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Heat learns opener and Christmas game; Pennington on Tannehill; Wallace role expands; Fins notes

### The TV networks and the Heat have been informed that Miami's opening night opponent will be the Chicago Bulls, on Oct. 29 at AmericanAirlines Arena, barring an unexpected change to the NBA's tentative schedule. That game will be on TNT.

Meanwhile, the tentative schedule has the Heat playing at the Lakers on Christmas on ABC, according to an industry official. Though the schedule can be changed before it is announced, league people don't expect it to be.

Heat-Lakers has produced ABC's two highest-rated Christmas games ever, and also has generated two of ABC's three highest regular-season NBA ratings ever for non-Christmas games.

### On a conference call with season ticket holders on Wednesday, former Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington predicted that Ryan Tannehill “is going to make considerable strides this year.”

“What he learned last year is there are more games lost than won. What he has to understand is he doesn’t have to look really pretty, but he has to be efficient and consistent,” said Pennington, who served as a guest coach for several days during training camp and hosted Tannehill for a day on his Kentucky farm.

Asked if he would be interested in the Dolphins’ quarterback job, he said “maybe down the road” but isn’t sure if he wants to coach in the NFL and called the Dolphins’ Zac Taylor “a great young quarterback coach.”

Pennington, who will coach middle school football in Kentucky this year, was joined on the call by O.J. McDuffie, Larry Little, James McKnight and Lousaka Polite.

Asked about the new logo, Little said “It’s growing on me. I’m not there yet. I’m a traditionalist. I love the old logo.”

### Receiver Mike Wallace said his Dolphins experience has been “exciting” so far partly because “every day, you don’t know what’s coming.”

Here’s one change that he knows is coming: The Dolphins plan to use him in more ways than the Pittsburgh Steelers did.

“I will be inside a little more,” he said Wednesday, adding that offensive coordinator Mike Sherman “wants to switch us around a lot more where people can’t key on you. I had primary things to do in Pittsburgh. Here I’m switching a little bit more and doing a little bit more of everything.”

He said in Pittsburgh, first under offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and last season under Todd Haley, “I wasn’t in the slot as much.”

Through four days of camp, most of Wallace’s receptions have been on out patterns and slants. Wallace generally hasn’t been targeted on deep routes, though that assuredly will be a part of the Dolphins’ offense.

“I’m not worried about it,” Wallace said. “It will come in due time. We have days we do different things.”

He said his chemistry with Tannehill is getting “better every day. We have a lot of days before our first preseason game. As long as we’re good by game one [of the regular season], I think we’ll be fine. It’s not going to happen overnight.”

### Wallace and Brian Hartline have kidded, through the media, about racing each other.

Cracked Wallace: “Hartline doesn’t want that. Brian’s pretty fast. I’m not going to disrespect him. But I know he can’t beat me.”

Hartline didn’t dispute that. “Mike is smoking me” in a hypothetical race, Hartline said. “The dude is on a different level.”

### Former University of Miami and NFL star Warren Sapp was at Dolphins camp for NFL Network and said he loves Miami’s team, especially the defensive line, and expects the Dolphins to challenge the Patriots in the AFC East.

“They’ve got enough pieces,” he said. “You look at those big hogs inside, those tackles, and then you’ve got two speed ends. Jeff Ireland tells me [Olivier Vernon] is their starting right end right now. I say he’ll be your starting right end in Week 1. I like him. Then Brent Grimes and the boys on the back end, and [Dannell] Ellerbe in the middle.”

### Dan Carpenter is leading the kicking competition against Caleb Sturgis through four days. On Wednesday, Sturgis made a 40-yard field goal but missed from 49 and 50. That’s as many misses as Carpenter had in 14 attempts through the first three days of camp. Carpenter didn’t attempt a field goal Wednesday.

### One quick snippet from my Dolphins defense story that will appear elsewhere on the site later today: The Dolphins signed Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler to replace Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett with the belief their speed and athleticism would help generate more turnovers.

But this is notable: In 46 career games, Ellerbe has just one forced fumble and one interception. Wheeler has four forced fumbles and no interceptions in 77 games.

By comparison, Dansby has 15 forced fumbles and 11 interceptions in 136 games, and Burnett has seven and four in 120 games.

### The expected battle at right guard between John Jerry and Lance Louis hasn’t materialized because Louis is still recovering from a serious knee injury sustained last November when he played for the Chicago Bears.

Louis said Wednesday he hasn’t participated in any 11 on 11 team drills during the first four days of camp but expects to soon. “I feel pretty good,” he said. “I want to make sure I’m fully ready to go.”

Jerry has logged most of the snaps with the first team, but it was backup center Josh Samuda who got first-team work at right guard during the final 11-on-11 session of Wednesday’s practice.

Jerry is listed at 335 pounds – 10 pounds less than he weighed earlier this offseason – and said “I’m way ahead in conditioning. It’s like night and day.”

Coach Joe Philbin said Jerry is “performing well” but “really needs to get that consistency.” Philbin said Louis “is going to get a fair, honest evaluation when he’s physically capable.”


### Ryan Tannehill threw his first touchdown of training camp in 11-on-11 drills, connecting with Rishard Matthews during a red zone segment.

### There were two other touchdown passes during 11-on-11 work, also both inside the red zone: Matt Moore to Brian Hartline (beating Richard Marshall) and Pat Devlin to Michael Egnew, who also dropped a pass Wednesday…. Others with drops: Mike Wallace, Marvin McNutt, Mike Gillislee and Chad Bumphis.

### Receiver Armon Binns made two outstanding catches – one from Devlin, another on a beautiful pass from Tannehill. And there were two impressive one-handed receptions --- by Jorvorskie Lane and Marcus Thigpen.

### Jared Odrick had two sacks, Will Davis deflected his third pass in two days and Dimitri Patterson had several good plays in coverage.

### Defensive end Dion Jordan participated in special teams drills – which involved some light contact while blocking on returns – but did not play any snaps on defense during team drills. Jordan, who had shoulder surgery in February, hopes to begin doing those drills very soon.

“We thought he was moving around well yesterday,” Philbin said. “He’s picking things up relatively well.”

### Rookie cornerback Jamar Taylor was sidelined for the second day in a row because of lingering soreness from his sports hernia surgery in May.

### Undrafted rookie running back Cameron Marshall appeared to pull a hamstring during a kickoff drill and did not return.

### Randy Starks remained with the second team at defensive tackle… Jason Trusnik, Austin Spitler and Jonathan Freeny have been working as the second-team linebackers… Rookie Dallas Thomas, who had been working on the left side (at guard and tackle), received snaps at right tackle.

### Philbin said left tackle Jonathan Martin has good technique but “he needs to work on his punch a little bit better.”

### Quote of the day: “No question, in my mind, he can be an elite quarterback, one of the best in the NFL,” --- tight end Dustin Keller, on Ryan Tannehill.



     Thursday – Team is off.

     Friday – 8 a.m. at team facility in Davie.

     Saturday – 8 a.m. at team facility (open only to season-ticket holders).

     Sunday – 8 a.m. at team facility (open only to Fin Club members).

     Monday – 7 p.m. at Sun Life Stadium.

Please see the last post for more Dolphins, plus an amusing Urban Meyer story and Heat.