December 02, 2009

The doings for the Dolphins as NE prep begins

The Dolphins are preparing for the Patriots today and that preparation included some interesting nuggets.

Coach Tony Sparano told his team that following a fourth-quarter meltdown at Buffalo, they were going to work on a fourth-quarter period in practice today. And during that period the coach wanted to see every play run right.

And so if a play wasn't run right, practice reverted back to the play and it was run until it was done right. That, by the way, usually does not happen.

"The message was that we have lights out there," Sparano said. "Whatever it took for us to get it right, we were going to get it right. And every player in that locker room was on board for that. Those guys are anxious to get it right. They really are. But to be honest with you, practice ran over about six minutes."

The Dolphins practiced for two hours and 35 minutes, according to Sparano.

As I reported to my twitter followers, center Jake Grove didn't practice today. Sparano said he's "getting a little bit better," as he nurses his ankle injury, but still didn't work. Joe Berger worked with the first-team offensive line at center.

It's a big week for Berger. He faces New England nose tackle Vince Wilfork, one of the most dominant NTs in the NFL. If you remember, the Patriots moved Wilfork to DE throughout the game against Miami Nov. 8.

That hasn't been the case since. 

"It really hasn't shown up since our game," Sparano said. "It's hasn't shown up. Two plays since our game, that move has shown up. I don't know why they did it since our game. I don't know if it was matchup or tendency of runs, those kind of things. I have my hunches, but I'll keep my hunches to myself."

Good natured, fun-loving dude Joey Porter talked to the media gaggle for a few minutes today. He didn't really say anything interesting about the Patriots, which is probably wise considering he fired that team up before the last meeting by saying they "cheated" him out of a Super Bowl trophy and that Tom Brady could force officials to call penalties at will.

He wasn't asked about that today, but The Herald's David J. Neal asked Porter if it's tough being athlete today in the fishbowl of twitter and facebook and cell phone cameras with the Tiger Woods scandal as the obvious backdrop.

And so Porter bit at that like a Great White on a defenseless tuna.

"It is what it is. It depends how far ya'll want to dig for a story," he told the gathered reporters. "Ya'll can dig as deep as you want to. It depends on what ya'll want to put out there. The athletes haven't changed. The access to athletes has changed. So I think we made ourselves too accessible to you.

"And at the end of the day it backfires on the athletes. We don't get to write a story about ya'll. The secrets, the stuff ya'll trying to keep away from other people and stuff like that, they don't write that story about sports writers. But athletes make that mistake, everybody wants to write about it. That's how it happens. Ya'll get to put all the stuff you do bad out there. Nobody put out the stuff everybody else do bad out there. So it's a one-way street. That's how it always been. If we don't give you nothing to write about, you can't write about it. That's how it go."

I'm going to miss Porter next year.

The injury report just came out. The Patriots have 22, count 'em, 22 guys on the report. Only one of those players -- running back Fred Taylor -- did not practice. He has an ankle injury. The Dolphins listed four players on their injury report. Aside from Grove missing, DE Lionel Dotson was limited with an ankle injury, while SS Yeremiah Bell (thumb) and RB Ricky Williams (chest) were able to practice full.

Final word that might be interesting only to me: After ripping his team for looking like a "3-7" unit during the fourth quarter of Sunday's Buffalo loss, Sparano was doing a little rehabilitation of his troops today. He made the point his team is 4-1 in games decided by seven points or less. He also noted the Patriots are 2-3 in those games. 

October 09, 2008

Stay tuned for Ronnie Brown the passer

The Wildcat offense is seriously freaking the NFL out. Thursday, Dan Marino was at the Dolphins training facility to do a story for the CBS pregame show which will feature the Dolphins' recent success and their Wildcat offense.

Friday, ESPN is sending Cris Carter to the facility to do pretty much the same story. It's Wildcat this and Wildcat that on the pregame shows Sunday.

On Showtime's Inside the NFL this week, former Raiders and Bucs defensive lineman Warren Sapp went off on the Dolphins because of the Wildcat offense. He basically said he was offended by Miami's use of the offense.

"This is disrespectful to all defenses," Sapp said during the show's round table discussion. "It's disrespectful. You're taking the best player in the game, the quarterback, and you're putting him out wide, outside the numbers and you put the running back in the back. How the hell you going to pass the ball?"

A couple of things, fellas and ladies: Ronnie Brown can pass the ball. And he's getting more proficient at it because he's been doing it more in practice.

I've been told the Dolphins have been working more with Brown throwing out of the Wildcat formation this week. In fact, when the team is warming up in individual drills, Brown takes some repetitions with the other quarterbacks.

And then, obviously, he throws the ball when the Dolphins are working on pass plays out of Wildcat in practice. So look for that to show up this week against Houston.

And there is the irony in all this.

Sapp, who obviously doesn't know Brown already threw a TD pass out of the formation against New England, will have to eat his words if Brown starts slingin' it more often. And if it happens in Houston, it will come at the same venue where Brown infamously had a pass batted on a potential game-tying two-point conversion try two seasons ago.

Can hardly wait.

September 25, 2008

Dolphins working more this bye [updated]

I got a lot of grief from readers last year when I complained the Dolphins took not one, not two, not three, but four days off during their bye week.

On the bye week the winless Dolphins of 2007 didn't practice on Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Not coincidently, that time the team could have been using to prepare John Beck for some playing time was squandered.

Things are different this year.

Although there are unsubstantiated rumors coach Tony Sparano might give the players a surprise day off Friday to go along with Saturday and Sunday, the schedule nonetheless calls for them to work. So if they follow that schedule, the Dolphins will be off only Saturday and Sunday or half as many days as Cam Cameron gave them off last year on the bye week.

Things that make you go hmmmmm.

Anyway, the Dolphins are at work this morning and I can report running back Jalen Parmele is back at practice. He has been signed to the practice squad. Cornerback Will Billingsley, meanwhile, was not at practice and he has been cut from the practice squad to make room for Parmele.

Vonnie Holliday was also not at practice for what coach Tony Sparano called, "a family issue." Outside linebacker coach Jim Reid, who was taken to the hospital after Wednesday's practice experiencing dizziness and difficulty breathing, is scheduled to undergo surgery Sparano said. He declined to say surgery for what.

[Update: I have confirmed that Sparano is giving the players the day off Friday. The reason he gave for doing this is because he accomplished in the last two days what he expected to get done in three. So they will be off Friday through Sunday. And still they will have worked longer this bye week than last year's bye week.]

August 25, 2008

Observations from Monday's practice [updated]

There is news out of Dolphins camp -- other than simply Chad Pennington being named the starting quarterback.

Here's I can tell you:

Yes, Pennington was named the regular-season starting quarterback by coach Tony Sparano. Sparano made the point that the offense is so young, with a second year receiver and center, two rookies on the offensive line, and other inexperienced players throughout, that Pennington was the logical pick.

In a column I wrote in Monday's Miami Herald, I tell you how Pennington has basically snatched the leadership of this team. Read the darn column.

Pennington's reaction to be named the starter?

"I'm excited about the opportunity to lead this team," he said. "We've worked extremely hard over the last two weeks. And I'm proud to be a Miami Dolphin."

Other stuff going on:

Joey Porter was not working during the portion of the practice I was allowed to view and Sparano said he visited the doctor today to have his back checked out again. Charlie Anderson was working with the first team at the weakside linebacker spot.

Linebacker Edmond Miles who left Saturday's game with a knee injury is apparently fine. He is practicing today.

Free safeties Chris Crocker and Jason Allen are sharing first-team snaps, suggesting the Dolphins view this competition as ongoing.

Ronnie Brown is sharing first-team snaps with Ricky Williams at running back.

Although the Dolphins must trim to 75 players by Tuesday, they don't really have to cut anyone. They're already down to 72 players. So they may be adding some players. Everyone was present and accounted for today -- including Rutgers undrafted rookie right guard Pedro Sosa. Sosa is wearing No. 78.

August 20, 2008

Chris Crocker has a chance to pass Jason Allen

If Jason Allen thought he had the starting free safety spot sewn up because he's been running with the first-teamers throughout camp, he must have been surprised this week when Chris Crocker was moved ahead of him in practice.

Crocker, an unrestricted free agent addition from Atlanta, has been working with the first-teamers this week and could start Saturday's preseason game against Kansas City.

Allen will likely see less playing time as the coaching staff measures whether Crocker is a better fit alongside Yeremiah Bell.

"It's not about performance, it's about finding spots for people," coach Tony Sparano said. "Jason in the first two games went out and played with the first team defense. But we feel we have several safeties back there and that is an area where tough decisions have to be made."

Sparano isn't one to rip anyone but it is clear if the Dolphins were completely comfortable with Allen as the starter, they would not be using Crocker with the starters this week. Stay tuned to this as I think if Crocker responds with a good performance, he could win the starting job for the regular-season opener.

August 19, 2008

Four Dolphins rookies vying for starting jobs

The roster is obviously beginning to crystallize for coach Tony Sparano and today he shared some of his views on it, making it obvious that four Miami rookies might be starters when the season begins Sept. 7.

The rookies? Donald Thomas at right guard, Jake Long at left tackle, Kendall Langford at left defensive end, and Chad Henne at quarterback. That's right, Chad Henne at QB.

Langford got his first start of the preseason Saturday against Jacksonville and is scheduled to start again this weekend against Kansas City.

"We put Kendall in there and Kendall hasn't missed a beat," Sparano said. "He's playing against good people. I like him in there. He might be there for a long time."

Everyone has been assuming for a while that Chad Pennington will be Miami's starting quarterback and that is that. Except the Dolphins are not making that assumption because, so far this preseason, Henne has been the team's best QB by all the combined measures this staff is considering, including game management.

"This guy has shown me great poise, he really has," Sparano said of Henne. "He's been in some tough situations and handled it well. He's probably made the most heads-up plays at that position. Now that being said, he's played the most."

I asked Sparano how he feels about the possibility of playing a rookie QB and Sparano didn't seem bothered by the notion. "If he's the best guy, I play him," the coach said.

So Henne is still in the QB duel with Pennington. It is not settled yet. And it says here he could be the team's starter before this season is over.

Thomas has been a starter for going on three weeks now and Sparano basically said that unless the rookie collapses he's the guy at right guard.

"I think it's Donald's job to lose at that position right now," Sparano said. "I say that in all honesty and if we don't play well enough, we'll find someone else that does. And this is a marathon and we're going a bunch weeks in a row so you got to be able to do it and be consistent, but we're not going to change.

"He's continuing to get better and as long as that happens, he's going to stay there."

------------------OTHER STUFF FROM TODAY'S PRESSER--------------

Joey Porter is hurt again. After missing the preseason opener with a back injury, Porter missed today's practice with a couple of injuries. The back is acting up again and he's got some knee injury, too.

It has gotten to the point where one reporter asked Sparano about Porter "stacking" injuries

"His back was a little sore again today and we tried to get him loose," the coach said. "He also kind of tweaked a knee. We're  dealing with that right now. I'm not sure what the status is of that is. I think it might just be a sprain."


The coaching staff has zeroed in on Derek Hagan and Ted Ginn Jr. as their starting receivers. They will start Saturday and, barring a terrible night by Hagan, that is the duo that will open the season versus New York.


Finally, as was reported earlier on this blog, Sparano shot down the ESPN rumor that Ronnie Brown will be playing elsewhere in 2008.

The exchange:

Q. Is there any chance you guys might trade Ronnie?

A. "No. There's no chance we'll trade Ronnie ... There's been no discussion of that internally or externally."

August 14, 2008

A rumble in the Dolphins jungle [Updated]

Tempers have flared during the Dolphins practice this morning.

On an otherwise routine deep pass down the right sideline, cornerback Will Allen and receiver David Kircus got into a scuffle after the play was over. Actually, it was more like after the pass fell incomplete. Allen began punching on Kircus who fell to the turf and basically went into a fetal position as Allen stood over him.

It is impossible to say what started the fight but one source says it is because Kircus put a hard block on Allen a play or two before and the cornerback didn't appreciate the treatment. There was apparently also a verbal exchange of pleasantries.

Anyway, Allen's distribution of punches lasted for about five seconds then he apparently realized Kircus wasn't fighting back. (Or was it Allen was confused by Kircus trying to fight back by hitting Allen's fist with his facemask?) Anyway, Allen stopped, and as he was walking back to the line of scrimmage tight end Sean Ryan tackled Allen and started whooping on him.

And then it got crazy.

Defensive players came to Allen's defense. Offensive players then joined in. And the melee that ensued lasted about 10 seconds as coaches frantically blew their whistles and carefully tried to re-establish order.

Within, I would estimate, 45 seconds, the order was indeed restored and the Dolphins ran another play. Coach Tony Sparano was seen remonstrating with Allen afterward.

In all my years of covering football, I've seen a lot of practice fights but normally it is an offensive lineman versus a defensive lineman. I have never seen a cornerback attack a receiver and Sparano thought it ridiculous as well.

"A receiver and a defensive back, I don't think that's much of a fight," the coach said moments ago. "It's not smart ... It's not something I condone at all ... It's not what you want."

As for actual football matters, the rumors about John Beck getting cut today are NOT TRUE. If you don't believe the fact Sparano shot down the rumor, believe my eyes:

Beck participated in drills and is readying for the next practice in a couple of hours.

Chad Pennington is expected to start and play up to a half in that game -- depending on the number of possessions Miami gets. Interestingly, Beck and Josh McCown actually took some scout team snaps today which isn't a big reward but is a lot more work they got in practices the past couple of days.

During the first and second-team team drills, Pennington was 5 of 7 with 1 interception and zero touchdowns, while Henne 4 of 7 with neither an interception nor a touchdown.

Finally, Joey Porter is expected to play Saturday while Vonnie Holliday (hamstring) and Michael Lehan (high ankle sprain) are not.

August 13, 2008

Last update of the day for Wednesday

The idea that Jay Feely needed to be cut by the Dolphins, in a small part, because he was too vocal in the media and with his teammates is not foreign to some players still on the team -- even one player who calls himself Feely's friend.

"Jay's my boy," linebacker Joey Porter said Wednesday. "I like Jay Feely a lot. But at the same time, certain players get to do certain things and certain players don't. Nothing against Jay, but kickers don't get to be as vocal as I would be. I don't care who you are. [Mike] Vanderjagt tried and he got kicked out of Indy and he was the best kicker in the game. Kickers don't get to talk a whole lot."

Porter said the Dolphins picked, "the cheapest player," in the kicking competition.


Josh McCown and John Beck had the best day of Miami's four quarterbacks in Wednesday's practice because, well, they took only a handful of snaps in team drills while Chad Pennington and Chad Henne took the 36 between them and stunk struggled.

Pennington was 6 of 21 with zero touchdowns and two interceptions during the entirety of the team drills, which were split up into three parts. Pennington and the starting receivers were not always on the same page but he was also victimized by some horrible happenstance.

On one sure TD pass he hit TE Sean Ryan in the hands and the guy not only drops the pass, he drops it into the hands of Joey Thomas for an INT. Pennington's second INT was legit as Will Billingsley simply plucked a weak pass in the corner of the end zone out of the air. Derek Hagan, by the way, didn't exactly defend well, which is what he's called to do when he doesn't have a chance to catch it himself.

Pennington did have the nicest completion of the day -- a 40-yard-plus connection with Greg Camarillo. Camarillo also had a leaping grab of a Henne pass across the middle later in the practice so he had a good day.

Henne was not so good either. He completed 7 of 15 passes without a TD nor an INT. Henne also took a sack.


An item in today confirms an item on this blog from Saturday that Chad Pennington's deal could be worth $11.5 million but only if the guy takes Miami to the Super Bowl and he wins the MVP. The real value of the deal is more like $8 million. He got $500,000 to sign last week.


It was surprising to see but only hours after coach Tony Sparano said he's seeing improvement from Ernest Wilford in practices, I see him fall another notch in the ever-changing depth chart.

While we all know Wilford dropped from starter to third receiver last week behind Ted Ginn and Derek Hagan, today while the team worked in three-receiver sets, he wasn't one of the three receivers. Rookie Davone Bess, Ginn and Hagan were the three WRs working with the starters. Wilford was working with the second group. Interesting.


The Dolphins want to find a place for RB Patrick Cobbs on this team so don't be surprised to see him on kick returns Saturday versus Jacksonville.


Quickie Jake Long update: Good news. Nothing to report. He doesn't give up sacks, he doesn't jump offsides. Does he have work to do? Yes, on his technique. But he's never overmatched.

Some nuggets from Wed. morning presser

If you read this blog yesterday you saw the recount of an exchange between Bill Parcells and cornerback Michael Lehan. It was pretty clear that Parcells was tweaking Lehan.

Today, I asked coach Tony Sparano about Lehan and it seems clear, reading between the lines, the team is drawing near to that moment when they want the player who has nursed a high ankle sprain for over two months to get back on the field.

"Pretty soon it becomes important," Sparano said. "We're getting to a point right now where we're trying to make decisions as we get on with this thing on this team ... We need to see Michael out there ... We want to see Michael out there."

Lehan has been working off to the side and, according to my eyes, has been moving quite well. He was cutting pretty aggressively yesterday. "It looks like he's making great progress right now," Sparano said.

And it says here that progress needs to translate to getting back out there. "There's a lot of things taking place out there right, the competition is going on and he hasn't been out there," Sparano said. "There's a lot of things going on. Once he gets out there and he's healthy, I think he'll be fine, but he has to compete just like everyone else."


Don't expect to see Charlie Anderson (hamstring) on the practice field any time soon and he is not likely to play Saturday. Vonnie Holliday, nursing the same injury, is "probably close" to returning to practice so I believe he may play Saturday.


Expect Ronnie Brown, Jason Allen, Derek Hagan, Ted Ginn Jr., and the entire starting offensive line to get more playing time against Jacksonville Saturday night.


I asked how far along Chad Pennington is in learning the play book because it is not as easy as it looks. The answer is he missed all the installation of plays from early in camp and is expected to pick those up on his own.

"We're not able to go back and start from Day 1," Sparano said. "He's had to absorb that on the fly."

Sparano said Pennington has gotten all the "basic information," meaning he knows formations, the coverages, and obviously Miami's terminology.


Coaches are pleased that Ernest Wilfork this week has recovered from two pretty bad weeks of practice. He has improved visibly the last couple of days.

Sparano also said he has noticed rookie linebacker Titus Brown more of late.


By the way, tight end Aaron Halterman, waived injured earlier in camp, went through waivers unclaimed and his agent was unable to negotiate a settlement with the team. So he is now Miami's second player on injured reserve joining Tab Perry.

August 12, 2008

Porter returns, Henne struggles in afternoon drills

Joey Porter returned to practice this evening as the Dolphins held their practice in the Nick Saban Memorial Bubble.

Porter's return to the starting lineup meant Quentin Moses returned to second-team work. The two outside linebackers were Porter and Matt Roth.

Vonnie Holliday and Michael Lehan are still not practicing and I think the Dolphins are getting a little antsy about Lehan who has been nursing a high ankle sprain since early June. I saw Bill Parcells tweaking Lehan a little bit on the side.

As for the hour by hour quarterback update, Chad Pennington looked good working with the starters in team and 7-on-7 drills. Chad Henne didn't look so great. Henne was 1 of 8 with an interception by Renaldo Hill in the two-minute drill. Later in the practice he completed four passes in a row but didn't get the team in the end zone.

Pennington also didn't get the team in the end zone, by the way. The offense stalled inside the 20 yard line when Pennington was at the helm. He did complete a sweet 25 yard pass down the middle to get Miami inside the 20, however.

Look for Pennington to get playing time this weekend against Jacksonville..

A couple of quick roster observations: The Dolphins are still starting rookie Donald Thomas at right guard but don't be surprised if Trey Darilek eventually emerges as the starter there. Tony Sparano loves Darilek and Parcells has been spending time with him after practice, particularly today.

Finally, I want to thank all of you for continuing to come to this blog for Dolphins information, analysis and opinion. We're at 1.6 million views for 2008 and the regular season hasn't even begun. Today, for example, this blog was the most visited offering on The Miami Herald webpage.

Thank you, again.

[UPDATED] Tues. morning practice report

Easy morning for Josh McCown and John Beck at practice this morning. Neither quarterback took a snap in team or 7-on-7 work.

Basically, the Dolphins are showing their hand with the Chads. Or as Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland calls them, "Penny and Henne."

One is the Mr. Right Now. The other one seems like Mr. Right for the longterm future of the team. Coach Tony Sparano said it is pretty obvious that Pennington will play versus Jacksonville Saturday evening. I would imagine, based on the work so far this week, either he or Henne would start.

Pennington took 33 snaps this morning. He was 5 of 9 with a TD to David Martin. Henne took 25 snaps and was 4 of 8 with a TD to Ted Ginn.

By the way, the catch by Martin in the corner of the end zone was the best play I've seen from the tight end since he's been a Dolphin. The throw to Ginn by Henne was zipped between two defenders on a slant. Good stuff on both counts.

Receiver Anthony Armstrong, who had a good night on returns Saturday, seems to be in the mix on starting kickoffs now. He got as many reps with the first-team kick return team as Jayson Foster and Ted Ginn Jr.

Matt Roth continues to work at OLB, getting ALL his snaps at that position.

Rookie Donald Thomas continues to run with the first team OL, at right guard.

Speaking about the decision to cut Jay Feely, Sparano said the veteran simply got beat out by rookie Dan Carpenter. According to Sparano, Carpenter has connected on 93 percent of his 40 field goal tries and until he missed one in practice today, he had connected on 23 consecutive kicks.

"The numbers weren't close," Sparano said.

Sparano also noted the Feely has, "been hurt twice," since the spring, the most recent a groin injury that sidelined him the past week or so.

On the injury front: Vonnie Holliday (hamstring), Michael Lehan (ankle), Joey Porter (back), Charlie Anderson (hamstring) missed the practice. Ricky Williams seemed to tweak his ankle on one play but returned later.

Sparano said he expects Porter back on the field pretty soon -- I would guess as early as this evening.

Kicker Jay Feely released by Dolphins

Jay Feely, who was arguably the Dolphins most consistent performer in 2007, will not be with the team in 2008.

This morning Feely was called in by the Dolphins braintrust and released, according to a source.

Feely confirmed the release on a local radio and in conversations with local reporters, which he called to volunteer the information. That very move is one small reason the Dolphins had Feely on a very short leash. Bill Parcells hated the fact Feeley was so media friendly.

But Parcells also hated that Feely wasn't great with his kickoffs last year that problem coupled with the player's injury the past 10 days or so spelled the end. Feely missed practices and the first preseason game with a groin injury.

In Feely's absence, rookie Dan Carpenter won the job with Miami. Carpenter connected on field goals of 41 and 49 yards during the preseason-opener against Tampa Bay.

I cannot stress enough the focus the Dolphins are now putting on not losing hidden yardage in games. Last season, for example, special teams assistant Keith Armstrong bemoaned the fact that in one game alone, Feely's low and short kickoffs cost the Dolphins 80 yards of field position. Armstrong would not say what game that was, but the statistic was startling.

The Dolphins were not good enough then and are still not good enough now to recover from that kind of field position liability. I assume the team believes Carpenter will be better on kickoffs. Against Tampa Bay, he had three kickoffs and none were in the end zone.

So Feely, 32, is a free agent. Wouldn't be surprised if he ends up with Tampa Bay or New Orleans. Last year Feely connected on 21 of 23 field goals.

So the Dolphins say good-bye to another vet. And this blog loses a loyal reader.

August 05, 2008

The post-practice report for TUESDAY

TUESDAY's practice is over here in Davie, FL. and here are some highlights and lowlights:

Ernest Wilford left the field before the end of practice and did not return. He was limping somewhat as he was walking off the field, but curiously started jogging as he got closer to the locker room. The report is the injury was cramps.

Kicker Jay Feely was on the bike and did not practice. He was asked by two reporters what his injury is but declined to answer. He did have an oblique issue in the offseason.

Josh McCown had a tough day. He threw three interceptions during practice including interceptions on consecutive plays. John Beck and Chad Henne seemed to be pretty good today.

Jayson Foster and Selwyn Lymon and Justin Peelle had drops during practice. No biggie, I'm just saying ...

Former special teams coach Mike Westhoff watched practice from the sideline. He left the Jets after last season for health issues and he underwent surgery in the offseason. I am told he would like to get back into coaching next season.

Sat with Sports Illustrated columnist Paul Zimmerman during practice. He's visiting to write his story on the Dolphins. The man most of you may know as Dr. Z is a Hall of Fame voter so I asked him what he thought of Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor's chances of getting into the Hall someday.

Zimmerman said he would vote for Thomas, no doubt, and would even speak on his behalf in the meeting with other voters. Zimmerman said Thomas along with Ray Lewis were the premier linebackers of their time and that is why he is worthy of induction.

Dr. Z was lukewarm on Taylor's chances, reasoning that it will depend on who else is up for election on any given year whether Taylor's body of work will compare favorably or not.

Finally, the NFL today released a Fan Code of Conduct that YOU, the fans, must follow if you hope to keep your seats at Dolphin Stadium or anywhere you watch your team play. When you are attending a game you are required to refrain from the following behavior:

Behavior that is unruly disruptive or illegal in nature.

Intoxication or other signs of alcoholic impairment that results in irresponsible behavior.

Foul or abusive language or obscene gestures.

Failing to follow the directions of stadium personnel.

Interference with the progress of the game (including throwing objects onto the field.)

Verbal or physical harassment of opposing team fans.

August 04, 2008

Some interesting tidbits from Monday's work

Ernest Wilford had a starting receiver job when this training camp opened. It was his job to lose.

But after not getting any separation with any consistency the 10 days of camp, Wilford started losing the job Monday. Derek Hagan, who has had some flashes while working with the second team and as the slot receiver, was promoted to first team.

Wilford worked mostly with second-teamers. Nothing is set in stone so I just come out here and compete and come out here and practice hard," Wilford said.

So why hasn't Wilford produced? "It's a little bit of everything," he said. "It's still preseason, the season is still young. Nothing is set in stone until you get to the preseason games. I'm a gamer. Derek is a gamer so everything is going to work out come preseason games."

Truth be told, Hagan has been a fine outstanding practice player and outstanding citizen on the Dolphins. But he hasn't really been a gamer in his career yet. Wilford, meanwhile, did start plenty of games for Jacksonville.

So does he think he'll get better once the games begin?

"I think so but you still need to come out here and prove it on the practice field," Wilford said. "Right now we just have to continue to work on consistency on the practice field and just try to come out here and catch balls."

Actually, it's get open, then catch balls. Otherwise he'll catch hell.

Matt Roth, Vonnie Holliday, OLB note:

Just so everyone understands: It is the preseason and the Dolphins are experimenting. So just because Vonnie Holliday works some as a standup SOLB for a week, it doesn't mean he's being converted to SOLB.

And just because Matt Roth works at standup SOLB some, as he did in the offseason camps and again Monday and likely the remainder of this week, it doesn't mean he's being converted to a SOLB.

It means it is the preseason and there is a search for an answer underway. And what is the question?

How do you replace Jason Taylor?

The easy way to do it is stick Charlie Anderson in there, play Roth at one DE and Holliday at the other DE and be, well, unsatisfied with the results.

But the Dolphins are not doing that. They are searching for options. They are trying to maximize their players. So maybe the answer is putting Holliday at the SOLB, using Kendall Langford or Phillip Merling as a DE and sending Anderson to the bench.

Maybe the answer is putting Roth at an SOLB and having Holliday, and either Randy Starks, Merling or Langford at the other DE while sending Anderson to the bench. Or maybe it is sending Roth and Anderson to the bench, playing two out of the group of Starks, Merling and Langford and using Holliday at SOLB.

The point is the team is searching for the best combo of guys to create the most pressure. The team is looking at all the options to settle on the best fit. It doesn't mean it will happen. It doesn't mean it won't.

It just means the Dolphins are looking to recover the 11 or so sacks the team traded to the Redskins.

August 02, 2008

Defense good, offense not in Sat. scrimmage

I would like to tell you that either John Beck or Josh McCown stepped out of the early training camp muck and took the lead in the quarterback competition. But that would be a lie.

John Beck opened the scrimmage as the starter and completed only two of his five passes against the first-team defense. He struggled against the second team defense also when he completed only one of five passes. He recovered in his last at-bat against 2s and 3s when he completed 6 of 8 passes.

Beck was the only QB that didn't get his offense in the end zone Saturday.

Josh McCown starting with the second-stringers was hot early. He completed 5 of 6 passes in his first possession and threw a TD pass to David Kircus. But as is sometimes the problem with McCown, he wasn't consistent. He completed only 1 of 5 passes when he took his next reps with 1s and 2s and threw an interception to Travis Daniels. His final series of the day saw two completions in six attempts with a TD pass to Selwyn Lymon. In that same, final series he also threw what should have been an interception in the hands of Quentin Moses that the LB dropped.

Chad Henne started strong, completing 5 of 7 passes against the third-teamers, but when he faced better competition with a group of starters and second-teamers he completed only 1 of 4 passes. Henne had a TD throw in that first series against the third-teamers but nothing the rest of the way. He did not throw a pick and his third series was situational no-huddle stuff that I did not chronicle.

Bottom line: Nobody is winning the QB competition off of today's scrimmage. But Beck continues to lose ground, IMO.

There were too many drops, particularly by running backs coming out of the backfield. Ronnie Brown dropped one, Jalen Parmele dropped one, tight end Matthew Mulligan dropped one that pretty much erased the TD catch he made, and Anthony Armstrong dropped what would have been a loooong TD pass down the sideline from McCown.

Center Samson Satele snapped the ball over Henne's head on one play.

Rookie Jake Long didn't stand out and, believe it or not, that is a good thing. No he didn't truck anyone because this was not a full-speed deal. But he didn't give up any sacks or make any obvious mistakes. That really is good so far.

All in all, another tough day for the Miami offense. The players over there have much work to do. Much work.

By the way, the Dolphins invited their alumni to attend the scrimmage. Mark Higgs, Bobby Harden, Troy Drayton, Shawn Wooden, O.J. McDuffie and others were there. Dan Marino was there and spent time talking to Bill Parcells.

Agent Drew Rosenhaus also spent an extended period of time talking to Parcells. Rosenhaus represents several Dolphins, including Yeremiah Bell, who may be in line for a contract extension during the season if he stays healthy.

Program note: I will be on 790 The Ticket Sunday afternoon from 4:30 to 7 p.m. so feel free to join me then. We can talk Dolphins football, NFL football, or discuss any other sports topic you want. Even if you're not in South Florida, you can listen streaming online at and still call the show's toll-free number at 1-888-790-3776.

You also will be able to text me at 74965 once the show begins.

The warmup for Saturday's 2 p.m. scrimmage

Alright Dolphins Nation here is the lead up to this afternoon's practice/scrimmage:

The Dolphins just concluded a light walk-thru practice that lasted approximately one hour. It was mostly situational stuff and polishing prior to the afternoon session.

As a precursor let me give you the POSSIBLE first-team units for the work because, as coach Tony Sparano said earlier this week, he's going to match "goods on goods." These units will apply only to this scrimmage because, as you know, position battles are on-going and I am not suggesting John Beck, for example, is Miami's starting QB.


WR: Ernest Wilford*

WR: Ted Ginn Jr.

LT: Jake Long*

LG: Justin Smiley*

C: Samson Satele

RG: Donald Thomas*

RT: Vernon Carey

TE: David Martin

F-back/FB: Anthony Fasano*/Reagan Mauia

QB: John Beck

RB: Ronnie Brown


LDE: Matt Roth

NT: Jason Ferguson*

RDE: Vonnie Holliday

LOLB: Joey Porter

ILB: Channing Crowder

ILB: Akin Ayodele*

ROLB: Charlie Anderson*

CB: Will Allen

CB: Andre' Goodman

S: Jason Allen

S: Yeremiah Bell

K: Jay Feely

P: Brandon Fields

* = rookie or new player.

Obviously there will be mixing and matching. Check back after the scrimmage for an update on what the heck happened. I'll also write about it in Sunday's Miami Herald so check the website or I'll talk about it (with you, if you like) during my radio show Sunday 4:30-7p.m. on 790 The Ticket, which streams live at

July 31, 2008

Murphy, Beck struggle at Thurs. practice

One player, it seemed to these eyes, had a tougher time during practice Thursday than John Beck.

That was rookie guard Shawn Murphy.

The Dolphins just finished almost 2 1/2 hours of work and this should tell you all you need to know about the struggles of the offense: At one point offensive line coach Mike Maser, quickly becoming one of my favorites, yelled, "WTF is going on with you," to center Matt Spanos.

A little while later, tight end coach George DeLeone angrily yelled, "What are we doing out there?"

Well, what Murphy was doing was getting a hard-learned lesson in NFL offensive line play from Vonnie Holliday. Getting a chance to work with the first unit at left guard, Murphy gave up sacks to Holliday on consecutive plays. He also yielded a couple of pressures before getting a tiny bit better later in the practice.

It was hard to figure out if Murphy was truly improving or Holliday was holding back a bit. Welcome to the NFL, rook.

One rookie who had a pretty productive practice was Chad Henne. He had a sweet pass to tight end Anthony Fasano despite tight coverage. He also had a string in which he completed passes to David Martin, Ted Ginn Jr., Davone Bess and Sean Ryan. Good stuff.

By contrast, John Beck had a tough day. Again. He had a ball batted early in the practice. He was 0-for-4 in another team portion, although one of those was dropped by Greg Camarillo, and he generally looked out of sorts. Camarillo dropped a couple of passes today.

The good?

Derek Hagan continues to be the most impressive and productive receiver on the field.

Quentin Moses had a sack and a couple of pressures.

Holliday, after a productive afternoon, didn't seem to be sweating all that hard after the drills. He looks like a beast right now. The offseason program definitely has helped him.

The kickers?

Punter Brandon Fields had a 74-yard punt and few kicks later followed with a 55-yarder.

In the field goal battle, Jay Feely connected on 2-of-3, missing the 44-yarder. Rookie Dan Carpenter connected on 1-of-3, missing from 36 and 41 yards but hitting from 44.

One guy that seriously has to improve on special teams is rookie Selwyn Lymon who got destroyed as a gunner on punts by the blocking ends. He got only 1 yard off the line of scrimmage before being taken to the ground. Then one of the guys basically sat on him.

Not good for a rookie who must shine on teams if he's going to make the team.

By the way, Davone Bess looked good catching punts and was generally efficient in team drills. Jayson Foster dropped a punt despite a two-minute tutorial from Bill Parcells in the middle of the field.

July 30, 2008

Receivers situation intrigues, other stuff ...

The Dolphins have made a roster move this morning. No, not the addition of Terry Glenn.

The team cut the guy with the roster's best name: Scorpio Babers. The team signed cornerback Chris Roberson, who last played in the NFL with the Jaguars in 2005.


Very interesting situation when you really think about it. It is outgrowth of the receiver problem the Dolphins have. And that affects the quarterback position. It affects the salary cap. It is big!

I have this morning been able to independently confirm Glenn is likely to sign with the Dolphins within the couple of weeks if his health holds up. That is not a certainty. There are also a couple of sticking points -- such as Glenn passing a physical and getting some personal issues ironed out -- that are yet to be resolved. So to say this is absolutely a done deal is wrong. It is likely but not certain.

But I'm back now and will work on this and the greater receivers topic all day long. Check back in about an hour for the morning practice update.

At the start of practice today tight ends Justin Peelle (knee sprain) and Aaron Halterman (back) and Darren Heerspink (sprained knee) were on the bikes and not practicing. They are day-to-day according to Tony Sparano.

Cornerback Michael Lehan was on the field but still not taking part in drills. He's a week or so away.

Post practice update:

Not exactly an inspiring two hours. Let me put it this way: It could be said punter Brandon Fields had the best practice of anyone on the field.

During special teams drills he kicked four attempts inside the 5 yard line. He kicked one that landed at the 1 yard line and then bounded parallel to the goal line before going out of bounds at the 1 yard line. Great job by him.

The rest of the work was typical of what the first couple of days of practice were like: I saw more dropped passes than a professional team has the right to make -- David Kircus, Ted Ginn and Reagan Mauia stood out in that regard.

And the receivers simply didn't get very much separation from the DBs.

Will Allen seemed to stick to his receivers like he was part of their uniform.

The team drills included some blitzes by the defense. Rookie left guard Donald Thomas blew an assignment and allowed Joey Porter to come untouched on one play.

Chad Henne was "down" for the morning practice, meaning Josh McCown and John Beck got the work in team drills. McCown looked better than Beck although neither was stellar. Let me make this point for perspective: This Miami offense seems to throw more checkdown passes than any I've ever seen.

And while that is good in that it is a safe pass and it does gain four or five yards, it does not bode of an explosive down-the-field unit. And there can be no excuse that we saw so many checkdowns because that was the plan. It is impossible, you see, that the team would make the checkdown the plan in practice after practice after practice.


July 26, 2008

Notes from Saturday's afternoon practice

First full day of camp is over and here is what is going on:

Chad Henne joined the work after signing a four-year deal and was OK during the practice. He had one embarrassing moment when he reared back to throw a pass and it slipped from his hand and popped in the air. Oh well.

Henne will get the first team snaps Sunday and he believes he will have a fair shot to win the starting job. "Coach [Tony] Sparano expressed it will be an equal competition and I believe him," Henne said.

The Dolphins are using two quarterbacks taking team periods during a particular practice with the third quarterback taking no repetitions in those drills. All the QBs will work in the 7-on-7 and individual drills. The idea is to give QBs more repetitions in the team period and see if they have some continuity with the other players.

John Beck was "down" in today's afternoon practice, meaning he got no repetitions in the team period. Sunday, Josh McCown will be "down," while Beck and Henne work.

McCown, by the way, admitted his little run-in with a chainsaw was, "probably a poor decision looking back at it," but saw a positive in the experience in that the finger is "still on."

In other matters:

Guard Steve McKinney did not practice after working in the morning drills. Porter, on the non-football injury list rather than the PUP list that Sparano announced earlier, said his injury is no big deal.

"If I really had to play today, I could," he said. "We're just being smart with it."

Porter said he was working out on his own covering passes when he "rolled" the left ankle. "When it's time to go, I'll be ready to go," he said.

The Dolphins, by the way, waived tackle Julius Wilson and signed guard Rueben Riley before the afternoon practice. Wilson reported out of shape and that is a bad deal if you're a proven vet and a capital offense for unproven players like Wilson.

Check back Sunday around noon for the next update.

What is happening at practice this morning

A longtime Green Bay fixture is at Dolphins camp today ....

No, not Brett Favre. Former Packers GM Ron Wolf is on the field, shadowing friend Bill Parcells and no doubt offering his personnel expertise to the Dolphins. By the way, did your heart skip a beat when you read the first sentence?

Anyway, here is the scoop about what is happening.

Chad Henne is the only player not on the field now. Obviously he's not signed so the contract watch begins.

On the injury front: Linebacker Joey Porter is not working for some unknown reason, no doubt connected to an injury. Rob Ninkovich is taking the first-team repetitions in Porter's absence. Colleague Jeff Darlington reports Porter's agent is not immediately available for comment as we try to find out why the guy isn't in drills.

Cornerback Michael Lehan, who injured his ankle in the last June minicamp and was supposed to be out 2-4 weeks, is not practicing some seven weeks later. He is working on the sideline doing shuttle drills. He is the only player injured during the camps that is not working this morning.

Guard Steve McKinney and tight end Anthony Fasano and linebacker Channing Crowder -- all of them missed camps in the offseason -- are working. Fasano is actually taking some snaps with the first team ahead of last year's starter David Martin. Crowder is back at a starting inside LB spot.

Both inside LB spots will be interesting this camp as Akin Ayodele and Reggie Torbor battle for one spot and Crowder and Kelvin Smith battle at the other starting today. Obviously the best two of the four will start.

The first team offensive is LT Jake Long, LG Trey Darilek, C Samson Satele, RG Justin Smiley and RT Vernon Carey. The first-team defensive line is LE Matt Roth, NT Jason Ferguson and RE Vonnie Holliday. So much for Miami playing a 4-3. Not happening.

QB Josh McCown doesn't look any worse for wear after his much-publicized Texas Chainsaw Accident. His passes have not floated.

OK, check back later.