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Friday, August 31, 2007

Jason Allen redeems himself ... sort of

Let me start by restating what I have said and written in the past. I believe if a first-round pick is not starting by his second season, he's a disappointment. If he's not starting by his third season, he's a bust.

Jason Allen is not going to start this season unless some serious injury problems befall the Dolphins secondary. So, in that regard, he is definitely a disappointment no matter what the excuse.

But Allen is not yet a bust and, after Thursday's 7-0 preseason finale at New Orleans, one can see glimpses of his ability. Really.

Allen had an interception during last night's game and that is encouraging because during his first NFL season, he was rarely in position to get close to the ball, much less snatch it. Allen has also caused a fumble this preseason, so there you have at least two instances of him showing playmaking ability.

What really impressed me Thursday, however, was that Allen worked almost the entire first half against the first-team New Orleans receivers -- Marques Colston and Devery Henderson. Colston caught two passes for 17 yards. Henderson did not catch a pass.

So, despite my past criticism of Allen, I must give credit where credit is due.

Understand this is only a baby step and Allen is not where he needs to be. In fact, he's Miami's fourth cornerback and that's not counting injured Andre' Goodman. So it's not like Allen is earning his signing bonus yet.

But after that little bit of encouraging news Thursday, one can see Allen might turn things around. One can see that with a lot more hard work, he might not be a bust by the time 2008 rolls around.

Your thoughts?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

On the fifth receiver and other things

NEW ORLEANS -- Seems everywhere I turn the question du jour -- that's French from the French Quarter -- is which player will take the No. 5 receiver role for the Dolphins.

We know, following yesterday's chaos with Chris Chambers, the Dolphins have four receivers who are virtual locks to make the roster. They are: Marty Booker, Chambers, Ted Ginn Jr., and Derek Hagan.

So everyone is wondering whether P.K. Sam, Az-Zahir Hakim, Kerry Reed, or Michael Malone will earn the alleged final spot that remains. If indeed a fifth spot remains, seems to me Hakim would be the guy to get it based on his experience in the system.

But I'm telling you don't be so sure the Dolphins will go with five receivers. Several teams around the NFL are going with four receivers these days and it makes a lot of sense for the Dolphins to do the same.

First, none of the guys vying for that fifth spot have really wowed anyone so far. Maybe someone breaks out tonight, but this has otherwise been a just-OK group.

Second, if you keep only four receivers, you can add a roster spot at another spot -- like at tight end where both Aaron Halterman and Courtney Anderson have impressed coaches at times or at RB where Patrick Cobbs could be kept along with Jesse Chatman, Ronnie Brown, and Lorenzo Booker.

I know some of you are concerned that keeping only four receivers leaves Miami open to depth problems should injury befall one of the top four. Well, the shield against that is putting Reed, or Malone, or both on the practice squad. If an injury happens, you just sign one of them to the active roster.

It's something to keep in mind as the Dolphins trim their roster in the coming days.

On another matter: John Beck will make his first preseason start tonight. None of the starters are expected to play so neither Trent Green nor backup Cleo Lemon are going to be exposed behind Miami's second-string offensive line.

Beck is scheduled to play up to three quarters with Gibran Hamdan taking the rest of the duty.

Also, as you've probably seen elsewhere on The Herald website, Cam Cameron is not coaching the team tonight. Dom Capers will act as head coach. Mike Mularkey will call the offensive plays and George Edwards will be the defensive coordinator.

The team is giving a couple of ridiculous reasons for this happening, but I refuse to place them here. I'm too busy coming up with mocking jokes for my game column.

(By the way, check back before the game for pregame updates, and I'll have a post-game wrap. You can also leave your comments during the game so everyone can know what you're thinking.)

Discuss ....

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Chris Chambers is NOT on the trading block

I have been told by a highly placed Dolphins source that receiver Chris Chambers is NOT on the trading block as the NFL Network reported late Tuesday.

When I asked for confirmation on the story which was reported by usually reliable reporter Adam Schefter, my source refuted the story and asked a simple question: "Who would we play?"

Umm, good point.

So despite the report Miami's best receiver is on the block, don't buy it. But buy this: This is probably the last season Marty Booker and Chris Chambers play for the Miami Dolphins.

I have confirmed that Booker really was on the trade block earlier this summer and although Chambers is NOT on the block now, he could very well find himself there after this season.

The Dolphins have pretty much decided they want younger, faster, quicker, more explosive receivers and neither Chambers nor Booker fit that mold.

The Dolphins also are in a salary-cap bind with both in that Chambers has a $7 million cap charge next year to go along with a scheduled $5.1 million base salary. This while Booker will cost Miami $5.19 million against the cap to go along with a $4.3 million base salary.

That's over $9 million in base salary and over $12 million in cap charges for 2008.

It might be worth it if both players were in their prime AND were the type of receivers the Dolphins now value -- speedy, quick, able to score from anywhere on the field. That is not the case.

So this season will be the farewell tour for the stalwarts barring a salary adjustment (meaning a pay cut) for one or both in 2008.

Your thoughts?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Guys that should be worried as cuts loom

(Before I get started I want to let you guys know my radio show on 790 TheTicket premieres tonight at 7 p.m. You can listen every weeknight at 790-AM in South Florida or online at Stop by, call in, and let's talk Dolphins football.)

On to serious business:

This is a difficult time for NFL teams because, for the most part, every player in a camp is talented in some notable fashion. Fine players get cut all the time so there is no disgrace in it.

But there are only 53 jobs open on a roster, not counting the eight practice squad spots. So somebody has gotta go.

But rather than tell you about guys that are likely outta here (you don't care about them anyway) let me first tell you about a few fringe guys that actually have a chance to make it.

Nose tackle Steve Fifita has been dominant at times this preseason. Granted it's against second- and third-team guys but it's not his fault which players line up across from him. I think he makes it. Cameron Worrell has a chance because he's smart and doesn't screw up much, which is understandable because the guy is a four-year vet.

Cornerbacks Derrick Johnson and Shirdonya Mitchell are locked in a battle for a cornerback spot, depending on how coaches constitute the roster. If the spot opens up, Johnson has a slight edge now. If the spot doesn't open up, Mitchell is practice squad eligible while Johnson is not.

Tight end Courtney Anderson struggled early in training camp as he adjusted to Miami's tougher practices and different offensive system. He's still not quite in the kind of shape Miami wants but he's progressing and he's proven to be a threat down the field.

You should understand that practice squads have been expanded by two this year. So I expect virtually all of Miami's draft picks to be around the team even if they get cut.

Joe Toledo (what bad luck, this guy) is headed for the reserve PUP or Injured Reserve lists. Saw him in the locker room the other day and he still walks with a limp, so best case scenario he won't be on the radar screen again until after the sixth game of the year. Or he'll be out for the year. Again.

By the way, if my name is Matt Prater, Ryan Flinn, Chris Vedder, Ray Perkins, Chris Harrell, Stephen Parker, Mike Malone, Jason Rader or Kevin Vickerson, I'd be worried the ax is about to fall. (late afternoon update: The ax fell on all those guys except Parker.)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Some thoughts following Miami's first loss

It is really ironic that the Dolphins first preseason loss would be the game I'd be most excited about as a Dolphins fan.

Sure they lost whatever to 28 but no one cares about that. What you really should care about is:

*The Dolphins offense created a terrible situation for itself in that on Miami's first possession Ronnie Brown let a reception get stolen out of his grasp by linebacker Cato June and turned into a Tampa touchdown. That was a moment of truth for this offense. And it responded beautifully.

Miami mounted an 18-play drive on the very next possession to score it's first touchdown this preseason with Trent Green at quarterback. And it was against Tampa's first-team defense.

"We had to decide what our character is going to be on offense and what our identity as a unit was going to be after that happened," Green said. "We responded."

"It builds confidence," Chris Chambers said.

So that was the shining moment of the preseason for the offense.

*The defense gave up some completions to Jeff Garcia but nothing to worry about except ... Travares Tillman, who was benched midway through last season, got a lot of playing time in the dime package for the Dolphins and he and cornerback Will Allen failed to communicate on a play that resulted in a 26-yard TD pass from Garcia to Joey Galloway.

Tillman is a solid special teams player, but one hopes the Dolphins see that in coverage, he's always around the ball but seemingly never makes the play.

*Matt Roth is having a fine preseason and his one-handed interception -- which led to Miami's second touchdown of the night -- means he's already made one more game-changing play this preseason than I can remember Kevin Carter making the last two years. One hopes Roth continues his ascendancy toward becoming a playmaker on D.

*The offensive line, particularly the starting unit, played pretty good as far as pass protection goes. The run blocking was atrocious, but Cam Cameron said after the game Miami wasn't trying to run the football. If failing to run the ball was a goal, then the Dolphins were successful in reaching the goal.

*I still see the right tackle situation as the most intriguing on the line. L.J. Shelton is still coming on, according to my sources, while Anthony Alabi is playing OK, but not great. Let's face it, the spot will be the chain's weak link this year.

*Receiver Derek Hagan had a shining moment in catching a 31-yard TD pass from John Beck in the second half. But he also had at least one notable drop, two if you're a really tough grader, and that inconsistency is one reason Ted Ginn Jr. has passed him in the two youngsters' search for playing time.

By the way, I wrote a column about Ginn following the game. Here it is:
in case you're too cheap to buy the newspaper or live in Mongolia. Help a brotha out and read it if you care to know what's up with the first-round pick.

*Patrick Cobbs, who coaches like, hurt his cause by fumbling. Cameron HATES turnovers. He's preached ball security all preseason. The sermon didn't take with Cobbs in this one instance and that's tough for a player on the fringes of making the team.

Aaiight as Nick Saban says. Your thought?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Finally some good news for Ted Ginn and the family

It has been a strange week for rookie Ted Ginn, who Cam Cameron infamously said the Dolphins drafted along with the kid's family.

First, Ginn seemed in trouble as he lost some kick return opportunities in the last preseason game as Cameron was not happy with his production in that kick return role. But the good news, the notable news, is that while he seemed to be falling behind on special teams, he was advancing at his position.

Ginn, who I still believe will be fine as a kick and punt returner, has apparently impressed coaches quite a bit as a receiver. How much?

Well, it will be interesting to see whether Ginn comes into the game AHEAD of Derek Hagan tonight. I'm told that is possible because Ginn has apparently passed Hagan in the coaching staff's collective thinking when they grade out the receivers.

On another front, veteran tackle Mike Rosenthal, who has missed the entire preseason with a shoulder injury, has been placed on injured reserve today. He is done for the season.

Injured vets Joey Porter and Andre' Goodman are not playing tonight and Joe Toledo continues his frustrating inability to get on the field. He is also out.

Anyway, that's it for the pre-game news. Let me know what you think of YOUR Dolphins before, during and after the game.


Friday, August 24, 2007

What to expect from YOUR Dolphins in 2007

I've read a lot of your comments on this blog in the past few weeks and would say that most of you are trying to be patient with the new administration of Cam Cameron and Randy Mueller. That is both right and fair.

But while I join you in refusing to get overly excited about a team whose offensive line is uncertain, a team breaking in a new offensive system and a rookie head coach, one with a new quarterback and age on defense, I don't think it is right to believe this season will be a catastrophe.


Because I expect from the Dolphins what they expect of themselves. Pretty simple.

Last year, players talked of having loads of talent and being playoff-caliber. So I expected them in the playoffs. Two years ago, everyone agreed Nick Saban's first year would be one of rebuilding, a year following a 4-12 season. No one was expecting a playoff run then, so neither did I.

This year I expect this team to squeeze into the playoffs.

I'm crazy, you say? Well then BILLIONAIRE owner Wayne Huizenga must be crazy and MILLIONAIRE coach Cam Cameron must be crazy, also.

I talked to Huizenga earlier this week and he told me flat out he doesn't see this as a rebuilding year. Now, I would normally take this with a grain of salt because Wayne is, after all, a fan. But the reason he told me he was so optimistic blew me away. In private conversations with Cameron, the owner told me the coach thinks this is going to be a pretty good team. Huizenga is emboldened about 2007 because Cameron told him to be.

"He doesn't tell me it's a rebuilding year," Huizenga said. "He's not telling me we're going all the way. But he doesn't want to hear that talk about rebuilding.

''We have a great defense. The offensive line, in his mind, is improving greatly. He's working on the basics with a lot of guys here. This preseason has been about blocking and tackling. And once you get all that stuff done, we can take it to the next step. I have a lot of confidence in him.''

And so will I. If the owner talks playoffs with me, I'm going to believe for the playoffs. If Cameron predicts the offense will improve from 29th in the NFL in scoring to no worse than 15 or 16, I am going to take him at his word. And he did exactly that in a conversation with me a few weeks back.

Based on what they're saying, I'm going to expect a successful season. And so should you.

I don't believe Cameron is lying to his boss or setting himself up to look like an idiot in front of fans by making promises he can't keep. So I am going to trust him until he shows me a reason to doubt him.

It could be that he's wrong. OK, he's human. But until I know that Cameron doesn't know what the heck he's talking about, I'm going to think he does. And I'm going to think the Dolphins will be challenging for a playoff spot this year.

Your thoughts?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Pete Kendall derby is over and Dolphins don't win

OK guys, I have posted on the Herald sports website a story about the Dolphins losing out in the Pete Kendall derby. Here's the story link:

There's no doubt the Dolphins would have loved to add Kendall to their offensive line. He's tough, savvy, gritty and just plain solid. The only way the Dolphins had a chance to get Kendall after he went to Washington was for him to fail the physical. Despite being sidelined with a shoulder injury the past couple of days, Kendall passed the exam.

Meanwhile, I wouldn't blame Miami management for not getting Kendall. It's not the Dolphins fault the Jets preferred to deal with a team outside the division -- even if the Redskins and Jets do play this season. And although the Dolphins had a conversation with the Jets about making the trade, they were not about to pay a ransom for a player who has maybe two fine years left in his career.

The Redskins will deliver to New York a fifth-round pick in 2008 if Kendall plays 80 percent of the downs this year.


I would like to know if you're disappointed? I would like to know if you think the Dolphins will be better off without Kendall in the long term because not having him means younger players will get more snaps? I would like to know how optimistic/pessimistic you are about Miami's OL as it is shaped now?

One final thing: Regardless of the fact the Dolphins didn't get this good player, Dolfans can take solace that one of their division rivals is diminished by this trade.

You thoughts?

Madden '08 disses Jason Taylor

Taking a lighthearted view of the NFL today, I was scrolling through the list of 1,721 NFL players rated by the Madden '08 video game.

The ratings take into account such attributes as speed, acceleration, strength, agility, awareness, stamina, toughness and even ego. Importance to his team is also rated by the game, with those ratings coming from a group of game experts that most notably includes John Madden himself.

Anyway, Brian Urlacher is the highest rated player in the game with Champ Bailey, LaDainian Tomlinson, Peyton Manning and Ed Reed rounding out the top 5.

So I'm scrolling through to find players from YOUR Miami Dolphins...


Still scrolling. And then I finally, finally come to Zach Thomas at No. 23. I'm not kidding. No. 23, behind guys like Adam Vinatieri and Shane Lechler and Lorenzo Neal.

And if that's not strange enough, I scroll back up to find Jason Taylor, you know the NFL defensive player of the year in 2007, and he's nowhere to be found. So I scroll back down and then find Taylor.

He's rated at No. 49. Behind Denver kicker Jason Elam.

Are they kidding me?

Anyway, Joey Porter is ranked No. 54 and then Miami doesn't have another player ranked in the top 100. Chris Chambers is ranked No. 266 and Ronnie Brown is at 267.

Now understand this is just a video game. It's a fun exercise. But it makes the point the opinion that so-called experts, such as Madden himself, have of the Dolphins. As far as talent is concerned the team is not exactly, shall we say, loaded.

Of course football is a team, not individual sport. So maybe the Dolphins can surprise some people this year. At least on the field, if not in the video game.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Saturday's game most important to L.J. Shelton

L.J. Shelton is perhaps the biggest enigma on the Dolphins roster and it seems his opportunity to convince management he is worthy of a job in Miami is starting to disappear.

Shelton has one game, two max, to show he truly is a consistent, motivated performer because he has not done that to this point in training camp. And if the veteran doesn't reach that consistency and high-motor aggression, he'll probably find himself looking for a job.

That's right. L.J. Shelton could get cut or traded if he's not careful.

The reason is the coaching staff has been trying to prod Shelton to produce at the level they expect -- at the level he reached at times last year -- before they give up on him. The Dolphins need Shelton to be a starter somewhere on the offensive line, or at least promise to be a GREAT backup if something happens to a starter.

Shelton didn't respond early on, reporting to camp overweight and showing little desire to improve his lot.

So coach Cam Cameron responded by unceremoniously demoting Shelton once then again. The guy who has been a starter all his career has been running with rookies, undrafted free agents and other guys likely to be cut throughout training camp. He's been playing at the end of each of the first two preseason games -- AKA garbage time.

The problem for Shelton is he can't afford to continue playing as he has been because his contract pretty much prevents the Dolphins from accepting that.

Shelton is scheduled to make $2 million in base salary this year and it says here there is no way the Dolphins will allow him to collect that kind of money while underperforming -- especially not when they can have a young guy, a guy who may be on the rise compared to Shelton being on the decline, a guy that would make about one-fifth of what Shelton is making.

So Shelton's got to improve to earn his keep or his salary will force the Dolphins to get rid of him.

Of course, the team may decide to ask Shelton to take a pay cut in exchange for allowing him to take up space in the locker room as an emergency backup.

But that course has many obstacles. Shelton, who has a pretty high opinion of himself, may not take the pay cut. And even if he does, the team would have to consider what kind of influence Shelton would be on Miami's young offensive linemen if he's unhappy after accepting a pay cut.

So where does that leave us?

"He’s got a ways to go," coach Cam Cameron said when I asked about Shelton this week. "I like his consistent approach. He’s developed an ability – that’s what I need to see, a guy with a consistent approach. If he’s doing it consistently average, then we’ve got to get that effort to where we need it and then if you can get a consistent effort out of a guy you can really get a true evaluation of what he is.''

That's coachspeak for: They guy has become somewhat consistent, but he's just average. We need to try to raise his level of play beyone what we've seen.

"I’m looking forward to seeing how he plays on Saturday night,” Cameron finished.

We should all watch -- to get a clue whether Shelton will be around or not.

Your thoughts?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Some thoughts about Ginn, Brown and Green

The past week has offered one seismic shift after another from the Dolphins.

First Coach Cam Cameron says Ronnie Brown is a starting kick returner for the season. Then on Saturday the coach says he only meant it for one game. Then Brown is back there again Sunday during practice. Then after practice Cameron says Brown has no guarantee of being the starting running back. And that, of course, means first round pick Ted Ginn Jr. is underachieving at kick returner.

And then, one day after Cameron refuses to name Brown or Ginn to any starting duties anywhere, he names Green Miami's starting quarterback. Whew!

Well, this is what I think about that:

First --If Brown ends up as the kick returner and Ginn ends up as the punt returner, the Dolphins will be putting each of their last three first-round picks on special teams when you consider Jason Allen is on both the kick and punt teams, serving various duties. That's three first round picks on special teams.

And unless Brown finally wins the starting running back (which is not guaranteed right now) the Dolphins will have exactly zero of their own former first-round picks playing on both offense and defense.

Any wonder this team is rebuilding?

Second - I keep hearing the Dolphins, and now you guys, comparing Ginn and his development to former University of Miami star Devin Hester. The comparison, repeated vaguely by Cameron Sunday, attempts to draw a parallel in that Hester didn't return kicks early last year either, while he concentrated on perfecting his punts skills. He started fielding kicks also about a quarter of the way through the season.

Well, that comparison is really a poor one because Devin Hester was a second round pick. Ginn is the ninth player taken overall in the FIRST ROUND. If the Dolphins are comparing the two already, they are already admitting Ginn wasn't worthy of a first round selection because a comparable player went in the second round last year. It's like when former GM Rick Spielman used to compare a fifth-round pick named Tony Bua to Larry Izzo. It was a bad comparison because Izzo was an undrafted free agent.

I suggest somebody in the organization shut down that flawed comparison between Hester and Ginn before it is repeated too many more times and someone gets embarrassed publicly.

Third: I know a lot of you question the naming of Trent Green as the starting quarterback based on the fact he really hasn't won the job on the field. I would agree he didn't do that either. But I remind you there really is much more to being the quarterback than stats. The position is about leadership and poise and confidence and, to some degree, control over other men.

Green may not be the role model for those qualities, but he's the best the Dolphins have right now. And that's the reason he's the starter. Many of you, I know, are disappointed Daunte Culpepper didn't get the opportunity to win the job here. I'm not going to address that situation in this particular blog (surprised?)

But others of you are apparently equally disappointed Cleo Lemon didn't get even one start in the preseason before the job was awarded. I don't think that would have mattered. Nothing Lemon could have done would have raised him to the respect level Green enjoys now among teammates.

And that was sort of confirmed in the locker today when receiver Hakim Az-Zahir was talking about the quarterbacks in camp and said, "Leo Clemens," may still have a chance to show his ability down the road.

Your thoughts?

The evidence of the RB competition comes out

During one of my blog posts last week -- one that unfortunately got hijacked by stupidity about 9/11 and other political mumbojumbo -- I tried to explain how the RB position is worthy of scrutiny for several reasons.

I called the dynamic between Ronnie Brown and Jesse Chatman a "building competition." Now, a lot of guys on here suggested I'm just stirring up a RB controversy. Others dismissed the post as me being negative about Brown.

Well, I am now going to share with you what Cam Cameron said Sunday afternoon about the RB situation.

On if he wants Ronnie Brown to be able to break a run when he gets behind the defense – “That’s a loaded question. It’s a fair question. Ronnie Brown, beating the ground after that run, I think spoke for itself. At some point in time, all of us, not just Ronnie Brown, you’ve got to continue to improve. You get better or you get worse. I’m looking forward to seeing him come out and continue to run. The evaluation of Ronnie Brown is far from over, far from over. He’s an ascending player. When you are the second pick of the draft, the expectations are so unrealistic, and then a guy like LaDainian Tomlinson sets that bar so high. Like I’ve told all you guys, and I think you guys agree, they’re all different. That’s what happens to those high-round draft picks – the expectations get so far out there, it’s almost if they do well, they’re looked at as a failure. My focus on Ronnie Brown is what he is, and let’s see how much he can get incrementally better. That’s my evaluation of him. Otherwise, it just gets out of whack.”

On if he wants Brown to be able to score when he gets behind the defense as he did in KC – “It’s a fair question. You make a good point. It’s the pressure that goes, number one, with being a starting running back in the National Football League. The expectation is when you’re in the open field, that’d better be a house call. Everybody wants that, but fortunately, there’ve been some teams that have won championships without a guy that can go the distance. That doesn’t mean you can’t be successful. The bottom line is how tough is a guy, how smart is a guy and how durable is he. There’s a lot of good backs in this business that didn’t run to the end zone every time they got into the open, but you can count on them, they were tough they got you the tough yards, they get you the fourth-and-one. The third-and-two the other night – if he doesn’t make that play, he doesn’t get the opportunity to break in the open later in that series. Ronnie Brown is an ascending player who just needs to keep improving, and that is not what any of you people want to hear. I understand that, but that is the reality of it.”

On if he is considering giving Chatman more playing time – “If I’m sitting where you’re sitting, I’m thinking, ‘Here’s my opportunity to at least make him think I’m reading between the lines.’ Don’t read anything between the lines, I can tell you that right now. But I will tell you this – our best running back will play. That hasn’t changed, and that’s consistent with what I’ve always said. Our best running back is going to play. You just keep practicing and playing the games. I don’t see anything you don’t see for the most part, and our best running back is going to be the guy. The running back that gives us the best chance to win is going to play, and I can already read what’s going to be written tomorrow. We have a group of running backs, and I’ll tell you what – has anybody seen Patrick Cobbs? You can say all you want – it’s the end of the game and all that stuff – but speed and quickness and north and south and smarts and toughness and hanging onto the football is what that position is all about. I’m not saying anything to you that I haven’t said to our team. Competition brings out the best in everybody. If you don’t rise to the level of the competition, it speaks volumes about you, and that’s okay. We have competition at tailback, and we have competition at fullback. All of you know that, you just wanted me to say it. They know that, and you can write it. Feel free to write it because we’ve said that from day one.”

On who has been the back running back in training camp thus far – “We’re not to that point where we would say that. The competition is ongoing. That’s why we’re putting different guys back to run kicks back. As you well know, it’s good for the Miami Dolphins. Competition brings everybody’s level up, and it builds depth because very seldom does one back make it through the whole season. We want to be in a position where if our starting back goes down, we don’t miss a beat. We go right in with the next guy. That’s what I’m accustomed to. When Terry Allen went down, Stephen Davis came in. When LaDainian Tomlinson was nicked up, in comes up Michael Turner and Jesse Chatman, Chatman first, then Michael Turner. You need at least two good backs in this system, and we’re building some depth at that position. To me, that’s exciting.”

OK, now you decide if there is a competition at RB (AS I TOLD YOU A WEEK AGO) or there really isn't.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The couldabeens had good nights Saturday

Daunte Culpepper and Brady Quinn played very well Saturday night.

I mention this because either of those two, or both, could easily be on the Dolphins roster today -- but are not.

Culpepper, playing in the second quarter, improved his chances of being the Oakland Raiders' starting quarterback this season with a quite impressive performance against the San Francisco 49ers.

Culpepper completed 6 of 8 passes for 75 yards and threw 2 touchdown passes without an interception. But that's not really the reason Oakland coaches are impressed today and Miami fans should be kind of scratching their heads.

The way Culpepper moved around the pocket and all over the field is the single-most interesting thing about the quarterback's performance. His final TD pass came on a naked bootleg to the left in which he delivered the ball while on the run from 5 yards out.

Culpepper also rushed three times for 13 yards but don't let that stat fool you. One of those rushes was credited when he recovered his own fumble and another came when he scrambled for no gain. He did gain 13 yards on his most impressive scramble of the night -- one up the middle of the 49ers defense.

So Culpepper seems to have regained some of the mobility lots of Miami fans said he'd never have again.

In Cleveland, meanwhile, Quinn played in the fourth quarter and led the team to two touchdowns. Throwing primarily to his checkdown receivers, Quinn completed 13 of 20 passes for 155 yards with two TDs and zero interceptions.

It was an impressive performance considering it was Quinn's NFL debut. He moved around well, throwing his first TD pass while on the run, and he was quite accurate, thank you.

Remember that the big knock on Quinn on draft day was that he isn't accurate enough.

Anyway, that's your couldabeen update for this week. What do you think?

Friday, August 17, 2007

The kick returner is not returning kicks?

If you watched last night's game you saw Ted Ginn Jr. return punts. He is supposed to return punts this year.

You saw the first round draft pick get some time at receiver. The guy is a receiver.

But you did not see him returning kicks. I have no idea why.

The guy who was billed as the next Devin Hester was on the sideline during kickoffs against the Chiefs. The guy who is really fast was walking around when he could have been flying upfield. The guy who returned a kickoff for a touchdown against Florida in the national title game was as much a spectator during kickoffs as you and me.

And Ginn has no idea why.

Perhaps as an experiment of the preseason, perhaps as a foreshadowing of things to come, the Dolphins had Ronnie Brown and Jesse Chatman returning kicks while Ginn watched from the sideline.

"I'll do whatever the team needs me to do," Ginn told me after the game. "If that's returning punts or kicks, I'll do that. If it's playing receiver, I'll do that. If not, then I'll do that. Whatever the coaches want."

But why wouldn't the coaches want? We'll find out Saturday when coach Cam Cameron is next available to the press. In the meantime, one hopes this is simply a test-drive of Brown and Chatman and the team will eventually buy into the speedy, scary Ginn threatening in the dual role of punt and KICK returner.

We'll see.

Other thoughts from the game:

*The first team OL was better, but still not good enough. Adding vet Chris Liwienski gives the line some stability.

*Look for L.J. Shelton to either be a starter or possibly hit the road. He made coaches very unhappy by not being in shape early in camp. He improved greatly in the past week. If he continues to improve, he could be starting before long. If he doesn't, he could be outta here.

*The three QBs that will be on the team (sorry Gibran), had better outings Thursday than they did against Jacksonville. As Trent Green said, we took some steps.

*The defense continues to amaze, particularly when one considers Zach Thomas, Jason Taylor, Keith Traylor and Joey Porter haven't taken a snap in two games. That means youngsters are getting a chance to shine and gain experience. And they're doing exactly that.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Your thoughts on tonight's DOLPHINS game

(Pregame Update)

KANSAS CITY -- The Dolphins are making some changes on the starting offensive line this evening.

Rex Hadnot will move from starting left gaurd to right guard. Drew Mormino is benched. Chris Liwienski, who did not start last week, will start at left gaurd tonight.

The constant changes along the offensive line is the reason the following item is important to Miami fans:

The Newark Star-Ledger in New Jersey is reporting the Jets have no intention of dumping Pete Kendall.

As I've stated several times this preseason in columns and on this weblog, I know the Dolphins would love to have an opportunity to acquire Kendall if he is released by New York.

Miami GM Randy Mueller has a history with Kendall and the Dolphins have a definite need to upgrade at guard -- especially with a proven veteran who can stabilize an unstable situation.

Unfortunately, Newsday's source tells the paper that Kendall is still a good player and the Jets aren't in the habit of dumping good players. There are two ways to see this:

1. Believe it at face value because Newsday's beat writer has a reputation for getting things right.

2. Take it with a grain of salt because New York Jets sources have a habit of using the papers to suit their agendas. And one obvious agenda is to put out the idea Kendall is staying so he'll stop holding almost-daily updates with the press about his desire to get out.

This much is clear: Kendall played well last week and it makes no sense that he would remain with the second unit, especially while he's making $1.7 million in base salary. And he definitely is not taking a pay cut.

Anyway, at the risk of leading today's conversation toward the Kennedy assassination or the truth behind Area 51, I open the floor for comments about tonight's game.

I want to know:

*How many of you believe the OL will actually show improvement and how many think the players and Cam Cameron are feeding us a fat slice of headcheese when they promise things will get better.

*How many of you are losing patience (already) with Trent Green?

*How many of you are going to drink more than a six-pack during the game?

*How many of you expect to report for work Friday with a hangover?

*How many of you still will be tuned in when John Beck enters the game in the third quarter, realizing there are no plans to play Beck this season?

*As you know, these two teams made a trade in 2005 that sent CB Patrick Surtain and a draft pick that turned into LB Boomer Grigsby to KC for a draft pick that turned out to be DE Matt Roth and another that turned out to be T Anthony Alabi. Who got the better of that deal?

*And finally .... Daunte Culpepper. No question. Just Daunte Culpepper.

I'll be back before the game with updates and then you should leave your halftime and post-game comments here also.

Ready? Blog.

Jesse Chatman may make run at Ronnie Brown

I like Ronnie Brown and think he has a chance to be a good back at some point.

But .......

In the coming month or so, be very vigilant of what is going on with the Dolphins running back situation. Despite the fact Brown remains the starter now and likely will stay that way for some time, Dolphins coaches are really intrigued with Jesse Chatman.

Chatman has shown, at times, an ability to break tackles that Brown has not shown the new staff yet. In the game against Jacksonville, you saw Chatman turn a dull offensive evening into something to feel OK about when he broke off a 74-yard run.

What coaches saw was that Chatman improvised, bouncing off a hole that was closed, cutting back, then out-running defenders to the end zone. Granted, it was against second- and third-team defenders, but he was working with second- and third-team offensive linemen.

It bears noting that Chatman is a back Cam Cameron knows well since his days at San Diego. It bears noting that GM Randy Mueller has had a hand in bringing Chatman to the Dolphins twice now in the last three seasons.

It also bears noting that Chatman, while not exactly time-tested, isn't a scrapheap rookie. He has played in the NFL and succeeded. He had a career-best 103 yards on 11 carries, including a 41-yard TD against Jacksonville in 2004.

During the regular season.

He averaged 6 yards per carry that season for the Chargers.

Now I am not saying Ronnie Brown is about to lose his job. I am not trying to create a running back controversy (not yet anyway). But I am giving everyone a heads up that Chatman is coming on while Brown's first action of the preseason netted 8 yards on 8 carries.

It also shouldn't escape everyone's attention that Brown was drafted by Nick Saban so the current Miami braintrust has no vested interest in him. If he's great, he's great and everyone's happy.

But if he's not as good as the guy behind him, there is no pressure to prop him up because neither Cameron nor Mueller picked him.

So check to see how the two runners compare against KC and the rest of the preseason. In fact, keep your eyes open to this budding competition the entire season.

Monday, August 13, 2007

No Gerard Warren for the Dolphins is reporting that Denver Broncos defensive tackle Gerard Warren is on the trade block and one of the teams that has been in conversation with the Broncos about the former first-round pick is Miami.

That website is reporting the Broncos also reached out to Washington and New Orleans, among others.

THIS website is reporting the Dolphins ain't interested.

The Dolphins are interested in adding some depth along the defensive line as GM Randy Mueller (He's doing a great job, by the way) noted in an interview with the CBS-4 broadcast crew during Saturday's game against Jacksonville.

But Warren, a former University of Florida standout, has pretty much been a one-gap defender his entire career and that apparently is not what the Dolphins are looking for right now -- particularly since Warren hasn't exactly lived up to expectation in Cleveland or Denver.

One thing I would say is the Dolphins are hoping guys like Rodrique Wright, Akbar Gbaja-Biamila or somebody else comes on soon because the team needs that to make up for the loss of Kevin Carter and David Bowens this offseason.

Your thoughts?

Oh, almost forget: You guys did a terrific job yesterday making this the Herald's most popular blog. In the expectation that you can make it two days in a row, I leave you with this thought -- Daunte Culpepper.


Quarterback plan now up in the air for KC game

(Updated again late Monday afternoon)

Cam Cameron originally had a two-game plan for his quarterbacks that included, as I reported, starting Trent Green against Jacksonville and Cleo Lemon against Kansas City.

But following Saturday's poor performance he said late this afternoon he has to go back and rethink the plan.

“The rotation will be the same," Cameron said. "The time element we haven’t decided yet. Again, that’s still a couple days away before we’ll finalize that. Actually, let’s just wait. I don’t want to be sitting here saying ‘this is what we’re thinking today’ because I haven’t thought it through. I don’t need to think it through just yet. We did have a little bit of a two-game plan. I’ll update you more maybe tomorrow or Wednesday.”

Actually, the rotation may not necessarily be the same. Originally, Cameron wasn't sure if Green would play at all, meaning Lemon would start.

If that stays as is, Lemon will start and would play two quarters.

If Cameron changes the plan, Green may be back in there as the starter for some snaps as the starter.

If the plan changes, it must be noted, it is a definite sign the coach is concerned about the progress of his offense -- particularly the timing of Green with his receivers.

As I reported in the earlier post, a determination on which direction he goes will be affected by practices Monday and Tuesday.

(Monday afternoon update: A lot of you think I'm starting some sort of QB controversy with this post. Please be more intelligent than that. I am simply reporting what Miami's initial plan is. Secondly, a lot of you finally got a chance to comment on Daunte Culpepper's debut in Oakland. It was, shall we say, eventful.

(He completed 5 of 12 passes for 78 yards. One of his completions went 50 yards. But he also fumbled twice and was sacked once. Playing late in the third quarter and throughout the fourth quarter, Culpepper led Oakland to one field goal.)

Your thoughts?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The starting offensive line is horrible right now

The Dolphins offensive line has a long way to go before it can be mediocre.

I wish I could tell you things will work out for the line because last night's horrible performance was only the first preseason game. Or maybe I could say things aren't that bad because the offense hadn't put together a game plan for Jacksonville.

I wish I could tell you the problems were a mirage that will go away soon in the reality of a regular season.

They're not.

The Dolphins offensive line is looking worse now than it did last year. Yes, worse. The unit has no cohesiveness, no chemistry and no depth.

Ronnie Brown ran the ball eight times against Jacksonville. He was tackled behind the line of scrimmage three times. So nearly half the times he got the football, the blocking had broken down before he even got back to the line of scrimmage.

Trent Green had to run for his life. He was sacked twice but there were at least two other times he got out of the grasp of a sack or ducked under a defender that came at him unblocked.

Rookie guard Drew Mormino, who I believe will be a good pro once he gains some muscle and experience, looked overmatched at times. Rookie center Samson Satele didn't really move the pile forward with any consistency. And that stuff about the Dolphins didn't look good because they didn't game-plan?

Well, the Jags didn't game plan, either. They didn't run stunts or blitzes. It was straight man on man stuff and the Miami men generally lost.

And when Vernon Carey went out of the game with a not-serious knee injury, the next guy in the game at left tackle was undrafted rookie free agent Julius Somebodyorother. What is that all about?

The bottom line is this: It is impossible to win an NFL game without blocking defenders. The Dolphins first-team OL hardly blocked anyone Saturday night.

I wouldn't be surprised if there are some changes before the team plays again Thursday. And I know general manager Randy Mueller is looking (really hard, I hope) for a veteran guard to put alongside Satele so Mormino can go to the bench and have the redshirt learning year he needs.

Your thoughts?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Cameron's substitution plan well-thought

I wrote about Cam Cameron's plan for using players in tonight's game elsewhere on The Herald site and in the newspaper today.

Read the story here:

The plan leaves Cameron open to a lot of criticism if any veteran on offense gets hurt because the player is being used for at least a half the first time out of the chute this preseason.

But I will not be one of those bleeding-heart dorks eating free meals in the press box and second-guessing the coach if the worst happens and somebody gets hurt. Oh, I'll be eating in the press box alright, but I won't second-guess this move if it fails.

That's because I agree with Cameron's approach.

The Dolphins, you see, plan to use Ronnie Brown as their workhorse this year. They planned to do the same thing last year. The difference is the plan last year had no follow-through.

The Dolphins wanted to do something starting in the regular-season they hadn't done in training camp or in the preseason. Consequently, Brown wasn't prepared when the real games started and coaches wanted him in there.

Well, the guy has been carrying the ball a lot in practice and he's going to get a half of work tonight when most other starters around the NFL are playing only a couple of series. I think this just makes sense as Miami preps Brown for doing exactly this in the regular-season.

And, if the worst happens in the form of an injury, so be it. It would stink. But you have to plan for the season by getting ready to play, not by holding back.

The fact the offensive line, which is a hard-hat area under construction, is also supposed to play the first half is another stroke of genius. Play the rookies the entire game, I say. Let Drew Mormino and Samson Satele get their experience now rather during the regular season. At least let them go into the regular season with four games already under their jockstraps.

That's the way Don Shula approached it with Keith Sims and Richmond Webb 17 years ago, and I believe the strategy still works today.

And again, if one of them gets hurt, it simply wasn't meant to be. Move on.

I must point out that this applies only to the offense. The defense is a unit that is filled with veterans, the system is not new, and most positions are set. So those players should not be exposed to extended playing time. The risk is simply to high for the reward.

But the offense? Let 'er rip.

Anyway, you guys tell me what you expect to see from Ted Ginn Jr., who is starting, and any other thoughts that pop into your minds pre-, during or post-game.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Exclusive Nick Saban itinerary at Alabama

Through much investigative reporting, I have acquired former Dolphins coach Nick Saban's intinerary for today. I now share that with you on an otherwise slow news day.


4:00 AM - Wake up.
4:01 AM - Fire secretary for mispelling 'ITINERARY.' But first, get security to go to her house, step in her garden, wake her butt up, and get her to deliver my Little Debbies.
4:02 AM - Watch the movie 'Gladiator' in 16X fast forward.
4:20 AM - Think about how much of a punk Maximus is and how I could dominate his ass.
4:21 AM - Call Major Applewhite. Tell him if he isn't at my house in 5 minutes I will hire Chris Simms to do his friggin' job.
4:25 AM - Tell Major who he is recruiting today. Send him on the road and tell him not to come back until he has a commitment. From a 5-star.
4:26 AM - Call Major. Ask him where the frick my 5-star QB commitment is? Call him names. Hang up.
4:27 AM - Power nap.
4:28 AM - 3-mile jog.
4:29 AM - Play game of NCAA 07. Beat LSU 63-0.With Valdosta State.
5:00 AM - Call Mal Moore and order him to bring me a bagel.
5:01 AM - Call Mal and yell at him for being late with the bagel.
5:02 AM - Get bagel from Mal. Complain that it isn't toasted enough. Slam door.
5:03 AM - Toast bagel with laser eyes, then toss it because I want my Little Debbies.
5:05 AM - Do whatever the hell I want, except talk to my wife, for two-and-a-half hours.
7:36 AM - Wake up the daughter, tell her how much I love her, fix her breakfast, buy her a pony, kiss her on the forehead then telepathically threaten her boyfriend.
7:39 AM - Head to office.
9:00 AM -- Wake wife. Show faith, trust and confidence in her abilities as a woman.
9:40 AM -- Call NCAA office. Have Jason Allen's eligibility extended because you want to face somebody that bad when you play Tennessee.
10:50 AM - Prank-call Don Shula. Tell him that Nick Saban is looking to hire a new secretary and if he 's interested to have his son Mike e-mail his resume to me. Do not disguise voice.
11:00 AM - Go to Mobile. Recruit my ass off.
11:50 AM - Go to Daphne. Recruit my ass off.
12:25 PM - Go to Louisiana. Take huge crap inside the LSU Football Complex. Use the bathroom in Miles' office. Do not close door.
12:26 PM - Use bottled skunk scent to create the illusion that my crap stinks.
12:27 PM - Leave toilet un-flushed. Not to be rude. Just to remind everyone at LSU that it's Nick Saban's job to get crap done, and Les Miles' job to take care of whatever Nick Saban leaves behind.
12:29 PM - Enter Auburn city limits. Inhale, then hold breath.
12:30 PM - Meet Tommy Tuberville for lunch. When waiter takes order, say"I'll have what he's having." Wait for Tuberville to order something healthy. Then call him a p**** and order a double cheeseburger. With onion rings.
12:31 PM - Call Wayne Huizenga and promise not to leave the Dolphins.
12:35 PM - Make Wayne give me another $4.5 million for this year.
12:40 PM - Head to my car, which some booster gave me for free. Along with his wife.
1:03 - 1:29 P.M. - Hit as many Auburn fans' mailboxes as possible on way. Swerve if necessary.
1:30 PM - Arrive at Auburn City Sheriff's Office.
1:31 PM - Beat the snot out of Auburn City Sheriff. Tell him there is a new sheriff in town.
1:58 PM - Exit Auburn city limits. Wait five minutes, then exhale.
2:00 PM - Go to SEC baseball tourney.
2:01 PM - Walk into batter's box. Grab crotch. Hit pinch-hit HR. Not for Alabama but for whoever is playing LSU.
2:08 PM - Drive to airport.
3:30 PM - Catch the 3:15 flight to Miami (while it is already in the air).
6 PM - Drive to The Miami Herald and beat the crap out of the entire sports staff.
6:01 PM -- Visit Mike Mularkey. Ask him if there's anything else he needs me to do for his career. Fart in his face before leaving.
6:10 PM - Call Wayne and order him to lend me his private jet for the flight home.
7:01 PM - Board Wayne's jet and decide to keep it for myself.
9:00 PM -- Call Wayne to curse him out for not personally driving me to and from my new jet.
9:01 PM - Go into office. Plan. Recruit. Dominate.
Midnight - Call Mal. Order him to bring a cigarette relative to my new smoking habit.
12:05 AM - Light cigarette with laser eyes.
12:06 AM - 1,000 sit-ups.
12:07 AM - 1,000 push-ups.
12:08 AM - 1,000 crunches.
12:09 AM - End warm-up period and begin hour-long evening workout.
12:39 AM - Complete hour-long evening workout.
12:40 AM Take long shower.
12:41 AM. Get in bed. Pray. Order God to forgive me if I have ever lied. Sleep. Dream of not being a social misfit.

Actually, this was e-mailed to me by Patrick, one of this blog's regular readers and contributors. I thought it was hilarious. I changed a couple of things. Hope you guys got a kick out of it.

Some stuff about the offensive line

Let me share with you a scene from Wednesday afternoon's practice that really impressed me:

In 9-on-9 passing drills, left tackle Vernon Carey and left guard Drew Mormino were matched up against Vonnie Holliday inside and Jason Taylor outside. At the snap of the ball, Taylor and Holliday worked a stunt, Taylor coming over Holliday.

Well, Carey punched at Taylor then handed him off to Mormino who picked him up without pause or problem. Carey then walled off Holliday.

My jaw dropped because the two offensive linemen, working together for the first time side-by-side, looked as if they'd been together for years against two quality defensive players. I am encouraged while still understanding that the combo is a work in progress.

I wrote about Mormino in today's Herald and you can read the story here:

Right tackle L.J. Shelton, on the other hand, is not such a wonderful story. The veteran is overweight and doesn't really seem to have the kind of character coach Cam Cameron is looking for. Shelton is an amicable, laid-back type and he let himself balloon to nearly 347 pounds at the start of this camp.

Cameron wants someone with fire and desire and HEART. He wants a professional and Shelton hasn't shown the professionalism. Unless he gets his act together -- losing weight and showing some drive -- Shelton's time on the bench could be extended.

The story with Rex Hadnot is somewhat different. He is back with the starting group now but his temporary benching was something of a mystery -- even to Hadnot. You see, Cameron and Hadnot don't seem to mix so well and according to people who know, the coach had not really explained to Hadnot why exactly he was benched.

It wasn't weight because Hadnot is at about 320-325. It wasn't a lack of fire. Hadnot hadn't been practicing great, I will grant that, but he is still better than Chris Liwienski. This is a situation that bears watching because, unless I miss my guess, the relationship between the two men could lead to some interesting moments down the line.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Seeking opinions on YOUR Dolphins

OK, so Joey Porter's surgery supposedly was meant to remove loose bodies from beneath his kneecap. It's not serious, according to Dolphins coach Cam Cameron.

So don't worry about nothin'.

At least not Porter, right?

Well, I'm still holding my breath, hoping for the best while being vigilant. On other fronts, YOUR Dolphins are preparing for their preseason debut Saturday and it causes me to conduct the first poll of this blog.

(By the way, a poll is a tool lazy bloggers and radio show hosts use to drive traffic and calls.)

Anywho, I want to know what you believe will be Miami's greatest strength and weakness this year. I provide the choices. You provide the answer and the reason you're picking those answers.


The greatest strength the Dolphins have this year will be:

1. Cam Cameron as head coach.
2. The addition of Ted Ginn Jr.
3. The defensive front, specifically with Jason Taylor.
4. Their favorable early schedule.
5. With Trent Green at QB, finally an accomplished signal-caller on the roster.

Now, the greatest weakness the Dolphins will have this year will be:

1. Cam Cameron as head coach.
2. That leaky offensive line.
3. A secondary that is unable to intercept passes.
4. Their tough schedule late.
5. With Trent Green at QB, another letdown at the QB position.

Discuss ...

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

What does Joey Porter's surgery mean?

You know that Joey Porter went under the arthroscope this morning. So where does that leave the Dolphins?

Well, let's backtrack a minute, first. The Dolphins have released zero information what the surgery was intended to accomplish. Was it to clean up a loose body floating around in there, which would make the surgery minor? Was it to repair meniscus damage which would be more serious?

Nothing yet here so anyone telling you this is routine is full of it. And anyone telling you this is really serious is equally full of it.

But this much we do know this surgery means:

Donnie Spragan, who started most of the last two years, will take Porter's place (at least initially). That means the Dolphins defense is lessened because Spragan doesn't make big mistakes but doesn't really make any big plays, either. He is what he is: A backup stopgap.

Porter, assuming he returns by the regular-season, will now have to pretty much get acclimated on the fly. I think all of us are guilty of thinking that once a player has been in the NFL for an extended period, training camp is just a fine-tuning exercise. It is more than that.

The players need training camp to have their timing. They need camp to overcome weaknesses in their game. In short, they need camp, as Zach Thomas told me last week, "to get the rust out and improve." There are very few examples of players missing all of camp and having good seasons, although Emmitt Smith in 1994, I think, comes to mind.

So Porter won't be honing his game any time soon. That diminishes what the Dolphins can do on defense.

Another problem with the injury is that because Porter is new to the team, coaches were still tweaking things to figure out how to best use him. Sure he was going to rush the passer, but was he going to come off stunts, was he coming strictly from the outside, was he best in certain coverage situations? All that will now have to be learned on the fly during the regular season. There will be no preseason experimentation to figure it all out.

Finally, and I cannot stress this enough, Porter admitted to me last week that he still didn't feel comfortable with the Miami terminology and chemistry. He said he couldn't be the Joey Porter everyone was expecting until he got that stuff down and could play on instinct. So even if he is able to play in the regular-season opener, we may not see the real Joey Porter until later in the season.

Assuming, that is, this surgery has no lasting effects.

Monday, August 06, 2007

First depth chart of the season is out

Below is the Dolphins first depth chart of the season. Some interesting things to note?

*It's amazing to me that Rex Hadnot isn't making any headway along the offensive line. He hasn't overtaken Drew Mormino at right guard after two weeks of camp and isn't even in the picture at center.

*I've told you guys several times that L.J. Shelton simply isn't the answer. He's an afterthought player and as long as he's one of your five best, your offensive line is putrid. Well, the good news is he hadn't been able to wrest the starting right tackle spot from Anthony Alabi after two weeks and that was even while Alabi was clearly not 100 percent.

The bad news is Alabi limped off the practice field today and Shelton took his place.

*Kevin Vickerson doesn't look like he's going to make this team unless he simply plays out of his mind in the preseason.

*Joe Toledo is starting to be something of an injury disappointment, especially given the fact there are jobs open at guard and tackle. Also note that Andre' Goodman isn't on the depth chart because of his injury.

*Robert McCune has been pretty good as a backup to Zach Thomas during camp. The backup job is his to win if he shines on special teams. Rookie Kelvin Smith seems headed to the practice squad unless he goes crazy in the preseason.

*The battle for the fifth receiver spot -- after Booker, Chambers, Ginn Jr. and Hagan -- is going to be interesting.

*Looking at this team on paper, one gets the feeling they'll be fine if they can avoid injuries. But if they're hit with a couple of injuries the Dolphins are in BIG trouble.

Your thoughts?


WR 86 Marty Booker /19 Ted Ginn, Jr. /81 Az-Zahir Hakim/
15 Kerry Reed /83 Michael Malone.

WR 84 Chris Chambers/ 82 Derek Hagan /14 P.K. Sam/
18 David Sutton /16 Marvin Allen/

LT 72 Vernon Carey /65 Julius Wilson/

LG 76 Chris Liwienski /69 Tala Esera

C 64 Samson Satele/ 68 Johnathan Ingram/ 73 Dan Stevenson

RG 77 Drew Mormino /66 Rex Hadnot/ 63 Stephen Parker

RT 79 Anthony Alabi/ 70 L.J. Shelton/ 78 Mike Rosenthal/

TE 88 David Martin/ 87 Justin Peelle/ 80 Aaron Halterman/
49 Courtney Anderson /85 Jason Rader

FB 30 Cory Schlesinger /45 Reagan Mauia/ 89 Tim Massaquoi
40 Kyle Eckel

RB 23 Ronnie Brown /28 Jesse Chatman/ 20 Lorenzo Booker/
38 Patrick Cobbs /33 Ray Perkins

QB 10 Trent Green and 17 Cleo Lemon/ 9 John Beck /7 Gibran Hamdan


DE 99 Jason Taylor 93/ Akbar Gbaja-Biamila /74 Mkristo Bruce

DE 98 Matt Roth/ 95 Chase Page /92 Kevin Vickerson

NT 94 Keith Traylor/ 96 Paul Soliai/ 61 Marquay Love/ 60 Steve Fifita

DT 91 Vonnie Holliday/ 90 Rodrique Wright /75 Brian Soi/

LB 54 Zach Thomas /51 Robert McCune /58 Kelvin Smith

LB 52 Channing Crowder /56 Derrick Pope/ 48 Edmond Miles

LB 55 Joey Porter/ 59 Donnie Spragan/ 57 Jim Maxwell/ 53 Abraham Wright

CB 25 Will Allen/ 22 Michael Lehan/ 36 Derrick Johnson/43 Geoff Pope

CB 29 Travis Daniels /32 Jason Allen/ 27 Shirdonya Mitchell/

S 37 Yeremiah Bell /26 Travares Tillman/ 47 Courtney Bryan/ 31 Christopher Vedder

S 24 Renaldo Hill /44 Cameron Worrell /35 Tuff Harris/ 41 Chris Harrell

P 4 Brandon Fields /6 Ryan Flinn

K 3 Jay Feely /1 Matt Prater

PC 97 John Denney/ 99 Jason Taylor /80 Aaron Halterman

KC 97 John Denney/ 99 Jason Taylor /80 Aaron Halterman

H 4 Brandon Fields /6 Ryan Flinn

PR 19 Ted Ginn, Jr. /86 Marty Booker/ 81 Az-Zahir Hakim

KR 19 Ted Ginn, Jr./ 23 Ronnie Brown /20 Lorenzo Booker

Joey Porter's knee injury is bad news

There is much angst among Dolphins staff, coaches and personnel people in connection to Joey Porter's knee problem.

Porter, it seems, is likely going to have arthroscopic surgery and that has been a cause for some alarm because he is only the biggest acquisition of the offseason -- bar none- and the reputation of a lot of folks is at stake as Porter either succeeds or fails in Miami.

So the Dolphins are being very cautious in making a decision about the player to whom they delivered $20 million in guaranteed money.

Because the contract was sooo large and because it came even as the Pittsburgh Steelers decided Porter wasn't worth the $5 million he was to earn this year, the team welcomed the idea that Porter get a second opinion on what to do with the knee after he initially saw team doctors last week.

The Dolphins are holding their breath because, now that this is becoming an issue, it marks the second year in a row their signature offseason acquisition might be having knee issues. (Um, remember someone named Culpepper last year?)

So the team is treading very carefully here. It has already refuted a report on that said Porter had already undergone knee surgery. I spoke with a spokesman of Dr. James Andrews today and no such surgery has been performed at this time.

That doesn't mean it won't happen. But simply the evaluation probably isn't complete as of this writing. (Quick aside: Have you noticed how many Dolphins players don't totally trust the words of the team's doctors and seek second opinions, not to mention how many would rather get their surgery with someone else?)

This situation, which would be a passing blip on the typical radar, is mountain huge at Dolphins camp because it begs some tough questions:

1. Did Porter have this knee issue before the Dolphins signed him?

2. Did the Steelers know something about Porter's health, which led them to get rid of him?

3. Even if Porter didn't have this issue when he signed, how long has his knee been bothering him, because after all, if he would have spoken up in the offseason it wouldn't be an issue now.

4. How is it that Cam Cameron said today he didn't know what the first opinion given by doctors was even as he was announcing Porter is getting a second opinion? He's the team's coach, right? Don't they tell him stuff?

Anyway, it says here that regardless of how serious or not this knee injury is, the damage is likely to be felt into the regular season.

If Porter decides against surgery, this issue isn't something that simply will disappear so it will be a recurring theme all year long until he gets the injury completely resolved. If he gets the surgery he will likely miss -- best case scenario -- two to four weeks of practice time.

Why is that important? The last time I talked to Porter (last week) he told me he still wasn't completely comfortable in the Dolphins system and he couldn't really go full-tilt in that system until he found that comfort level.

Said another way, Porter won't be Porter until he gets the defense.

And so if he misses a good amount of practice, that is a significant setback considering the Sept. 9 regular-season opener is only five weeks away. It will mean he'll be getting comfortable on the fly -- during the regular season.

That is, of course, assuming he's full-go in the regular season -- which could be an unwise assumption based on this team's recent history with knees.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Let's see your opinion of Ricky's future with Miami

I think you guys know what I think will happen with Ricky Williams. If you don't, read my column here and find out:

Or here's an idea: Spend a freakin' quarter and buy the paper you cheapos!!!!

Anyway, I think his days with the Dolphins are over. But I also know not everybody agrees with me because you guys think you know more about how the Dolphins operate than me (unfortunately, sometimes you do.) But I digress.

The point is since I've given you my opinion in my column, I'm going to let you guys give me your opinion in my blog.

Keep your insults of me to only a dozen please. After that I start to feel unappreciated.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

No rest for Zach Thomas

Spent a couple of minutes with Zach Thomas today and we got around to talking about guys taking time off from training camp to save their bodies.

Keith Traylor practices only once a day. And today, Az-Zahir Hakim took the morning off in what coach Cam Cameron said was an attempt to rest the veteran.

So I asked Thomas, who is about to start his 12th NFL season why he doesn't take a practice off here and there to save himself for later in the season.

He looked at me like I was from Mars.

"I'm not going to do that," Thomas said. "Right now, more than anything I need the work because I'm still rusty. I need to get ready for the season so I got to be in there."

But, but, but what about keeping the legs fresh?

"Nobody knows if that works or not," Thomas said. "A few years ago people said we worked too hard in camp and that's the reason we would fade late. But we're working like the Chargers did last year and they seemed to stay pretty fresh all season. Who knows."

The point that struck me most is that in an age when many players don't want to be a part of camp as they age (remember Dan Wilkinson?) and some players are more worried about the numbers in their check book than the mark they leave on the history book (Michael Strahan), Thomas is truly a throwback.

He wants to be the best. And works -- hard -- to get there.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Some observations from training camp

The Dolphins have been in camp for a week now so let me share some things that are becoming apparent to these highly untrained eyes.

*That quarterback competition that everybody is mocking? Well, Trent Green and Cleo Lemon really are sharing time with the first team offense. Today, Lemon took the first-team snaps after Green did that yesterday. "I really believe it's an open competition," Lemon told me Wednesday.

*Rodrique Wright, injured all of last year, has pretty much changed his body configuration. He's leaner, stronger, seemingly quicker than he was last year when he got only a few weeks of work following shoulder surgery. I'm told he might have been a first-day draft pick had he not been injured before the draft. He went in the seventh round. Now playing outside rather than DT, he might actually push for playing time.

*Rookie middle linebacker Kelvin Smith didn't look like much in the offseason camps. But he's been much better since the pads have gone on. The guy isn't fast or necessarily strong. But he's a hitter. He has a chance to make the team as a backup to Zach Thomas if he can show some of his instincts and hitting potential on special teams.

*Recently acquired TE Courtney Anderson is 6-6 and 270 pounds. He should be able to destroy people with his blocking, but I definitely haven't seen that. He looks like a better pass-catcher than blocker. In that respect, Justin Peelle's job seems secure.

*Drew Mormino isn't ready to be an NFL starter right now so the Dolphins are really kidding themselves thinking of him as a starter at right guard. But that is right now. Today. The guy's work ethic is amazing and his toughness is unquestionable. Give him a couple of months and he will be a legit competitor to start. Give him a year and the job should be his. Not bad for a sixth round pick the Dolphins found only because they were studying Joe Staley. (Good job Randy Mueller!)

*Jason Allen is starting to worry me. He is a first round pick that really isn't playing up to the draft pedigree. At least not so far. Understand that the Dolphins need help at CB. Andre' Goodman is still not ready following two offseason shoulder surgeries. Well, Allen not only isn't working with the first team, he's not even the No. 3 cornerback. Mike Lehan is filling that role with Goodman hurt. That means when Goodman returns, Allen could be further down the totem pole of cornerbacks. Unless the light bulb suddenly pops on brightly, Allen would be the No. 5 cornerback at best behind starters Travis Daniels and Will Allen, Goodman, and Lehan. Disappointing.