To keep you up to speed with all the happenings in Davie, camp reports will be a daily feature here at Phins Phocus.
The news trickling out of practice itself has been slow initially in this year’s training camp, mostly because the Dolphins are still in the install phase, which would have been completed in minicamps and OTA’s in a normal offseason, and several key members of the team- free agent acquisitions and restricted free agents- are not permitted to practice yet due to CBA rules.
But we’re still talking football, nonetheless, which surely beats the four months we spent talking about when the lockout would potentially end.
Jake Long sitting out
All-world left tackle Jake Long has been on the sidelines for the Dolphins’ first two sessions. That could be a little worrisome to some when you consider Big Jake was forced to play injured for the second half of 2010.
But worry not; Tony Sparano made it clear yesterday that he’s just taking it slow with Jake because essentially, the guy doesn’t really need all these reps to get ready for the season.
He could probably go the whole year without practicing and still lockdown any premiere pass rusher the league has to offer. Joining Jake in shorts and a cap were the Dolphins’ free agent acquisitions and restricted free agents.
We won’t see the likes of Reggie Bush, Kevin Barnett, or Matt Moore in uniform until August 4th due to CBA restrictions that don’t make any logical sense.
Chad Henne’s rough day
Okay, I actually don’t know if Henne had a poor practice. But if you read the tweets of the reporters that were present, it certainly seems as though he did.
An overthrow here, an under throw there, the Miami media just hasn’t spun Henne’s performance under a positive light through two days. The key words in that sentence are “through two days,” though.
Back away from the ledge, fans. There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about Chad Henne getting another chance to prove he can be the guy in Miami.
It’s far, and I mean far, from sure thing that the light bulb finally comes on. And if Henne continues to underwhelm in camp and plays poorly in the preseason, don’t count out Jeff Ireland from getting the Broncos back on the line.
But Henne certainly has all the tools you look for in a franchise quarterback. He just needs to finally start grasping the mental aspect of the game, sustain some confidence, and start leading this team with passion.
The Dolphins have closed the book on rookie negotiations tonight, coming to terms with first-round pick Mike Pouncey- the last member of this year’s draft class to sign.
It’s reportedly a four-year deal with an option worth $9.3 million in base salaries and includes playing time incentives that could earn him a little more.
Pouncey missed the Dolphins’ first two practices, during which the Dolphins reportedly saw poor snap after poor snap.
He will supposedly battle in camp with last year’s starting center Joe Berger for the starting job. But Berger was nowhere near starting caliber in 2010, and Pouncey would have to be the biggest bust this side of Ted Ginn to open the year as the backup.
We can talk all day about the Dolphins’ new running back tandem- Daniel Thomas and Reggie Bush- but the running game isn’t going to bounce back in 2011 without improved play from the interior offensive line. Mike Pouncey will likely have the biggest say in any improvement.
The Dolphins were without their top three draft selections on the first day of training camp, but fear not, rookie negotiations are a process and the Dolphins are on the verge of getting the entire 2011 draft class under contract.
According to Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post, the Dolphins have signed Clyde Gates - and yes, it’s now official that he would like to be called “Clyde,” not Edmond- to his four-year deal.
This comes after the Dolphins inked second-round selection Daniel Thomas earlier today, meaning only first-round pick Mike Pouncey remains unsigned. But it shouldn’t be long before Pouncey has his deal, as every rep will be crucial for a rookie that will plugged into the starting lineup right off the bat.
As for Gates, he should be one of the more intriguing players to watch this training camp. The man was a homerun machine in college, but will his big-play ability in D-II transfer to the big leagues? He didn’t practice the craft at Abilene Christian, but with electrifying 4.3 speed, will the Dolphins enlist him at kick returner? The answers will come in time.
Update: The signing has been made official by The Dolphins and will wear #47
There was a considerable amount of remodeling for Jeff Ireland to do on the offensive side of the football. Most of our attention in the offseason was on which pieces could turn things around and put more points on the board to help out a top five defense.
But why not try and bridge the gap from a very solid defense to a great one if there is an available upgrade?
Boy oh boy did the Dolphins just find an upgrade. An upgrade that could improve Mike Nolan’s unit enough to be mentioned with the likes of the Ravens and the Jets as one of the truly elite defenses in the league.
When Miami cut Channing Crowder earlier this evening, it was clear that Ireland was up to something. There are clearly deficiencies in Crowder’s game, but you just don’t go getting rid of decent starters for no reason.
It didn’t take long for news to break that the Dolphins have come to terms with linebacker Kevin Burnett. It’s reportedly a four-year deal worth approximately $10 million in guaranteed cash.
Burnett was decent in his first five seasons, but he took his game to another level in 2010. How does replacing Crowder, who was seemingly allergic to making game-changing plays, with a guy who put up 95 tackles, 6.0 sacks, 5 pass breakups, 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, and a touchdown, sound? It sounds like a defense that was already void of any considerable holes just got a whole lot better to me. By comparison, Crowder only managed 2.5 sacks, 1 interception, and 3 forced fumbles in the six years he spent with the Dolphins.
Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby project to form one of the top inside linebacker duos in the league. Both are known for their big-play ability as well, meaning the tandem should produce their share of game-changing plays in 2011.
You probably have to consider the Dolphins’ entire linebacker corps one of the league’s best now as well, contingent on Koa Misi’s ability to take strides in year two, with one of the fiercest pass rushers in the league in Cameron Wake at outside linebacker.
The Dolphins made sure to keep intact a deep and dominant defensive line as well, giving the front seven the potential to do dangerous things this season. Oh yeah, the secondary figures to be fairly special too with Vontae Davis and Sean Smith continuing their emergence as one of the game’s top cornerback tandems.
You know how the old saying goes, “defense wins championships.” I suppose that’s why they call it “old” because everybody knows quarterbacks do in today’s game. I think that saying has digressed to “great defenses can take you to the playoffs.” That’s where the Dolphins could be headed if they can find an identity on offense.
According to Omar Kelly and Armando Salguero's twitter accounts, Dolphins' ILB Channing Crowder has been cut.
The Dolphins save themselves all $5 million of his 2011 salary.
In 2005, when the Dolphins drafted Crowder in the third round, they had Zach Thomas' replacement in mind. Not only did Crowder lack Zach's class and love for the game, but also his football IQ, ability to stay healthy, and the ability to make the big play.
Crowder was very solid on 1st and 2nd down, bringing his skill set to the Dolphins in stopping the run. However, he failed at producing big time sacks and interceptions. Crowder, although not the greatest influence, was a leader on this defense and will be missed by some (NOT ME). But the flaws in his game and his $5 million dollar salary made him expendable,
The Dolphins want to be one of the best defense's in the league. Great D's create turnovers and make big plays. Crowder simply was not a play maker!
The Dolphins will either try to move Koa Misi inside and sign an OLB or trust that AJ Edds, who was drafted last year but did not play due to injury, will step up this season.
The Dolphins have found their new QB. WELCOME TO SOUTH BEACH KYLE ORTON. UMM WAIT A SECOND!!!
No the Dolphins didnt trade for Kyle Orton. Instead they have signed UFA QB Matt Moore from Carolina to a two-year deal worth $5 million! http://www.oregonlive.com/nfl/index.ssf/2011/07/quarterback_matt_moore_to_sign.html
Right away I am obviously upset by this, and dont think that Matt Moore is the solution. Moore MIGHT bring competition for Henne, but personally I dont see it. I am going to have to go over more tape on Moore to fully decide how I feel about this but at the moment Jeff Ireland is making me a very upset man. Did the Dolphins upgrade at backup QB? Probably, but they needed to upgrade their starting QB.
Earlier this morning Steve Ross said that "Tony (Sparano) is a great guy. The players like him. But he’s got to win this season" I don't see any reason to think that this is CURRENTLY a playoff team. That being said, its Henne time and I am very open to him proving me wrong
Side Note : @adbrandt tweeted: Kyle Orton's $1.5 million roster bonus activated at 4pm et. Broncos unlikely to trade after making that commitment
@JeffDarlington Sources: The Dolphins have come to a contract agreement with RB Daniel Thomas, the team's second-round draft pick. He'll sign shortly.
Sheets and Hilliard are both exclusive rights FA and not on the roster or practice field today
Also here is a picture of Henne and our new toy in Miami
For all of the hype surrounding the Dolphins landing Reggie Bush and still pushing to pry Kyle Orton from the Broncos, training camp starting today and the first practice kicking off tomorrow has flown right under the radar.
The Dolphins still have needs to address at quarterback and possibly outside linebacker, but an underrated must is getting the rookies under contract in a timely manner, especially Mike Pouncey and Daniel Thomas who figure to be significant contributors from day one.
Jeff Ireland and company began that process earlier this afternoon, coming to terms with the two seventh-round selections -nose tackle Frank Kearse and safety Jimmy Wilson- and sixth-round pick Charles Clay. All three deals are reportedly for four years although the financial terms have yet to surface.
Kearse is a nice developmental piece at the nose and Jimmy Wilson has considerable upside for a late-rounder. But of the group, Charles Clay is the one who will be monitored the closest.
Getting Clay under contract a day before the first practice means we won’t have to wait to see how the Dolphins plan to utilize him. Will he be a tight end, a fullback, or some sort of hybrid? Also, it will be interesting to see whose roster spot Clay will threaten. Will a third tight end be the victim or could Clay actually unseat Lousaka Polite? Yes, Polite is an exceptional short-yardage converter, but he’s been an erratic lead blocker.
I also expect the Dolphins to wrap up negotiations with Mike Pouncey, Daniel Thomas, and “Clyde” Gates sooner rather than later. Maybe they miss tomorrow’s workout, but too much is invested in their immediate impact for them to be held out for long.