A day after opening up camp, the Dolphins were back at it again at 9 a.m. this morning and then again at 5 p.m., conducting their first two-a-day. Is it just me or are we always in for surprises this time of year? Last year it was Matt Roth's mysterious groin injury. This year Pat White has provided the speculation, and a possible cinderella story is unfolding in the outside linebacker competition. And when you throw in open competitions at multiple positions, we have more than enough to keep our interest peeking throughout camp.
Pat White back at practice
A day after being absent for the team's first workout, White was back to work, despite reports suggesting his season was in jeopardy with a "serious situation." Coach Sparano and White himself tap danced around what the issue was, only conceding that it was a personal matter, nothing injury-related.
Staying on the quarterback front, the Dolphins are scheduled to workout current AFL QB Tom Grady on Monday. It's too early to read much into this, but if he makes the camp roster, White would likely lose out on valuable reps that could make or break his 53-man chances.
Procter and Jerry the front-runners at guard?
To my surprise, the Dolphins chose not to rotate which guards got first-team reps today. Instead, Cory Procter stayed put at starting left guard and rookie John Jerry remained at starting right guard. Does that mean they are the front-runners to start Week 1? It's tough to say, simply because this could still be strictly experimental-with the coaches needing another day to effectively evaluate, or the rotational strategy could differ from the spring.
Maybe they are rotating every two days, or every week. Currently, though, I would be hard-pressed to say Procter and Jerry aren't the favorites. But things can change quickly, so it's way too early to count out Donald Thomas and Richie Incognito.
Speaking of Incognito, that notorious temper of his was on display today. There was no headbutting, but he reportedly got into a little scuffle with Tony McDaniel. If it were anybody else, you simply shrug this sort of thing off as in the spirit of healthy competition. But with Incognito's wild on-field track record, he can't afford do make this sort of mistake in games and kill drives with personal foul penalties.
Meanwhile, the battle for starting center saw Joe Berger take over first-team duties, which suggest that's where the closest competition currently resides along the O-line.
Ikaika Alama-Francis sees first-team reps at strong side linebacker
In a "out of nowhere" development, former defensive end Ikaika Alama-Francis (lets call him Ike from now on because I'm lazy) is now apparently in the competition at outside linebacker.
Ike started over Koa Misi on the strong side in the morning session, being pared with Cameron Wake, who has continued to dazzle as a pass rusher. Is this still an experiment, or does Ike have a legitimate shot at unseating Misi? We will probably have to wait a few days to see if Ike continues to get first-team looks, but the Dolphins could have found a diamond in the rough here.
Of course, he has a long way to go for that to become a reality, but if he can move as well as some of the reporters and coaches are saying, I can't wait to see him play this preseason.
Nose Tackle update
Reports have been limited about how well Randy Starks is transitioning to his new role as staring nose tackle, something I would probably be watching intently if I could make it to any of these practices, but he pulled a Joe McKnight today when he was seen puking on the sidelines.
I don't think we can question Starks' conditioning. He passed his conditioning test, after all, and something like this could happen to anyone playing under the South Florida sun while working their butt off. Backup Paul Soliai has drawn a little praise here and there for his work, and was even seen chit-chatting with Parcells some during practice.
If Soliai makes drastic progress this year, could he take over the starting job and free Starks to switch back to defensive end, where he was border-line dominate a year ago? It's too early to tell, but I would surely welcome that scenario, given the moderate level of uncertainty with Starks' move.
Ginn's departure gives this year's primary kick returner some big shoes to fill. So far, the candidates to take over include: Tristan Davis, Kory Sheets, Nolan Carroll, Ryan Grice-Mullen, and Taurus Johnson. We will have to wait until preseason to see who has the most big-play potential.