What did we learn from the Dolphins’ mini-camp and OTA bonanza?
by Ben Volin
The Dolphins still have six Organized Team Activities remaining this month – including one today, and one more open to the media on June 9 – but the bulk of the work was put in last weekend, when the team held six practices over four days.
So what did we learn about the 2010 Dolphins? For one, that we shouldn’t pay
a ton of attention to who is playing with the First Team and who is a backup at this point.
“Right now, reading an awful lot into it is just going to frustrate you guys,” Tony Sparano
said after Tuesday’s OTA. “It’s about trying to get the work against the better people. Different groups competing against different people right now and not necessarily getting stuck on who’s in the first huddle now or any of those things. It really is just about the number of reps.”
Friday, we broke down 22 things we learned
about the Fins after the first day of mini-camp. What else did we learn last weekend?
– Sparano and the coaching staff are thrilled with Chad Henne’s
development in decision-making and on his short touch passes. “His numbers are off the chart here right now. On Sunday he was 12 for 12 in practice,” Sparano said. “So, this guy’s numbers are outstanding as we speak going through these practices and OTAs, and he’s made good decisions and is taking care of the ball.”
– The three interior line positions won’t be settled until camp, though Donald Thomas
(left guard), Jake Grove
(center) and Richie Incognito
(right guard) likely have the edge over John Jerry
, Cory Procter
, Nate Garner
(who hasn’t practiced because of injury) and Joe Berger
. The line could be a “fluid” situation, to use a coaching term, especially because Berger, Procter and Garner are versatile enough to play three or four offensive line spots. Sparano has rotated Grove, Berger and Procter at center almost equally (Procter is solely a center at this point, Sparano said), but Grove told the Miami Herald
that he “absolutely” will start this year.
– The most practice reps have been going to the players the coaching staff wants to evaluate the hardest, not necessarily the best players. Safety Chris Clemons
has led all players with 256 practice reps, Sparano said with impressive precision. Cam Wake
and Charlie Anderson
have taken the most at outside linebacker, while Koa Misi
has played a ton with the first team, too, as the staff wants to see how he transitions from defensive end to OLB. Jerry also got a long look with the First Team at left guard.
– One rookie who hasn’t received a ton of First Team reps is first-round pick Jared Odrick
, though he did play with the starters on the “big” package on goal line situations.
– Sparano was pumping up Pat White
over the weekend, praising his throwing ability
and claiming he has added nine pounds this offseason, but it is fairly obvious watching passing drills that White still lags behind Tyler Thigpen
and Chad Pennington
in passing ability. In a vacuum, White almost certainly would be the odd man out, but will the Dolphins be so quick to dump a player they (controversially) drafted in the second round just last year?
– Though Wake has taken the most reps of all the outside linebackers, he hasn’t played with the First Team all that much, and the coaching staff still isn’t sure he can much more than a pass-rushing specialist. Last year Wake had 5.5 sacks in limited snaps, but is still raw in defending the run and pass coverage. “Our hope is that we can get this guy to be an every-down player,” Sparano said. “Based on what we’ve see out here right now, well, we feel like he’s got a good start down that path anyways. Now, a lot of things have to happen between now and then.”
– The coaches are absolutely thrilled to have Patrick Cobbs
(ACL) back and have big plans for him in 2010 – as a running back, Wildcat option, return specialist and gunner on special teams. “I have every reason to believe that he would make the full comeback and we would be able to give him all of his jobs just because of the guy, really,” Sparano said. “And as far as how much I’ve missed him, I think we’ve always said this during the season, but we missed this guy a lot.”
– It had been assumed that the battled to wear the coveted green dot – and serve as defensive playcaller, with the two-way radio in the helmet – would come down to newcomer Karlos Dansby
and incumbent Channing Crowder
. But the Fins are also toying with the idea of letting Yeremiah Bell
have those responsibilities.
– A lot of talk is being made about the Dolphins making a run
at Rams free agent safety O.J. Atogwe
, but the coaching staff seems pleased with Clemons, the second-year free safety. A quiet player, Sparano said Clemons is more comfortable with the playbook, and, in turn, becoming more vocal on the field. “He’s got minimal, minimal, mental mistakes,” Sparano said. “So a lot of that is due to the fact that this guy is a communicator and sees it pretty clear. He’s been doing a nice job that way.” Clemons also provoked a metaphor from Sparano which I’m still trying to figure out. “So, I guess when he gets out here it must be a good ‘ham and egger’ day,” Sparano said. If you can tell me what that means, you win a free year-long subscription to this blog.
– Finally, while Brandon Marshall
(hip) isn’t doing much besides ride a stationary bike during practice, you can usually find him standing right next to Sparano, receivers coach Karl Dorrell
or offensive quality control coach Steve Bush
during team drills, learning the offense through mental reps. “It’s like he’s got the secret code underneath his pants here — he pulls it out and he’s got the list of plays,” Sparano said of Marshall. “Steve Bush will say, ‘Hey, now take a picture of the coverage, what do you got, what do you got, what do you got?’ So, you know he’ll give him his conversion, he’ll give him his route. Let’s make sure that Brandon is being held accountable for this information just like everybody else is.”/QUOTE]I like this write up. some pretty interesting info here.