Jay was, and I get that question a lot," Fleischer said, "is I worked for three congressmen, one senator and one president. They ran on their issues. I'm a staffer. I cannot possibly agree with 100 percent of what they espouse ..."

Fleischer apparently put it in terms Feely, who is interested in politics, could relate with. He compared the player's situation with a political party member that doesn't buy into every plank of his party's platform.

"... You don't have to believe every single thing your party stands for," Fleischer said. "But you have to believe in your party and your people ..."

The second issue raised by this situation is what the Dolphins do in picking a kicker. Do they go with the best player, with no regard for how/when/why that player talks to the media? Or do they allow those factors to have bearing on the decision?

Feely expects to make Miami's decision a difficult one. He told me he expected to be the NFL's best kicker this year.

So what do you think will happen?

June 08, 2008

MANDATORY minicamp over (with poll!)

Pretty uneventful practice Sunday.

I watched rookie Dan Carpenter on kickoffs and he does have a booming leg. He drove all but one of his kicks to the goal line and a couple even went out of the end zone. I will be writing a column about the kicking competition that Bill Parcels basically announced last week in the coming days. A couple of things in there will surprise you as Jay Feel attempts to keep his job.

The three quarterbacks all got first-team snaps today. John Beck had a couple of nice throws, including one in which he basically got the ball over a defensive lineman's helmet as that lineman was grabbing onto him and the rest of the pocket was breaking down.

Ernest Wilford was present for the walk-thru before the media was allowed in to watch, according to Tony Soprano. He was absent for the actual practice because he had a flight to catch, the coach said..

As to the advancements the team made during the three-day camp:

"I just told the team this at the end of practice, I thought we had an awful lot of competition during this training camp," Soprano said. "We had competition in the red zone, in two-minute situations, on third down. We were able to evaluate some of our bigger people packages and we got a chance to see our blitz-pickups and blitz packages."

So the Dolphins, like FedEx, got a look at a lot of packages this weekend.

The top performers of the weekend IMHO?

1. Ricky Williams. Looks cut, quick and strong. He is the best player on the team right now. It says something when Parcells gives the player a fist-pound after a play, which he did Saturday. By the way, Williams got all of the first-team work in team drills as Ronnie Brown is being held back from that as he recovers from ACL surgery. Brown is still well ahead of schedule.

2. Yeremiah Bell. I kidded with him that he looks like Dan Marino out there because he's wearing two ankle braces and two knee braces. He laughed but Sparano called the safety "a good quarterback out there," meaning that is the role Bell plays on D. I don't believe he blew an assignment all weekend long.

3. Vonnie Holliday. Let's face it, he is the team's best DL right now. He is healthy, he plays smart. And frankly, he looked to be schooling some of the OLinemen most of the weekend.

4. Ernest Wilford. He is the team's best receiver right now. He catches everything, he knows how to run routes and he knows how to separate even though he doesn't have the greatest speed in the world. My prediction is he leads all receivers in catches this year although Ted Ginn is the No. 1 receiver.

5. Joey Porter. I know he was something of a disappointment last year, primarily because his performance didn't match his salary. But was he a bad player? I don't think so. This weekend he spent extra time working with defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni on his pass-rush technique. He told me to expect new things we haven't seen before. We'll see.

Also, the Dolphins brought former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer to training camp today and he spoke for 45 minutes about how to deal with the media.

"The most important thing about dealing with the media is mental discipline," Fleischer told me. "The same mental discipline athletes bring to the field, they should bring to the press. That way they don’t make mistakes. They don’t get taunted into a situation. They don’t get pitted against a fellow player or coach. I told them to respect the press. They have a hard job to do. They get paid to ask hard questions and you’ve got to work with them.”

The Dolphins will be off Monday and return for OTA work Tuesday-Thursday before going on vacay.

Before you go to the comments section, let me know the answer to the poll ...

Sunday's mandatory minicamp finale prelude

Today is my wedding anniversary so the Dolphins are celebrating by having only one practice.

I will update you with what happens in that practice after it is over. I will update you immediately if something newsworthy happens -- like maybe a receiver not named Ted Ginn or Ernest Wilford holds on to a pass.

Meanwhile, you should read the column I wrote on Bill Parcells for Sunday's Miami Herald. I find the guy fascinating because he does try to intimidate people but I believe that to be only a facade. I relate in the column how it went the first three times I called The Big Tuna. It's pretty funny, in hindsight, though I wasn't laughing at the time.

Anyway, the point is for all his personalty traits, the one thing he does better than anything else is build football teams.

I got a chance to talk to him about that earlier this week and he relates in the column some of his thoughts.

One thing that he is already planning is picking up four or five guys off waivers after the Dolphins supposedly settle their roster. In other words, the Dolphins will make their final cuts. And then a couple of days letter, cut a few more guys because they're going to try and bring in a couple of other players from around the league.

The idea is that the No. 54 player on another team, the guy not good enough for that team, could be No. 50 or No. 51 on the Dolphins. So the Dolphins will set their roster with their best 53 players, then whack the last couple of guys on the roster and bring in better guys.

It is a way to strengthen the bottom of the roster -- meaning the depth of the team.

Smart stuff.

Anyway, discuss this post ... check back for the update post-practice ... and leave your comments.

June 07, 2008

Saturday afternoon practice update

Greg Camarillo and Ricky Williams get the Bill Parcells gold star for this afternoon's practice!

How do I know?

Camarillo caught a 45-yard pass down one sideline in which he was covered but reached up one-handed and scooped the ball out of the air before falling to the turf. "Nice catch Greg," Parcells shouted as he was standing on one sideline of the Nick Saban Memorial Bubble. "Nice catch son!"

Parcells then yelled at corrected the defensive back covering Camarillo. Camarillo also had another nice catch down the opposite sideline in which he came back for the ball thrown behind both he and the DB.

Ricky Williams, meanwhile, was showing a quickness and spurt through the hole I don't remember him having in his extremely limited practice time last season. He blurred through one opening and juked a DB, causing Parcells to meet Williams on the sideline with a fist-pound.

As I mentioned, the Dolphins worked indoors. The cool conditions didn't seem to help Miami's struggling passing game. There were more incomplete passes than complete passes. Both Chad Henne (1) and John Beck (2) had passes batted down at the line of scrimmage.

There were a couple of times that passes were thrown to areas where no receiver was present. Josh McCown was forced to scramble on one occasion when he found no receiver downfield.

The Miami defense must be AWESOME!

Speaking of the defense, Chris Crocker and Nathan Jones took a couple of snaps with the first-team unit at the free safety spot that is also manned by Jason Allen.

Finally, the offensive line setup for today's two practices was different than the past couple of practices I've been able to see. Today the line was LT Jake Long, LG Justin Smiley, C Samson Satele, RG Trey Darilek and RT Vernon Carey.

Before that, rookie Shawn Murphy has been working at LG with Smith at RG. The Dolphins are mixing and matching to find the best five players, according to coach Tony Sparano.

The Jason Taylor ABSENT FROM MANDATORY PRACTICES meter is now at 4.

I will provide more updated stuff while the Dolphins work Sunday morning. Check back often.

Post Saturday morning practice report

This is the deal:

Everyone was present and accounted for at practice this morning except for Jason Taylor. Randy Starks, who missed yesterday's morning practice, was present for the afternoon practice and today's work as well.

The Dolphins brought in receiver John Dunlap from North Carolina State to work as a tryout player. The fact the Dolphins lost Tab Perry and with some guys feeling a little sore, there is room for Dunlap to get reps. One of those receivers who is sore is David Kircus, who was limited in drills today because of a tight hamstring.

As I reported earlier Chad Henne took the first-team QB reps this morning. I wouldn't say it was a great practice for any of the QBs but that is beside the point. "We're competing and everybody is competing," coach Tony Sparano said.

"I want to see Chad in the first huddle. I want to see Josh in the third huddle sometimes. I want to see Beck in the third huddle."

Sparano explained that watching a QB in the first huddle tells him if he fits. Watching one with the second or third teamers tells him if the QB can rise above the other guys. Good stuff, I think.

Talked to Yeremiah Bell, who is one of my favorites based on how tough the guy is and how active he is on the field. Seems when he's on the field, he's always around the action.

Bell, recovering from a 2007 torn Achilles tendon, said he's 95 percent recovered from the injury. "The other five percent will come over the rest of the offseason," Bell said.

As you know from previous blogs, Bell is running with the first teamers. He loves the new defensive system, calling it "player friendly," and thinks he can prosper in it.

"When I'm in there running with the ones I'm going to do everything I can to stay in there," Bell said.

Chances look good he'll do exactly that.

"I'm really impressed with what he's getting done out here on the field," Sparano said of Bell. "He's a good quarterback [for the defense] to have back there."

Talked to Vernon Carey about the switch back to RT. "I'm back home," he said.

He didn't see the switch back as any sort of insult. He did say it took him some time to re-adjust.

"It was shakey at the beginning but that passed," Carey said. "I'm happy."

Guard Steve McKinney, who is not working because he is still recovering from a knee injury that forced him to miss most of 2007, said his goal is to be ready by the start of training camp.

"I don't know if I'll be 100 percent by then but I'll be practicing," he said.

Some highlights:

Best pass of the day came from John Beck who threaded the day's best pass between to defenders and into Derek Hagan's chest. Hagan caught the pass!

Ricky Williams continues to impress. On one running play he vaulted a guard and defensive tackle who were on the ground and clogging the hole. Amazing stuff which leads me to think right now, today, he is the best player Miami has on the field.

Name someone better if you disagree.

By the way, I notice a couple of you are asking how Jake Long or some other offensive linemen are looking. Honestly, I learned long ago that these minicamps are not an indicator of how good or bad an offensive lineman is because there is no hitting or blocking in anger at these camps.

So all I really can tell without blowing smoke is where folks are lining up. It would be ridiculous for me to tell you Jake Long is looking great when he hasn't actually blocked anybody coming at him full speed.

More to come. Check back.

Get your Saturday mid-practice update here

Dolphins are working as I write this. Here's a couple of things so far:

The pass offense is, shall we say, struggling this morning. I will now provide you with a play-by-play of the passing plays during the team period -- the period in which offense goes against defense.

Incomplete pass by John Beck.

Interception of Chad Henne by Will Allen.

Sack of Josh McCown.

Incomplete pass by Beck.

Fumbled snap by Beck.

Incomplete pass by Beck.

Incomplete pass by Henne.

Henne is getting some first-team repetitions today.

On the field goal front there is a blossoming competition between vet Jay Feely and rookie Dan Carpenter. They each attempted three field goals during the special teams portion of practice.

Feely was 2 of 3, missing the try from about 40 yards. Carpenter was 3 of 3, hitting from close-range, from about 40 and the try from about 47 yards out.

I'll update as something happens and then I'll give you a post-practice update so check back often.

Saturday morning practice prelude

Practice No. 3 of this minicamp is scheduled to begin in about 11 minutes and I can't wait!

Things to look for today:

The wide receiver corps really worries me. Yes, Ernest Wilford is proven and a fine addition. But after that it gets uncertain. Justin Wynn? Devon Bess? Selwyn Lymon? David Kircus? Greg Camarillo? Derek Hagan?

During yesterday's afternoon practice, reporters counted at least seven dropped balls. There were a couple of other moments when guys simply slipped and fell down without being touched.

All I can say is neither Wilford nor Ted Ginn, who also is largely unproven, had better stay healthy.

It seems the Dolphins are pretty excited about starting two rookies on the left side of the line. First-round pick Jake Long (LT) and Shawn Murphy (LG) have been working together since the middle portion of OTA drills. Obviously there is no contact here, but at least these guys are getting some timing down and learning each other's tendencies. We'll see what happens when the hitting starts.

But this feels like a Richmond Webb-Keith Sims redo.

OK check back often as I will update mid-practice, assuming something is going on.

June 06, 2008

Parcells and Taylor meet and find no resolution

Bill Parcells and Jason Taylor met on Thursday but the first extended contact between the two men has born no fruit as the defensive end was absent from a mandatory minicamp today.

Parcells requested the meeting with Taylor to explain that he holds no ill feelings toward the player and to try to convince him to rejoin the team. Parcells, one source said, told Taylor that calls from other teams interested in trading for him have dried up.

It is unclear how Taylor reacted, but sources close to him say he rejects the idea there is no trade market for him. Taylor, through his agent, has asked permission to shop himself but the Dolphins have refused.

Parcells also encouraged Taylor to show up for the remainder of offseason workouts and training camp because the team expects him to be a Dolphin this year. Taylor, a Dolphins source said, told Parcells he would rather play for a contending team than for the Dolphins.

Parcells, the same Dolphins source said, told Taylor he will play for the Dolphins or have to retire.

The meeting near the Dolphins training facility was described as otherwise amicable but but neither party emerged feeling any better about the situation.

It now seems that while Parcells bears no grudge against Taylor for missing much of the offseason while appearing on Dancing with the Stars, Taylor does have issues with the team -- chief among them, the manner in which middle linebacker and brother-in-law Zach Thomas was unceremoniously released.

Taylor was one of two players not to attend mandatory minicamp practices today. Randy Starks also missed the first practice this morning, but coach Tony Sparano said that was excused.

Asked if Taylor's absence was excused, Sparano said, "No."

Parcells, through Miami's media relations department, gave a "No comment."

Post-practice update from Dolphins minicamp

The first practice of the day is over here in sweltering Davie, FL., and I want to share some early knowledge based on some interviews and what I saw at practice.

Everyone is here except defensive linemen Jason Taylor and Randy Starks. Coach Tony Sparano said Starks is an excused absence. Asked if Taylor is excused Sparano seemed uncomfortable for a moment before saying, "No."

Sparano said cornerback Michael Lehan, injured in an OTA practice on Wednesday, will be out a couple of weeks. He said the team would not be looking to add CB help.

Talked to offensive coordinator Dan Henning for a few minutes. He said he was originally asked to come to Miami in an advisory role of sorts. But after speaking with Sparano, he said he got "fired up" about the idea of becoming the offensive coordinator.

And while you can bet the Dolphins offense under Henning will stress running the football, he says that's not all you can do and be successful.

"You have to be strategically flexible," Henning said. "That has to do with who you have first, and what they have second. So if you have a big, burly offensive line group and guys that can run the football, you should lean on that. But if you have guys that are good at stopping that on the other side, you still have to be flexible enough strategically to move out and challenge them in another area.

"You just can't be one-dimensional. You're not going to get it done one-dimensional anymore."

Moving on:

Remember I told you a couple of days ago that defensive end Matt Roth is getting individual work with linebackers?

Well, Roth is working as the starting right defensive end in Miami's 3-4 scheme. But when backups take their repetitions, he is working as a linebacker also. Obviously, being able to have skills at two positions makes Roth more valuable, which is good because last year he showed questionable skills at DE.

I would tell you Bill Parcells included Roth among the list of players he likes along the defensive line when he talked to me about that unit for my story today.

Another tidbit is that Renaldo Hill, who missed much of last season with an ACL injury to his right knee, is at practice today. The guy started in 2006 and the early part of 2007 but is relegated to third-team work right now.

As he progresses from his injury, I believe his skills will flash -- in other words, I think he'll be competing for a starting job when he's healthy.

Charlie Anderson, signed as a free agent from Houston, is playing Taylor's spot. The other LBs are Joey Porter at SAM with Akin Ayodele and Reggie Torbor as the inside backers. Channing Crowder, still recovering from knee surgery at the end of last year, is limited in team drills.

MANDATORY minicamp practices start today

The Dolphins begin three days of mandatory minicamp practices today and everyone is scheduled to be there except fans (workouts are closed to the public) and Jason Taylor (he's apparently busy).

That means I will be there serving as eyes and ears for you.

That means you must come here for the updates because I will file as many as humanly possible -- especially if something interesting actually happens.

Your other choice is to stay locked here and simply refresh for the updates.

The team will have two-a-days today and Saturday. One practice is scheduled for Sunday. The first practice today is scheduled for 10:40 this morning.

Assistant coaches will be available to speak for the first time since their hiring five months ago so we'll see what they have to say.

Ahhh, the smell of football season in the morning ....

June 05, 2008

Parcells explains JT snub during long-ago visit

I know you are tired of more Jason Taylor soap opera updates but The Miami Herald fancies itself the paper of record on the Dolphins, though sometimes there's not enough paper to handle the entire record.

Such is the case in a story I filed about Parcells for tomorrow's paper. The story discusses a dozen different topics -- they pile up when Parcells talks only once every six months -- but I couldn't get into his explanation of the snub of Jason Taylor. Not enough room in the paper for all of it.

But there is enough room here so indulge me.

You may remember I wrote a while back that Taylor was angry at Parcells because during a break in the Dancing with the Stars competition, he visited Dolphins training camp, hung with his teammates for a couple of minutes, then went upstairs to see Parcells.

Taylor entered a room where Parcells and coaches and scouts where breaking down tape. Taylor stepped in and Parcells basically acted as if he wasn't there. That made Taylor so angry he wanted to challenge Parcells to a fistfight, or worse, a dance contest.

Not really. But it did understandably irk Taylor.

The story made national news for whatever reason. Taylor confirmed what I wrote during his press conference Sunday, and today, Parcells also confirmed my report even as he explained his role:

"I'm not trying to make an excuse, but there was no intentional, calculated, or disrespectful thing that I personally did," Parcells said. "I know that for a fact. I wasn't paying attention and I didn't see him and I didn't hear him. That's the truth. That's what happened from my perspective."

I can buy that. I think Jason Taylor will ultimately buy that, although Parcells said he and Taylor have not talked about it.

Do you buy that?

The Tuna speaks to ME (and others)

Just spent 20 minutes in a one-on-one interview with Bill Parcells. Parcells is doing a promotion for Gatorade in downtown Miami and the PR people for the company set up Parcells with local writers. I represented The Miami Herald.

I already filed an online story for The Herald website. That talks about The Big Tuna leaving the door open for Jason Taylor playing for the team even if he misses this weekend's mandatory minicamp and if he misses parts of training camp.

Other nuggets I'll give quickly before doing in-depth transcription for my print story:

*Parcells said he has no trouble working for new owner Stephen Ross. Ross sat next to him during the draft.

*Parcells said the Dolphins have more needs -- still -- than most teams. "You haven't got enough room in your column if I give you the list," Parcells said. "But I'm never happy."

*Parcells doesn't know what he has at quarterback and says we really won't know until the Dolphins lose a game, "35-7, the quarterback throws four interceptions, maybe his nose is broken, the fans are booing him, the press is on his [butt], and the coaches are looking at him sideways and the players are wondering what the hell he can do, and now it’s Wednesday afternoon and he’s got to get back in the huddle and prove to everybody in the organization he can lead your team."

*Parcells absolutely loves punter Brandon Fields. You read that right. He loves the punter. I'll explain why in my print story. Apparently he's not quite so in love with the kicker. Parcells said incumbent Jay Feely will have a competition on his hands for the job this year.

*Parcells continues to make the point he's not the guy in charge. Basically he's the guy making sure the guys in charge don't mess up.

*Finally, his favorite Gatorade flavor is Red Drive. "Less calories," said the man who took the first-ever Gatorade shower back in 1985-86.

June 04, 2008

The words right from Tony Sparano's mouth

This blog brags promises, "no space crunch," because the Internet isn't quite full yet. But in my attempt to help fill it, I hereby present to you in its entirety a transcript of Tony Sparano's post-practice get-together with the press Wednesday.

Thanks to the Dolphins media relations department for its diligent work transcribing a 16-minute gathering. Now you know who to blame if there are typos.

(On if he can update Michael Lehan’s health status) – “I really can’t. We are going to have an x-ray taken at one o’clock. We are not sure exactly what the status is right now.”

(On if Lehan’s injury is an ankle) – “We’re not sure. We think it is an ankle.”

(On what an injury to Lehan would do to the secondary) – “Honestly, right now we are just rotating a lot of bodies through there, Michael being one of them. We need to get as many guys reps as we can get reps right now, specifically going into this weekend. If he is not in there – and we don’t know the severity of the injury one way or the other right now – but if Michael is not here, then it will just bump a couple of the young guys up a little bit. We’ll get a chance to see them a little bit more and get them a few more reps.”

(On David Kircus) – “I like what he has done right now. I really do. He is playing fast. He has come in here and he has gained some weight in the offseason program, which is something that we needed him to be able to do. He has gotten a lot bigger and a lot stronger this offseason and I think he has been catching the ball pretty well. I like the things that he has done right now. At that position, the more jobs you can do, the better off you are going to be and I think he has shown he can get down the field a little bit. We’ve seen him in the slot a little bit at times and now maybe in some special teams things as well. If he can start to do some of those things that will help us along the way.”

(On if Kircus views this as his last chance after encountering some off-the-field issues) – “There is no doubt about it. I don’t know about last chances or anything like that, but I do know that right now this is his chance here. He knows that. I think he is well aware of that. I think we’ve gone into that, again, with (General Manager) Jeff Ireland and all those things. He has a chance here. He knows it is a good opportunity and right now I like the things that he has done.”

(On if Ricky Williams has a solid work ethic) – “Yeah, he really does. I like what Ricky has done. He finishes every run. I think that’s important. Within his individual drills, I see the guy working hard to get better during these individual periods. I think the guy shows up each day and has a purpose when he practices. He wants to get better at something each and every day. When you sit down and you talk to him, he’ll tell you those things. I like where he is right now. He’s used this offseason very well. We’re at the end of 10 weeks or whereabouts, or into the 11th week right now of this offseason program and he has been at every workout, which is going to be really good, I think, for him down the road and for us.”

(On if he sees Ronnie Brown learning from Ricky Williams) – “The good thing about Ronnie and Ricky’s relationship right now is that they are not afraid, neither one of them, to exchange a lot of information with each other. I think that as Ronnie has not taken the Team (practice period) reps, he’s getting a chance to see Ricky run and watch from behind a little bit and learn maybe what Ricky is seeing from the backfield and I think that’s important. I think there are some things there. Also in the meeting rooms, they are both pretty intelligent guys and do a nice job exchanging information. I think they sit with one another and they’ll share information that way and learn a little bit. I think that is positive.”

(On how skeptical he was of Ricky Williams before coaching him) – “That is an interesting question because I did have some background, just some information, on Ricky. I coached with Jason Garrett and, as you know, Jason was here. We spoke about Ricky a couple times during this whole process and even when we were in Dallas we exchanged information, just Jason and myself a couple times. I knew the kind of teammate that Ricky would be here and I knew the kind of person that he was when I came in here. I had a pretty good idea and he’s been everything that they told me he was. I think he has really been a hell of a guy in the locker room right now and he has been a real solid guy out on this field. I am pleased.”

(On if he regrets saying Jason Taylor would not be at training camp) – “I don’t regret it, no. The information I had then is the information I have now. I don’t regret saying that, but that is the last I’ll say about it."

(On his discussions with Jason Taylor) – “The discussion that Jason and I had was a very good discussion that he and I had. It was a good visit.  A lot of it will stay between Jason and I, but as I said last night, and I’ll say again, I wanted to make it clear to Jason that we, as an organization, wanted Jason back here and that I was anxious to see him running around out here with his teammates. I think Jason left with a pretty clear understanding of that from my end.”

(On if, as far he knows, Jason Taylor will not be at training camp) – “Nothing has changed from my end.”

(On if the team will fine Jason Taylor if he does not attend this weekend’s mini-camp) – “That is between Jason and I and I think Jason understands and knows my feelings on that. It is between Jason and I. Those things, the fines, any of those kinds of things, whatever happens down the road with those things will stay between myself and the player.”

(On what his response is to a veteran that thinks he does not need training camp) – “I think from a coaching standpoint, I think it is plain and simple. We are out here trying to get better each and every day trying to push these guys. I would say to walk into the locker room and to ask some of the veteran players who are here right now with what we are doing, ask them that question. We are going a million miles an hour. We are trying to coach these guys. I think there is some information there that can be gathered no different than Ricky (Williams) and Ronnie (Brown) sharing it together. There is information that people can get from one another. There is a lot of information you can get from your coaches when it’s a new system, but that is really my feeling.”

(On his thoughts on the wide receiver corps) – “I like the way the group is coming together. From practice one to right now, which was the end of practice 10 or 11 here, I like the way the group has come together. We are starting to see roles defined just a little bit more maybe and starting to see some guys do different things. I like the way there is solid interaction there between some of the guys we brought in – the (David) Kircus’, the (Ernest) Wilfords, those people – and then, of course some of the guys that were here. I like the way the group is coming together. We have big receivers. We have some speed guys. I think that is important. We’re starting to figure out a little bit about third down as we get on here, but we have a lot of work to do, a lot left.

(On if Greg Camarillo still fits in the plan) – “Right now we have 80 players out there that are practicing and every one of them that is practicing right now, one way or the other, we have a vision for him. He is a guy we have a vision for, sure. Why not? At the end of this, the best players are going to play. They know that. We are going to let them compete and the best players are going to play.”

(On if the team has a timetable for Ronnie Brown to increase his workload) – “Not a real timetable, no. Certainly not. We are going to be cautious with Ronnie during this process, but as you can see, you were out there today, he has done a little bit more. He is certainly doing a little bit more than when we first came here and the first practice. Each one of these practices, Ronnie has been able to do a little bit more and that’s been good for us and been good for Ronnie.”

(On the quarterback position) – “Here is what I see right now – each day I go out here, I see another guys kind of step up. It hasn’t been a consistent progression right now. In several periods that are out here, you may see someone step up and grab the period and take control of the period. We just need to see consistency and I think the more situations that we put them in – today we worked in the red zone and we worked in the two-minute situations – the more of those things we see, the more situations we put them in will tell us a little bit more. I like where they are right now. I like their grasp – all three of them – quite honestly, I like their grasp of the offense. They are working real hard at it. Last week wasn’t a week of practice, but they were in here spending extra time and learning what we are doing and getting ready to go for this week and it shows when they are out there on the field. They are starting to understand what we are doing and they are able to play a little faster and that is going to help us as we get on with this progression.”

(On if Joey Porter will be used more as a pass rusher or more a classic linebacker) – “Depending on what we are doing out there, whether we are truly the three-man line or the four-man line, dictates a lot of that. In the three-man line the Sam linebacker has got to be able to play the run, but he can be a pass rusher as well. We know what we think Joey’s strengths are and I know the guy has been a solid run defender and he has been able to rush the passer. We just like to keep our players moving forward and I think on defense we want to make sure they are moving forward and I think the guys will tell you that they feel that out there right now. I like where Joey is within our package.”

(On Tab Perry and if he wanted him to take some of the return duties from Ted Ginn so Ginn could focus more on receiver) – “No, we need to win games. Special teams is an area where we think we can win games so the best people are going to go back there. They are going to return kicks. The best guy returning punts. The best guy returning kicks will be the guy that goes back there. If that ends up being Ted, so be it. Ted knows, no different than anybody else, the more jobs you can do here, the better off that we are going to be. With that being said, Tab’s (injury) was the initial question and as far as changing the dynamics, Tab was brought here to compete at receiver, first and foremost, and then he was a special teams player. The injury is unfortunate that we don’t have him and we really didn’t have that much time to evaluate him one way or the other out here on the field.”

(On if he gets nervous with someone as light as Ted Ginn returning kicks) – “Not if he can score touchdowns.”

(On Kory Robertson) – “I visited with Kory and Kory is not here anymore, right now. That situation is still being resolved as we speak. I sat down, I visited with him and sometimes a player identifies with the fact that he just can’t do it or maybe he doesn’t want to do it anymore.”

(On what makes him think Quentin Moses can stand up and be a linebacker) – “When we watched him in the film that you see, you see some quickness, you see some pass-rush abilities and some of those things, but really some athleticism. Quentin is a guy who I have really been intrigued with right now as I watched him practice. He does have enough speed to get around the edge. He has been a guy that has played with his hand down in the ground for a long time so he can do that for us if it is the four-man line that we end up with or in our nickel situation. He has some value, he can do some jobs, but his athleticism, his quickness, those types of things to turn the corner is really what we’ve seen. Now he has done a great job in the offseason program and he has gotten stronger. I think for pass rushers, strength when you get around the edge, the ability to bend a little bit, those kinds of things, that’s important.”

(On what the team knew about Matt Spanos before signing him) – “We knew about him. We looked at him in the draft, certainly. We knew enough about him, but having the ability to get him out here now and get a chance to evaluate him, we know a lot more about him as we are going on right now. Matt is a big, strong kid that can play in the middle. He is an intelligent guy so he gives you a big body in there in the middle that’s pretty smart and take control of some of those things.”

(On if he is surprised that Matt Spanos was not drafted, especially being part of the line was on at USC) – “I don’t know. There was a bunch of guys taken off of that team, one way or the other, but surprised I wouldn’t say. I am never surprised with the draft, nothing that comes out of it.”

(On if the mandatory mini-camp this weekend has any added significance) – “I think this weekend, honestly for us as coaches, it’s just been a pretty consistent progression from practice one through, so we are using this as another install day as we get on in this. Friday is an install day, Saturday is an install day, Sunday. When you get out there and it is a mandatory function and it is the first mandatory mini-camp that you have, I think there is some excitement to it. I think the players are excited. They also know right now that by the end of this that we’ll have a pretty large portion of what we’re all about, in. That will be really the first full time around the horn for them that way. I think they are starting to get excited about some of the things that are happening and some of the situations they have been placed out here and been able to compete a little bit in.”

(On why the team rotated the practice fields) – “We took a look at it, I guess to save grass. It’s way above me right now as far as understanding any of those things, but I think we think it saves the grass a little bit in changing the fields this way. We took a shot

Sparano speaks following Wednesday OTA drills

Coach Tony Sparano just got done talking to the media today.

He has no information on the Michael Lehan injury yet. Lehan was scheduled for an afternoon x-ray or MRI exam to determine the exact seriousness of the injury suffered during practice today. Sparano said he believed it was an ankle injury.

Some other highlights:

Sparano confirmed he has talked to Jason Taylor since the weekend and during that meeting made it clear to Taylor that the Dolphins want him in camp and on the team.

"I wanted to make it clear to Jason that we as an organization want him back here, and that I was anxious to see him running around here with his teammates," Sparano said. "I think Jason left with a pretty clear understand of that from my end."

But ... Sparano also made it clear the meeting hasn't really changed the situation. The coach said he did not regret saying Taylor was not showing up for training camp, even though Taylor called that "premature," at a press conference over the weekend.

Even after the meeting  meant to clear the air, Sparano said "nothing's changed," as he understands Taylor's intentions to not report to training camp.

"The information I had then is the information that I have now," Sparano said.

Sparano would not say whether he will fine Taylor for missing this weekend's mandatory minicamp. But does he really have a choice? I think not.


Sparano said something about his quarterbacks that we've known about Miami quarterbacks for some time. They are inconsistent. He said one quarterback will have a good practice and make it his, but then another guy will step up in the next practice while somebody else steps back.

"Every period you may see somebody grab the period, take control of the period," Sparano said.

Obviously the guy who is most consistent will win the job. But so far no one is consistent.

These guys are workers, however. Although the Dolphins did not work last week, all three quarterbacks were at the facility, learning more about the offense.


Speaking of inconsistent, David Kircus dropped a couple of passes in practice today. Sparano said he's gotten bigger and stronger and "is catching the ball pretty well." Not today.


Of the receiver corps, Sparano said he likes the way "the group is coming together," but he admits, "we still have a lot of work to do."


Running back Ronnie Brown's progress continues at a good pace. He's getting more carries and more repetitions than he did earlier in the OTA workouts.

"Each one of these practices, he's been able to do a little bit more and that's good for us and good for Ronnie," Sparano said.


Sparano said by the end of this weekend's mandatory minicamp the team will have "a pretty large portion of what we're all about in," meaning the installation of the offense and defense will be close to complete.

"It'll be the first full time around the horn for them," Sparano said.

By the way, this weekend's minicamp is CLOSED to the public. But I will be here so check back often for updates.