3 p.m. Monday update: Might the Dolphins move Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey from center --- where he has played his entire NFL career -- to guard, where he excelled at the University of Florida? Pouncey said Monday that option is now a possibility and playing guard would be "fine with me."
Pouncey told me he took first-team practice reps at both center and guard today.
The Dolphins would like to get their five best linemen on the field Sunday against Green Bay and that appears to have them considering a lineup with Samson Satele remaining at center and Pouncey playing right guard, instead of Dallas Thomas or Shelley Smith (who is returning from a knee injury).
Pouncey, who missed the first four games while recovering from June hip surgery, said the Dolphins have not made a decision about his position and said the decision ultimately would come down to his comfort level with the switch, coupled with what coaches believe is "best for the team."
Though he hasn't played guard since his days at UF, Pouncey said guard "is easier" than center. "Guard's my position," he said. "I was kind of forced to play center when I got drafted. Guard's been the position I've played my whole life."
Pouncey practiced without limitations today and said if there were a game today: "I think I can play and play really well.... I felt great, as happy as I've been in a while."
Pouncey played right guard as a sophomore and junior at UF before switching to center as a senior, replacing twin brother Maurkice Pouncey, who graduated.
### The Dolphins released running back Orleans Darwkwa and signed receiver Damian Williams, who was cut in late August. Reshad Jones was reinstated from the suspension list to the 53-man roster, with Derrick Shelby doing the opposite.
### As we told you last week, Knowshon Moreno was indeed joking when he told reporters he would be out another month. He practiced today with a protective covering on his elbow and hopes to play Sunday, though he's still not 100 percent.
SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN
The Dolphins have been fortunate in that they haven’t faced any currently-elite quarterbacks in their first four games, considering Tom Brady entered Sunday night's game with a passer rating below Ryan Tannehill’s. But that’s about to change.
Over the next seven weeks, Miami will oppose five quarterbacks in the NFL’s top half: Aaron Rodgers, who is first in NFL passer rating (his Packers visit Sun Life Stadium next Sunday), Chicago’s Jay Cutler; San Diego’s Phillip Rivers (second in passer rating), Detroit’s Matthew Stafford and Denver’s Peyton Manning (fifth).
Here’s the encouraging news, besides the fact the Dolphins get safety Reshad Jones back from suspension: Since the start of last season, the Dolphins have played 11 games against highly-regarded quarterbacks and done good work against nine of them. In eight of those 11 games, the opposing quarterback produced passer ratings worse, often much worse, against Miami than overall for the season.
Of the other three, Joe Flacco had a poor 73 rating both against Miami and overall in 2013, but Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger blitzed Miami, with Brees posting a 144.5 rating in a blowout win and Roethlisberger a 114.2 in a loss.
In their other games against franchise-type quarterbacks since 2013, Andrew Luck mustered just a 79.7 rating, Matt Ryan an 84.4, Andy Dalton 55.4, Rivers 90.1 (well below his 105.5 last season), Cam Newton 60.6 and Brady 69.5, 85.7 and 69.7.
And this Dolphins secondary, on paper, should be better than last year’s. Problem is, Rodgers is better than most or all of the aforementioned quarterbacks, even though safety Louis Delmas angrily dismissed a Rodgers-related query by saying “we don’t give a damn who we play.”
### Besides Rodgers’ greatness, this is troubling: The Dolphins’ defensive backs’ track record against Rodgers isn’t good. (They’re hardly alone in that regard.)
Grimes, Miami’s best cornerback, has been eviscerated in four meetings against Rodgers as a member of the Falcons, allowing 24 of 30 passes thrown against him to be caught for 319 yards and two touchdowns.
The last time Delmas faced Rodgers (Week 5 last season), he was burned for an 83-yard touchdown pass against James Jones, who’s now with Oakland. Finnegan has faced Rodgers twice and been beaten for 9 completions in 15 attempts for 135 yards.
### The Dolphins are a strong sixth in passing yards allowed per game (215) and third in passing yards allowed per play but are giving up a fairly high completion rate, including 13 for 19 against Finnegan and 9 for 12 against Jimmy Wilson.
### If Dolphins owner Stephen Ross makes a coaching change after the season, everybody knows he will pursue Jim Harbaugh, who probably won’t return to San Francisco even though he’s under contract through 2015, according to Fox’s Jay Glazer. In fact, Glazer said today that Harbaugh won't return next season even if the 49ers win the Super Bowl, and ESPN's Adam Schefter said Harbaugh started losing support with his players when he wasn't truthful with former starter Alex Smith about his previous pursuit of Peyton Manning.
Amid reports that players have soured on Harbaugh, 49ers and ex-Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin chimed in, calling Harbaugh his best coach ever “even though he might be cheesy at times with slogans and sayings.”
But if Philbin is fired and the Dolphins cannot land Harbaugh, expect Dolphins consultant/sports agent Mike Tannenbaum --- who is respected by high-level Ross executive and former Jets colleague Matt Higgins --– to recommend two of his well-regarded clients: Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.
### CBS announcers were mystified when Grimes ran off the field in London to hand-deliver an interception to someone. It was Grimes’ wife, Miko, who requests that he bring all of his interceptions to her immediately afterward if possible. Grimes said she has all 18 of them; they’re in boxes but eventually will be displayed at their home.
### So when Patriots coach Bill Belichick signs former Dolphins players before playing Miami, as he did with Marcus Thigpen and Don Jones, just how much “inside information” do the Patriots seek from them?
Thipgen, back with Miami, said his Patriots position coach asked him for the Dolphins’ offensive hands signals, but Thipgen told him the Dolphins don’t have any. A Patriots defensive coach asked
Thigpen to break down tendencies of the Dolphins receivers. But Belichick didn’t get directly involved.
### If the Marlins keep virtually all of their team together before making a few additions, their projected payroll would be close to $55 million, leaving them without enough to add a high-impact hitter and a cheap fifth starter if they stick with their initial plans to have a payroll at $60 million or slightly higher.
So in order to try to sign perhaps Michael Cuddyer or Michael Morse to play first base and have a little money left, Jeffrey Loria either will need to add a bit more to payroll (which he did last year for Jeff Baker and Carlos Marmol); or the Marlins will need to dump salary, either by finding a team willing to cover part of Garrett Jones’ $5 million salary or Jarrod Saltalmacchia’s $7 million in a trade (good luck with that), trading Steve Cishek or Mike Dunn, who could make $6 million and $2 million in arbitration; or declining the option on catcher Jeff Mathis ($2.1 million), who they value.
### Heat guard Dwyane Wade, a career 28.9 percent three-pointer shooter, said he intends to take more corner threes this season.
“I’m not falling in love with the three but [will be] shooting it more than the last couple of years,” he said. “Coach hasn’t told me I could shoot threes the last couple years. So just him saying that is a different mindset.”
Wade took 206 threes in his first season alongside LeBron James and Chris Bosh but just 56, 66 and 32 the past three. One factor that works against him? “I don’t have a quick release.” But he worked this year with James Jones (now with Cleveland) on his three-point footwork.
### Most encouraging sign of the first week of Heat camp and the preseason opener? The bench will have some offensive punch, if what we're seeing is a harbinger for Danny Granger (responding well after a summer knee operation) journeyman Shawne Williams (17 points in the scrimmage, 12 points against New Orleans) and James Ennis, who had 17 points and six boards against the Pelicans Saturday and is making an early case to be in the rotation.
### The Heat sees James on a court for the first time since his departure when the Heat and Cavaliers practice and play in Brazil this week. And though Miami has moved on, there are some inside the Heat who believe James should have handled his exit better by not ignoring Pat Riley’s calls and emails to him during free agency. And some suspect LeBron already had made up his mind when he had Riley travel cross-country to Las Vegas to meet with him.
James now admits playing back home wasn’t the only reason he left but “95 percent”; he also identified playing with Kyrie Irving as an incentive. Though Stephen A. Smith correctly noted James wanted more high-end seats for his friends than the Heat gave to his demanding entourage, a friend insisted that didn’t drive him away.
James, incidentally, has put his furnished Coconut Grove home on the market for $17 million but is maintaining a small South Florida presence by keeping his half ownership in Unknwn, a retail store in Aventura, while his wife retains her juice bar on Brickell. James also has an ownership interest in Blaze Pizza, which is opening stores in Broward and Palm Beach.
### Asked Sunday why UM didn't stack the box more Saturday against Georgia Tech, Al Golden said: "This is the best way to play them in our opinion."... He said nothing to suggest that he believes Miami's schemes need to be changed. Instead, as usual, he blamed "execution" for Miami's inability to stop Georgia Tech from converting on third down... Golden said he wants to keep this loss in perspective, noting that Georgia Tech's point total was fewest it has scored against Miami in three years."... Asked about fan anger, he said: "I don't listen to anything."