What: Dolphins’ preseason opener
When: Tonight at 7:30 p.m. EST
Where: The Georgia Dome/ Atlanta, Georgia
TV: WFOR Miami, CBS Atlanta, NFL.com Preseason Live, NFL Network replay at 1 p.m. Saturday
Radio: 560 WQAM Sports Radio (Miami), 790 The Zone and Star 94 FM (Atlanta)
Even if it’s essentially a practice game, a meaningless game scoreboard-wise, gameday is here. Dolphins’ football is back. The slate is clean. It’s a new year with fresh opportunities. It’s okay to be excited.
Having said that, taking everything that happens tonight with a grain of salt is in order. The preseason is rarely indicative of what’s to come in the regular season. How many teams have impressed, ran the table even in the exhibition season and wound up picking in the top ten in the draft?
On the contrary, teams like the Indianapolis Colts look dysfunctional at times in the preseason, but when things get real, they turn the switch on and instantly surface as one of the elite teams in football. So, while seeing good things from the Dolphins tonight would boost morale, it’s going to mean nothing when the Patriots come to town on September 12th.
The outcome of tonight’s game will be meaningless, but that’s hardly the case for many players, especially of the roster fringe variety. These four preseason games will help realize or crush NFL dreams.
Some players will earn their spot on the 53-man roster, while others will squander away the golden opportunity to play football for a living at the highest level. Competitions with starting implications could also be decided in these game settings.
So before you play the meaningless card in reference to these exhibitions, tell it to guys like Jimmy Wilson, who need solid performances to push for a roster spot and see an NFL dream come to fruition. Tell that to guys like Reshad Jones and Lydon Murtha, who must impress the coaches tonight if they want to earn the opportunity to be a starter in this league.
5 keys to success for Dolphins
1. Stay healthy: At the end of the day, regardless of what happens in the Georgia Dome tonight, priority number one is preventing any significant injuries. Chad Henne’s accuracy could be erratic, Daniel Thomas and Reggie Bush could produce negative yardage on the ground, and the first-team defense could surrender two touchdown drives, but if the Dolphins avoid any costly injuries, they can at least hang their heads on living to fight another day.
2. Chad Henne impress, maybe even lead a scoring drive: The preseason will carry a little more weight for Chad Henne than most starting quarterbacks. His confidence is fragile. That can easily be seen by his roller coaster first couple years at the helm. If he plays poorly in the preseason, I have my doubts he can put it behind him in time for New England.
Henne needs to get on a bit of a hot streak in these exhibition games in order to build some confidence and momentum for opening week. He’s fresh off of a great week of practice. Let’s see if it carries over to tonight’s game. Leading a scoring drive would do wonders for Henne’s confidence and the morale inside the locker room and with the fan base alike.
For the first time maybe EVER, it seems like EVERYONE is excited for some preseason football. With that in mind, here is a list of things to look out for this preseason.
1) Chad Henne
Obviously, the Dolphins' bias comes in here, but for Dolfans Henne is the most important piece for this team if they want to succeed. Confidence can go along way for a quarterback and it wouldn’t hurt for Henne to get off to a strong start this preseason and build some confidence going into the year. It will be also interesting to monitor how he works with Reggie Bush.
2) Fantasy Football implications
For the fantasy football junkies out there like myself, the preseason is an important time to learn who will be taking goal-line carries, what depth charts will look like, and how new players are integrated into their new teams.
Not yards, not touchdowns, not W’s but health is the most important thing when your talking about the preseason. Staying healthy is crucial, so look out for any big injuries this preseason.
4) The “Dream Team”
Vince Young calls them the dream team, Jason Babin says they're the Miami Heat of football, but we shall see!
5 ) The New kickoff rule
The new kick-off rule doesn’t seem very fan friendly. It will be much more difficult to bring one back this year.
So keep your eyes open, watch your favourite players, and get ready for some football!
With the NFL preseason kicking off tonight and the Dolphins only a day away from their exhibition opener, it’s time to evaluate where the roster stands today.
This isn’t a prediction on my part. This is a freeze frame of what the Dolphins’ 53-man roster would look like if they were forced to make final cuts today, before the preseason.
Obviously, this is far from an exact science. Only Jeff Ireland, Tony Sparano, and company have the real answers and know who they would keep and who they would cut. But judging by the various media reports of practice and the perception surrounding each player, we can formulate an educated guess of what the final 53 might look like.
This being the first installment of the series, with four crucial preseason games still on the slate, this is more of a report on which players are in the driver’s seat and which players face an uphill battle to make the squad.
Quarterback: Chad Henne, Matt Moore, Kevin O’Connell
Cuts: Pat Devlin
This is actually going to be quite the competition for third-string quarterback. Henne and Moore are safe and sound, but the recently signed Kevin O’Connell and undrafted rookie Pat Devlin figure to have a photo finish to see which quarterback will be kept on the 53-man roster.
At this very second, I would have to give the slight edge to O’Connell. Even though Devlin has been solid for the first 11 practices, O’Connell has experience on his side. We’ll have to see what Devlin does with his preseason snaps, but if he continues to flash potential, he could easily overtake O’Connell for the job.
Running Back: Daniel Thomas, Reggie Bush, Lex Hilliard, Kory Sheets
Cuts: Nic Grigsby
With Reggie Bush possessing the tools to be the scatback this offense needs, I think Lex Hilliard is fairly close to being safe considering a capable workhorse as insurance for Daniel Thomas is a must. Kory Sheets and Nic Grigsby are of the speedy variety and will likely battle it out for the fourth and final running back spot.
The Dolphins could always choose to only keep three backs around this year, especially considering Charles Clay’s roster spot will likely lead to fullback, tight end, or running back dropping a player this season. With the inexperience of the group, though, I see the Dolphins keeping four as a precaution.
Fullback: Charles Clay, Lousaka Polite
It’s been speculated that Lousaka Polite is in real danger of losing his roster spot. After a lackluster blocking performance a year ago, that is indeed the case despite being the short-yardage ace that he is.
We’ll have to wait and see if Brian Daboll plans on utilizing a pure fullback in the new offense, but Polite sticks on for now at the expense of a third tight end.
Tight End: Anthony Fasano, Mickey Shuler
Cuts: Jeron Mastrud, Dedrick Epps, Brett Brackett
With Charles Clay figuring to be more of a receiving threat than anything, I see a third tight end getting the axe. Mickey Shuler is Fasano’s backup on the depth chart, so we’ll keep it that way until one of the others makes a strong impression. Jeron Mastrud is certainly capable of pushing him, as he’s made a few noteworthy plays so far in camp.
Wide Receiver: Brandon Marshall, Davone Bess, Brian Hartline, Roberto Wallace, Clyde Gates
Cuts: Marlon Moore, Julius Pruitt, Patrick Carter, Brooks Foster, Phillip Livas
Sparano has already hinted that Roberto Wallace is the man to beat for the fourth receiver spot. While, Clyde Gates will likely pass him up by Week 1 if he can make a few plays in the preseason, Wallace would still be first in line for the final roster vacancy at the position.
Marlon Moore will have a say in the matter after cracking the 53-man roster a year ago and being slightly more productive than Wallace. But now that a potential deep threat is in place (Gates), I see the Dolphins sticking with Wallace’s upside.
Offensive Tackle: Jake Long, Marc Colombo, Nate Garner, Lydon Murtha
Cuts: Ray Willis, Matt Kopa, Allen Barbre, D.J. Jones
The Dolphins have kept as few as three offensive tackles in the past, but with the uncertainty at right tackle with Vernon Carey moving to guard, keeping four this time around seems to be in order.
I think this is how it would shake out if cuts were made today, assuming of course, Jake Long is taken off the PUP list before final cuts. Ray Willis is certainly capable of making things interesting, though, and if he lands a roster spot, it would likely come at the expense of Marc Colombo.
Offensive Guard: Richie Incognito, Vernon Carey, Ray Feinga
Cuts: John Jerry
This is certainly a tossup at the moment, but John Jerry’s roster spot is definitely in jeopardy after struggling as a rookie and showing up to camp somewhat out of shape. In the end, I think it comes down to whether or not the Dolphins keep Joe Berger around to backup Mike Pouncey.
If Berger is cut, which is a strong possibility considering Richie Incognito could easily move inside if something were to happen to Pouncey, Jerry probably squeezes on the 53.
Center: Mike Pouncey, Joe Berger
For now, we’ll keep Berger on the team. But if Pouncey has an outstanding preseason, though, the Dolphins could feel safe parting ways with Berger, who was nothing short of dreadful when given the opportunity to start a year ago.
There wasn’t a considerable amount of news coming out of Davie at Dolphins’ camp today. The Sun-Sentinel’s Omar Kelly, love him or hate him, typically provides in-depth coverage of everything that transpires. He had the day off, so we’ll have to make do with the beat writers who were present.
Mike Pouncey has poor snapping day
A day after reportedly having his best practice of camp and being praised by the likes of Omar Kelly among other media members for his solid performance thus far snapping the football, something he had some struggles with early on at Florida after switching to center, Pouncey had a rough day putting the shotgun snap on the money and even had a few issues getting the ball cleanly to the quarterback under center.
Now, one practice isn’t going to make or break anybody. It’s not about whether or not you’re going to make mistakes this early on. It’s about making the necessary adjustments to correct them. But inconsistent snapping ability is something to take seriously. Just one bad snap over the quarterback's head could lose a football game.
Is there a bigger key to victory than winning the turnover battle? If Pouncey’s struggles continue into the season and the Dolphins wind up turning the football over once or twice because of it or have a drive killed by a major loss due to a poor snap, Sparano could always move Pouncey to guard.
A quality backup plan would be swapping Pouncey and Richie Incognito. Incognito proved capable of moving inside in 2010 and actually has more upside at center than he does at guard.
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.
Ladies and Gentleman, boys and girls, children of all ages….Phins Phocus is going to be proudly brining to you the most electrifying blogs in sports entertainment. We have some news over here at the site and that is that we will be launching a new segment called Phinstake: The Great Debate! This new segment will sort of be like ESPN’s PTI and will be launched every week on our website.
Phinstake will be blogs of me (Daniel Eliesen) and my counterpart (Cody Strahm) going head to head, facemask to facemask on some major Dolphins and NFL topics.
Topics that might come up in the future: Reggie Bush or Daniel Thomas, who should be the feature back? Chad Henne (A robot or a person)? Do the Dolphins have enough weapons? Coach Sparano love him or had enough?
We will try to do our best to provide insightful and entertaining information in the new segment. I am going to apologize in advance if I make a lot of not funny jokes or am obnoxious during this segment as it is only in attempt to entertain the Phins Phocus audience and maybe score a deal on a new romantic comedy movie starring across Mila Kunis.
So get your popcorn ready, because after the first preseason game we will hit you up with our first segment going back to school giving out grades to the Dolphins roster.
We’re now eight practices and one intrasquad scrimmage into Miami Dolphins’ training camp. It’s still early and plenty of work is yet to be done, but first impressions have been made.
The 53-man roster is a long way from taking shape, but some players have begun to put themselves in the driver’s seat for a spot on this team. And early favorites have emerged in the few position battles on the roster.
With that said, let’s recap which players have helped their cause and which players have hurt their cause the most in the first week-and-half of camp with our first installment of Stock Report.
Jason Taylor, OLB: Not many expected Jason Taylor to return to Miami after his one-year hiatus with this franchise’s biggest rival in New York. Even less expected Jason Taylor to not only sign with the Dolphins, but start opposite Cameron Wake.
While, that’s certainly no lock at this point, JT has lined up with the starting defense the last two practices and again in yesterdays scrimmage. Not only has he got the nod over Koa Misi, he’s actually showed flashes of the Jason Taylor of old. He reportedly was explosive rushing the passer yesterday.
Jimmy Wilson, SS: Even as a seventh-round pick, safety Jimmy Wilson came into camp with a mild level of expectations. As a player with mid-round talent that saw his draft stock drastically diminished by his murder case, many foresaw Wilson making a legitimate push for a roster spot. He hasn’t disappointed thus far.
Wilson has been physical as an in-the-box strong safety and projects to be a difference maker on special-teams. According to a source close with the team, Wilson has already all but won a roster spot.
Reshad Jones, FS: His stock was essentially elevated when Tony Sparano hinted that the free safety battle will be decided by playmaking ability. While, Chris Clemons has speed and rarely makes mistakes, Reshad Jones is clearly the more productive playmaker.
Jones’ interceptions have tailored off some the past few days, but he made a strong first impression out of the gates by reeling in a few picks to kick off camp. He was rewarded with first-team reps in yesterday’s scrimmage.
Chad Henne, QB: It was a rough first few days of camp for Chad Henne, culminating with the infamous boos/Kyle Orton chants last Monday night at Sun Life Stadium. A lot has changed in only a week. Henne hasn’t had a lackluster workout since and seemingly had his best practice as a pro with a dazzling three touchdown performance in yesterday’s scrimmage.
A great showing in a scrimmage won’t mean anything come September, but it’s a nice step in the right direction. I’ve maintained that this is Chad Henne’s job to lose in regards to any competition with Matt Moore. Certainly Henne is vulnerable to being replaced with any prolonged struggles in the season, but he appears close to sealing the deal as the Dolphins’ starting quarterback to begin the year.
Lydon Murtha, OT: When Vernon Carey was moved inside to guard last week, the right tackle position instantly opened up for the taking. Marc Colombo is the favorite to land the job, but Lydon Murtha is at least making him sweat it out.
Murtha has been solid so far in camp and has gotten the best of Jason Taylor at least twice, pancaking the future Hall of Famer. Sparano reportedly wants to decide on a starting line shortly after the first preseason game, so this week in practice and Friday’s game should make or break Murtha’s chances at cracking the starting unit.