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Noon Wednesday Dolphins news; Fins front office talk; Kaaya/UM chatter; Heat; Marlins

A quick noon Wednesday Dolphins update:

### Former Oregon star running back LaMichael James, signed to the Dolphins ' practice squad Tuesday, said the Dolphins have given him no assurances he will be promoted to the 53-man roster but believes his skills are well suited to Miami's offensive system.

"I feel I can do some things to help the offense," he said. "I really like the zone offense scheme. I want to come in here and try to earn a job. The main thing is getting used to the weather."

James had a standing offer to join the Dolphins' practice squad since working out for them two weeks ago. He initially waited to see if a spot on a 53-man roster opened in the league but decided this week to call the Dolphins and accept the practice squad offer.

"I told them I was all in, ready to be a Fin," he said. "[Assistant GM] Eric Stokes was really positive with me. Really made me feel comfortable."

I asked him if the Dolphins gave him any idea of the likelihood of being promoted to the 53-man roster.

"It depends on me, how hard I work in practice, how I prepare myself each day," he said. "I'm not a rookie. I know how it works. Coming here with a positive attitude. Being on the practice squad is good for me. I think I will benefit from it for a little bit.

"Come time when I get moved up, I'll be ready to play. Nothing is given. It's not fair to all the other guys who have been here through training camp and the offseason. I can't come in here and say I was drafted in the second round and say it's time to go. I've got to learn the offense and get used to the Florida heat, develop a relationship with the coaches and get a feel for it."

James requested his release from the 49ers after the season opener because he wanted more of an opportunity but declined on Wednesday to discuss specifics of his departure. He got only 41 rushing attempts in two-plus seasons for San Francisco and averaged 4.5 yards per carry.

"I don't feel like I have anything to prove," he said.

The 49ers gave him more of an opportunity on special teams than on offense and he averaged 28.4 yards on 26 career kickoff returns and had a 10.9 average on 23 punt returns. He ranked 10th in the league in punt return average last season.

He said the Dolphins will allow him to handle some returns in practice. Jarvis Landry, who has fumbled twice on punt returns, said he believes he's still the team's primary returner heading into the Oct. 12 Green Bay game. 

Besides James, Marcus Thigpen --- the Dolphins' primary returner the past two seasons --- is also on the team's practice squad.

“He’s got a lot of skill," Joe Philbin said of James. "He’s a talented guy. He’s got good ball skills. He’s got speed. We just got him out there today. We’ll have a chance to work with him a little bit and see what comes of it, but we like his athleticism, his playmaking ability. He’s got hands and he can run. We’ll take a look at him.”

James, who finished third in 2010 Heisman Trophy ballotting, is the sixth running back under contract with the Dolphins. The five others are on the 53-man roster, including Knowshon Moreno, who is expected to return at some point in October from an elbow injury.

#### Defensive end Gerald Rivers was released from the practice squad to make room for James.

### Each of the last two days, Moreno told different reporters from two different newspapers that he will miss another month. The Palm Beach Post, which does a good job covering the Dolphins, reported those quotes today.

When Moreno told me that yesterday, I concluded his tongue was planted firmly in cheek for several reasons: 1) A Dolphins public relations official who heard the exchange believed he was messing around and not being serious at all. 2) He insisted he was in horrible pain, which clearly isn't the case. 3) He had firmly told reporters previously that he didn't want to discuss a timetable.

So what's the truth here? Moreno originally told at least one teammate he hoped to return for the Oct. 12 Green Bay game. But since that time, a Dolphins front-office official has told others that they expect Moreno to possibly miss a couple more weeks. The Dolphins remain hopeful he will return at some point in October.

### Moreno and Randy Starks were the only Dolphins who sat out the portion of practice open to the media. It remains uncertain if Starks could be ready for the Green Bay game, but he said the injury is not a longterm thing.

The Oakland game was the first one he has missed in six-plus seasons as a Dolphin. "Weird feeling," he said. "It's a feeling I don't want to happen again. I went a long time without missing a game."

### Dolphins players will get the next four days off.


Some Tuesday night news and notes:

### Remember how last year's Dolphins draft class played the fewest snaps of any team in football (867)? Thanks largely to Ja’Wuan James (who has been very solid at right tackle) and Jarvis Landry, the Dolphins’ rookie draft class is on pace to surpass that snap total by early November.

They're at 483 offensive/defensive snaps in four games. Excluding special teams, James has played 302 snaps, Landry 141, Terrence Fede 26, Walt Aikens 10 and Jordan Tripp 4. Fede and Tripp made their regular-season debuts against Oakland after dealing with injuries.

The Dolphins are very pleased with James. He has allowed only one sack, graded out well as a run-blocker and is ranked 20th among all tackles by Pro Football Focus.

James, selected 19th in the draft, already has been a huge upgrade over Tyson Clabo, who allowed 11 sacks last season, and Jonathan Martin, who already has given up three sacks for the 49ers.

"He carries himself like a veteran," center Samson Satele said.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins have given 123 offensive or defensive snaps to five undrafted rookies: defensive tackle Anthony Johnson (who has 50 snaps), running back Damian Williams (31 snaps), running back Orleans Darkwa (13), tight end Gator Hoskins (12) and linebacker Chris McCain (17 snaps).

McCain had a sack in the opener but has played only two defensive snaps since and did not accompany the team to London because of a death in the family.

### According to a source with direct knowledge, there is no truth to a CBS report of friction between Philbin and team executive Dawn Aponte. Their relationship remains strong and their job duties do not put them in position for conflict.

And contrary to Jason LaCanfora's report, it was owner Stephen Ross – not Aponte --- who hired former Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum as a consultant.

Aponte and Tannenbaum get along well, but her job does not entail hiring of consultants. That’s Ross’ domain as owner.

Aponte reports to GM Dennis Hickey, who reports to Ross. And Philbin also reports to the owner. It’s a simple structure that has worked well since Hickey came on board, because Hickey has shown a willingness to get Philbin’s input on personnel.

Though Philbin and Jeff Ireland didn’t see eye to eye, Philbin and Hickey are getting along fine, according to the source with direct knowledge.

Philbin’s biggest challenge is whether he wins enough games this season to earn a fourth season as coach. But there are no ongoing office politics that are going to doom Philbin, contrary to that CBS report.

LaCanfora does some good work, but he has irked the Dolphins with several other inaccurate stories about them, including his persistent reports in March and April that the Dolphins were trying to trade Mike Wallace.  

### As part of doing due diligence on available players, the Dolphins on Tuesday auditioned veteran linebacker Desmond Bishop, who has started 27 games (mostly for Green Bay) in six seasons. He played four games for Minnesota last season and was cut by Arizona on Sept. 6. He has nine career sacks and eight forced fumbles.

### Please see the last post for a ton more Tuesday Dolphins news, including the team signing LaMichael James to the practice squad and Reshad Jones' comments about his return from suspension.

### Thanks in part to his deft touch on deep balls, UM’s Brad Kaaya is averaging more yards per attempt (8.4) than 100 of 125 other major college quarterbacks. And that 8.4 is barely behind two quarterbacks projected to be second-round draft picks next May: Baylor’s Bryce Petty and Stanford’s Kevin Hogan, and much better than potential second-rounder Sean Mannion of Oregon State.

What’s more, Kaaya’s 149.5 passer rating ranks 37th of 126 nationally. His work ethic is so impressive that on an off day, he popped his head in the coaches’ offices at 9 p.m. Sunday to start preparing for Saturday’s game.

### One of the most disappointing areas for UM this season has been the return game.

UM is averaging just 7.2 yards on punts. Stacey Coley has nine for 87, Braxton Berrios 4 for 20 and Phillip Dorsett one for minus six.

And UM is averaging just 18.6 yards on kickoff returns. Coley has six for 138, Dorsett 4 for 55, Artie Burns 1 for 27 and Walter Tucker 1 for 3.

"We're working on it very hard," Al Golden said of the return game. "We have to coach it better, execute it better, have to give them a little bit more room to run and then the returners have to hit it."

### ESPN’s Todd McShay envisions UM linebacker Denzel Perryman as a late first-rounder, but not everyone is convinced. “He’s a third-, fourth-round pick,” draft analyst Tony Pauline said. “He’s not [above] six feet, which will turn a lot of people off. How does he defend 6-5 tight ends?”…

Pauline calls junior Duke Johnson a top 40 pick, receiver Phillip Dorsett a second- or third-rounder, defensive end Anthony Chickillo a mid-to-late round pick, and center Shane McDermott and tight end Clive Walford late-round picks.

### Most questionable decision of the Heat’s off-season? Giving guaranteed money to 6-9 forward Shawne Williams to assume the Michael Beasley role.

Williams has had only one good season; he shot 40 percent for the Knicks on three-pointers (85 for 212) in 2010-11. In his five other seasons, he’s 126 for 422 on threes (29.8 percent).

But he excelled during an offseason Heat audition that also featured swingman Chris Douglas Roberts and guard MarShon Brooks.

“I impressed the Heat with my toughness,” Williams said. “People try to marginalize me by calling me a stretch-four but there’s more to my game. They’ve talked to me about playing four positions [everything except point guard]. They’ve even talked about me playing some [center]; I guarded Dwight Howard when I played for the Knicks.”

### Shannon Brown has a leg up in the battle for the backup shooting guard job. “I’m surprised we were able to get him,” Chris Bosh said. “He’s going to be a very good player for us.”

### If the Marlins can somehow lure Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval (.279, 16, 73) in free agency, they would be more likely to keep Casey McGehee at third, where he led the league in fielding percentage, and use Sandoval at first than vice versa. There are also a few appealing first base options, including Michael Cuddyer….

Though the Marlins would consider signing a free agent left fielder and moving Christian Yelich to first as a last resort, Yelich said he wants to remain in left. The Marlins' preference is to sign a first baseman who could replace Garrett Jones.

Please follow me on Twitter (@flasportsbuzz) for immediate links on new posts, and check out the last post for more Dolphins and Canes.