Ah, the smell of football is in the air again. The Dolphins opened camp today at their practice facility in Davie, Florida, as the start of one of the most anticipated seasons in recent memory is underway. Yes, it's just practice, but with how the NFL has captivated the hearts of the American sports fan, the opening of camp is quite eventful.
And with competition all over the field, we won't be short of topics to delve into as we inch closer and closer to the regular season. As for today's session, there were a few surprises to hit the airwaves, but mainly just excitement and optimism as we have now shifted to the time of year we have waited months for.
When you dish out $50 million to a guy you expect to drastically improve an entire offense, today was exactly what you want to see. Marshall reportedly looked dominate at times out there, and made second-year corner Sean Smith look foolish, causing him to fall to the ground on two occasions.
On the downside, hopefully this isn't a sign of things to come for Smith, as the defense is counting on him and Vontae to make significant strides this year, but my guess is this is more to do with Marshall being the top tier physical specimen that he is, than with Smith's development. A few more reports like this, and patience to finally see Marshall in a game setting will be harder and harder to come by for Dolphin fans.
I hope you didn't fill out your depth chart in pen, because the offensive line was shuffled around from what we perceived heading into camp. John Jerry, who spent the spring at left guard, lined up as the starting right guard- ahead of free agent acquisition Richie Incognito. Across from Jerry, Cory Procter started camp with the first-team and was backed up by Donald Thomas.
Nate Garner, meanwhile, who many media members had projected as a starter at left guard now that he's healthy, returned to reserve duty at right tackle. It's still too early to read into any of this, though, because the Dolphins rotated their guards every other practice in OTA's, and could very well continue that trend. Also, in the battle for starting center, the favorite Jake Grove started over Joe Berger.
Pennington not placed on PUP, Pat White a no-show
It was speculated that Chad Pennington would be placed on the PUP list to start the season, as he fully recovers from a season-ending shoulder injury a year ago, and in order to make room for all four quarterbacks. Well, that theory is out the window, for now anyways. Pennington ran the third-team, and reportedly looked as efficient as always.
In another surprise, Pat White, who's chances of making the final 53-man roster declined with the keeping of Pennington on the roster, didn't work out with the team. The Dolphins declined to comment on the matter, but Sparano did say a couple players could be sidelined today with some minor injuries.
Merling remains on the 80-man roster
After reportingly tearing his Achilees' tendon, it was a forgone conclusion that Merling would be placed on the PUP list, and eventually the IR. He wasn't. Instead, the Dolphins waived guard Rey Feinga, and continued to allow Merling to count towards the 80-man roster. Does that mean his injury isn't as serious as previously reported? I guess only time will tell, but at the moment, things aren't adding up.
Wake-Misi starting duo at outside linebacker.
Despite flashing signs of potentially being a dominate pass rusher, Wake only saw limited action with the first-team during offseason practices. Wake started to shine when the pads came on last year, though, and appears to be on that track again. He lined up as the starter at weakside linebacker with rookie Koa Misi at the strongside.
That's what most Dolphin fans were probably hoping for, given the potential both bring to the table. It will be interesting to see if the team lets Charlie Anderson and recently converted defensive end Ikaika Alama-Francis in on the action tomorrow in the same rotating strategy they used at guard in the spring.
Defensive end competition
A day after signing his rookie contract, first-round pick Jared Odrick lined up with the first-team at right defensive end, holding off recently added veterans Marques Douglas and Charles Grant. Douglas' reps came with the second team, and Grant's with the third.
No. 2 receiver competition
Brian Hartline worked with the starters opposite Marshall, and indications suggest it's his job to lose.
Sources: Armando Salguero, Omar Kelly, Jeff Darlington, Mike Berardino