A six-pack of notes on a Wednesday night:
• Cameron Wake, coming back from an Achilles’ tear, is fully aware the Dolphins would like to extend his career by transitioning him into a designated pass rusher role if they can, with Jason Jones or Andre Branch replacing him on early downs on some defensive series. The Dolphins were very upfront about that with other free agent defensive ends, and Wake has no issue with that, according to a friend.
But I would expect Wake to continue to be a starter out of respect to him, and because he’s still a very good player. And the expectation is that he will continue to play on some first and second downs.
Branch had some good moments in the offseason program, and the Jones signing after the draft was important, because it covers the Dolphins if there’s an injury to Wake or Williams. Dion Jordan would provide additional depth if he’s reinstated in the next 10 days, as his agent expects.
• Pro Football Focus has rated every Dolphins position in the bottom half of the league, and that continued – but understandably so – in its rankings of defensive backs this week.
PFF says the Dolphins have the 18th best group of defensive backs. That group includes cornerbacks Byron Maxwell, Tony Lippett, Xavien Howard and Bobby McCain (among others) and safeties Reshad Jones, Michael Thomas, Isa Abdul-Quddus and Walt Aikens.
PFF served up this interesting stat: Bobby McCain allowed just 0.27 yards per coverage snap when in the slot last season, by far the lowest average in the league.
PFF’s overview: “Maxwell’s time with the Eagles did not go well, allowing a career-high 100.7 passer rating into his coverage last season. He will again need to prove that he can perform outside of the Seattle system. Rookie Xavien Howard (Baylor) has plenty of upside, and should push Lippett for the starting corner position opposite Maxwell. Jones is one of the best run-stopping and pass-rushing safeties, and generally is reliable in coverage as well.”
Here is the link to the full Pro Football Focus ranking of safeties.
And here is the link to my piece highlighting where PFF ranked other Dolphins positions.
• The Dolphins don’t read anything into Arian Foster’s 2.6 yards per carry average last season because he played just four games.
Pro Football Focus says this about the move: “Assuming Foster gets back to form not from 2015, he should be a solid fit in that scheme as well, but Jay Ajayi’s numbers suggest he might be an even better fit, and shouldn’t automatically get dropped down the depth chart to accommodate Foster.
“In Chicago, Adam Gase ran primarily inside zone as the primary run concept. 48.9 percent of the team’s rushes last season were inside zone runs, and the team was pretty successful running them, averaging 4.2 yards per carry. Foster was bad across the board last year even before injury shut him down, but what is interesting is that Ajayi outperformed not just Foster, but also the Bears as a team when running inside zone. Ajayi gained half a yard more per carry than the Bears and 1.6 yards per carry more than Foster running inside zone plays, and was markedly more productive on those runs than other concepts in 2015.”
• The Marlins haven’t approached impending free agent Martin Prado about a new contract and could delay that decision until the offseason, knowing they have three legitimate starters to play second and third (Dee Gordon, Derek Dietrich, Prado).
If Prado is re-signed (and I would expect the Marlins to make an attempt to keep him), Gordon or Dietrich could be dealt for pitching this winter.
• With its weekend oral commitments from four-star safety Brian Edwards and three-star receiver Evidence Njoku, UM has moved up to 11th in rivals.com’s recruiting rankings.
That’s tops in the ACC and one spot ahead of FSU. But Southridge three-star running back Bentavious Thompson decommitted from Miami tonight.
Kevin Beard, now quality control coach at Georgia, said Art Kehoe and Mark D’Onofrio were the only Al Golden 2015 assistants who haven’t found college or NFL jobs. As our Canes/recruiting contributor Peter Ariz noted, D’Onofrio is coaching at the Kendall Boys and Girls Club. A friend of Kehoe spoke of how terribly upset he was about not being retained by his former UM teammate, Mark Richt….
UM baseball lost juniors Zack Collins, Willie Abreu, Bryan Garcia, Danny Garcia and Jacob Heyward to the pros, but they were able to keep senior-to-be Johnny Ruiz, the infielder who was drafted in the 28th round by Houston but opted to return to school, according to UM.
Among high-school signees, UM held on to right-hander pitcher Mason Studstill (drafted in the 22nd round by Cleveland) and Michael Amditis, a former Under Armour All-American catcher from Boca Raton....
Click here for lots of UM hoops nuggets.
• The Panthers say they’re in extension talks with 2017 restricted free agent Jonathan Huberdeau, their biggest remaining young piece not signed long term, and they are hopeful…. The Panthers are about $3 million below the $73 million cap, giving them a bit of flexibility if they want to acquire a player before the trade deadline.