The roster is starting to fill itself out as training camp is now fully underway. Miami added Reggie Bush, the electric RB/WR/KR/PR, and ILB Kevin Burnett. Two pretty high profile moves which should lead to an upgrade on both offense and defense. The Dolphins have also added a little depth at LB and NT.
Personally, I believe this defense, which was already ranked around top 10 in every category last year, is completely set. This Dolphins defense is 100% playoff ready, and it would be hard to debate otherwise. Not only are they talented, but they are also young. Therefore, if the Dolphins were to add another piece this offseason you would have to assume it would be on offense.
Tony Sparano has already indicated that the Dolphins are in the market for an offensive guard. However, I like some needy fans would prefer the Dolphins to go after a playmaker. Half the battle to getting your offensive line to work is making it gel. I think that although this offensive line struggled last year, it’s still a very talented unit. Shaun O’Hara, a veteran center formally of the Giants, has already been rumored to be visiting the Dolphins.
It’s been an eventful Sunday in Davie. We finally had the in depth coverage at practice we’ve been missing, a backup nose tackle was signed, a proven veteran center has scheduled a visit, and Brandon Marshall provided the finishing touches with an emotional press conference.
Mike Pouncey’s first practice
First-round pick Mike Pouncey signed his rookie contract just in time for the Dolphins’ first contact practice. Pouncey projects to upgrade the interior offensive line, which should improve the Dolphins’ running game.
He didn’t exactly excel in his first session, though, which should be expected from a rookie in his first practice. The Dolphins plugged him in at starting center right off the bat, thankfully putting to rest any rumors that Joe Berger would be competing for the job. But Pouncey had his share of poor snaps and was reportedly “metrorailed” on a play by Paul Soliai, who, by the way, has looked the part of monster according to various reports.
We could be in store for a curveball at center, though, as ESPN’s John Clayton is reporting that the Dolphins have scheduled a visit with former Giants’ center Shaun O’Hara, who would have to be considered one of the game’s finest at the position over the past decade.
To me, though, while O’Hara could certainly upgrade the Dolphins’ interior offensive line this season and potentially kill two birds with one stone if Pouncey is then moved to guard, signing him could be somewhat of a progress stopper.
This regime is on the hot seat. I get that. They must win this season or else, but I think a younger Richie Incognito would have been a better fit at center, both in the short and long-term, if the Dolphins were really open to Pouncey playing guard. But we will have to wait and see how it plays out, if O’Hara is even signed at all.
Chad Henne’s struggles continue?
It’s still early but it doesn’t appear that Chad Henne is seizing the opportunity to reclaim the starting job with Matt Moore on the sideline.
This is Henne’s job to lose in my opinion, but with reported numbers like a combined 3-8 in 7-on-7’s and 1-5 on the first 11-on-11 drill, he’s making himself vulnerable. Matt Moore is easily capable of upsetting Henne with a solid camp and preseason if these struggles continue.
According to the Miami Herald’s Jeff Darlington, the Dolphins have come to terms with former Broncos’ defensive tackle Ronald Fields. At 6-2, 314 pounds, Fields projects to backup Paul Soliai at the nose.
Fields started all 16 games for Denver in 2009, when Dolphins' defensive coordinator Mike Nolan held the same title with the Broncos.
The lack of depth behind Soliai was a concern heading into the year, as an injury to the Dolphins’ franchise player could have crippled an elite defensive line. Will update with the financial particulars when they become available.
It looks like Jake Long’s injury is a little more serious than Tony Sparano let on when he told the media “What I’ve done is I’m just going to really take it really slow with Jake,” he said on Friday. “I know what Jake needs to be ready and I don’t plan on really putting him out there before that.”
Hopefully, those words have some validity to them and Sparano is simply making sure Big Jake has all the time he needs to adequately heal up from shoulder and knee injuries a year ago.
Because Long has been reportedly placed on the Physically Unable to Perform List, threatening his availability for training camp, the preseason, and even Week 1.
If it came to that, and he’s still on the PUP list for the Monday night opener against the Patriots, by rule, Jake would be forced to sit out the first six games of the season. But let’s not jump to those conclusions yet. I doubt Sparano, even being the devious speaker that he is, would spin things so positively if this was indeed something serious.
My money is still on Jake being in the lineup for that opener. I mean come on now, he’s a guy who didn’t miss a game after hurting his knee and dislocating his shoulder in 2010.
He’s your classic offensive lineman; one of those guys that would probably cut off a broken finger if it meant he could go back into the game.
What this move could do, though, is prevent Nate Garner from getting in on the battle for one of the starting guard spots.
We will have to wait and see how the coaching staff shuffles the lineup and for Garner to actually be permitted to practice (RFA), but I would imagine that he would be plugged in at starting left tackle in Long’s absence.
And that would likely bode well for John Jerry, who would figure to start with Richie Incognito at right and left guard respectively.
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.