Dolphins, Canes and media notes on a Monday:
• Most NFL coaches ideally like to settle on starters by the third preseason game. Coach Adam Gase apparently feels no such obligation.
There are at least three legitimate battles for starting jobs, and Gase doesn’t feel anxious to get resolution anytime soon, certainly not during a three-day mandatory minicamp that runs Tuesday through Thursday.
“As long as we feel good about whatever we’re doing by the first game of the season, that’s all I really care about,” Gase said. “You’d love it if you could walk into training camp and say, ‘Here are the 22 guys that are starting on both sides of the ball.’ I just don’t know how realistic that is.
“We’ll take that thing up to the first game if we have to. If something goes wrong during the season, we’ll make a change. But we’re going to find the best 11 on each side of the ball every week.”
The three most competitive starting battles: one cornerback slot (Xavien Howard vs. Tony Lippett); one defensive tackle position (Jordan Phillips vs. Earl Mitchell) and right guard (Billy Turner, Kraig Urbik, Dallas Thomas, Jamil Douglas, Jermon Bushrod).
• Gase allocates time toward situation drills and with good reason. Let him explain it to you:
“For me, a lot of things that I learned were from (New England Patriots Offensive Coordinator) Josh McDaniels,” he said. Obviously, he was coming from New England at the time. I felt like that was very helpful in my development as a position coach. And then getting with Coach (Chicago Bears Head Coach John) Fox, we focused on something every day, whether it be something short or like a whole period. I guess being around two guys like that, that you learn from – and you go through those experiences – and then you’re able to come to a different place …
“Going to Chicago and getting around a guy like (Bears Defensive Coordinator) Vic Fangio, who was a great guy for me to talk to, because he was so smart (with) the way he thought about things and the ideas he brought to the table as far as, ‘Think about working on this and think about working on this.’ He would talk to me about a lot of stuff like that.
“That was something that I loved because it was things I never really thought of before. Coming here and being around (Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Darren) Rizzi and (Offensive Coordinator) Clyde (Christensen) and (Defensive Coordinator) Vance (Joseph) and (Linebackers Coach) Matt Burke, we talk a lot of situations.
“We keep saying, ‘What do we want to work on today?’ We’ll focus on something, and we try to make sure we educate the players, because you’d be surprised how many times you bring something up and somebody’ll say, ‘Wow, I didn’t know that,’ and you start assuming something and that’s the worst thing you can do, because a lot of these guys, they’ve never heard some of this stuff. When you hear it for the first time, you probably screw it up in practice and then you make the correction. You want to try to make it to where when those situations come up on Sunday, you’re not coming back Monday and being like, ‘Alright, we need to do this.’ Instead, you’re ahead of that, you make the right play and you get the right result.”
• Rookie receiver Jakeem Grant keeps eliciting praise from teammates. Here was Jelani Jenkins last week, when asked who has impressed him: “I think Jakeem Grant, he’s done an excellent job in that slot. I mean he’s one of the quickest people I’ve ever seen.”
• One thing evident in the practices that were open to reporters in recent weeks: New receivers coach Shawn Jefferson pushes his players HARD.
“One of the things about Coach Jefferson, he always stresses details – details, alignment, assignment, top of the route," Landry said. He always stresses that when you're at the top of the route, one foot takes you in, one foot takes you out (and) being able to be balanced when you come out of the break to be as explosive as possible.”
• Reshad Jones' offseason contract protest will continue through this week's mandatory minicamp, says NFL Net's Ian Rapoport. He would be fined $76,000 if he skips the three days this week... According to Fox's Alex Marvez, FIU hired Kevin O'Neill, who was fired by the Dolphins in the wake of Bullygate. FIU said he actually began work March 22.
• So what is UM getting in 5-6 Bowie-Md. prep Class of 2017 point guard Chris Lykes, who orally committed to Miami on Sunday?
ESPN rates him the 46th best player in the 2017 class and the ninth best point guard prospect. The ESPN scouting report:
Strengths: Lykes is a tough, competitive scoring point guard that possess excellent speed and quickness. He changes speed and directions on a dime as well. Lykes has a tight handle, probes the defense and has good court vision. He can stop and pop in the open court with range to the arc and will not hesitate to advance pass when a teammate is ahead on the break. Lykes has an excellent pull up jumper off the catch or when attacking off on ball screens. He can run the offense and deliver the ball as he attacks as well. Lykes is explosive for his size and plays with swag.
Weaknesses: Lykes will need to be more of a vocal leader as he runs his team. Work to get others involved more at times and keep working on improving as an on ball defender.
Bottom Line: Lykes is a constant threat on the offensive end of the floor. He can go wherever he wants with the ball. His handle and court vision is excellent and he is a crafty passer and finisher. He can really score the ball in a variety of ways despite his size and compete with toughness. Lykes is a high major prospect because of his ability to score and pass with continued development.
• UM will play Arizona in its College World Series opener at 8 p.m. Saturday. Oklahoma State and UC-Santa Barbara also are in UM’s bracket.
• Respected UF AD director Jeremy Foley announced his retirement today, and the first question that came to mind was whether his to-be-determined successor will be more inclined to schedule UM-UF football games more regularly. As Foley (who I always found to be accessible) explained repeatedly, he didn’t believe it made sense for UM and UF to play annually because of UF’s need for an extra non-conference home game most years. (Left unsaid was the fact UF already has a difficult schedule, with SEC games and FSU every year).
Foley agreed to open the 2019 season against UM in Orlando but indicated no interest in playing Miami beyond that. UF coach Jim McElwain obviously also will have a big say in any decision regarding how often to play UM.
When asked in April about the 2019 game against Miami, McElwain said: “It’s something we’ve talked about… It’s definitely not one of those things that we’re dodging them, I’ll say that.”
UM AD Blake James has consistently said he's willing to play UF more often, and Mark Richt said last week that he's also interested in that.
I'd be surprised if UF agrees to play UM more, but at least the new AD might take a fresh look.
• Couple media notes: CBS has no plans, at this time, to replace officiating analyst Mike Carey, who won't return to the network's NFL's coverage. But if a good fit becomes available, CBS wouldn’t rule out hiring another former referee. CBS said it mutually decided to part ways with Carey, whose often-inaccurate predictions of replay reviews drew considerable ridicule on social media….
Fox Sports Florida hired former big-league reliever Jeff Nelson as a pre-game and postgame analyst on Marlins games...
In advance of the launch of his HBO series (which will air Wednesday nights beginning June 22), Bill Simmons told The New York Times that he wonders if the real reason ESPN didn’t retain him is because of his criticism of commissioner Roger Goodell, coupled with the fact that Disney CEO Robert Iger previously was involved in pushing for a new stadium near Los Angeles.
“One of my working theories was, maybe this was driven by Iger because he wants a team,” Simmons told The Times.
That prompted this pointed response from ESPN president John Skipper, to The Big Lead: “Bill would rather spin conspiracy theories and be perceived as a martyr than take responsibility for his own actions. Let me be unequivocal and clear and take responsibility for my actions: I alone made the decision, and it had nothing to do with his comments about the commissioner. I severed our relationship with Bill because of his repeated lack of respect for this company and more importantly, the people who work here.”