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Saturday: Ex-Heat player arrested for fraud; Dolphins coaches opine on issues; Heat nuggets; NFL players go homeless (briefly)

One quick item from this morning regarding a familiar name:

Chris Gatling, who played 78 games for the Heat and was a member of the team on three different occasions many years ago, was arrested in Scottsdale, Arizona on Thursday, on allegations that he masterminded an illegel credit card and identity theft scam, according to TMZ.

This wasn't his first brush with the law; he was arrested on theft and forgery charges two years ago.

Here's the TMZ link with details:


Gatling came over to the Heat in the Tim Hardaway trade in February 1996 and averaged 15.2 points in 24 late-season games for Miami in 1995-96.

The Heat acquired him twice more --- once, via trade, when he was on the team for just two months before being traded again, and another in time in 2001. He played 54 games in that final stint with Miami in 2001-02. The former All-Star played 11 years in the league.


A six-pack of notes on a Friday night:

We shared some insights from Dolphins offensive line coach John Benton in a post on Tuesday. Here are a few more notable comments from Dolphins coaches this week:

### Special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi told The Finsiders’ Greg Likens that there’s still faith in Caleb Sturgis, who finished 29th and 28th in field goal percentage his first two seasons and is now being challenged by RPI rookie Andrew Franks, who’s an underdog in this race.

“Caleb is a talented player; he hasn't lost that talent,” Rizzi said. “The first thing Caleb would tell you is he hasn't been as consistent as he's wanted to be. His injuries have hampered him a little bit…. It's been a little bit of a rollercoaster. He has been working his tail off. I haven’t seen a guy in the building more than him this offseason. I still think the arrow is up on this guy.”

### Incumbent Jarvis Landry, Alabama rookie Christion Jones (who returned two punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns at Alabama) and Kenny Stills all worked on returns this week, and Rizzi spoke of the challenges of using Landry both at receiver and in the return game.

“Obviously we know what he means to the offense,” Rizzi said. “He’s a valuable offensive player. And that is a delicate balance. It’s one of your jobs as a special teams coach to know how much play time the offensive and defensive starters are getting and factor that in.

"We’re trying to develop more of a stable of returners so we can have a little deeper pool. A guy like Damien Williams we saw back there a couple of times last year in kickoff returns. Jarvis is still a huge part of what we’re going to do. He’s a very talented player."

Landry finished fourth in the NFL in kickoff return average at 28.2 and 13th in punt returns at 8.2.

### I asked offensive coordinator Bill Lazor this week if he expects the additions of Jordan Cameron and DeVante Parker will help the Dolphins evolve from below average to above average in the red zone.

Curiously, Lazor didn’t discuss either of those players in his answer, instead opting to put the onus on himself.

“Let’s put it on me,” he said. “We’ve put the responsibility on me to evaluate the guys that we have and to use each of them the way they can best be used in the red zone. That’s the promise I’ve made to them. We haven’t started working on it in this setting yet, but we worked on it on air, we were at a pretty high completion percentage on air. That’s a start. I think that’s my responsibility and the coaching staff, to evaluate the guys you have and use them how they should be used.”

### Lazor on Dallas Thomas, who has been getting first-team reps at left guard: “I saw improvement as the season went on from the preseason through the season and I expect nothing less because Dallas has been busting his butt. I think everyone is going to be happy with the direction he’s going. Certainly we’re all rooting for him.”

### Couple Heat items: According to his agent, Luol Deng hasn’t made a decision about whether to opt out of a contract worth $10.1 million next season.

Apparently, Deng and the Heat are still mulling their options. If he opted out, it would be to try to get the security of a multiyear deal, as Dwyane Wade is currently exploring…

Mario Chalmers underwent arthroscopic knee surgery today but the Heat said he’ll be ready for training camp…. The Heat’s home preseason games: Charlotte Oct. 4, San Antonio Oct. 12, Washington Oct. 21. Tickets are already on sale.

### Media notes: The NBA Finals aren’t starting until next Thursday because the league decided (beginning last year) to set firm dates --- without a possible move-up –-- for logistical reasons.

Something unusual: Two St. Louis Rams immersed themselves into the city’s homeless community for an ESPN report airing at 10 a.m. Sunday, with re-airings on later editions of SportsCenter. 

In an attempt to get a closer look at the hardships homeless people in America endure, Rams defensive ends William Hayes and Chris Long took to the streets for 24 hours with no place to sleep or eat, no connection to the outside world and only $4 each. 

ESPN says “Haynes and Long wore second-hand clothing and makeup was used to help conceal their identities. They were outfitted with small cameras and microphones, and an ESPN crew observed them.”

Hayes: “It was the worst night I’ve ever had in my life for sure …. My body hurts so bad right now.” 

Long: “It’s amazing though when that cop went to talk to me, just how unsettled that felt, compared to like if a cop normally talks to me walking down the street.” 

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz