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UM in mix for standout transfer; Tuesday Dolphins and UM personnel notes and nuggets; Another UM suspension

Lots of Dolphins and Canes nuggets after covering both practices today:

         

DOLPHINS NOTES

Dolphins coach Adam Gase said Tuesday he “would love” to get emerging running back Isaiah Pead some first-team work in Thursday’s preseason game against Atlanta. But juggling carries among multiple players at one of Miami’s most competitive positions is tricky.

Gase also needs to get first-half carries for Arian Foster (who has only two in preseason) and Jay Ajayi.

Pead is averaging seven yards per carry in preseason and “we will keep trying to slide him in there to give him that opportunity to run behind the first-team line,” Gase said. “Ideally, you would like to give all those guys that opportunity.”

Against Dallas last Friday, “our plan was to try to slide [Pead] in there and see how it would go with him,” Gase said. “It almost felt like more like a two-minute mode when he was in, so he didn’t really get a chance to run the ball…. That whole group has done a great job…. They have all taken advantage. It is going to be tough decision [at running back] as far as how many do we keep. Consistency they've shown has been really impressive.”

Meanwhile, among the biggest lineup decisions Thursday is whether Cameron Wake will make his preseason debut after last October’s ruptured Achilles. Gase said Wake will go through pre-game warmups and “we’ll see how he feels before the game…. I am going to kind of put it on him. Once he feels right, we'll get him out there.”

Wake declined to say whether he wants to play Thursday but suggested that for him, the importance of playing in a preseason game is overstated. "I've been playing since July 27,” he said. “More is made of it than it really is.”

Wake also indicated it isn't necessarily critical for Mario Williams, Ndamukong Suh and himself to be on the field together before the opener.

If we were all a bunch of rookies, that would be one thing,” Wake said. “But we've all been down this road, all played football, with a lot of success. And we've been playing together quite a few snaps in the past month. We've come together quite nicely. When the real games start, those questions will be answered.”

Asked if he trusts the surgically-repaired Achilles', Wake said: “I will trust it when I need to trust it. I'm not necessarily worried about it.”

And of those questioning him because of his age (34), Wake said: “I've been old for five years now. I just laugh at that comment.”

• Two players who had been out for awhile with injuries returned to practice: running back Kenyan Drake and cornerback Chimdi Chekwa.

Chekwa, who didn’t rule out being ready for Thursday’s game, will resume his competition with Brandon Harris and Rashaan Melvin, among others for the Dolphins’ final cornerback job.

Drake returned from his second hamstring injury since joining the Dolphins but said he won’t play Thursday.  

“It’s a very lingering injury, especially in my case because it’s the second one in a couple of months,” he said. “You have to continue to build the strength up in it because even if you feel you know good, you can run distances, it’s that burst that you kind of lack. Especially at my position. And my kind of game, I need that burst. So until I feel like I have that burst, I’m not going to feel 100 percent.”

Several of us in the media have speculated that one way for the Dolphins to keep both Pead and Damien Williams (as well as Foster and Ajayi, of course) would be to stash Drake on short-term injured reserve, which would sideline him for five games.

Of being on short-term IR, Drake surprisingly said: “It’s not a possibility. Period.” But ultimately, it’s the Dolphins’ decision, and Drake has no control over that.

• Gase said defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, sidelined the past two weeks with a calf injury, remains on pace to be ready for the Sept. 11 opener at Seattle.

• Quarterback Matt Moore (concussion) and center Mike Pouncey (hip) remain out.

• Bobby McCain said he and Michael Thomas again got about an equal number of snaps at first-team nickel corner in practice this week, and that competition continues.

• With Laremy Tunsil continuing to emerge at left guard, Billy Turner said he, Jermon Bushrod and Dallas Thomas all got work with the first-team at right guard this week.

Thomas, who also continues to work on the left side, said starting at right guard “would be my plan” if Tunsil wins the left guard job, as expected. Turner said he, too, naturally wants to start.

• With DeVante Parker back from a hamstring injury, Gase said “the biggest thing for us is we need him to practice because we need the timing with the quarterback, that feel with the other players on the field. We have to find a way to keep those soft issue injuries out of the mix…. He’s done a better job [at hydration]. It’s really hit him that this is real down here. If you don’t hydrate down here, you will have issues.”

• Several players said special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi has been splitting up special teams work, including on coverage teams, among a lot of players to see what they can do.

For example, Chris McCain said he barely played any special teams in Week 1 but played a ton of them in Week 2 “and I needed” it. And Damien Williams, one of Miami’s strong special teams players, said he played less of them than usual in Week 2.

Performance on special teams is often a determining factor for players on the bubble.

 

CANES NOTES       

• 5 p.m. update: UM is now firmly in the mix for standout offensive tackle George Brown Jr., who is transferring from LSU. He was rated Rivals' No. 16 offensive tackle in the 2015 class. Our ace Herald contributor Peter Ariz has details here on his web site. He would be required to sit out next season.

• You would have hoped the Mark Richt era would begin would all Hurricanes players doing the right things and no discipline needed. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

As we’ve reported previously, UM was planning to suspend Sam Bruce for the first two games for his gun-toting photo in February, unless Richt has a dramatic change of heart in the next 11 days. Meanwhile, a source confirmed that defensive tackle Gerald Willis will be suspended for the opener for violating an unspecified team rule.

A UM player said players expect Stacy Coley, Al Quadin Muhammad and Jermaine Grace to be suspended to start the season (at least a game, perhaps two) because of the luxury rental car scandal, but we are not reporting that’s definite because a final decision hasn’t been made.

It’s difficult to get 120 kids to all behave. But all of this is disappointing, especially after Richt implored his players not to hang around with “fools” or do anything stupid.

• I asked Brad Kaaya what defensive players have emerged this month and are ready to contribute a lot.

Besides Shaquille Quarterman, he mentioned cornerback Adrian Colbert (“really good; he is running stride for stride with Stacy Coley and our fastest guys”) and linebacker Jamie Gordinier (“he’s looked good; he’s always in the right spot. Always around the ball. He’s going to surprise people).”

Richt said the starting weakside linebacker job remains open between Gordinier and freshman Mike Pinckney (back from injury the past two days).

He said Darrion Owens (still not fully back after last year’s knee surgery) is trailing in that competition. “Not likely to be a starter at this point; we just want him to be healthy,” Richt said.

• One of many differences between Richt and former offensive coordinator James Coley: Malik Rosier said “when nothing is there” or when a play breaks down, Coley’s order was to “make a play.” But he said this coaching staff says absolutely do not do that. “This staff is no, burn it, throw it away,” Rosier said. “You have to adjust your mentality.”

• Bruce missed practice with an allergic reaction. Richards, who had been battling turf toe, returned but Richt said he doesn’t look 100 percent.

• I asked receivers coach Ron Dugans what receiver is going to help a lot more this season than he thought when camp began.

“I think Ahmmon Richards has shown some flashes; he stepped it up,” Dugans answered. “The thing with him is he’s got to be consistent and keep him healthy. Sam Bruce is coming along. Finally have Dionte Mullins back. That will take some time. He has a good skill set for us. Look for Dayall Harris to do some big things.”

Malcolm Lewis has had a good camp, but Darrell Langham “has to show us he can do it on a consistent basis. He’s moving in a good direction. I hope he plays for us,” Richt said.

• Dugans said he’s not sure who will be the No. 3 receiver alongside Coley and Braxton Berrios when UM goes to three-receiver sets. “Game time decision,” Dugans said. (In a lot of cases, it will be an tight end in a pseudo receiver role.)

Harris said he had been taking the first-team snaps at X receiver with Richards out. Today, Harris and Richards split those first-team snaps.

On Harris, Dugans said: “Has good body control. Struggles to catch the ball at times. Then some times, he catches everything. Got a good skill set. Good route runner.”

• Dugans said Mullins, who just enrolled, is not too far behind to help this year. “He’s behind, but that’s possible.”… Dugans said Coley and Berrios “have been playing like veterans, detailed players.”

• Corners who have been toughest to go against? Harris mentioned Corn Elder (“real smart”) and Ryan Mayes (“been really good; patient with a lot of routes”).

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

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