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Saturday morning report: Dolphins tidbits, Encouraging news for Heat; Panthers' future

Some Saturday morning notes:

### As he prepares to meet the Dolphins Sunday, Brandon Marshall said this week that if he were starting a franchise, he would select Brent Grimes and Chicago rookie Kyle Fuller as his cornerbacks.

Grimes remains one of Miami’s most valuable players, but the opposing quarterback's passer rating in his coverage area has risen dramatically, from 66.3 last season (one of the best numbers in the league for a cornerback) to 91.2 so far this season.

Last season, Pro Football Focus ranked him second among all corners. This season, he’s 38th of 103.

Asked if he’s playing at the same level as last season, Grimes said: “I’ve been playing well. Coaches and opposing teams feel the same way.”

According to Grimes, Aaron Rodgers told him --- both during and after the game --- that he has great respect for him.

### Derrick Shelby said he’s trying to get the Dolphins to give him the week’s pay they took away from him during his suspension. The union is involved.

### While a few former Dolphins have given up a number of sacks (Jake Long has allowed three, Jonathan Martin four so far this season), it's encouraging to see rookie right tackle Ja'Wuan James has been beaten for only one sack in five games. Branden Albert has allowed two and his run blocking has been very good.

### How in the world did the NFL come up with this odd number ($8268) as the amount it fined Jarvis Landry on Friday for a face-mask on Casey Hayward during last Sunday's Green Bay game?

A fine for that type of infraction was $7,500 in 2011, but twice has been increased by 5 percent since, according to terms of the labor agreement. Thus, $8268.... Landry, incidentally, has risen to second in the league in kickoff return average.

### The defensive backs that the Dolphins parted ways with over the offseason have essentially disappeared or been marginalized. Dimitri Patterson is out of the league; he reportedly won't consider any offer at the veteran's minimum. Chris Clemons remains unemployed. And Nolan Carroll has played limited snaps for the Eagles.

### On Sunday, in a game featuring three high-end receivers (Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Mike Wallace), the player who will enter leading the league in receptions is Bears running back Matt Forte (46 for 376).

As a runner, though, Forte has been inconsistent. He had 23 for 122 vs. Green Bay and 17 for 80 vs. Atlanta last week but 13 for 33 vs. the Jets and 12 for 21 vs. the 49ers.

By the way, the Dolphins defense ranks seventh in the league --- 13th against the run, eighth against the pass.

### In case you missed it, Jimmy Wilson is doubtful for Sunday with a hamstring and Samson Satele is questionable with a hamstring. Satele said Wednesday that he would play against Chicago, which would keep Mike Pouncey at right guard.

But if coaches believe the hamstring would make Satele ineffective, they can move Pouncey back to center and play Shelley Smith at guard. Pouncey said he took snaps at both positions this week.

The Bears will be without two starters on defense: Lance Briggs and Chris Conte.


### A few thoughts from the Heat’s 115-108 win against Golden State Friday night in Kansas City, Miami's first victory of preseason: The Heat closed the game on a 24-11 run, achieved with a lineup of Mario Chalmers (his best game of preseason), Shabazz Napier (who continues to improve), Shawne Williams (a possible opening night starter), Chris Bosh (21 points, 7 boards) and James Ennis (whose energy and athleticism gave this team something needed)….

By losing 20 pounds over the summer and playing in this system, the Heat hopes Williams will transform from an erratic journeyman to a reliable rotation player. So far, the signs are encouraging; starting at power forward, he had 19 points and seven rebounds and hit all five of his threes. He could start there opening night if the Heat decides to ease Josh McRoberts back into the lineup after toe and back injuries….

Luol Deng was very good, scoring 19 on 8 for 11 shooting in 26 minutes… Chalmers again played off the bench, and most of his minutes were at shooting guard. He had 13 points, five boards and two steals in 20 minutes, making a real impact during that late Heat rally…. The Heat continues to do some of its best work with Ennis and Napier on the floor. Ennis (eight points) was a plus 15 in 25 minutes and Napier (14 points, 4 of 10 shooting) a plus 13 in 27 minutes.

### I wrote a comprehensive story on the future of the Florida Panthers that will be on the Herald website later this weekend; we encourage you to read it. A couple of noteworthy points:

Co-owner Doug Cifu, on why the team eliminated the ticket giveaways and reductions --– a strategy that has led to record-low attendance the first two games: 

"You had season seat holders who were paying $45 for a seat in the lower bowl and sitting next to a guy who came in and paid $10 on Stubhub,” Cifu said. “That’s not right. I went to five season-ticket holder forums and one of the complaints was, ‘You want me to make a commitment and you are giving me a purported discount on seats, and I look at Stubhub and for [most games], I can buy the same seat on the secondary market for the same price or a discount.’

“We were not doing ourselves a service by floating all those seats out there. It damaged the integrity of the pricing for the real Panther fans who made a real commitment.”

Cifu said he’s disappointed but not surprised by the attendance drop.

Might the Panthers reverse the policy if ticket sales don’t pick up?

“Not a chance,” Cifu said. “Our conclusion having talked to the league is that our brand had been damaged and our loyal fans were very unhappy with the pricing differential.”…

Also, the Panthers are asking Broward for a $78.4 million bailout. Of the six current commissioners who will be in office when it’s voted on next spring, three told me they are opposed to the current proposal, two said they are undecided, and one (Stacy Ritter) can’t vote because her husband is a lobbyist for the team.

Three other commissioners will be determined based on upcoming elections. To pass, the Panthers’ proposal would need be to be approved by five of the nine commissioners. There assuredly will be more negotiations before a proposal is put up to vote.

Cifu said the Panthers won’t move the team if the bailout is rejected, but that the current business model wouldn’t be sustainable in that scenario. The team has 14 years left on its arena lease, and an owner could move the team during that time only if he pays off the team's financial obligation to the county. Cifu said he and Vinnie Viola have no intentions of moving the team.

My story will have more details on the team's future, for those interested in the topic.

### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz