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Wednesday Dolphins, Heat, Marlins nuggets; Bill Simmons' new home; Al Golden opines on team

Notes on a Wednesday:

### Dolphins teammates have been impressed by rookie Tony Lippett's transition from receiver to cornerback --- Jarvis Landry said his size (6-3) and length make it very challenging for receivers --- and Lippett has approached this very conscientiously.

He said he has been studying tape of tall cornerbacks.

"I've looked at Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman and a lot of tall corners to see how they move," Lippett said. “I know it’s a little challenging for us to move against short guys.”

As a cornerback, Lippett played only 88 snaps the past three years at Michigan State (all as a senior) but earned positive grades against both Rutgers and Penn State. He was thrown at nine times, had four pass breakups and allowed three receptions.

Safety Michael Thomas said “you see the raw skills” with Lippett. “I told him that the way he comes in with a swag ---  like, ‘I'm going to go up and try to catch everything,’ ---  reminds me of somebody I went to school with [at Stanford] who's doing pretty well [Seattle All-Pro Sherman]. I like the way he's competing.”

### Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry, speaking to the New Orleans Times Picayune this week about Miami adding former Saints receiver Kenny Stills: "As the Dolphins, we've always been known as a .500 team. Can’t get over the hump. Can’t make the playoffs. As many weapons as we can add, I’m really appreciative of it because it allows us to be that much more successful.”

### Talking to NBA people at the Las Vegas Summer League, I heard lots of positive feedback last week on Heat addition Amar’e Stoudemire: professional, liked by teammates and doesn’t miss games for minor ailments. Though he has missed a lot of games, his knee must really be acting up for him to sit out.

### Among ways for Miami to make room for impressive rookie guard Josh Richardson: Cutting Henry Walker, finding a taker for Mario Chalmers and choosing between James Ennis and Tyler Johnson.

Walker (who, like Ennis and Johnson, has a non-guaranteed deal) seems most at risk. Walker said his ankle was healthy enough for him to play in Las Vegas, but Heat Summer League coach Dan Craig sat him and told Walker he wanted to “evaluate other guys,” according to Walker.

When Don Shula used to say about veterans: “We know what he can do,” it wasn’t a good sign.

Said Walker: “I don’t worry about it. I worked myself into a good position to be back in the NBA.”

### Despite his summer league struggles, the Heat likes Ennis and has given him positive feedback. Miami is paying for him to participate in a skill development camp in California, which suggests he has a good chance to survive the Aug. 1 deadline when half of his contract becomes guaranteed.

### We hesitate to ever read anything into comments by Chalmers on social media, because he has said in the past that others have misinterpreted his sometimes cryptic messages, that some of his comments that appear related to basketball actually aren't. 

So with that caveat, we present this Tuesday Instagram post from Chalmers, who is being shopped in a trade:

Against the backdrop of Kansas' gymnasium, Chalmers posted: "Back on our old stomping grounds. Had to get away to get my mind right. ###Itseitheryouwantmeoryoudon't

Earlier in the week, Chalmers told The Lawrence Journal-World: "I would definitely love to stay in Miami."

### Former longtime network lead baseball analyst Tim McCarver, in town recently, said one reason why the Marlins’ disappointing season is so surprising is because “they’re the most athletic team” in baseball. “Dee Gordon and Adeiny Hechavarria can make the spectacular play look routine.”

But… “I don’t like managerial changes during the season," McCarver said. "Baseball more than any other sport does that and it’s befuddled me for years, why baseball succumbs to the pressure because a manager in baseball may have less to do with the team than a coach in football, basketball or hockey. Very few times does a team rise above that.”

### The Marlins have received several inquires on Mat Latos, who helped his trade value with a strong seven inning performance in Tuesday's 3-0 win against Arizona.

### Noon update: Bill Simmons, whose contract was not renewed by ESPN, is joining HBO to host a weekly talk show beginning in 2016 and help the network develop sports programming and documentaries. He also will host a podcast. The talk show will focus on sports and pop culture. Simmons is among the nation's most popular sportswriters, if not the most popular.



With UM losing more than half a dozen of its top players off a 6-7 team, what exactly can coach Al Golden count on as being strengths? Golden said Tuesday there are “two things that jump out the most:

“A veteran quarterback [Brad Kaaya] with command, presence and leadership capability and a veteran defense [with] 25 of the top 30 back. We get [defensive end] Al-Quadin Muhammad back. We get [safety Rayshawn] Jenkins back. All the nose tackles that were first-year players are back. Excellent leader in the middle with [linebackerRaphael] Kirby. This is the strongest we’ve been in the front seven. Deon Bush is healthy. Veteran secondary.”

And there’s this: “We have more pass rushers than we’ve had. Many more than we’ve had.”

Golden offered thoughts on his roster, by position:

### Quarterback: Kaaya “has bridged from being a leader to being a commander,” Golden said. “He’s really comfortable in his own skin. When he was a rookie, it was very difficult to ask him to be a leader of the team. No question this year he’s the leader of the offense if not the leader of the team. He’s not a screamer. Very respectful.

“His work ethic is elite, backs it up every day. His body is the biggest difference right now. This time last year, he was 230 pounds. Now he’s 209. He’s quicker and faster. His decisions are better.

“We’re already asking him to do so much more. He would tell you he’s doing more now at the line of scrimmage. His command is better. Can you do more with a veteran quarterback? Yes.”

Golden said backup Malik Rosier “did a lot of good things this spring. He does some things Brad can’t do. We’ll continue to develop packages for him.”

### Running back: “Whether it’s by committee or competition, we don’t want to have a decline there at all” from Duke Johnson, Golden said. “Gus [Edwards is] a very unique running back. He’s 240 pounds. He posted our fastest, if not one of the two or three fastest, on the GPS in the spring; he hit 21 miles per hour. Big back. Working really hard on his body. He will get an unbelievable opportunity."

Golden said he supports Joe Yearby, who’s away from the team dealing with a personal issue but is not suspended. "He’s doing what he needs to do. It’s intensely personal. He’s got our support. This is what he needs to do to become the type of young man he wants to become."

On the field, Yearby "is shifty, makes you miss, great lateral mobility and can cut," Golden said. "We can deploy him like Duke, can put him out [as a receiver] in empty [backfield sets]. He’s tough as nails.

Trayone Gray has made progress; hopefully, we left immaturity with him behind. Very proud of him. Very focused. Very talented kid. Big back at 216 pounds; he was 225. Hard to bring him down.”

And freshman Mark Walton “has made his presence known this summer. He is going to [have] a lot of opportunities.”

### Receiver: “I’m excited about that group. We lost Philip [Dorsett] but Stacy [Coley]had a good offseason” and his “overall strength” has improved, allowing him “to get off press [coverage],” Golden said. “He has a much better approach in the weight room. He’s a much better all-around receiver than he was last year.”

Golden said UM needs Coley to continue excelling with bubble screens but “we need him to be not just that.”

Beyond Coley, “We get Rashawn Scott back. Braxton Berrios has done really well this summer. Braxton posted one of the top 40 times this summer.

Malcolm Lewis is the leanest he’s been since the [gruesome 2012 ankle] injury. He’s 195 pounds…. Herb [Waters] is as big as he’s been. He’s 197 pounds. We have the long kids –[Tyre] Brady, [Darrell] Langham. That gives us a little more of a red zone factor, too. I wouldn’t trade [receiver] groups with anybody.”

### Offensive line: Asked if he can enter camp counting on anyone in particular to be a clear-cut starter, he said: “I’m comfortable with whoever comes out of the race. We have three centers [with Nick Linder atop the depth chart], maybe more. There have been a lot of times we didn’t have three. Nick and Alex Gall can play in there. Having[Hunter] Knighton back will help us tremendously in there.

“At guard, how ever it shakes out, with [Danny] Isidora and [HunterWells and… Gall has had a really good summer. At tackle, Kc McDermott was playing for us a year ago.Trevor Darling was starting for us. We have other guys: Sunny Odogu had a good spring, Jahair Jones. We have some young guys. [Incoming freshman] Tyree St. Louishad a good summer.”

### Tight end: Despite losing Clive Walford to the Oakland Raiders, “overall, we’re deeper and stronger than we were,” Golden said. “Clive taught them well. As much as what [tight ends coach] Larry [Scott] and [offensive coordinator] James [Coley] have taught them, Clive has taught them well. He left a high standard there…

Stan Dobard is being a great leader. [Chris] Herndon is very talented; he’s 260 pounds and really fast. [David] Njoku put on 40 pounds and has adapted. Jerome Washingtonhad had a really good summer.”

### Defensive tackle: Golden said Ufomba Kamalu and Calvin Heurtelou have emerged.

And “I’m really excited about Michael [Wyche],” Golden said. “He’s doing great in his conditioning. Will Michael Wyche make an impact at his body weight and being in the condition he’s in? Yes. [Remember], he had an Achilles [injury] last year [when he arrived].

“That group – Courtel JenkinsEarl Moore is going to benefit from being redshirted,[Anthony] Moten. It’s a much deeper group, much more veteran group.”

Golden touched only briefly on his defensive ends (Trent Harris, AQMDemetrius Jackson at rush end; Jelani Hamilton, Chad Thomas, Kamalu at the other end spot) but said Tyriq McCord will continue to play some end, even though he’s primarily at strongside linebacker now.

### Linebacker: Golden said the communication is much better and it starts with Kirby. If you’re good up the middle and with safeties in terms of communication and leadership, you can do a lot of things.”

Starting linebacker Jermaine Grace has “got high end ability,” Golden said. “He’s always been able to strike, very physical player. He’s one of the fastest players on the team. He’s much stronger, much bigger. Hopefully [will be] around 220 range. He’s 215 now. Got a little work to do now to get him to 220. He cares. He wants to do it right. Kirby has been tremendous for him.”

As for McCord, Golden said he’s “physically the strongest he has been in his career.” With McCord and Darrion Owens, “that SAM position is a lot better than year ago. Both those guys can rush the passer.”

### Safety: Golden said “that competition is going to be awesome. Will be interesting to see how that shakes out.”

Deon Bush, Dallas CrawfordJamal Carter and Jenkins are all competing to start and everyone raves about freshman Jaquan Johnson.  

“Deon Bush is really [showing] maturity,” Golden said. “I really appreciate the growth in his game over the last four months. He’s being more audible, communicating more. He’s very talented.

“Dallas gives you that maturity and poise. Very physical player. Jamal is really physically gifted; he’s doing a good job. Rayshawn Jenkins is back. We haven’t had Jenkins in 18 months. I’m tremendously excited about [freshmen Robert] Knowles and Johnson.”

### Cornerback: Golden anticipates playing Bush some at cornerback. “We’ll treat Deon like Ladarius Gunter [last year],” Golden said, suggesting he could play safety in base defense and possibly play cornerback when “we go to five DBs.”

Excluding Bush, UM has only three natural cornerbacks with game experience: Tracy Howard, Corn Elder and Artie Burns. Beyond those three, redshirt freshman Ryan Mayes “has to keep coming,” Golden said.  

Among freshmen, “everyone is excited about Sheldrick Redwine.  We’ve [also addedMichael] Jackson, Terrance Henley.”

For a lot more of Golden's comments about the team, please see the last post.


### One other note from the ACC media session: FloridaState coach Jimbo Fisher said Tuesday that standout running back Dalvin Cook remains suspended but his longterm status will not be determined until the misdemeanor battery case against him “plays itself out” and Fisher won’t comment about the matter.

Last week, Cook was charged after he allegedly punched a 21-year-old woman in the face several times following an argument outside of a Tallahassee bar around 2 a.m. on June 23.

The incident involving Cook, 19, comes less than a week after former FSU quarterbackDe’Andre Johnson was dismissed from the team after he punched a woman at a different bar near the FloridaState campus on June 24. There was video evidence in Johnson’s case but not in Cook’s.

At least six FSU players have been charged with violence against women during Fisher’s tenure, but there have been few convictions.

"There's no tolerance for hitting women... We've always taken a strong stance against it," he said, adding he was “disappointed” by the recent off-field incidents with his program. "Just like it is anywhere else in the country, you as the head coach take responsibility, and you continue to educate. You hope they don't make mistakes, and when they do, you punish and adjust and continue to educate so they don't do it again."

Fisher said the team devotes at least 40 days to off-field personal development but more will be added. He also confirmed that he has banned his players from bars and clubs.

"I don't think what's happened at FloridaState is relative to just FloridaState," Fisher said. "It happens all over the country. We get more attention because of the success of our program, and we accept that, and our players have to accept that responsibility.

"... You're judged on what you do, and we've had a couple instances like other people have had, too. It's not a FloridaState problem or athletic problem. It's a problem all across our country. There are always issues in the country that are hot spots at the time that get the news. And we don't tolerate [violence against women] and don't accept it."

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz