The potential has always been there. Well, ever since the Dolphins sent two second-round picks to the Rocky Mountains for Brandon Marshall, pairing one of the most talented receivers in the league with a quarterback who had all the tools but was in dire need of a go-to threat.
A year has come and gone, and while Chad Henne was the arm behind most of Brandon Marshall’s 1,014 yards receiving in 2010, the connection that began the year with so much promise, certainly left something to be desired by season’s end.
Henne and Marshall just never really seemed to get on the same page. An overthrown pass here, a misread there. Most of the blame was placed on Henne, and a lot of that was justifiable, but Marshall dropped his share of catchable balls, further complicating the matter.
But that was 2010. This is 2011. And while positive signs in a scrimmage a week into camp aren’t going to answer any questions, if confidence was built today progress was made.
Surely, confidence was built today in the Henne/Marshall connection that was responsible for three touchdowns, or as many scores as Marshall registered in all of 2010.
There were no official stats kept, but ESPN 760’s Ken LaVicka scored Henne as 10-15 for 145 yards, the three touchdowns to Marshall, and one bad decision- a 99-yard pick sick courtesy of Karlos Dansby- away from a near flawless afternoon. Marshall, meanwhile, managed one more catch besides the three scores to rack up an unofficial 4 receptions for 75 yards.
What will all of this mean when the Patriots come to town on September 12th? Well, nothing. Henne and Marshall are going to have to duplicate success like this when it actually means something to finally put some of the pressing questions we have about this offense to rest.
Today was a refreshing step in the right direction, though. Particularly in Henne’s case, if his confidence is beginning to grow, something that clearly held him back in 2010, playing well in a simple scrimmage may carry a little more weight than you would think.
They don’t call them dog days for nothing. Any player will tell you that the heat makes training camp brutal at times, but Dolphins’ players know the true definition of brutal. It’s hot everywhere in August, but the South Florida heat and humidity is a different beast.
Today was no exception, as some media members speculated that it was the hottest day of camp thus far, with no breeze or cloud coverage for relief. But working through these conditions will only benefit the Dolphins from a conditioning standpoint.
And kudos to the fans for still coming out. This fan base has been taking a hit lately with the whole Henne booing/Orton chanting saga, but they deserve credit for showcasing their loyalty in the heat.
Charles Clay has strong practice
The Dolphins’ rookie class has been solid a week into practice. Most notably, Clyde Gates has looked the part of playmaker and Jimmy Wilson has been making quite the impression for a seventh-round pick. Well, now you can add sixth-round selection Charles Clay to that list.
The presumed H-back had himself quite the session today, highlighted by two 25-yard touchdown receptions in 7-on-7’s. We will probably have to wait for the preseason to get a feel for exactly how Brian Daboll will utilize Clay. If he continues to impress, either fullback Lousaka Polite or whoever wins the third tight end spot will be out of a job.
Who said Reggie Bush wasn’t physical?
Reggie Bush, the labeled finesse runner, had arguably the play of the day by going truck stick on Sean Smith. Bush ran right through the 6-3, 215 pound corner, knocking him to the ground. Those are the types of plays Sparano will have to see if he’s going to entrust Bush with a starter’s workload, something I think is very unlikely.
But outside of flashes like these, it’s really hard to get a feel for how productive the Dolphins’ backs have been so far. They typically don’t tackle to the ground in practice, so we’ll have to wait for the preseason to see how the new-look running game is progressing.
The Dolphins are still busy making roster moves along the offensive line, announcing that they have waived recently signed Micah Kia to make room for 28-year old offensive tackle Ray Willis today.
Willis, who started 26 of 44 games in Seattle from 2005-2009 at tackle and guard, gives the Dolphins another versatile lineman for Sparano to play with. Willis missed the entire 2010 season with a knee injury, but started all 16 contests for the Seahawks in ’09.
It will be interesting to see how the Dolphins plan to utilize the former Florida St. Seminole. With Lydon Murtha currently filling in at left tackle in Jake Long’s absence, Willis would be a good fit at right tackle, where he could be strong competition for Marc Colombo.
It’s been rumored that Sparano wants to avoid shuffling deep into the exhibition season and intends to stick with a starting unit after the first week of the preseason. That means this will be a crucial week at practice and an important game against the Falcons on Friday for this O-line. A starter at right tackle should be decided within a week, hopefully giving the first-team line sufficient time to gel.
The daily grind of training camp is kicking into high gear for the Dolphins with the first game of the exhibition season beginning to peak on the horizon. There is now only one week standing in the way between the Dolphins and their first contest since January.
Of course, it’s only the preseason and Sparano said himself that he’s “Lot more concerned about the Patriots than I am about next Friday’s preseason opener.”
Regardless, meaningless football is still football. And while these practice reports are feeding our Dolphins’ fix to some degree, it’s about time to get our first glimpse of the 2011 Miami Dolphins in an actual game setting.
At any rate, we still had some noteworthy action on the field in Davie today. Let’s jump right in.
Dolphins cut Brandstater, sign Kevin O’Connell
Jeff Ireland’s chance to potentially upgrade the starting quarterback position has come and gone. This will be Chad Henne’s team and his final stand in 2011. I would have to see Henne completely embarrass himself this preseason and/or Matt Moore light it up in order to buy into this as an actual competition.
That doesn’t mean Ireland can’t still improve the depth at the position, though. Six practices was all the look Miami needed to decide Tom Brandstater likely wouldn’t push for the number three spot, so they went out and nabbed some potential competition for Pat Devlin in Kevin O’Connel. O’Connel, a third-round pick in 2008, was Matt Cassel’s backup in New England when Tom Brady tore his ACL in 2008, was third string with the Jets in 2009, and missed the entire 2010 season with a torn labrum.
Brandon Marshall, Will Allen sit out
Whenever you hear that a high-profile player like Brandon Marshall is on the sidelines instead of on the field with his teammates, fans understandably hold their breath. But rest assured Dolfans, Marshall, along with cornerback Will Allen who also sat out, are just fine.
Tony Sparano reportedly held them out to keep their reps down. It’s a new age in football. Coaches are becoming more and more concerned about keeping players fresh, even this early in training camp.
Yeremiah Bell was dressed, but it appeared Sparano was taking it easy with him as well. Tyrone Culver worked in Bell’s place on the first-team defense at strong safety.
It’s time to have a little fun here at Phins Phocus. Yesterday I got on the phone with Yahoo’s fantasy football Guru Brad Evans to talk a little fantasy football. We here at Phins Phocus wanted to give you a little help building your fantasy football roster and making you draft day decisions a little easier. We also asked Brad a couple of questions on which Dolphins might have some fantasy upside.
For those of you who don’t know much about Brad, you can check out his work at http://ca.sports.yahoo.com/fantasy;_ylt=AmjFmBQMH.xTAmz9N5INu7lShgM6 . Brad not only knows just about everything in terms of the fantasy football but also brings a witty comedic spin on it as you will see in my interview with him.
Q: Is Michael Vick the first overall pick this year?
A: No, absolutely not! But Vick obviously has great payoff potential and clearly the top QB this year. I am even in the minority in ranking him number one, because most people go with the safe pick, but I think that even if he doesn’t repeat his stellar year last year he could be good for 25 points a game. There is a lot of injury risk there with Vick though. Foster is still the clear #1 in my books even without Vontae Leach.
Q: Top 3 undervalued players in FF this year:
A: 1) Mikel Leshoure RB Lions (Take note that like Leshoure, Brad is a university of Illinois Alum)
He is a great talent, like Mendenhall who also went there and most think they are similar but I think that Mikel actually has a better skill set. He is also in a good situation and if Stafford can stay out of the Wheel Chair then I think Leshoure could put up 1,100 yards.
2) Kyle Orton – Most people expected him to go to South Beach, but now that he is staying in Denver and the Angels aren’t opening up their wings for Tebow anymore he has the potential to have another great year. Remember he was a top 5 QB for the first 10 games basically last year.
3) Mike Sims Walker- We have seen flashes from him before and has had WR2 WR 3 upside, but with MSW it’s all about his work ethic. no comments