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56 posts from August 2014

August 31, 2014

Everything Dennis Hickey said today

Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey talked to the press today.

He shared that the trimming of the roster, which is his pervue, was instead a collaborative effort. He announced the acquisition of safety Brandian Ross and cornerback Sammy Seamster off waivers and the release of Don Jones and wide reciver Damian Williams.

Hickey is seems excited about the upcoming season, saying he's eager for the opener against the New England Patriots.

This is all he said:

(Opening statement) – “I appreciate you guys coming. Obviously, it’s been a very busy weekend all throughout the NFL and with our staff here. It’s really one of the tougher weekends just because you have so many players who have invested so much into our organization with their time, with their work and their passion, and they’ve been committed to us. Unfortunately, we can’t keep them all, so it’s a tough weekend having to try to narrow it down and make those tough decisions, but we worked hard at it. It’s been a collaborative process, both our personnel staff and our coaching staff working really hard. When it comes to the decisions, obviously, we released those last night. Our roster is always somewhat fluid. I just want to at this point announce, we’ve made two roster claims. We claimed Sammy Seamster out of the Baltimore Ravens and Brandian Ross from the Oakland Raiders. In corresponding roster moves, we’ve released (Don) Jones, safety, and Damian Williams, wide receiver. Again, a lot of these players definitely were tough decisions, but that’s what we’re going for now. The 53 man roster is fluid and we’re in the process of lining up our 10 practice squad players. We’ll be in that process for the rest of this afternoon trying to line those guys up. With that, I will open up to questions."

(On the decision to go with eight linebackers) – “Any time you are doing a 53-man roster and you’re talking about developing a 46-man roster that you take to the game, special teams plays a big part of that. Obviously, linebackers play a big role in our special teams. Even with some of our moves, providing depth in special teams, guys that can help us on fourth down is a key part of that. That played a big part of that.”

(On why the team claimed S Brandian Ross and DB Sammy Seamster)  – “Just through our evaluations and through our preseason tape, as soon as we get to the Hall of Fame game, our scouts, myself, Eric Stokes, Joe Schoen, all of our pro personnel staff and even our college staff, we go through it and we grind all of the tape and just watching for players that could potentially help us. That was through a lot of film study. We felt like they provided both as positional players but also as special teams as a big part of their value."

(On if he could elaborate on taking C Mike Pouncey off PUP)  – “With any of those types of decisions, we are always going to consult with our medical staff. Dr. John Uribe, Ryan Grove our head athletic trainer, and all of the doctors involved to make the best decision for the player and the health and well-being. Obviously, as we consulted with that and Mike visited numerous times up there, they monitored where he was at and we felt at this point, this was the best decision for him. We feel like we have a good plan for him. Mike is doing great in his recovery and we’ll just continue to monitor that as that progresses.”

(On what the cornerback depth looks like after the roster changes today)  – “All of the 53-man roster, we would love to have a 100-man roster, so you’re always looking at the key areas of depth. Again, special teams plays a big part in that and so that was definitely an aspect of it.”

(On if there was any hesitation to keep not one, but two rookie free agents at running back)  – “Our philosophy is, once you get here, whether you are an unrestricted free agent or whether you’ve already been on the roster, whether you are a draft pick or whether you are an undrafted player, we are going to judge you based on merit and what you do here. Once they are here, we have competitive environments and you just compete, and that’s how we come to our decisions.”

(On going with two quarterbacks) – “We were very confident in our two quarterbacks. Again, there is always that decision you keep a third quarterback. At this point, we’re keeping two and again the roster is fluid in that matter.”

(On where the team stands in the punting and kickoff return games with the release of WR Damian Williams)  – “We feel like we have several guys who can compete there. During the preseason, you’ve see multiple guys who can go back there, whether it be on kickoff return or punt return. So we feel confident in those guys and we’ll work through that.”

(On how many of the eight linebackers on the roster can make impact plays to help the unit)  – “We feel like defense is a collective unit. They all work intertwined, so whether it is the front getting pressure on the quarterback, making the quarterback hold the ball an extra second to get our guys to get into drops or getting breaks on the ball, or just opening up lanes so it could be a one-gap and they can fill those gaps. It’s important that they all work together on those. We feel (linebackers) Koa Misi, Dannell Ellerbe, Philip Wheeler, Jordie (Jordan) Tripp, you saw Chris McCain, some of those guys. We feel like we have a lot of talent there and we’re anxious to see them play.”

(On where the team has made upgrades from the previous year now that the 53-man roster is set) – “We’re always looking to have the best 53-man roster. You look at it more individually and trying to, ‘Does this person help us?’ With the goal obviously be winning and ‘Does this guy help us win?’ That’s our focus going forward is now we’re focused on our season opener. We went through the preseason. We’ve had a very productive preseason. We felt like we had a very productive offseason with our OTAs and building to this point. Now, we’re into the regular season and then that’s what we’re focused on.”

(On what it says about him as a General Manager and also the team that five undrafted rookies made the team) – “I would say that we judge you on what we see. Again, I always talk about, when it comes to scouting, I trust my eyes and our coaching staff is that way, our scouting staff is that way. We’re going to judge you based on merit and what we see, and ability to help us.”

(On the decision to keep K Caleb Sturgis and what he showed to give him confidence that this year will be better than last year) – “Body of work, but obviously we have confidence in him. He had the groin issue that caused him not to have the full amount of kicks, but we have confidence in him and look forward to him going forward.”

(On if there’s any concern that there may be a need for a practice squad kicker just in case) – “I’m always preparing for contingencies, whether it be from a short list or what we call an emergency list. We’re always looking at that and trying to get the best practice squad. We’ll entertain and explore all options that way.”

(On what initially attracted him to drafting DE Terrence Fede from Marist and what showed him that he would be a guy that would stick) “Again, when we evaluate players, we evaluate traits. The traits that we saw out of Terrence, whether it be from initial quickness to power to motor to production, all of those things. What we saw was a guy that we felt had the traits to translate to the next level. Obviously, he’s coming from Marist and the competition (level there), but we felt like we had enough in him to make that jump. We’ve been excited with his development. He’s been held back the last couple of weeks, but we’re excited about his future. That’s how we judge all players. We evaluate the player.”

(On if anybody on the 53-man roster solidified their place on the roster as a result of their play in the St. Louis game) “We’re always evaluating, whether it’s going back to the offseason program, OTAs, mini camp, training camp practices. We watch everything. It really is the body of work. The games are better competition, live, you’re taking people to the ground. Those are better opportunities, but it’s all a piece of the puzzle.” 

(On the decision to release RB Daniel Thomas and RB/WR Marcus Thigpen given their roles with the team over the past two years) “We just judge them individually. They’ve obviously have been good players in the past, but we felt like going forward that, in our best interest to get our best 53-man, we’re going to move on.” 

(On five undrafted players making the roster and if that speaks to his ability to find guys from anywhere or if it speaks to the talent level of this team, and if it wasn’t that high) “We felt like (this is a) competitive environment. The credit goes to those players. All of those first-year players when they come in, we said, ‘Look, it doesn’t matter how you got here. It’s up to you. You make of it what you will and then we’ll be watching.’ The credit goes to those players because they’ve proved themselves over a period of time, but the credit goes to them. They earned it.” 

(On going through the process of forming the 53-man roster with Head Coach Joe Philbin for the first time and how it went)  – “I think it went well. We had excellent communication and walking through it. Again, someone alluded to, this is a process. Just like a lot of things we do and just narrowing things down, and getting any discrepancies, just working through them over a period of time and trying to come to the best decision organizationally as we can.” 

(On what makes him confident that this team is better than last year’s)  – “What makes me confident about this team is the guys in that locker room. Having the chance the last seven months, my initial reaction was positive and it’s just been confirmed on every point. These guys are committed to winning, they’re passionate and they’ve paid the price. They’re excited to take the field at home and go to work.” 

(On what made TE Harold Hoskins separate himself from the other tight ends in camp)  – “Again, with the body of work, we felt like he had versatility. He’s got really good hands. We liked him coming out of college. So he did a lot of the things that we liked and we’re excited to watch him continue to grow.”

(On the depth at tight end and how comfortable he is with it)  – “Again, I wish I could have a 100 people on our roster. You’re always looking for that and, as soon as you feel like you have depth at one place, you can find you don’t. We’re always looking at that, but we’re confident in those players.”

On what he’s seen and what he expects from T Branden Albert and T Ja’Wuan James)  – “First, I’ll speak to Branden Albert. He’s been all that we’ve expected. One, he’s a talented talented pass protector, but also he brings that leadership. You have to protect the blindside of the quarterback. That’s a premium position and he’s done it well for a long time, and he’s continued to do it well here. We’re excited about that and also bringing strong leadership on the offensive line. Ja’Wuan James, we’ve been pleased with his progress. He came in and hasn’t missed a beat. He’s come in prepared and he’s come in confident. Every day, for a young player, you’re learning more and more, but he’s been a sponge and learning from the veterans and growing in his game. We’re excited for what he brings.”

(On what he and his staff from RB Orleans Darkwa in camp and preseason)  – “We saw a lot of things. Darkwa brought burst, he brought ability to play on special teams, good hands. You guys watched the games. He showed a lot of things that you’d be excited about.”

(On his comfort level with the center position after C Samson Satele)  – “Yes, we feel confident in Samson and we also feel confident in Nate Garner. We’ll continue to look and plan for contingencies on that.”

(On going through his first offseason, training camp and preseason as a general manager and what it’s been like personally)  – “To me, I don’t think about it in a personal sense. It’s a team and that’s really how we approach this. All of the decisions we made are not one person. It’s teamwork, whether it be from the personnel staff and my assistant GM (general manager), director of player personnel and those guys, or whether it’s working with coaches. It’s a team decision just like it is on the field. That part has been really gratifying because (I’m) really confident and feel good about our team, and working through decisions that way. That’s a gratifying part is to have that teamwork functioning well and working collaboratively together.”

(On how he feels about the roster heading into the New England Patriots game)  – “We’re excited about the season opener. Being at home, being in front of our home crowd, (we’re) really excited. It’s a divisional rival. We’re really going to get a test there. Obviously, they’re a talented group. I’m excited about this team and what they bring because of the preparation they’ve made going into this season, whether it goes back to the offseason, the preseason, gelling together as a team and (we’re) ready to take the field at Sun Life Stadium.”

(On why he didn’t spend up to the salary cap) – “You are always looking for a lot of different things. The great thing, Dawn Aponte does a great job managing our salary cap flexibility and that’s what you want to be able to do the decisions for whatever reason. It can come in a lot of different areas, whether it be in carrying over, free agency, all of the different areas. So fortunately, we have that cap flexibility and that’s a credit to Dawn and her staff.”

(On who comes to mind about if there were any surprises on the 53-man roster)  – “Really not any surprises. Look, these guys came in and competed. You say surprises, when you watch them from the beginning of the offseason all the way through, you see flashes of things and so it’s really not surprising at that point because you are watching them grow and showcase what they are capable of doing.”

(On what his approach is with players who can become a free agent after the season with restructuring and re-negotiating contracts)  – “We always look at all kinds of different options. Going back to the salary cap, we want to have flexibility. That helps with the decision-making process.”

(On if the team is able to provide game tape or similar contact with suspended players S Reshad Jones and DE Dion Jordan)  – “With those situations, we are going to follow the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) rules, very limited if at all contact. We will follow it according to the CBA rules on that.”

(On if he sees himself using all 10 practice squad spots)  – “Absolutely, especially the first week, there are a lot of moving pieces, whether it’s the first day of practice or all of those trying to get that spot. Absolutely, we are going to use all the resources we can to get good players in here.”

(On if there is an internal belief of when C Mike Pouncey would be ready to play)  – “We rely on our doctors and again those decisions are somewhat fluid as they get the check points throughout his rehab where he is at, and we are going to follow the advice of our medical staff.”

Dolphins claim Seamster, Ross, add Streeter to PS

The Dolphins are churning the roster again so far today.

The team, needing pure corners, claimed Ravens rookie Sammy Seamster off waivers, according to the Baltimore Sun. The club also claimed safety Brandian Ross from the Raiders. Ross was originally signed by the Packers in 2011.

GM Dennis Hickey has confirmed the additions. He also says the team has waived defensive back Don Jones and receiver Damian Williams.

Seamster fits the Dolphins mold in that he is from a small school, although still FBS.

Seamster, undrafted in the 2014 draft, signed with Batlimore as an undrafted free agent. The Dolphins now have six undrafted rookie free agents on the 53 man roster, tying them for the NFL lead this year.

Seamster appeared in 44 career including 10 starts. He had 69 tackles, including three for loss with one interception and four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

Ross, re-signed by the Raiders as an exclusive rights free agent, is scheduled to make $570,000 and is under contract for this year only. Ross recorded 75 tackles and two sacks in 13 starts for the Raiders in 2013.

The Dolphins are also compiling their 10-man practice practice squad squad and one player they have added is former University of Miami wide receiver Tommy Streeter.

Streeter, on the Ravens regular roster in 2012 and on the practice squad for the Bills in '13, has never caught a pass in the NFL.

Streeter, 6-5 and 219 pounds, was drafted in sixth round in 2012.

Hickey said the team will fill all 10 practice squad openings. QB Seth Lobato will fill one of those, according to a source.

August 30, 2014

Here are the cuts and what it means

The Miami Dolphins have set their 53-man roster today.

Here are the roster moves: 


DT Isaako Aaitui

G David Arkin

C Sam Brenner

WR Kevin Cone

G Evan Finkenburg

CB Kevin Fogg

WR Matt Hazel

S Jordan Kovacs

QB Seth Lobato

TE Kyle Miller

DE Tevin Mims

DE D’Aundre Reed

K Jake Rogers

DT Garrison Smith

RB/WR Marcus Thigpen

RB Daniel Thomas

LB Andrew Wilson

TE Evan Wilson 


DT Kamal Johnson


G Tony Hills


S Reshad Jones

DE Dion Jordan

 So what does this all mean to me?

I'm not thrilled with the running back position. The Dolphins kept Knowshon Moreno, Lamar Miller and Orleans Darkwa and Damien Williams. Moreno is a good-to-average NFL running back. But watching him in his one preseason outing and at practice compared to the other runners in the Miami stable is like watching Jim Brown in his prime compared to other guys.

That should not be the case.

The Dolphins need upgrade there.

Lamar Miller, who might be the starter, is a change-of-pace guy who can hit the home run if he finds the right crack. Those cracks were much more commonplace in college than they are in the NFL. Thus those runs Miller would provide at the University of Miami don't happen all that often with the Dolphins. He is still valuable. But the fact he's the starter or the No. 2 guy tells you something's amiss. He is a great No. 3 guy.

Damien Miller and Orleans Darkwa? Both are undrafted rookies. Both made this team by looking solid against second- and third-team competition. To me, they are both developmental players. To the Dolphins, they're both one fo the top 53. That worries.

What else?

At tight end the Dolphins don't one an inline complete tight end in the bunch. Charles Clay is becoming a star but he's an H-back type. Think Aaron Hernandez without the trail of alleged felonies. But he's not the traditional TE.

Dion Sims is a solid blocker but not a pass-catching threat of significance. Gator Hoskins, the third tight end on the roster, is a developmental player. He has the makings of a solid receiver. I like him in that role. But he's not a blocker. He's not complete yet. This position needs attention. 

I'm not thrilled with the DE situation. The suspension of Dion Jordan means Derrick Shelby is the No. 3 DE behind starters Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon. That's fine on run downs. Shelby is every bit a solid run stopper. That's not great on pass downs because pass-rushing is not Shelby's signature.

The Dolphins can use maybe Jared Odrick at DE but that would affect their DT rotation.

Interestingly, the team has used linebacker Chris McCain and also Phillip Wheeler in pass rush roles a lot during the preseason. The zone blitz has been on display a lot in the preseason. So I guess there will be other ways to try to get to the QB when Wake or Vernon are resting.

The secondary is interesting because someone currently employed will likely be gone when Reshad Jones returns from his four-game suspension. Don Jones and Michael Thomas will be battling it out the next few weeks for some roster certainty.

Along the offensive line, the Dolphins are banking that if Samson Satele goes down during a game then Nate Garner can fill in right away. I would expect the team will try to bring Sam Brenner back on practice squad. That way, if Satele goes down, Brenner can be promoted to the active roster and start in his place while Garner goes back to his swing position -- in that he's able to play RT, G and C in a pinch.

If the Dolphins don't sign Brenner to the practice squad, they will have to sign some other center to that squad.

By the way, you had better hope Branden Albert is healthy all year long because the backup left tackle -- regardless of the fact Jason Fox and Garner are on the team -- just might be rookie Ja'Wuan James. James is the starting right tackle.

The Dolphins kept five undrafted free agents today: LB Chris McCain, DT Anthony Johnson, RB Damien Williams, RB Orleans Darkwa and TE Harold "Gator" Hoskins.

That means either general manager Dennis Hickey and his staff can turn over rocks and pull out talent like the dickens or the relative amount of talent on this team is not as high as we might be inclined to think, thus opening the door for undrafted guys. 

Combined with the six draft picks on the roster, the Dolphins have 11 rookies on the team. Either this team that was not old to begin with just got a great infusion of youth ... Or, again, the talent level that was here previously simply was not as high as we might be inclined to believe.

That will be settled starting Sept. 7.

Mike Pouncey on the 53 man roster

The Dolphins have taken center Mike Pouncey off the physically unable to perform list and placed him on the 53 man roster.

So what does that mean?

Well, Pouncey will definitely miss the start of the season. That is not really up for debate. But he could be practicing within a couple of weeks and preparing for the start of the season. Pouncey earlier targetted the Sept. 28 game against Oakland for his return.

Had the Dolphins placed Pouncey on regular season PUP, he would have had to miss six games before he could begin practicing with the team.

This way, Pouncey can practice and play much sooner.

The Dolphins hinted at this move when they cut both backup center Sam Brenner and third-string center David Arkin today. They wouldn't have done that if Pouncey were unavailble for six weeks while on PUP.

Samson Satele will start the season as the center and Nate Garner will likely be his backup.


More cuts as Dolphins reach toward 53 man roster

The Dolphins have cut running back Daniel Thomas and kick returner Marcus Thigpen.

As those cuts have been made, I am told all is quiet on the Damien Williams front. The free agent running back has not heard from the team, and that in addition to Thomas being cut suggests Williams is on the team -- at least for now.

Remember, teams give the impression that some players have made the roster by Saturday's 4 p.m. deadline. And then add two or three other players and make cuts to make room for those new players. So there is nothing permanent until Tuesday.

Anyway, the cutting of Thomas closes the book on the former 2011 second round pick. Thomas finishes his Dolphins career with 1,312 on 365 carres (3.6 yard average). Last year was his best with the Dolphins, as he gained 3.7 yards per carry. He never rushed for more than 581 yards, that coming his rookie season.

Thomas joins other Dolphins second round busts Phillip Merling, John Beck, Matt Roth, Chad Henne, Pat White and Jonathan Martin. And you wonder why this team has to rely on free agency? Those second round picks should have netted the nucleus of this team.

Thigpen, Miami's punt and kickoff return specialist the past two seasons, was hurt part of training camp. He got one final opportunity to make the team Thursday but offered inconsistent results.

He had a nice 39-yard punt return. But that was preceded by a fumbled punt after which he kicked the fumble. Nerves, obviously. The Dolphins recovered but Thigpen's fate seemed sealed.

I asked him afterward if he thought he'd done enough to make the team.

"That's tough to say, what's enough? I've tried to make plays but at the end of the day it's their decision. I did make mistakes but at the end of the day I left all I had out there," Thigpen said.

Thigpen is great people. He's a solid punt returner. I would not doubt he catches on elsewhere.

The Dolphins will now use Jarvis Landry as their punt returner. Damien Williams is a candidate to return kickoffs along with Landry.

The Dolphins have also cut defensive back Kevin Fogg. No surprise there.

[Update: Wide receiver Matt Hazel has been cut, according to a source. Hazel is the first of GM Dennis Hickey's draft picks to be cut. He made a push to make the team on Thursday night with a nice game. But the numbers are working against him. He is a practice squad possibility.]

[Update: Source tells me rookie free agent DT Anthony Johnson is expected to make the team. Remember, however, what you read previously about Tuesday. Fellow rookie defensive lineman Tevin Mims has been cut.]

[Update: Source tells me backup offensive tackle Jason Fox is expected to make the team. Remember, however, what you read previously about Tuesday.]

[Update: Source tells me fourth-round pick Walt Aikens is expected to make the team. Remember, however, what you read previously about Tuesday.]

[Update: The Dolphins have told TE Gator Hoskins' agent the player has made the team, as seemed likely yesterday when Kyle Miller was cut.]

[Update: The Dolphins are cutting QB Seth Lobato, per Barry Jackson. No surprise here. I reported here and here the Dolphins were likely to keep only two QBs with another on practice squad.]

[Update: Central Arkansas tight end Chase Dixon, cut recently by the Seattle Seahawks, is scheduled to come to South Florida for a workout. He tweeted about the trip. Dix is 6-5 and 242 pounds and caught four TD passes despite playing in run-heavy offense last year.]

[Update: The Dolphins are clearly looking to help the TE position. They have worked out tight end Jacob Maxwell today, according Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. Neither the third TE nor sixth WR are safe on this roster.]

[Update: DL Isaako Aaitui has been cut, according to his agent.]

[Update: Offensive linemen Dave Arkin, Evan Finkenberg and Tony Hills have been cut.]

[Update: Backup center Sam Brenner has been cut, according to The Herald's Barry Jackson. Assuming that is true, the Dolphins will have cut their second-team center (Brenner) and third-team center (Arkin) today. That strongly suggests center Mike Pouncey will come off PUP and the team hopes to have him ready by the fourth game of the season. In the meantime, Nate Garner can serve as the backup center.]

[Update: The Dolphins have cut kicker Jake Rogers. Caleb Sturgis is apparently Miami's kicker to start the season.]

[Update: The Dolphins are going with six wide receivers for now: Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson, Jarvis Landry, Rishard Matthews and Damian Williams. For now. Remember the Tuesday rule I've repeated four previous times in this blog.]

Check back often for updates on the cuts ...

August 29, 2014

Dolphins cutting players today

The Dolphins have begun to get down to the 53 man roster limit.

The team moments ago told tight end Kyle Miller he is being released.

Miller, with the team the past two seasons, was vying for the third tight end job with Gator Hoskins and Evan Wilson.

After Thursday night's game against St. Louis, coach Joe Philbin was asked about the glut at tight end. The first player he mentioned unsolicited in positive terms was Hoskins.

“I think Gator Harold Hoskins, the last couple of weeks, has done a good job," Philbin said.

The team must cut down to the NFL mandated 53-man limit by 4 p.m. Saturday. It might be done before that.

Updates on McCain, Jordan, 2013 draftees, RG...

Dolphins linebacker Chris McCain is going to make the team.

He is the most pleasant surprise of this Dolphins preseason, given that he had not played football since last September when he was kicked off the Cal football team for "conduct detrimental to the team" as a junior.

Indeed, if you just landed on Earth from planet Uranus and I played McCain's preseason tape and Dion Jordan's preseason tape and told you one was an undrafted rookie and the other was a second-year player drafted No. 3 overall, you might have a hard time picking McCain as the undrafted rookie.

And that is kind of the point of my column in today's Miami Herald.

Jordan is off to an NFL mandated suspension for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing drugs but he doesn't necessarily go off on a high note. This preseason?


But not great.

Indeed, after a training camp in which the Dolphins were hoping for big things from Jordan and the rest of his 2013 draft class, the result is kind of a disappointment.

The starting right guard job looked like it might be claimed by a 2013 draft class player. It was not.

The No. 3 RB job looked like it might be claimed by a 2013 draft class player. It was not.

There was a starting CB job open for one of two 2013 draft class players. Neither won the job and neither separated from the other en route to important playing time that I outline in my column.

It's obvious Jordan won't be around for four games. He's a better player than he was a year ago at this time.

"I'm much better than I was last year," he said. "I'm much more healthier. I have better knowledge of the game and what my role is within the defense."

But the No. 3 overall selection in 2013 still has a long way to go.

That said, the Dolphins have multiple decisions to make between now and 4 p.m. Saturday when they have to get down to the 53-man NFL roster limit.

The team wanted to evaluate (or showcase for trade) running back Daniel Thomas tonight. As showcases go, this was a dud. Thomas rushed 13 times and gained 38 yards -- a 2.9 yard per carry average.

“I thought he ran well," coach Joe Philbin said. "I thought he ran hard. It was a little choppy there early. They were pressuring quite a bit. They had guys down near the box. I thought he ran physical and hard. It didn’t look like there was a ton of space there at times, but I thought for his first game he looked good."

So did Thomas do enough to make the team?

“I don’t know , we’ll have to see," he said. "It’s up to the coaches. I just gave everything I had. Just have to wait and see.”

I don't see it. I don't think Thomas did enough. Then again, I've been saying that for two years. 

The Dolphins have a glut of tight ends but, really, only Charles Clay and Dion Sims are certainties at this point. Interestingly, when Philbin was asked to talk about the position the first name out of this mouth was ...

“I think Gator Hoskins, the last couple of weeks, has done a good job.," he said. "I think Kyle Miller’s performed well the last couple of weeks."

Folks, the Dolphins need to churn the bottom of this roster after other teams waive players. The Dolphins could use an upgrade at RB, TE, and G. Kicker Caleb Sturgis (missed a 53-yard field goal, could not kick off Thursday) is no prize, either, although the Dolphins seem committed to him -- for now.

August 28, 2014

Matt Moore starts and a live blog

Ryan Tannehill is not playing. Matt Moore is expected to be the starting quarterback for the Dolphins tonight and he will get the bulk of the work in the first half at least. Eventually, Seth Lobato will relieve Moore at quarterback and get to make his case for a practice squad spot.

But this final preseason game is more important on other levels. For instance:

Running back Daniel Thomas gets to make his case for winning the No. 3 RB job behind Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Miller. Or not.

Undrafted free agent rookie RBs Damien Williams and Orleans Darkwa will get another chance to impress as well.

At tight end, the Dolphins have decisions to make. Kyle Miller (my choice), Evan Wilson or Harold "Gator" Hoskins?

You should watch the play of Will Davis and Jamar Taylor closely. They are battling for playing time as the outside cornerback in the nickel package. As you know, safety Reshad Jones is going to be suspended and although he doesn't think that will derail his season the truth is it affects the secondary the first four games.

So Jimmy Wilson goes to safety. And in the nickel package that means Cortland Finnegan goes to the slot and either Davis or Taylor will have to man an outside CB spot.

The two second-year players have been battling for the job. Taylor was not great last week, giving up a TD and getting flagged.

So the ongoing competition continues tonight -- at least for a little while.

As usual, the Dolphins are not going to commit a lot of starters to this final preseason game.

But I am totally commited. So there is a live blog. Join the chat either in the space below or in the comments section:



Live Blog Miami Dolphins vs. St. Louis Rams (Preseason): Aug. 28, 2014

Does Tannehill get to 24 TDs again?

I do not gamble. I don't even play the lottery. I suggest you don't do it, either. But I study, with interest, the annual Las Vegas and Bovada over under numbers for team victories because those people are in business to make money and they often "know things," as Robert De Niro said in the movie.

The prop bets on player performance also seem interesting to me. The first one suggests the bookies don't buy that Ryan Tannehill can be much better (or worse) than last year when he threw 24 TD passes.

Here are Bovada's odds and over unders for individual Dolphins performances in 2014. You tell me, do you go over or under:

Ryan Tannehill - Total Passing Yards in the 2014 Regular Season

Over/Under                               3900

Ryan Tannehill - Total Passing Touchdowns in the 2014 Regular Season

Over/Under                               23½

Ryan Tannehill - Total Interceptions in the 2014 Regular Season

Over/Under                               14½

Mike Wallace - Total Receiving Yards in the 2014 Regular Season

Over/Under                               950½ 

Mike Wallace - Total Receiving Touchdowns in the 2014 Regular Season

Over/Under                               6

Brian Hartline - Total Receiving Yards in the 2014 Regular Season

Over/Under                               875½

Brian Hartline - Total Receiving Touchdowns in the 2014 Regular Season

Over/Under                               3½

Charles Clay - Total Receiving Yards in the 2014 Regular Season

Over/Under                               625½

Charles Clay - Total Receiving Touchdowns in the 2014 Regular Season

Over/Under                               5

Cameron Wake - Total Sacks in the 2014 Regular Season

Over/Under                                           10½

Olivier Vernon - Total Sacks in the 2014 Regular Season

Over/Under                               9½

Brent Grimes - Total Interceptions in the 2014 Regular Season

Over/Under                                           3


August 27, 2014

Jones: Suspension not derailing season (updated)

Reshad Jones is going to be suspended the first four games of this NFL season because he violated the NFL's policy on performance enhancing substances but when I talked to him Tuesday he was confident the suspension isn't going to derail his 2014 season.

That's because Jones expects to regain his starting job as soon as he returns.

And he expects to go to the Pro Bowl.

"I'm going to do everything I need to do to make sure I still have a good season for this team," Jones said. "[The suspension] is a tough thing but this isn't going to change anything. I still expect to be in the Pro Bowl at the end of the year."

[Update: The NFL tells me Jones is most definitely not going to the Pro Bowl. In the year a player is notified of and serves a suspension under the performance enhancing substances policy, he is ineligible for selection to the Pro Bowl or to receive any other honors or awards from the league or the NFL Players Association, according to a league spokesman.]

After he plays in Thursday's preseason finale against St. Louis, Jones will become something of a ghost to the Dolphins for four games. "I know I can't practice, can't lift, can't go to meetings, can't go to games," Jones said.

So in the meantime, the Dolphins will replace Jones with Jimmy Wilson at safety. The move and suspension is not a good thing for the team, particularly with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on the schedule in the opener.

Moving Wilson to safety means the team is now starting a part-time player because Wilson normally handles the nickel duties for the Dolphins. So now he's out of position and playing fulltime. And then the Dolphins must replace Wilson at the nickel spot.

That job will either go to Jamar Taylor or Will Davis. The Dolphins have not settled on one or the other yet but either way, Miami is replacing the more experienced Wilson at nickel with an inexperienced player in either Taylor or Davis.

None of this suggests the Dolphins getting stronger.

But what if Wilson at safety and one of the second-year corners in the lineup is a revelation? What if they're really, really good?

The Dolphins will have a decision to make when Jones returns.

But not according to Jones. He expects his job back when he returns. Like immediately.

"I know my guys in the room have a lot of respect for me as the starter," Jones said. "I know that's what will happen when I get back."

Obviously Jones will be away from the team and facility. But he said he's already hired a personal trainer and facility to keep him trained and ready to return as soon as he is eligible.

"I'll have to catch up on game plans," Jones said. "But I'll be ready to play. I'll have fresh legs and be in great shape and be redy to go."

August 26, 2014

Dolphins make moves to reach 75-man limit

The Dolphins are down to the NFL mandated 75 man roster limit after making 11 moves today.

Here are the moves:


DT A.J. Francis

RB Mike Gillislee

TE Arthur Lynch



WR Armon Binns

TE Brett Brackett

CB Steven Clarke

DE Rakim Cox

DT Cory Grissom

C Tyler Larsen

WR Ryan Spadola



QB Brady Quinn

Francis has some sort of knee issue and hasn't practiced in a week. Lynch did not play the entire preseason and practiced only a limited basis. He was dealing with a back issue. Gillislee had an open door to win the No. 3 RB job but injured a two weeks ago and hasn't been able to practice or play since.

They are out for the year.

I really like Brakett. I thought he was a hard worker with a great attitude. He was a quarterback-friendly tight end who needs to work on his blocking. I hope the Dolphins invest a practice squad roster spot on him.

The tight end position is interesting now for the Dolphins. With Michael Egnew, Lynch and Brackett effectively gone, that leaves Charles Clay, Dion Sims, Kyle Miller, Evan Wilson and Harold Hoskins. I would not be surprised if the Dolphins are looking for tight end help.

Brady Quinn cut, announces it on twitter, Binns too

Brady Quinn has been released by the Dolphins.

The former first round pick of the Cleveland Browns announced his departure on twitter.

"It was short lived but I enjoyed every second," Quinn wrote. "Thank you @MiamiDolphins for the opportunity to play the game I love again. Best of luck to..all the players and coaches this season!"

[Update: The Dolphins are also cutting WR Armon Binns, according to a source. Unsurprising.]

As I reported earlier, Quinn was not going to start Thursday's game versus St. Louis as some have speculated.

By the way, Quinn came to the Dolphins after winning a workout competition against John Skelton and Rex Grossman two weeks ago. And then he was bad in practice.

He threw an interception to Reshad Jones in practice today. That was his sixth interception in practice the past five sessions.

The Dolphins are in the process of making more cuts today. They have to make 10 more roster moves by 4 p.m.

The release of Quinn all but assures something I reported last week, which is the team has been leaning a long time toward keeping only two quarterbacks and having one on the practice squad.

Folks getting tense, season must be drawing close

The Dolphins opened practice to the media for the last time today and afterward it felt like the regular-season is looming because things are suddenly getting a little tight around here.

Talk to Mike Pouncey after practice to ask about his trip to the doctor on Monday? Nope. A communications department person escorted him off the field.

FYI, Pouncey visited a hip specialist Monday and the report was good. He is making progress. He is not yet cleared to practice. He will definitely miss the opener against the New England Patriots. There is still a possibility he is placed on the physically unable to perform list to start the regular season -- meaning he would miss six games. The Dolphins can also put him on the active roster (even though he would not be playing) in hopes he misses fewer than six games.

I asked Joe Philbin for confirmation quarterback Ryan Tannehill is not playing in the final preseason game Thursday.

"We haven't finalized anything," Joe Philbin said.

Look, if Ryan Tannehill is playing even a series Thursday there should be an investigation. Why would anyone risk Tannehill getting a helmet to the knee in a meaningless fourth preseason game? And why wouldn't Philbin say so?

Anyway, I am told Matt Moore is the likely starter followed by Brady Quinn and then Seth Lobato.

Kicker Caleb Sturgis, who has been a disappointment this preseason because he's been hurt much of the time after being a disappointment as a fifth-round pick last year, returned to practice today and kicked a couple of times. Afterward, he spoke for approximately 24 seconds, giving condescending one-word and one-sentence answers.

Reporter: How did it feel today?

Sturgis: "Good."

Reporter: Where do you feel you're at right now?

Sturgis: "We'll see."

Reporter: Did you feel comfortable out there?

Sturgis: "Anytime I kick the ball I feel comfortable."

Reporter: If you were in a game situation could you kick?

Sturgis: "I'm just not going to asnwer that right now."

I'm glad the Dolphins have a cool, calm, collected kicker.The injury thing isn't in his head at all. Lots of confidence in his mindset.

RB Daniel Thomas (hamstring) who has not played all preseason is on track to play Thursday. He practiced today.

RB Mike Gilislee (hamstring) did not practice today. He is not on track to play Thursday.

TE Brett Brackett (knee) who missed practice Monday returned to practice today. 

The Dolphins have 86 players on the roster. They will make nine cuts by 4 p.m. this afternoon. Check back for the roster details.

Interestingly, today comes at the end of a training camp and preseason when the Dolphins have been the most open they've been in years. They've reported injuries, which is not an NFL mandate in the preseason. They've kept practices open the past two weeks following the end of training camp.

Finally, despite the increasingly tense answers from players and coaches, a big thank you goes out to the Dolphins communications department for serving nice lunches to the media the past two weeks. 

Jake Long to Rams revisited

Last year, amid a season in which the Dolphins yielded 58 sacks, some fans (many on this blog, so I'm talking to you) continually ripped former Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland for letting Jake Long go in free agency.

And many of you ripped me for advocating beforehand that Ireland should let Long go in free agency if the price to keep him was too high.

Well, with he Rams coming to town Thursday, and Long being part of that club, I think it is time to assess what that move has meant for the Dolphins and the Rams.

For the Rams the signing of Long to a four-year, $34 million deal has been a mixed blessing. Yes, he's been a starter for them -- which is what one should expect of an $8.5 million per year player.

But last year he finished the season on injured reserve. Which is where he finished the season for the Dolphins in 2012. And 2011.

He's back this year and started at left tackle last week against Cleveland.

And this happened:

Long, attempting to block defensive end Armonty Bryant, whiffed on the block. And Bryant hit quarterback Sam Bradford. In the knee. The same knee that had ACL repair last year.

And now that same knee needs ACL repair again.

And Bradford is out for the season.


Because, well, Jake Long.

The Dolphins, meanwhile, were actually better in 2013 without Long than they were in 2012 with Long -- 7-9 in '12 and 8-8 without Long.

And, yes, there were those 58 sacks. And yes, the idea of Jonathan Martin playing left tackle was a bust.

But the idea of paying Long $8.5 million? Not good. Even the Rams have already drafted Greg Robinson out of Auburn and he is the future at left tackle for that team.

And Miami has come out of that tough time. Branden Albert is the team's new left tackle and has not yielded a sack this preseason.

Let's just say Ryan Tannehill's knees are intact.

August 25, 2014

Dolphins cut three, more to come

The Dolphins had to make about a dozen moves by Tuesday and they got started with a couple of those today.

The Miami Dolphins have waived tackle Steven Baker and safety Demetrius Wright. The club also waived kicker John Potter injured -- meaning it negotiated or will negotiate an injury settlement with him.

The other moves will be made Tuesday.

And before those are made let me say this:

Good teams cut good players.

The New England Patriots today cut Tommy Kelly. While the Dolphins were adding K Jake Rogers, the Cardinals cut Jay Feely and former OL starter Max Starks. The Seahawks cut OL Wade Smith and CB Terrell Thomas today -- both of whom started for teams last year.

The point is if the Dolphins in the next week are cutting guys and you're shrugging your shoulders over the names, it tells you something about the quality of depth on the team and competition in training camp.

The past few years it has been easy to see players go at the end of the preseason. Indeed, the Dolphins were often left picking up the discards from other teams -- remember Anthony Armstrong? -- and fans would believe they were uprades.

If that's happening at G, RB, TE, K this year, it should tell you something was amiss with the talent at those positions in camp.

Now, when your trash is the treasure for other teams after the preseason? Then you've probably got a very deep team.

Wallace and Tannehill work after practice (finally)

It wasn't a good showing for Mike Wallace early in practice today.

He had one, two, three, four dropped passes in practice today, which was not typical. But then there was something else I saw after practice that was not typical:

Wallace and quarterback Ryan Tannehill stayed after practice and worked on a couple of routes for five, maybe 10 minutes. It was the first time this training camp I have witnessed the pair working overtime on their timing-chemistry.

As everyone is aware, Wallace and Tannehill have been trying to resolve their issues of failing to hook up on deep passes in games.

"Until we hit it, people have the right to ask that question," Wallace repeated today. "It's something we can't avoid until we hit it and get rid of the question. And it's not going to be one time, we have to continually do it everyday. And I know we've been saying it for a while but we've got two weeks to keep working on it."

I doubt Wallace and Tannehill will have an opportunity to work on their chemistry on Thursday night against the St. Louis Rams in the final preseason game. It is likely both will sit the game out.

Tannehill sat out the final preseason game last year. I expect the same this year.

I also expect Brady Quinn and Seth Lobato to get most of the snaps in the game Thursday.


The Dolphins are going to cut 13 players between now and tomorrow afternoon. A couple of those cuts will be coming today.

RB Daniel Thomas is unlikely to be one of those guys, if you believe what coach Joe Philbin said about the running back needing a big game Thursday.

"We hope to get him out there," Philbin said.

The coach suggested he's satisfied that other backs -- particularly Damien Williams -- "ran the ball hard" in the game when they had their chance against Dallas. Thomas gets his chance versus St. Louis.

"For his sake, our sake, we have to get him out there," Philbin said of Thomas.

It might be a one-game competition, do or die for Thomas versus Williams.


Dan Marino has accepted a job as a special advisor with the Dolphins. He has made himself scarce with the media and will not have a press conference, I'm told.

But he's trying to build a relationship with the principals within the organization. Today, for example, Marino visited coach Joe Philbin in his office.

"I'm elated ..He's always welcome here," Philbin said of Marino. "I think it'll be something that evolves over time. I think you all know he was a great player and he's going to contribute to the organization in a lot of different areas. We welcome his addition to the organziation."


The Dolphins are not expected to cut John Potter today despite his hip injury, which suggests they really like him and want to see if he can get healthy quickly enough to compete for the job.

[Update: Well, that didn't last. After keeping him around earlier today, the team reached out to the player's agent this afternoon has negotiated a settlement and waived injured Potter.]


Billy Turner, who left the locker room wearing a walking boot Saturday, was still in the boot today. He did not practice and the team said he'll be out for multiple practices ... Unlike Daniel Thomas, Mike Gillislee has been unable to work back into practice after suffering a hamstring injury. It is doubtful he'll play Thursday and his status on the team is obviously at risk.

August 24, 2014

Marino: 'I'm excited about the future'

The Dolphins this afternoon announced what everyone by now knew as fact: Dan Marino is joining the organization as special advisor.

In his role, Marino will work with the organization in a variety of different capacities, although the organization is so far not outlining what those capacities are.

"I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve in this role. I have always considered myself a Dolphin for life and I look forward to supporting the organization anyway I can,” Marino said in a statement provided by the club. “Stephen Ross is a passionate guy who is committed to building a first-class, winning organization.  I'm excited about the future of the team and where the organization is headed.”

Marino was at the Dolphins game Saturday evening. He obviously saw the first-team offense manage only one FG against one of the worst NFL defenses of a year ago, as I wrote in my column.

I wonder what his advice would be to get this offense going.


August 23, 2014

Marino a Dolphins advisor now, reaction from game

The Dolphins and Hall of Famer Dan Marino have agreed that he will join the organization as an advisor, according to a source.

Marino, 53 in September, will report to owner Stephen Ross and CEO Tom Garfinkel. An announcement is expected next week.

Marino has attended practice each of the past two weeks and was at the Dolphins 25-20 victory over Dallas this evening. He has been in talks with the team about joining its ranks in some capacity for over two years but seriously since April.

On other matters, I just got back from the locker room and here are some reactions:

Coach Joe Philbin on the performance of the first-team offense:

"I thnk we moved the football well, but when you turn the ball over in the red zone one time and close to the red zone another time it's difficult."

Philbin on Knowshon Moreno, who rushed for 64 yards on 10 carries:

"I thought he ran the ball well. I thought his vision was very good. He broke a couple of tackles which is a positive thing. So all indications are he ran well."

Philbin on starting quarteback Ryan Tannehill:

"I thought he played well overall. And I'm sure he'd say the same thing, down there when you're in scoring position against Cover 2, you can't turn the ball over when you're about to get some points. I thought he managed the game well. He was seeing the field. I thought he had good command."

Tannehill on the offense:

"We didn't score points. That's what we're out there to  do. I threw an interception down in the red zone. You can't have that. We had our chances. I thought we ran the ball effectively. It's good to see Knowshon [Moreno] out there running hard ... We ran the ball well. I'm happy to see that. But we have to finish drives."

Tannehill on his interception:

"It was Cover 2. I saw it. It was a stupid decision, stupid throw. I had Jarvis [Landry] wide open underneath. I should have gone with the checkdown."

Tannehill on missing a deep throw to Mike Wallace that would have resulted in TD:

"He did the right thing. He did exactly like we talk about in practice. He widened back to his landmark. I did the wrong thing because I threw to his inside release. I have to trust he's going to get back to his landmark just like we practiced and put it out there for him. Bad landmark on my part."


The Dolphins are going to be looking for a kicker tomorrow. John Potter injured his hip in the first half. Caleb Sturgis continues to deal with a groin injury. Not good.

Reserve LG Billy Turner left the locker room wearing a walking boot on his left leg. He is dealing with a foot injury.


Dolphins versus Cowboys live blog here

It's the big rehearsal game tonight -- except not for running back Daniel Thomas.

Thomas is among the players sitting out the Dolphins third preseason game, this one against the Dallas Cowboys at Sun Life Stadium. His satus on the club is obviously in jeapordy but that concern probably comes as much from players outside the roster than on.

The fact that Mike Gillislee is also missing tonight's game and missed last week has not allowed him to bust through the opening Thomas not playing has created. But other teams will be cutting players so watch the waiver wire because the Dolphins will be.

Other players not dressing tonight, according to the team are Koa Misi, who is not playing for unknown reasons. Jason Trusnik will start at middle linebacker instead.

[Update: Misi injury is a shoulder.]

K Caleb Sturgis, KR Marcus Thigpen, DB Walt Aikens, C Mike Pouncey, DT Terrence Fede, TE Arthur Lynch, and DT A.J. Francis also are not dressing.

Interestingly, Lynch has missed every game this preseason so far as well and still has not been cleared to practice full. He has an unreported injury.

Shelley Smith will start at right guard. Daryn Colledge will start at left guard.

This game will mark the return of the live blog. It happens below.

Live Blog Miami Dolphins vs. Dallas Cowboys (Preseason): Aug. 23, 2014

Is plowing the Cowboys good or bad?

Joe Philbin is hoping his team scores 25 points per game this year, which would give the Dolphins a whopping 400 points for the season. But the thing about tonight's preseason game against Dallas is if the Dolphins score 25 points, that might be a disappointment.

Dallas, you see, has a horrible defense.

The Cowboys allowed 27 points per game last season. Their rush defense was bad and ranked No. 27 in the NFL last season which was surpassed in failure only by the pass defense which ranked 30th in the NFL last season.

And if you think this is a new year and things are better consider the Cowboys gave up 27 points in their first preseason game -- and lost. And they gave up 37 points against the Ravens in their second preseason game -- and lost.

So life could be easy on the Miami offense tonight at Sun Life Stadium.

And it says here that could be good. Or bad.

Obviously, the Dolphins want to enjoy some success against the Cowboys to cement confidence onto the foundation new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor has been laying. Success is good, in this regard.

But there are other ways to view what can happen.

Suppose the Dolphins light up the Cowboys defense. Is that a true test? Is that going to give people -- particularly you -- a false sense of what this team is likely to be in the regular season? Will a good outing tonight be a window on the future or a mirage?

And what if the Dolphins, who have struggled to run the ball this preseason, don't exactly plow through the Dallas defense? If you cannot do it to them, what hope do they have of doing it to Bill Belichick's defense? Or the Buffalo defense?

The Dolphins are in something of a no-win situation here. They perform against Dallas, some will say everyone does it. They fail to perform against Dallas, some will be reaching for panic buttons.

These questions make this preseason game interesting.

It will be interesting to see if Dan Marino is at tonight's game. He has visited Dolphins camp twice in the past couple of weeks and, as I write in my column today, has looked very comfortable mingling with team staffers.

So is the long discussed job with the Dolphins closer to reality for Marino?

Read this and it might enlighten you.