With this morning’s session in the books, the Dolphins only have one more practice (tomorrow at 11 a.m.) before they kick off the preseason in Atlanta on Friday night.
Camp has given us plenty of hints about this 2011 squad, but everything is taken to another level in a game setting. Starting jobs will be won and roster spots will be earned in the exhibition season.
The action on the practice facility in Davie will still go a long way in shaping this team, however. And certainly a string of solid performances at practice will open the door for more opportunities to impress in the preseason. Let’s recap the happenings from today.
Chad Henne’s inconsistencies continue
What would our daily camp reports be without an update on how Chad Henne is progressing in his third season as the starter? Henne didn’t exactly build off of his outstanding performance in Sunday’s intrasquad scrimmage, when he tossed three touchdown passes to Brandon Marshall.
“Erratic” was a popular word used by the South Florida media to describe Henne’s workout today. He went a dreadful 2 for 8 in the Dolphins’ team session, but it should be noted that Brandon Marshall dropped a ball that was put on the money.
You know what you’re getting from the elite quarterbacks in this league week after week. The same can’t be said for Henne. Sure, he’s had some great outings in the past, but he just hasn’t been able to string together several solid games in a row. It’s clear that consistency is in order for Henne to finally have the breakout season he’s overdue for.
I’ve said before that there isn’t much of a competition between Chad Henne and Matt Moore. It’s clearly Henne’s job to lose, and he’s basically going to have to hand the thing over if Moore stands a chance.
Well, Matt More reportedly was fairly sound at practice today, putting together his best workout since signing with the Dolphins. I still think it’s a long shot, but if today’s rough practice for Henne was a sign of a slump to come, Matt Moore could have a final say in this thing after all.
Free safety competition getting interesting
The Dolphins are now presumably rotating Reshad Jones and Chris Clemons into the starting lineup every other practice. Jones received first-team reps in Sunday’s scrimmage, but Chris Clemons was back working with the starters today. There wasn’t much word out of Davie regarding how either one looked today, but it appears that neither has a decisive advantage.
Personally, I would give a slight edge to Jones because of his playmaking ability. But I see this bout going all 12 rounds, ultimately being decided by who makes more plays or less mistakes in the preseason.
Mike Pouncey beginning to catch on
According to Omar Kelly, first-round pick Mike Pouncey had his best practice as a pro. He reportedly was opening up some running room for the Dolphins’ tailbacks to get something going- an admirable feat considering how stout Miami’s defensive line is.
People can talk about Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas all day, but Pouncey may have a bigger say in how improved the Dolphins’ running game is than either.
One of the biggest reasons why their ground attack fell off in 2010 was because Joe Berger struggled at the center spot. If you remember back to ’09, the Dolphins made the jump from a middle-of-the-pack running offense to breaking the top five.
Few give him any recognition, but Jake Grove played a huge role in the turnaround. If Mike Pouncey can prove to be a reliable starting center as a rookie, I expect the Dolphins’ running game to bounce back in a big way this year.
No Will Allen….again
Cornerback Will Allen has been a daily feature in our camp reports, but for all the wrong reasons. Allen was once again on the sidelines with what is now being considered knee soreness. Benny Sapp is looking more and more like lock to man nickel corner again this season and Allen could be headed for the PUP list.
Ray Feinga returns, Nate Garner moves to tackle
After missing most of last week with an undisclosed injury, Ray Feinga returned to work today. Feinga lined up with the second-team at right guard, allowing Nate Garner to move back over to tackle. For now, at least, it looks like the Dolphins value Garner as a versatile backup and aren’t seriously considering him for the starting right tackle job that is currently up for grabs.
Randy Starks gets some reps at nose tackle
A year ago, the Dolphins experimented with their starting defensive line by moving Randy Starks to nose tackle. 2009 first-round pick Jared Odrick going down early in the year, however, forced Starks back to defensive end.
Paul Soliai flourished as the starting nose and the rest is history. It appears the Dolphins are still giving Starks looks inside, though, most likely as an insurance policy, as he was seen spelling Soliai with the starters some today.
Charles Clay threatening Lousaka Polite’s roster spot
Charles Clay isn’t the pure fullback Lousaka Polite is, bordering more along the lines of a tight end than anything, but he appears to be threatening the short-yardage ace’s spot on the team.
Brian Daboll may not utilize a pure fullback in the new offense and unless the Dolphins only plan on keeping two tight ends, Clay likely takes Polite’s spot if he makes the team as expected. Clay got some looks with the starting offense today, only confirming that he’s seriously challenging for a significant role in the offense.
Dolphins make roster moves
Undrafted rookie linebacker Mark Masterson retired today, prompting the Dolphins to sign defensive back K.J. Gerard and linebacker David Nixon. Gerard appeared in three games for the Ravens in 2009, but was most recently with the Chicago Bears. Nixon has spent time with the Rams, Texans and Raiders in the past two seasons.
Sources: Omar Kelly, Ben Volin