On the day cornerback Sean Smith was given the opportunity to practice with the first-team secondary, ahead of Eric Green, it was fellow rookie Chris Clemons that made me take notice with his evening practice performance.
Clemons, working with the second-team as a safety, had two interceptions during this practice and it would have been three had he not dropped a seemingly sure interception when he jumped a route by Ricky Williams along the sideline. Yeah, the would-be pick would have resulted in an touchdown return.
Clemons made all his highlight plays while Chad Henne was at quarterback.
Look, we all know Clemons is not going to displace either Gibril Wilson or Yeremiah Bell in the base defense. But ....
If he continues to be around the football in practice after practice, as he has been, and he shows the coaching staff that it translates to preseason games, do not be surprised if Clemons begins to push for playing time in Miami's starting dime package.
In that dime package, Nathan Jones can be had while Tyrone Culver is solid but not spectacular. Clemons has simply been a revelation because there hasn't been a practice he hasn't been around the football.
The rest of the Miami secondary?
Smith, promoted to first team earlier in the day, had a pretty uneventful practice save the little pushing he got into with Ronnie Brown when he brought Brown to the ground on one team drill play.
Fellow rookie Vontae Davis continues to puzzle me. Coach Tony Sparano refuses to say it, but Davis is clearly the least impressive of Miami's rookie DBs. Don't get me wrong, he's never burned in an ugly-got-no-talent sort of way. But neither does he actually make the big play.
He almost ripped the ball out of Patrick Cobbs' hands after a catch ... but didn't. He almost had good coverage on Greg Camarillo in the seven-on-seven drills, but Camarillo still got the reception. Then Brandon London put a nasty double-move on Davis and got easily behind him for a 20 yard reception.
This just in: Vontae Davis needs much work.
The Dolphins defense was stout up front this afternoon in the manner it chased quarterbacks. There must have been half a dozen sacks out there. Channing Crowder had two sacks. Quentin Moses had two sacks. Erik Walden had a sack. Lionel Dotson had a sack. Jason Taylor had a sack.
There were a couple of offensive highlights today. Rookie Brian Hartline had a gorgeous one-hand catch on the move on a post pattern. But for every nice play, the offense offered a disappointment.
Anthony Armstrong dropped a pass on the same pattern Hartline caught his pass. And Ted Ginn dropped a sideline throw from Chad Pennington.
A couple of special teams notes: Newly signed kicker Connor Barth connected on 3 of 4 FGs, missing from 46 yards. Dan Carpenter connected on 4 of 4.
The Dolphins also worked on having their wedge blockers catch kickoffs. Aside from it looking awkward, it showed me something about this coaching staff. I've covered hundreds of Miami practices and never seen this drill. It tells you this staff prepares for every eventuality -- including the chance a kickoff is short and comes down to a wedge blocker.
The Dolphins have released their first depth chart of the season. Nothing major but here are the higlights:
Offense -- Davone Bess is listed as a starter ahead of Greg Camarillo at WR. Donald Thomas is listed as a third-string RG. Shawn Murphy is listed as the starter at RG.
Defense -- Phillip Merling is listed as the starter at RE with Tony McDaniel at second team. Randy Starks is listed second team at LE. Eric Green is listed as the starting RCB. Jason Taylor is obviously the starter at SOLB.
Having said all that, this depth chart means nothing. It's changing by the practice. And it has little bearing on what the lineups will look like come the regular-season opener. A lot can change between now and then.
[BLOG NOTE: I'll add the Classic Training Camp Moment and the entire depth chart later tonight. Check back.]