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31 posts from August 2014

August 21, 2014

3 p.m. Egnew news, reaction; Evaluators weigh in: Mixed reaction on Dolphins' veteran newcomers; UM, Heat, Marlins

3 p.m. update: So Michael Egnew is gone from the Dolphins, the latest third-round pick to flame out.

Here's what's odd about Egnew, who was released today to give him time to latch on with another team: Jeff Ireland drafted him believing he could run routes and catch passes downfield but not block especially well. He drafted him even though several Missouri tight ends since Kellen Winslow flopped in the NFL.

As it turned out, tight ends coach Dan Campbell said recently that Egnew's strength in the past year was blocking but that he needs to improve on running routes and helping in the passing game. So exactly the opposite of what Ireland thought he was drafting.

Here are the Dolphins' third round picks since the turn of the century:

2000: Ben Kelly

2001: Travis Minor and Morlon Greenwood

2002: Seth McKinney

2003: Wade Smith and Taylor Whitley

2004: Nobody

2005: Channing Crowder

2006: Derek Hagan

2007: Lorenzo Booker

2008: Kendall Langford

2009: Patrick Turner

2010: John Jerry

2011: Nobody

2012: Olivier Vernon (72nd) and Egnew (78th)

2013: Dallas Thomas and Will Davis

It's too soon to judge Thomas and Davis, but beyond them, there's not a single Pro Bowler in the group, though Vernon looks like he's going to be a very good player. Crowder was a solid linebacker before Ireland ditched him and Langford was an asset against the run before bolting to St. Louis, but none of the third-rounders (pre-Vernon) had LONG distinguished careers here. And so it goes...

Figure on the Dolphins looking closely for tight ends on the waiver wire. They need a third or fourth, depending on what role they give to rookie Arthur Lynch. Brett Brackett will get a long look. Charles Clay and Dion Sims are in line to be the No. 1 and No. 2 tight ends.

### The Dolphins also released cornerback Jalil Brown and defensive tackle Micajah Reynolds. Both were injured.



Dolphins fans get their most extensive look at Dennis Hickey’s free agent pickups on Saturday against Dallas, and there are still lots of unanswered questions about this group. Such as: Did Miami get productive starters in Shelley Smith or Daryn Colledge? Will Knowshon Moreno be more productive than Lamar Miller? Will Earl Mitchell be as disruptive as Paul Soliai?

ESPN pundit and former Colts GM Bill Polian, ESPN Scout Inc.’s Matt Williamson (a former Browns scout whose evaluations have been on-target over the years), NBC’s Cris Collinsworth and an NFC general manager who requested anonymity offered feedback on Hickey’s free agent moves, and we added our own early impressions:

### Moreno: The Dolphins clearly need someone who can push Lamar Miller, who averaged 4.0 yards last season but has just 14 yards on 7 carries in preseason. (The Dolphins want Miller to break more tackles.) But some evaluators aren’t convinced Moreno --- who’s back from June knee surgery --- is the answer.

“Solid contributor, but not a No. 1 back,” Polian said of Moreno. “Most of his success from 2013 was a function of [Denver’s] system. His acceleration to the hole is [not very good]. The rest of his game is good, he just doesn't hit the big plays you need from a No. 1 running back.” …

Williamson: “I’m less than impressed. He entered the league with a lot of fanfare and didn’t live up to that. He’s trying to transform himself into a hard charging tough guy who needs a lot of touches to succeed. But he benefited from a lot of light fronts with Denver.

"If they had six in the box, Peyton Manning would switch to a run and Moreno would run against that. He never had to run against stacked fronts. He’s a get- what’s-blocked type of back. I don’t think he’s the answer. I see a short-term fix. But he’s a big upgrade in pass protection and he’s better than Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas, especially Thomas.”

### Smith: Was a disappointment early in camp and now has a chance to redeem himself if he can win the right guard job, where he’s still competing with Dallas Thomas.

Williamson: “I was very impressed what I saw in St. Louis. A better run blocker than in pass protection. Moves really well. Light on his feet. Starter caliber.”… The GM: “He could be your best run blocker. Over-aggressive at times in pass protection but not horrible in pass protection, either.”

### Colledge: His pass blocking has been very good but his run blocking has been subpar in preseason so far. Joe Philbin, who knows him well from Green Bay, declined to give him an endorsement this week, asserting the left guard job is still open even though Colledge continues to take the first-team snaps.

Williamson likes him: “Great fit in this up-tempo offense that stresses movement over power and size from offensive linemen. Upgrade for sure.”

### Cornerback Cortland Finnegan: Has had a strong camp, fully meeting Miami’s expectations so far. The GM: “He brings a physical element to your team. He’s tough and gives you position versatility because he can play the slot and outside. Not everyone can do that. We were looking at him in free agency. As long as he’s not a knucklehead, he’s a good value contract.”…

Polian: “He loves to mix things up as an edge-setter and gets under the skin of opposing wide receivers, but his style of play lends itself to poor technique. He struggled against double-moves during the 2013 season.”...

Williamson: “He played poorly for the Rams. But I looked at it like the Saints signing Champ Bailey. He might be a leader in the cornerback meeting room, a good influence behind the scenes and a stopgap player. Maybe he goes back to where he was a couple years ago. He plays with an edge but gets beat too often. Feisty. Better in the slot.”…

Collinsworth: “He didn't have a good year last year but I will tell you what he is: He's tough and physical. At practice, he is a borderline jerk. But he brings an intensity.

“And he hits his own guys. You can't be lackadaisical when he's on the field. Those are the guys you used to hate to practice against, but you were glad they were with you on Sunday.

“If I had to say of all the guys in the league of what I'm trying to describe - and it's a compliment – he would be one of those guys that you want on your team to stir the pot every day. Richard Sherman and Brandon Spikes stir the pot every day. Those guys are hard to find and you want them on your team.”

### Defensive tackle Earl Mitchell: Early signs are encouraging; teammates praise his motor, and he will play a lot in a three-tackle rotation.

Polian loves him: “Mitchell has become a real inside force and one of the most productive penetrators in the NFL at generating consistent inside pressure. He is a much better athlete than most guys who play his position, and his effort is outstanding. Good quickness and really works to finish the play. He is young and will only get better.”…

Williamson: “He and Soliai [now with Atlanta] are very different players. Soliai is a big run stuffer who demands a double team. Mitchell is much more of a penetrator. Mitchell is the better player, more upside.”…

### Safety Louis Delmas: Has looked decent so far but missed a tackle in Saturday night’s game at Tampa.  An upgrade over Chris Clemons as a play-maker but also vulnerable to being burned occasionally. Most importantly, his knees have held up.

Williamson: “Delmas makes a lot of big plays. He will show up on SportsCenter a heck of a lot more than Clemons but is a little more inconsistent. Injuries are the big issue. He’s reckless with his body in some ways.”… Polian: “Really good player who has been hampered greatly by injury."

### Left tackle Branden Albert: Been solid so far but the run-blocking needs to improve.

“Below elite but one of the top 10 tackles in the league and worth the money at very much a need position,” Williamson said… The GM: “He thinks he’s elite, but he’s not. But a good player. Pass blocking is his strength, and he has good feet. Durability is a question.”…

Polian: “He doesn't make a lot of mistakes. Has an elite skill set, but he doesn't always seem to play up to those skills.”… Collinsworth: “Brandon is getting paid to be Anthony Munoz. He's very good. Is he Anthony Munoz? No, but I don't think anybody is. He gives them that guy where maybe we don't have to be great at guard.”

### As far as veteran free agent pickups trying to make the team: Not much support for Brady Quinn, who appears unlikely to make it. As Williamson says: “Certainly a step down from Matt Moore.”…  Former Titans receiver Damian Williams: “If you’re the fifth receiver on game day, you better be a solid special teams contributor and I don’t think he is,” Williamson said. He has had a good camp but has done nothing to win the punt return job and it's difficult to see him sticking barring an injury or trade in the next two weeks.

Jason Fox: “LaAdrian Waddle, an undrafted free agent, went right past him in Detroit,” Williamson said. “He’s not the pass protector you want on the left side, not the mauler you want on the right side. Not terrible in any area, but not a standout in any. I thought he would be better coming out of college.” The belief here is that the last offensive line job could come down to Fox or Sam Brenner.

### Please check the last post, from Thursday evening, for more Dolphins tidbits, including two of Jeff Ireland's picks trying to stick around.


### There will be subtle changes in UM’s offense: Expect a more controlled passing game (bubble screens, short and intermediate routes) with fewer deep balls. UM will still try to go deep selectively but likely not as much as Stephen Morris did.

### UM loves what freshman running back Joe Yearby is going to add, and coordinator James Coley said there’s a package with both Yearby and Duke Johnson playing together (with one lining up at receiver).

### Freshman quarterback Malik Rosier, who played in the shotgun in high school and has mishandled some snaps under center during practice, hopes UM creates a special package for him, but Coley said that’s undecided.

“I really believe he’s more than a Wildcat quarterback,” Coley said. Rosier plans to play baseball at UM, too.

### Rashard Lewis, whose Dallas contract was voided because of knee surgery, conveyed to the Heat that he would love to return here, but Miami already signed Shawne Williams for that role (backup stretch power forward). Williams essentially has had only one good season (2010-11 with the Knicks) but performed well in offseason workouts.

### Scouts are raving about Christian Yelich, who is hitting .323 since the All-Star break and ranks fourth among all qualifying MLB left fielders in average (.288). He has become so popular among Marlins
fans that not only is he getting dozens of letters a week, but a couple people drew and sent him portraits of himself.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz... Please see the last post for a few UM and broadcast items.

Quick hits: Ireland picks trying to hang on; UM, broadcast items

A six-pack of notes on a Thursday evening: 

### You would like to see two of Jeff Ireland’s pet projects and higher-than-warranted draft picks, Daniel Thomas and Michael Egnew, give a convincing reason for Miami to keep them to start the season.

They could still survive nevertheless because nobody on the roster has necessarily outplayed them for the No. 3 running back and tight end jobs, respectively.

Thomas, who has been limited recently by a hamstring injury, “was having a good camp,” Joe Philbin said today. “Hopefully, we can get him some game action here soon. He’s a good fit [for the zone-blocking scheme].”

Thomas returned to practice earlier this week but sat out Thursday's session, curiously, raising questions about his status for Saturday's Dallas game.

But Mike Gillislee remains out with a hamstring and Damien Williams (17 carries, 22 yards) hasn't made a convincing enough case for the No. 3 running back job. Nor has Orleans Darkwa, obviously. So Thomas might survive by default.

As for Egnew, “he missed a little bit of time [with a concussion], but he’s come back,” Philbin said. “He got a limited amount of playing time the other night. He’s had a good week of practice. So we’ll take a look at him again in the game on Saturday and see how well he performs.”

Charles Clay and Dion Sims will be on the team, and I suspect rookie Arthur Lynch probably will be too unless he’s surprisingly placed on injured reserve. That leaves Egnew competing with Kyle Miller, Brett Brackett, Harold Hoskins and every tight end who will be released over the next two weeks.

### Philbin is encouraged by how well Brandon Gibson has returned from last October’s major knee injury.

“When he got hurt in New England, third down, he was one of the leaders in the league in terms of percentage of conversions,” Philbin said. “I think he’s a quarterback-friendly guy. He’s got very good hands and he’s smart. He can read coverages, understands the leverage, when I turn out and turn in, when I should stay on the move, when I should sit down. So I think the quarterbacks, most of them, get comfortable with him pretty quick.”

### Remember those five UM players who left early after the 2011 season? Give Ireland credit for drafting the only two who have had successful careers to this point: Lamar Miller and Olivier Vernon.

We were reminded of this today when the Patriots released Marcus Forston, who played in three games for them last year. Of the other two, Tommy Streeter (Tampa Bay) and Brandon Washington (St. Louis) are trying to win roster spots. 

### Of the seniors on UM’s team last year, the most prominent who’s not in an NFL camp is Curtis Porter, who wasn’t signed after tryouts with the Oakland Raiders and Montreal of the CFL.

### The Hurricanes basketball team swept all four games in its trip to Spain, and several new players delivered what UM hopes will be a harbinger. Sheldon McClellan, the Texas transfer who sat out last season, averaged 20 points per game, and high-end freshman combo guard Ja'Quan Newton averaged 13.5.

And junior power forward Ivan Cruz Uceda, a newcomer, averaged 11 rebounds per game. 

### Former UM basketball player Erik Swoope has played 22 snaps in Indianapolis’ first two preseason games (no receptions) and is trying to make a case to be kept on the Colts' practice squad. (The 53-man roster is unlikely.) 

“We’re still in the process of molding Swoope, but he has all the things that you can’t teach, and that’s amazing athleticism, phenomenal strength and balance and hand-eye coordination, and it’ll be fun to watch him grow and progress,” Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said. 

### Fox people have told us how impressive former Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt was in his audition and predict he’s going to be very good as one of the network’s new college football studio analysts this year.... Fox is keeping Brady Quinn's job open for him in case the Dolphins cut him, which is where it seems this is headed.

Please check back tonight for lots of Dolphins and some Marlins, UM and Heat in the Friday buzz column.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

August 20, 2014

Wednesday evening Dolphins and Hurricanes chatter; Stanton's future; Heat

Dolphins and UM notes on a Wednesday night:



### Tough break for rookie safety Walt Aikens, who had been coming on strong before a left hand injury in practice this week. Though a firm timetable hasn’t been established, he’s out indefinitely. With Aikens out, Don Jones moved up to the second team at safety, alongside Michael Thomas.

Jones, Thomas, Jordan Kovacs and Jalil Brown appear to be fighting for at least two roster spots. Thomas has had a good camp and seems to have a good chance of sticking. That is, unless the Dolphins find somebody they like better on waivers.

### The Dolphins and Dan Marino continue to talk about a potential role in the organization, and Marino has been visible recently.

On Wednesday, he attended practice for the second time in seven days. He spoke for at least 10 minutes with Joe Philbin and Dennis Hickey (separately) during practice, spent much of the rest of practice with Dawn Aponte and chatted with Cortland Finnegan and Reshad Jones and Brent Grimes during a break.

“He was here to observe and chat,” Joe Philbin said. “Great to have him here. I told him he’s always welcomed anytime.”

### Difficult to envision Brady Quinn making the team after throwing five interceptions over the past three days. He threw two picks today: one to Jamar Taylor and another that Jimmy Wilson returned for a touchdown.

The Dolphins seem likely to keep two quarterbacks and sign at least one for the practice squad --- perhaps Seth Lobato or recently released Pat Devlin.

### Will Davis made a couple of more outstanding plays to break up passes and remains ahead of Jamar Taylor, at least for now, in the battle for the No. 3 cornerback job.

### In Davone Bess, Dan Carpenter and Derrick Shelby, the Dolphins have had some success finding undrafted rookies who make the team and contribute. Who’s likely to be this year’s Bess?

We explore that in a story on the Herald’s sports home page that will be posted this evening, but Chris McCain appears to have the best chance. He had a sack on Matt Moore today and has flashed an interesting skill set and the versatility to play linebacker or defensive end.

Anthony Johnson, the undrafted LSU d-tackle, still has a decent chance to stick, but he missed some practice time this week with a shoulder injury.

Damien Williams, the undrafted Oklahoma running back, has just 22 yards on 17 carries in preseason but Joe Philbin blamed that largely on blocking. “These next two weeks for him are going to be very important,” Philbin said.

### On Wednesday, Knowshon Moreno looked the best he’s looked since returning from June knee surgery, scoring on a 15-yard run. “I feel good,’ he said.

He said the Dolphins want to see him practice Thursday before deciding whether he will play Saturday against Dallas. But Moreno says he’s ready. He said his conditioning is fine and that he’s at the weight he will play at.


### UM coach Al Golden indicated today that he isn’t sure when he will name a starting quarterback. Offensive coordinator James Coley said it remains “pretty heated, pretty close.”

Jake Heaps was back at practice after missing the Monday scrimmage with soreness in his elbow. Doctors advised he sit out Monday. But Golden said "he threw the ball well today" and Heaps says he's fine.

Golden said Brad Kaaya, who is battling Heaps for the starting job, “is poised, unflappable.”

Golden also made a point to praise Kevin Olsen today, saying: “I have no doubt he’s made a longterm commitment.”

### Philip Dorsett said it doesn’t matter who wins the QB job and offered this comparison between Heaps and Kaaya: "One has played in games and one hasn't. One has the experience in big-time games and one just came from high school. I don't know if that'll play a big part in the decision, I don't think it would. We'll just go with the better guy - whoever wins, wins."

### We mentioned yesterday how UM coaches have been impressed with Braxton Berrios. Golden said today he’s rising up the depth chart at receiver because “he’s smart and he’s tough. Not afraid to block. Wants the ball. It's ridiculous what he's doing” after offseason ACL surgery.

### Al Quadin Muhammad, who had two sacks in Monday’s scrimmage, is now the first-team defensive end opposite Anthony Chickillo, overtaking Trent Harris.

### Some musings from defensive coordinator Mark O’Onofrio about Monday’s scrimmage:

Olsen Pierre “did well. Calvin Heurtelou and Courtel Jenkins did a nice job. Anthony Chickillo did a really good job, made a lot of plays. He's just doing an unbelievable job of doing his job on every play. Now he's making more plays than he ever has. It's exciting. Chad Thomas is doing some nice things.

“I thought Thurston Armbrister played really well. Thurston has been great. He has had a tremendous training camp. He's our most versatile player, has played multiple positions.

"Jermaine Grace had a really good scrimmage. He just has to finish a few more plays. Very productive. He was as productive as anybody we had out there."

D'Onofrio says in the secondary that "the corner position, there wasn't a lot of separation throughout camp in those five guys [in the mix to start] --- Artie Burns, Corn Elder, Tracy Howard, Ladarius Gunter and Antonio Crawford.

“A couple of guys created maybe a little separation based on this last scrimmage, but that's been an ongoing battle. I think that's the No. 1 position where we have the most competition right now, but there is competition at every position….

"Artie had a really strong performance [in Monday’s scrimmage]. He competed like crazy. He made a lot of plays, was really good. And Corn was a playmaker in the scrimmage; his technique was really good."

### ESPN assigned Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer and David Pollack to UM’s Labor Day opener at Louisville.

### Please see the last post, if you haven't yet, for news on Giancarlo Stanton's future and Heat free agents discussions.

August 19, 2014

Marlins have a plan with Stanton; Heat pursues free agents; Dolphins, UM chatter


The thinking around the Marlins, going back to last winter, had been pretty simple: Offer a long-term contract this winter to Giancarlo Stanton, who can become a free agent in November 2016, then likely consider trade offers this winter if he rejects it.

The second half of that scenario has changed.

According to a person with direct knowledge, the Marlins’ current plan is to make an attractive multiyear offer to Stanton this offseason but keep him to start the 2015 season even if rejects it. The Marlins are prepared to pay him whatever he will command as a second-year arbitration-eligible player this winter --- potentially in the $13 million to $14 million range for 2015.

Though it's possible owner Jeffrey Loria could change his mind if Stanton requests a trade, two factors have influenced the team’s thinking:

### The Marlins believe they will be a playoff contender next season, with the prospect of Jose Fernandez coming back around the All-Star break, and know Stanton helps their chances in 2015 more than anything they could acquire for him via trade.

### The Marlins are confident they can get a lot for Stanton even if they wait closer to his eligibility for free agency, perhaps before the 2016 season or during it. Last month, the Red Sox traded ace Jon Lester three months before free agency and got Yoenis Cespedes from Oakland.

Stanton wants to see the Marlins make a commitment to winning consistently. The Marlins' hope is that even if he turns down their offer this winter, he might accept one the following offseason if the Marlins are a playoff team in 2015 and prove they're ready to win consistently.

If it reaches the point of trading Stanton eventually --- and the Marlins know it would be foolish to lose him for nothing --- they will not seek merely prospects in return.

According to an official who has spoken to the Marlins, the team sees at least five clubs that could put together an attractive package for Stanton, with big-league players and prospects: the Dodgers, Boston, Texas, Pittsburgh and Houston.

If it reaches the point of trade discussions, expect the Marlins to ask the Dodgers about Yasiel Puig. But trade conversations haven’t happened.

Though the Marlins know of Stanton’s affection for California, they hope he will genuinely consider their offer this winter.

Asked if he will consider a Marlins offer with an open mind, Stanton --- who’s hitting. 295 with 32 homers and 88 RBI --- said last week that topic “doesn’t matter” to him and he won’t think about it until the offer happens.

Stanton enjoys living in Miami, according to associates. But many believe he wants eventually to play in California or for a perennial winner.

I'll be surprised if he signs a multiyear contract with the Marlins to buy out some of his free agency years, but hopefully he'll surprise us, for the sake of baseball in South Florida.

Stanton said he’s having his most fun as a Marlin because “every other year in my career, we’re 20 games out at this point in the season.”

He’s hitting .315 with 21 homers and 60 RBI at home but said earlier this summer he still believes the Marlins need to move in the fences at Marlins Park, which the team has been disclined to do but hasn't ruled out.

### Loria, incidentally, has not informed his front office of a projected payroll for next season. It's close to $50 million this season and will need to rise to accommodate raises for several arbitration-eligible players.


### The Heat is serious about adding another shooting guard and a big man if it can find two good ones willing to take the veteran’s minimum. After recently working out Jordan Hamilton (who signed with Toronto) and Chris Douglas-Roberts, the Heat also has inquired about Leandro Barbosa and Jordan Crawford, who both hold appeal to Miami.

Among power rotation players, the Heat has shown interest in Emeka Okafor and has considered Ekpe Udoh. Preliminary inquiries were made on Andray Blatche and Jason Maxiell. Agent David Falk said he talked to the Heat about Elton Brand but that Brand is unlikely to end up here.

### Dwyane Wade said on social media that he has spent the past few days working out with Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, Udonis Haslem and Josh McRoberts at Indiana University, which is coached by Tom Crean, Wade's friend and former coach at Marquette.

### Word is Brad Kaaya did not especially help or hurt his chances in Monday’s scrimmage, with Jake Heaps sidelined with an arm issue that he says isn't serious. Kaaya threw two touchdowns but his accuracy wasn’t always great on downfield throws. He goes through periods where he's very hot, and other stretches where his accuracy drops off. But UM coaches like what they've seen overall.

### Thurston Armbrister returned a Malik Rosier interception for a touchdown during the scrimmage, but the staff likes Rosier's upside.

### The UM defense has been unable to effectively cover quick, shifty freshman slot receiver Braxton Berrios, and he’s going to be difficult to keep off the field.

Berrios says he has been hearing the comparisons to Wes Welker for six years and “there are definitely similarities. If I have a tenth of what he has, that’s a good thing. I’ve been studying Welker, DeSean Jackson, Tavon Austin, Steve Smith, Danny Amendola.”

### UM people are raving about how running back Joseph Yearby looked in Monday's scrimmage, even though he's not even 100 percent back to form after last fall's ankle surgery. He is going to get a lot of playing time this season.

### Killian safety Jaquan Johnson tonight became UM's sixth four-star oral commitment in its 2015 class. Johnson previously had been leaning toward Florida State.

### Baltimore-based Dolphins fan Neal Driscoll, who works in sales, has gotten 806 fan signatures on a petition to try to get the Dolphins to move Dion Jordan from defensive end to linebacker, which is a bigger need area for Miami.

Jordan’s message to Driscoll? “Stick to sales. They got me here to pass rush. That’s what I should be focusing on, not playing linebacker.”

He says he’s comfortable at defensive end and believes he has had a good training camp/preseason.

### Undrafted rookie making the strongest push? Linebacker/end Chris McCain, who was dismissed from the California team last September and had offers only from the Dolphins and St. Louis.

“He’s got an interesting skill set we are trying to get to know better,” Joe Philbin said.

McCain is working mostly at linebacker but some at defensive end on third downs and said he's being used in ways similar to Jordan's role in the Dolphins' speed package.

### Mike Wallace said the NFL’s renewed emphasis on defensive holding and illegal contact is helping “other teams, not our team. We don’t get those calls. I don’t know why.”

Please see the last post, from this afternoon, for more Dolphins, UM and Heat chatter... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz   

Tuesday 3 p.m.: UM quarterback update; Dolphins Tuesday practice notes; Heat

Some Tuesday afternoon quick hits:

### The arm issue that sidelined UM quarterback Jack Heaps from Monday’s scrimmage isn’t serious, according to Heaps.

Heaps, who had a pre-arranged interview with ESPN today but did not speak to the general media, told ESPN he is fine and looks forward to Wednesday’s practice.

UM has declined to say, to this point, whether he’s injured. But Heaps was wearing a protective sleeve over his right elbow during the scrimmage. And he was not rested Monday because the job has been settled.

The quarterback race had not been decided as of late Monday night. UM did not practice today.

A UM official said Brad Kaaya played OK during Monday’s scrimmage, very good at times, but also had some throws that weren’t especially sharp. Kaaya remains very much in the running for the job.

### From today’s Dolphins practice: Will Davis began the day as the No. 3 corner but Jamar Taylor finished the day in that job. Davis slipped and was beaten for a long touchdown by Kevin Cone….

Joe Philbin was non-committal about whether Knowshon Moreno would play in Saturday's preseason game against Dallas.  During a break in practice today, Moreno ran over to the sideline to do conditioning work with Mike Pouncey....

Ryan Tannehill had several impressive deep throws: two to Damian Williams and one to Armon Binns.

John Potter, trying to replace injured Caleb Sturgis, hit three or four field goals. His 51-yarder hit the side of the goalpost. Sturgis declined to discuss his situation afterward....

Brady Quinn threw two interceptions and has three the past two days. He isn’t making a convincing case for the third QB job....

I asked Joe Philbin if Jordan Tripp, who got some more first team work today, appears able to make a contribution on defense and special teams this season or whether he’s a developmental prospect. Philbin said he likes what he sees and will know a lot more in the next two weeks.

"I thought he flashed some good things in the first couple of games," Philbin said. "He’s very smart, very hard working and diligent. I think it’s going to be an important two-week stretch for him to answer that question.”

The guards (Daryn Colledge on the left side and Shelley Smith on the right) remained the same as Monday...

Sam Brenner and Anthony Johnson returned to practice. Terence Fede, Jalil Brown, Sturgis and Marcus Thigpen remained out, and Daniel Thomas appeared limited. Walt Aikens left practice early, for good, with a finger injury....

Michael Egnew made a terrific catch on a sideline pattern from Matt Moore, the best catch I’ve ever seen him make.


### Agent David Falk tells us guard Toney Douglas, who finished last season with the Heat, has signed to play in China. Douglas wanted to return to the Heat, but Miami did not make an offer. Douglas appeared in 27 games for the Heat following his midseason acquisition and started 17 games, filling in when Dwyane Wade was injured... Free agent combo guard Leandro Barbosa is among several free agents being considered by the Heat.

### Heat single-game tickets go on sale on heat.com and ticketmaster.com at 10 a.m. Wednesday and at the AA box office at 10 a.m. Thursday.

### Jason Taylor, who left ESPN a year ago, took a job with NBC Sports Network on Tuesday, as an analyst on Pro Football Talk with Mike Florio.

Please check back later for the Wednesday buzz column... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz           

August 18, 2014

Monday 5:30 p.m. Dolphins report; Race allegations and how law enforcement mishandled the Ray Allen case

Two days after Dallas Thomas was overwhelmed by Tampa Bay All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, the Dolphins tinkered with their offensive line on Monday, giving another look to the veteran free agent addition they originally expected would emerge as a starter.

Shelley Smith replaced Thomas with the starters at right guard during Monday’s practice, returning to the position he held throughout May and June practices.

But coach Joe Philbin said afterward that Smith has not been anointed the starter, the job remains an open competition and he does not know who will start at right guard in Saturday’s third preseason game against Dallas at Sun Life Stadium.

“We don’t have a first-team right guard right now,” Philbin said.

Philbin said left guard also remains open and he doesn’t know who will start at that spot, either. Daryn Colledge has started at left guard for the first two preseason games and played most of the first-team snaps at practice.

“We don’t have clarity at those two positions yet,” Philbin said. “We are going to have a good week of practice and make the determination of who that’s going to be. Just because that person starts, he may start the next week, may not.”

There is also some measure of uncertainty at center, where a timetable on Mike Pouncey’s return from hip surgery remains undetermined. Pouncey, who hasn’t been cleared for practice, said Monday he hopes to return by the fourth game of the season, Sept. 28 against London in Oakland, a game that is followed by a bye week.

One thing is clear: The Dolphins need much better blocking in the running game. The Dolphins, who averaged 4.1 yards per rush last season, averaged 2.5 yards per carry in their preseason opener at Atlanta and 1.8 in the Tampa game.

“There was too much penetration,” Philbin said. “That was problem number one. Problem two is we didn’t break a lot of tackles.”

The Dolphins had entrusted Thomas with first-team right guard duties before Saturday’s disaster, when he allowed a strip/sack, a quarterback pressure, committed two penalties and also was beaten on two negative running plays.

On Monday, Thomas took snaps at backup right guard. Rookie third-round pick Billy Turner, who had been the backup right guard, played behind Colledge at left guard.

Smith, signed to a two-year, $5.5 million contract in March, was the Dolphins’ first-team right guard throughout offseason workouts. He began training camp at center, filling in for Pouncey, but had several errant snaps.

After the Dolphins signed Samson Satele, Smith was shifted to second-team left guard. That finally changed Monday.

“Shelley is going to be a heck of a player for us,” Pouncey said. “He does a heck of a job in the zone scheme, gets underneath the defenders.”

Asked Monday if he was pleased to be with the starters again, Smith said: “You never know what’s going to happen. I’m ready to go wherever needed. We’ll see how it shakes out.”

Smith played left and right guard in his three seasons in St. Louis, which included eight starts.

“It will take some reps to get back in the swing of things on the right side, but I feel comfortable there,” he said.

As for Pouncey, he said Monday he’s “just praying that they don’t put me” on the physically unable to perform list to start the regular season, which would require sitting out the first six games and also would prohibit him from practicing during that time. He said he’s not sure when he will be cleared for practice.

“In my head, right now I feel I can [practice] because I’m a competitor,” he said. “But they’re taking the safe route and make sure I won’t have any relapses when I come back. I appreciate them letting me get stronger every week. I’m thinking I’m ahead of schedule. I feel really good. I can’t wait until they set me loose.”


The Dolphins’ kicking situation has become more interesting than anyone expected, to the point that Philbin said Monday he’s not sure who will be his kicker for the regular-season opener against New England.

Caleb Sturgis, who had been sidelined with a groin injury earlier in camp, re-aggravated the injury before Saturday’s game and will miss multiple practices. John Potter remains in contention to win the job after hitting 48- and 51-yard field goals against Tampa.

### Tight ends Charles Clay and Harold Hoskins, running back Daniel Thomas and offensive tackle Jason Fox returned to practice. Clay, who had missed two weeks with a knee injury, said “there was never any point in time where I thought it was bad.”

### Center Sam Brenner (shoulder), cornerback Jalil Brown (thigh), defensive end Terence Fede (knee), defensive tackle Anthony Johnson (shoulder) and receiver/returner Marcus Thipgen (thigh) will miss multiple practices.

Defensive tackle AJ Francis (knee) and running back Mike Gillislee (hamstring) remained sidelined with previous injuries.

### The Dolphins signed undrafted Villanova defensive end Rakim Cox and released running back Cameron Marshall.


Until the Coral Gables police files charges against the seven 18- and 19-year olds who walked uninvited into Ray Allen's home late Wednesday, expect to hear comments like this one posted on Facebook by Miami criminal defense attorney David Edelstein:

"When black teenagers sneak into a white person's house in the middle of the night, it's called burglary. But when well off white kids sneak into a black person's home, it's a silly prank."

None of the seven people who entered Allen's home are black. According to the Coral Gables PD, six are Hispanic males and one is an Hispanic woman.

After studying Florida Statutes on Sunday, I suspected Coral Gables police were making a mistake by deciding not to level a burglary charge against the seven young adults who entered Allen’s home.

That view has been reinforced when I spoke with a couple of credible people today.

Police spokeswoman Kelly Denham had said the state attorney’s office initially advised detectives that elements of a burglary had not been met and that the appropriate charge was trespassing. Denham said today that trespassing is the likely charge but would not rule out a burglary charge, either, after saying earlier that burglary would not be the charge.

Originally, Coral Gables police said they did not intend to charge the teenagers with anything, but that apparently has changed in the wake of Ray Allen complaining and hiring an attorney.

Despite what the Gables police are saying, a former captain for the Miami-Dade County police department and a former Miami-Dade County prosecutor said a burglary charge would be justified in this case.

“In my opinion, they should have been charged with felony burglary,” said Charlie Miller, a former captain with the Miami-Dade police who ran the division’s burglary unit during a 30-year career before retiring 10 years.

“Let it go through the system. We would always charge in this case and later plea bargain or reduce if they made restitution, apologized, did community service. These are adults. These are not juveniles. This is a felony burglary. It was an occupied residence. They knew right from wrong. It doesn’t matter whether the Allens are home or not.”

Allen’s wife and their four children were home at the time.

Antonio Jimenez, a Miami-based criminal defense attorney who previously worked as a prosecutor for Miami-Dade, said the teenagers “should have all been arrested for burglary and at that point let the prosecutor decide whether to file formal charges or reduce it to a trespass.”

Denham said the teenagers explained to the officers that they merely were curious to see what the home looked like. She said there was no burglary charge because there was no intent.

But Florida Statute 810.07 said “proof of entering… a structure… stealthily and without consent of the owner or occupant is… evidence of entering with intent to commit a crime.”

And using the Coral Gables PD's initial reasoning (remember, they originally planned to file no charges against the teenagers), someone who tries to break into your home, walks in, and then changes their mind because the alarm went off would be charged with nothing? That's preposterous.

Said Jimenez: “You are inside the home, there is an assumption in the law that you are intending to commit a crime. The crime can be anything. You can even make the argument that the crime itself is trespassing. If you are in there, that’s a burglary, which is a second-degree felony.”

Jimenez said prosecutors then would have had 21 days to determine if there’s enough evidence to file a charge of burglary or reduce it to trespassing or take no action.

Police said Allen’s door was unlocked; Allen’s attorney said it was locked. Denham said in the police report that Allen’s wife, Shannon, said the door that was entered had a “problem with the lock and easily [could] be opened.”

But Jimenez said that “makes no difference’ in determining whether a burglary charge is warranted.

Jimenez said “black clients don’t get away with things as much as wealthy, white juveniles might. If they [the seven teenagers] were in a mansion next to Ray Allen, they were friends with someone wealthy or someone with a wealthy family.

“You have that dynamic. I’ve seen how Gables PD treat wealthy residents. They would arrest them sometimes but said, ‘Let’s all move on.’ Cases would get resolved a lot easier than other residents.

“If you have a case involving resident with the parents [having] real money, it’s not that difficult to get case to go away. You just notice there are certain cases in Pinecrest, Gables, Miami Beach, certain cases easier to resolve than others. A lot of times it comes down to money.”

Denham said he had no response to Jimenez’s comments and she knew nothing about the socio-economic status of the seven teenagers because “it’s not pertinent to the investigation.”

By the way, Denham said that Shannon Allen never called 9-1-1 when the teenagers walked into their home but instead called the Tahiti Beach guard shack, who contacted the police.

Please see the last post for lots of Heat chatter, plus UM, Dolphins and Marlins.    


August 17, 2014

Sunday buzz column: Exploring Heat's longterm future; Dolphins, UM, Marlins chatter


Now that the dust has settled after LeBron James’ move to Cleveland, a few points to consider on the Heat’s future:

### Everyone is pointing to Kevin Durant’s free agency in the summer of 2016. What's encouraging is that the Heat has only about $29 million in guaranteed cap commitments for 2016-17, with the prospect of an $80 million cap, according to ESPN projections.

But Durant easily could stay in Oklahoma City (“I love it here,” he said recently) or go to his hometown Washington (he admired James for returning to his roots) or sign with another marquee-market team with a lot of cap space that summer (Lakers, Bulls, Knicks).

So even though Durant owns a condo in Miami --- he’s remodeling it but hasn’t decided whether to sell it --- Durant would be more wishful thinking than a likelihood for the Heat. So if not Durant, then what could Miami do to build a team to genuinely compete with the James/Kevin Love/Kyrie Irving troika in Cleveland?

The hope in that scenario would be to land blue-chippers from among a 2016 free agent class potentially including centers Dwight Howard (if he opts out of $23.2 million), Joakim Noah, Al Horford and David Lee, and wing players Mike Conley, DeMar DeRozan, Danilo Galinari, Nicolas Batum and Chandler Parsons (opt out), Brandon Jennings, Joe Johnson and declining Deron Williams. Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade will be free agents that summer but look like lifers with their franchises.

That’s not a long list of quality players considering most teams will have at least $10 million in 2016 cap space, as Pat Riley noted. But here’s the big caveat: The list of 2016 free agents will grow if some of the top players in a deep 2015 class take contracts with player options after one season, which is very likely.

That 2015 class, some of which will be available again in 2016, includes DeAndre Jordan, Rajon Rondo, Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Danny Green, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan, Goran Dragic, Marc Gasol, Manu Ginobili, Monta Ellis, Tyson Chandler, Thaddeus Young, Wesley Matthews, Rudy Gay, Corey Brewer, Amir Johnson, Robin Lopez and Brook Lopez and potentially, Love, Greg Monroe, Eric Bledsoe, Roy Hibbert and David West.

### If the cap rises as much as projected, the Heat would have enough to sign one max-caliber player and a pretty good player (or two good but not max players) in 2016 to complement Chris Bosh and Wade. But signing two new max-caliber players would be unrealistic because max contracts would rise significantly if the cap rises.

Cap expert Larry Coon said max contracts will increase from $3.8 million to $5.3 million per year (depending on years of experience) if the cap jumps by $15 million in 2016. That would make James and Howard eligible for potentially $27 million in 2016-17.

And with teams flush with cap space in 2016, there would be little incentive for a Horford or DeRozan to take substantially less to sign anywhere.

Besides Bosh at $23.7 million and Josh McRoberts at $5.7 million, the Heat’s only other cap commitments for 2016-17 are Shabazz Napier (team option at $1.3 million) and James Ennis, if still around, with a non-guaranteed $980,431.

The Heat’s flexibility will depend, to an extent, on whether Miami adds any long-term salary next summer (probably not much, if any) and whether Wade --- who’s curious to see what he can command with a higher cap --- would take another big cut from the $16.1 million he’s due in 2015-16.

Another factor: Will Bosh and Wade still be top players at that point, to the point that other stars want to join them here?

### What about accelerating the plan a year and making major upgrades next summer? That’s not how the Heat has positioned itself; Miami already has $74.3 million in 2015-16 commitments, with the cap projected to fall at $66.3 million.

That commitment number would fall if Luol Deng opts out of his $10.1 salary for 2015-16, if the Heat parts with Norris Cole (restricted free agent with a $3 million qualifying number next summer) and if Danny Granger ($2.2 million) opts out.

But that still wouldn’t be enough to be a major player in free agency next summer unless Wade opts out, which he sounds disinclined to do.

Riley could be tempted to blow it up a year earlier if this team flops. But he wouldn’t have the space to sign another star and he seems resolute about waiting to 2016.

The Heat will have a midlevel exception of close to $6 million next summer, with Amare Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer among those potentially shopping in that mid-level market.

### High-level Heat people have been telling people this team will surprise people and will be better than people think. We’ll see. One pointed to defensive deficiencies in Cleveland’s roster.

“There are a lot of people counting us out,” Udonis Haslem said last week. “We still think we can compete for the Eastern Conference title.”

### The Heat lost out in its pursuit of free agent forward Shawn Marion, who reportedly has agreed to terms with Cleveland.

### Ray Allen is understandably peeved that the Coral Gables police filed no criminal charges against the teenagers who walked univited into his home late Wednesday night. If you missed it, please see our post from Friday night to read Allen's comments and remarks from his attorney.

In response to Allen's comments, the Coral Gables PD said it's now working with the Allen family and the State Attorney's Office regarding the possible filing of charges.

Here's how the Gables PD responded this weekend to Allen's comments:

"After further investigation and completion of the suspect interviews, the detectives, following established procedure, consulted with the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office.  Upon learning from the detectives that, although the individuals had entered the residence, there was no proof that they had the intent to commit any crimes inside, the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office advised the detectives that no arrests should be made at that time, in that, the elements of a Burglary had not been met. 

"The Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office advised that the appropriate charge in this case was the crime of Trespass in an occupied structure, a misdemeanor.  Law enforcement officers are not permitted by Florida law to make an arrest for a Trespass of this nature unless the crime occurs in their presence. Accordingly, the Coral Gables Police Department is continuing to work with the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office and will work with the Allen Family regarding the filing of criminal charges."


### What if Jake Heaps (a former starter for BYU and Kansas) and freshman Brad Kaaya end up about even in the UM quarterback competition? “If it’s dead even, then the experience probably overrides not having it,” offensive coordinator James Coley said Friday.

Besides his ability to see the field, coaches love Kaaya’s instincts, accuracy and knack for escaping pressure with his feet. UM people cite Heaps’ pre-snap recognition among his greatest strengths.

Kaaya’s high school coach said he’s not a typical teenager. As Kaaya noted Friday: “I would stay up until 1 a.m. on school nights watching film in high school. I sacrificed having that social life and going out a lot.”

He was very superstitious earlier in his life --- he felt he needed to knock on wood four times before he put on his helmet --- but stopped doing that last year because “I figured I don’t need it. Let my talent just win games.”

Kaaya has established relationships with two Heisman Trophy winning UM quarterbacks: Vinny Testaverde (“I’ve talked to him a whole bunch”) and Gino Torretta (“he gave me good advice”). He studies New England’s Tom Brady a lot on tape because the Patriots “run a lot of our play fakes, play actions and protections.”

### As for Kevin Olsen, we hear his suspension was not an extension of last year’s bowl suspension but a new one for a new failed drug test.

For now, I’m definitely here longterm,” Olsen responded when I asked him about possibly transferring. An associate say Olsen was discouraged when Heaps was brought aboard, though Olsen insists he never viewed it as “a bad thing.”

### The representation for tight end Charles Clay, the Dolphins’ most important 2015 unrestricted free agent, has spoken to the team about a new deal, but said nothing has materialized. The Dolphins are holding off for now, though that could change at any time. Waiting, should they choose to continue to take that approach, would allow them to make sure his surgically-repaired knee (which was aggravated two weeks ago) holds up and that he repeats last season's breakout year.

Clay had much better numbers last year (69 catches for 759 yards) than Kyle Rudolph (30-313), who recently landed a five-year, $36 million deal with Minnesota.

Clay told The Palm Beach Post in Tampa on Saturday night that he definitely will be ready to play in the Dolphins' regular-season opener against New England.

### One Dolphins player said one reason the move of Koa Misi to middle linebacker was needed was that Dannell Ellerbe, now playing weakside, made mental errors and wasn’t quick enough in diagnosing plays and changing the calls at middle linebacker last season.

### Please see the last post for postscripts from the Dolphins-Tampa Bay preseason game.

### Perhaps the Marlins need to stop signing American League catchers coming off career seasons. They were convinced that Jarrod Saltalamacchia, 29, wouldn’t be anything like the John Buck disaster of 2011, but Saltalamacchia’s first season here (.219, 10 homers, 34 RBI and an MLB-catcher-high 12 errors) has been even worse than Buck’s first year here (.227, 16, 57, five errors).

What's more, Saltalamacchia is hitting just .165 with runners in scoring position. There also have been grumblings internally about his defense, but the Marlins believe he will be better next season after a full year in the National League.

If he’s not, they could eventually trade him back to an AL team (he’s due $7 million in 2015, $8 million in 2016), especially if well-regarded prospect J.T. Realmuto (.295, 6, 51 at Double A) keeps emerging. Realmuto easily has surpassed Rob Brantly (.259, 3, 31 at Triple A) as a prospect. “I would have expected better,” a National League scout said of Saltalamacchia. “His swing is too long.”

### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz... And again, please see last night's post for a lot more Dolphins chatter.

August 16, 2014

Postscripts, notes, quotes, thoughts from Dolphins' preseason victory against Tampa

Postscripts from the Dolphins’ 20-14 win at Tampa Bay in their second preseason game:

Yes, there was a lot to like, and we’ll get to that in a minute. First, five issues that should concern you:

### Has this team given any indication – ANY – that it’s capable of running the ball consistently? Last week, Miami averaged 2.5 yards per carry against Atlanta. On Saturday, the Dolphins lost five yards on nine first half carries (admittedly against a team that’s stout against the run), and finished with 46 yards on 26 attempts (1.8 per carry).

Yes, you would like to see Lamar Miller, Damien Williams and others break more tackles. The same obviously can be said for Daniel Thomas and Mike Gillislee, who both missed the game with hamstring issues.

But Buccaneers defensive players (primarily Gerald McCoy, but others too) too often shook blocks quickly, and too easily, on running plays. This happened during last season's game at Tampa, when the Dolphins mustered a humiliating two yards on 14 rushing attempts. And we saw it again tonight.

Perhaps Knowshon Moreno will make a difference. But the blocking needs to be better, especially from Thomas and Ja'Wuan James.

It’s worth noting that Shelley Smith, who cannot crack the starting lineup, is considered one of Miami’s best run-blockers. But he was partly to blame on a six-yard loss by Damien Williams on one running play.

Here were the final numbers from the Dolphins’ running backs: Miller 3 for 3; Cameron Marshall 4 for 11; Orleans Darkwa 6 for 11; Williams 11 for 20.

"We had way too many negative yardage plays in the running game," Joe Philbin said. "A lot of penetration. Guys in the backfield. Didn't establish an edge, got in our backfield way too much, way too much. I thought we would have more production in our run game. I know it's a very good front and well coached defense. But I thought we'd be better."

### You don’t want to overreact to Dallas Thomas’ horrific night because he isn’t going to face players of McCoy’s quality all that often. And yes, it was horrific --- beaten for a strip sack (Samson Satele provided no help), beaten for a quarterback hurry, beaten on at least two running plays for losses, and two penalties thrown in for good measure.

"There are a couple plays he has to block better on," Philbin understated.

But at the very least, Saturday’s developments should make the Dolphins reconsider their decision to move Smith to the second team. And Billy Turner played well at right guard tonight, with the major caveat that he wasn’t going up against McCoy. The Dolphins need to consider all three options. We assume they will. Philbin indicated afterward that the right guard job remains open.

### Can the starting linebackers ever make it through a half without doing something exasperating? On Saturday, defensive end Derrick Shelby’s third down sack was negated by a downfield holding penalty on linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, resulting in an automatic first down. It brought to mind Philip Wheeler's senseless and costly penalty in the fourth quarter of last year's game in Tampa.

### We agree with Armando Salguero’s assessment today that there has been no discernable improvement in Ryan Tannehill’s ability to connect with Mike Wallace on deep balls. Wallace said he cannot practice deep balls with Tannehill repeatedly after practice because it wouldn’t be healthy for his legs.

“I’m not about to sit out here and run 20 deep balls back-to-back to try to get timing," Wallace, who has battled occasional hamstring issues, said Aug. 5. I’m just not about to do it. Not that I don’t want to do it. It’s not healthy for my leg just to keep running deep balls trying to get a feel for it.

But how about just a few after every practice? That would be better than nothing, which is what they’re doing now.

Tannehill overthrew Wallace on their one deep ball attempt Saturday.

### The Dolphins love Jimmy Wilson as their nickel back. Not sure they’ll love him so much filling in for Reshad Jones during Jones’ four-game suspension.

After allowing a catch and missing a tackle against Mike Evans (resulting in another 30 yards of YAC), Wilson was very fortunate that Evans fumbled out of bounds (thanks to Brent Grimes hustling and dislodging the ball), negating a long touchdown.

But enough doom and gloom. Now the good news, and there was a lot of it:

### Aside from deep balls, Tannehill has been terrific this preseason. He followed last week’s 6 for 6 opener by going 9 for 14 for 110 yards and an 88.4 QB rating. The big blemish: fumbling on the McCoy sack, leading to Tampa’s first touchdown.

### Matt Moore solidified his hold on the backup quarterback job, leading the Dolphins’ offense to 17 points, including an impressive 9-play, 71-yard drive to close the first half. Moore’s final numbers: 13 for 19, 158 yards, one touchdown and a 111.3 rating.

"Matt threw the ball well," Philbin said.

### Brandon Gibson has regained his pre-injury form. He had two receptions for 28 yards and remains a clutch target on third down.

Others who caught more than one pass: Damian Williams (3-46); Rishard Matthews (3-43), Armon Binns (2-28), Kevin Cone (2-30), Lamar Miller (2-20), Brett Brackett (2-12).

### Will Davis played ahead of Jamar Taylor and impressed for the second consecutive week, with two pass breakups and generally tight coverage. When Davis entered, Cortland Finnegan moved inside to cover the slot receiver.

### Besides Davis, the work of some of the other young defenders was VERY encouraging. Jordan Tripp had a couple of tackles for very short gains.

Chris McCain got early work at linebacker (playing at one point alongside Ellerbe and Koa Misi) and made a few plays, including a stop on a running play for no gain.

Anthony Johnson drew a holding penalty.

Terence Fede had a sack and there’s no reason to believe he won’t be on the team.

Dion Jordan forced a fumble and had a sack.

### The Dolphins had five sacks, from Olivier Vernon, Jordan, Fede, Jared Odrick and Kemal Johnson.

### Misi had six tackles and played pretty well at middle linebacker.

### Caleb Sturgis re-aggravated his groin injury before the game, but the Dolphins might have found a capable replacement in John Potter, who nailed 48- and 51-yard field goals. This job has suddenly become a toss-up.


### Philbin said: "I didn't think our tackling was very good in the first half. We tackled better in the second half. Looked more like a football team. We threw the ball well. Thought we had some guys open."

### Charles Clay, Arthur Lynch, Moreno, Daniel Thomas, Gillislee, Harold Hoskins, Jason Fox, A.J. Francis and of course, Mike Pouncey all sat out.

### Nothing was learned in the kickoff and punt return battles. Marcus Thigpen left with a hamstring injury.

Damian Williams (the receiver) had Miami’s only punt return, for no yards. Jarvis Landry had the only kickoff return, for 25 yards.

### Brady Quinn played the fourth quarter, completing all four of his passes for 22 yards. "We felt very good about what he knew going into the game," Philbin said. "It didn't make a lot of sense to start chucking it a whole lot."

Please check back Sunday afternoon for the Sunday buzz column.

August 15, 2014

Midnight update: Ray Allen, wife speak out about home invasion; Notes, quotes, tidbits from UM's Media Day

Midnight update: Ray Allen, who is still deciding whether to play next season, and his wife are unhappy how local authorities and media reports have characterized what happened at his Coral Gable home very, very late Wednesday night/Thursday morning, when seven 18- and 19-year olds walked into their home.

Coral Gables police spokeswoman Kelly Denham said police did not charge the teenagers with burglary because there was no forced entry, no intent and nothing taken. The teenagers, who had been attending a party next door,, told police they were curious to see Allen's home and didn't believe anyone was inside.

Allen, who was not home at the time, has hired an attorney to handle the matter. Here's what Allen and his wife said late tonight in a joint statement:

“We want to correct the erroneous information being reported about the crime committed in our home this week. On Thursday morning at 2:30 a.m., my wife Shannon was awakened by loud voices in our bedroom where she had been sleeping with our four young children. 

"She heard male voices loudly discussing our personal property and sat up in a state of alarm to find at least five people inside our bedroom with large flashlights. She was immediately fearful for the safety of her own life, but more importantly the lives of our young children. When she screamed at them, the intruders quickly fled the scene and laughter was heard as they made their way out of our bedroom, down the stairs and out of our house.
"As these individuals were fleeing our house, Shannon immediately called security and the police for help. Shannon and I believe that a number of the public statements made through media outlets have mischaracterized certain important facts and what we believe to be the seriousness of this potentially devastating invasion upon our lives, home and family. 

"The suggestion that anyone can unlawfully enter into someone’s locked home and then into an occupied bedroom in the middle of the night without consequences is unsettling, regardless of the stated or actual reason for such unlawful entry. We are very fortunate that no one involved was physically harmed during this ordeal. Miami is our home and we are proud to be active members in this community. We pray that no one else has to endure this kind of intrusion on their home or their families' safety. Everyone deserves to feel safe in their own homes.  We have hired attorney Gregory Victor for representation in this matter.”

Victor said: “A serious crime was committed under Florida law.  A large number of young adults knowingly broke into Mr. and Mrs. Allen’s locked home on Thursday, August 14 at 2:30 a.m. and absolutely terrified their family.  The crime was not only egregious, but the police characterization of this as a silly prank is completely inappropriate. Every family deserves privacy and to feel safe in their own home. This violation of the Allen family was offensive. The reported intentions of these perpetrators as being simply voyeuristic in nature does not justify their conduct nor excuse them from the reasonable consequences of their reprehensible actions.

"We plan to meet with authorities promptly in order to seek the appropriate intervention of the criminal justice system and discuss the specific actions to be taken so that such unlawful conduct is not ignored and tolerated.”


Chatter from UM's annual "Media Day" earlier Friday:

### In his first media availability since coming to UM, Brad Kaaya left an impression with his poise and maturity, much as he has on the field.

Kaaya, running neck and neck with Jake Heaps for the starting quarterback job, has been working with UM receivers since May, and that --- plus his impressive skill set and the fact he studies “a lot” --- have put him in this position to have a legitimate chance to win the job.

He studied UM’s offense before he got here --- “I’m about the action” ---  and “doing those [summer throwing sessions with UM players] really helped me, so now I don’t have any jitters,” he said. “If somebody picks me off, I’m OK. Next play. There are no true freshman jitters…. It feels like my fourth time around doing it.

“It gets pretty hectic [on the field] at times, but you have to calm yourself down. Stay focused on the play. Execute. [Make] the right decision.”

How important is being the starter? “For us, it’s how can I contribute? If it’s me starting, so be it. If it’s me giving the signals, so be it. If it’s me redshirting, so be it.”

Said offensive coordinator James Coley: “He’s a different type of freshman. He comes across like a junior, who has done this before. I’ve been on him like a dog the last two days. We put a lot of pressure on him. He doesn’t melt. He handles pressure really well.”

As Kaaya said: “I came here to play football. I wasn’t coming to Miami to just enjoy the extra stuff that Miami has.”

### Al Golden, on Kaaya: “The first thing that helped him is he came in at 228, is 206 now. He's lighter on his feet, better in the pocket. No. 2, he loves the game. This guy loves football and has devoted all his time to it. He's made that commitment. And he's blessed in terms of his ability to see and his arm down the field. The biggest thing with him is his ability to conceptualize the play. He knows where the H is going to be, the tight end, his checkdown is going to be. A little calmness you don't normally see (with a freshman).”

### Ryan Williams said he “definitely wants” to be back for the Nebraska game Sept. 20, if not sooner, but also understands he’s not going to be handed the job. (That obviously would depend on how his replacement and the team are playing.)

 “Hopefully I can play sooner [than Nebraska]," said Williams, who had knee surgery in April. "We don’t know what game I will be cleared for. It’s only been a little over four months, but I’m happy with my progress. I haven’t done full team reps yet, so I don’t know if I can escape the pocket and run from people yet. Everything else I’ve done is pretty good.”

### A year ago, UM people hoped Michael Wyche could come in and seize the starting nose tackle job, but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen immediately, barring something unexpected. But he isn’t in the doghouse; UM knew the process of getting him into optimum condition would be delayed by the fact he couldn’t enroll here in the spring. 

Defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio confirmed that Wyche and Courtel Jenkins are “batting for third” string. “Calvin Heurtelou is the leader right now. Earl Moore is second.”

Wyche, who came to UM at 360 pounds, said Friday he’s at 340 but needs to get to 335. He knew this would be a process. “I’ve got five more pounds in me,” he said. “Everything is falling into place.” He said he still expects to emerge as a starter at some point.

When will Wyche be able to make an impact? “This is no way to predict that,” D’Onofrio said. “We are trying to get him to his optimum weight, try to get him to understand the defense daily. It’s a long season. He’ll give us valuable reps when the time comes.”

Wyche and/or Heurtelou and Jenkins need to be as good as advertised, because UM was 78th against the run last season. “Unacceptable,” Chickillo said of that ranking. “We’ve got to be better in that category and I think we will be.”

### Who has exceeded D’Onofrio’s expectations? D’Onofrio mentioned end Trent Harris, linebacker Nantambu Akil Fentress (“he plays at a whole other level with speed; you see him passing people up all day”) and Heurtelou (“he got energy, he plays with emotion.”)

Harris, who has bulked up from 222 to 237, surprisingly remains first team at defense end, ahead of Tyriq McCord and Al-Quadin Muhammad.

“When I first got here, Tyriq took me under his wing and taught me a lot,” he said.  Coaches say he’s a quicker learner, follows his assignments and has been an effective pass-rusher.

Alabama offered Harris, who was a three-star prospect out of Winter Park, but he said he didn’t seriously consider it.

### Players can’t say enough about Dallas Crawford, who will bring physicality and instinctive play to safety. He’s close to nailing down a starting job.

Crawford is glad he made the move from running back; he believes he’s better at safety, having played there in high school.

“We thought he could be a starting safety,” D’Onofrio said. “He has shown us he can be.”

Or, as Ladarius Gunter said, Dallas “has brought excitement to [our secondary]. He can do it all.”

Where does Crawford excel? “Recognizing the formations and tackling,” he said. Don’t underestimate the second--- tackling has been an issue for UM’s defense.

### Prized five-star recruit Chad Thomas, who’s backing up Anthony Chickillo, said he hoped to start as a freshman, and still does. But what if he only ends up playing on third down?

“That would be a blessing just playing on third down," he answered. "I would like to get in more plays but I’ve got to wait my turn. I’m acting like a starter even though I’m not.”

Al Golden said he’s still in the mix for first and second down reps, besides an expected role on third down.

Since leaving Booker T. Washington, Thomas has gained 20 pounds and is now 260. “I’m way faster than high school. I have more power than I had in high school. I’m moving at a faster pace.”

Thomas said he’s comfortable when UM shifts him from end to tackle. “My whole senior year of high school, I played tackle.  I know how to rush against a guard or center…. It’s been a great learning experience, competing against the older guys with the second team.”

One lesson he has learned: “Don’t use my high school tendencies. Don’t use the same moves. I’ve got to rely on more moves.”

### UM wants to spot in speedy Trayone Gray, but only if he can pick up the system. “He’s behind but he’s definitely talented enough,” James Coley said. “Kind of like Gus Edwards was last year, because he wasn’t here throughout the summer. The moment it starts clicking, where you don’t have coach behind him telling him where to go every play, then he’s definitely talented enough” to contribute right away.

### Keep hearing lots of positive feedback on freshman receivers; Braxton Berrios is “as advertised,” James Coley said. And Tyre Brady, 6-3, has flashed an interesting skill set. One could get in the rotation with Rashawn Scott out indefinitely with an upper body injury (though not for the season, Golden said).

Receivers coach Brennan Carroll said Berrios’ return “is about as quick as you can get a kid back from that injury. He’s done a phenomenal job with his preparation and made the most of his opportunities. He’s quick, has got really good hands, has a great feel for routes, spacing, being in the right place. We’re going to try to find the best ways to use him.”

And Tyre Brady? “Big receiver,” Carroll said. "He’s done a good job. We’ve been a smaller unit, so he lengthens us out a little bit.”

### Muhammed expects to be a better rusher because “I’m definitely a lot stronger. Maybe 15 pounds heavier. I learned a lot. It wasn’t a bad year. Could I have done better in some aspects? Yes. But it wasn’t a bad year. I definitely think I’m going to be a better player.”

### I asked a bunch of defensive players for tangible reasons their unit will be better. Among reasons cited: Crawford, the new defensive tackles, strong secondary, the new pass rushers.

Plus, “we’re a lot more mature,” Anthony Chickillo said. “A lot stronger up front. Guys are understanding the defense and why we do things in certain situations.” Chickillo, who arrived at UM at 240 pounds, is now 280 but “I’m running the best I’ve run.”

### Joe Yearby said his surgically-repaired ankle is 90 percent. He already has surpassed Gus Edwards on the depth chart.

We'll run more tidbits from media day in buzz columns over the next week or two.          

August 14, 2014

A dozen notes from Dolphins' final training camp practice; Lots of Thursday broadcast news

Nuggets from the Dolphins' final training camp practice:

### Mike Pouncey, making good progress in his recovery from June hip surgery, said Thursday he prefers not to begin the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list because that would eliminate any chance of playing before the seventh game of the season.

Pouncey said there’s “no question” that playing at some point in the first six games is realistic, though he declined to give a target date.

“We had a couple discussions about it,” he said of the PUP possibility. “I’m just letting them make the decision. I hope I’m not on PUP, but it’s not up to me. I want to play.”

Pouncey said his recovery has gone as well as can be expected. Privately, Dolphins officials also are encouraged by his progress.

“I’m going to keep doing my rehab and letting it get stronger each week and just waiting for the coaches to tell me when to play,” he said.

###  The Dolphins have been pleased by the development of rookie Walt Aikens, who has consistently been getting second-team snaps at free safety, often alongside Michael Thomas, and ahead of Don Jones and Jordan Kovacs.

Aikens, 6-1, played cornerback at Liberty last season but was a safety when he started his career at Illinois. He said the Dolphins are still giving him some snaps at cornerback.

“I am loving the transition,” he said. “The fact I can cover as a corner and transition into safety makes it a little bit easier. I am covering tight ends that are not as fast as No. 1 receivers. It’s great. I can read the whole offense now and see it from a different perspective.    [Defensive coordinator Kevin] Coyle stays on me. He’s correcting the mental errors I have.”

### Coach Joe Philbin said Knowshon Moreno, back from knee surgery, “is starting to look like kind of his old self” in the running game but stopped short of saying he would play Saturday in Tampa. “I don’t know about the passing game quite yet…. He’s looking better.”

### Though the Dolphins don’t seem too worried at this point, Philbin was non-committal when asked whether Charles Clay’s knee injury could put him at risk of missing the start of the season. “He’s day to day,” Philbin said. “The longer you’re out, the more of a period of getting acclimated back into football. I’d love to have him out here as soon as possible.” 

### Rishard Matthews, who displeased coaches at times in the past, said he expects to make the team in a crowded receiver competition. “It’s about being mature and growing up. I believe I’ve done that. It’s about consistency. Sometimes, I make good plays. The next day, I would be [subpar]. I knew I had to show the coaches I can get better. I think I’m doing that.”

### Before his 48-yard punt return against Atlanta, Jarvis Landry said he hadn’t returned a punt since his sophomore year at LSU. And he said he had never returned a kickoff before last Friday.

“It’s fun because you know you’re going to get the ball,” said Landry, who’s competing with Marcus Thigpen, among others, for the job.

### Notable from the final practice that will be open to the public this year (and the last one open to the media beyond the first 30 minutes): Caleb Sturgis, back from a groin injury, hit a 44-yard field goal while Danny Hrapman missed from 47 and from 42 yards… In 11 on 11 drills, Brent Grimes broke up Ryan Tannehill’s slightly underthrown deep ball to Mike Wallace. But Tannehill delivered a beautiful strike to Wallace on a deep ball, against Grimes, in 1 on 1 drills….

Linebacker Jordan Tripp got a bit of work with the starters in place of Dannell Ellerbe… Brady Quinn’s accuracy remained erratic in his second Dolphins practice. Matt Moore threw the ball well… Damien Williams, the undrafted Oklahoma running back, continues to impress in the passing game. He made a long gain today with a nifty over-the-shoulder catch…. In assessing his tight ends, Philbin withheld praise for Michael Egnew, who has been largely invisible since returning from a concussion this week. The next two games are big for Egnew’s roster chances.


Three notable broadcasting personnel moves today:

### Hall of Famer Denis Potvin, surprisingly dropped as the Florida Panthers' TV analyst after 16 years, has been re-hired in the same role, alongside Steve Goldstein. Potvin, who spent the past four years with the Ottawa Senators, replaces Bill Lindsay, who was shifted to a studio and behind-the-bench role. Potvin never deserved to be fired four years ago.

### Courtney Fallon, the No. 2 sportscaster at NBC 6, said she’s leaving to take a job at CBS Sports Network, where she will be a college football sideline reporter this fall. Her last day is Aug. 31.

She said she couldn't do both jobs partly because "travel demands this fall are too high."

She will primarily report on Army games, with some other assignments as well.

NBC-6 will look for a new No. 2 sportscaster to back up Joe Rose, who also hosts a radio show on WQAM-560 and works Dolphins games on WINZ-940.

### Showtime made dramatic changes to the cast of Inside the NFL and announced the program will air at 9 p.m. Tuesdays, a day earlier than past years.

Bears receiver Brandon Marshall will become the first active NFL player to appear as a regular studio analyst on a network show, which will require him to fly from Chicago to New York for Tuesday tapings.

Phil Simms, Ed Reed and Boomer Esiason will be the other analysts besides Marshall. Cris Collinsworth left the program to cut down on his travel.

Greg Gumbel is replacing James Brown as host, with Brown relinquishing the job because he’s adding CBS/NFL Network Thursday studio duties to his Sunday studio gig.