Stock Up, Stock Down for Key Miami Dolphins Heading into Training Camp
Training camp for the Miami Dolphins is now just 10 short days away from officially beginning in Davie.
Going into training camp, the Dolphins have many questions about many positions. How will the offense fare in their transition to a West Coast offense? How will the new 4-3 defense look? Who is ready to step up at key positions?
Most importantly, who will be the starting quarterback once the games kick off for real in Houston come September 9th?
None of those questions have been answered yet, and because of the presence of such questions, Dolphins' training camp is expected to be a fun watch—at least HBO is counting on that to be the case.
But what about now? What is the status of some of the players coming in? Whose stock is up, and whose stock is down?
We'll look at a few key players for the Miami Dolphins and determine that while explaining why a player's stock might be up or down. We'll also see what they can do to raise or maintain their statuses heading into the 2012 Miami Dolphins' training camp.
David Garrard: Stock Up
The most important issue for the Dolphins heading into training camp is the quarterback position.
When you look at the talent on defense and on offense, this is a team that has the potential to make some noise in the NFL. But a team only goes as far as their quarterback.
Garrard has received rave reviews from his coaches and his peers since signing with the Dolphins.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter (h/t NBC Sports):
The more you hear, the more it sounds like David Garrard has really taken this opportunity to emerge as the favorite to be the starting quarterback down in Miami,. Very impressive, adept, good footwork. Matt Moore’s been good, Ryan Tannehill’s been good, but David Garrard has looked the most comfortable of any of the quarterbacks.
This might have to do with the fact that Garrard is more familiar with some form of the West Coast offense than Matt Moore, while Ryan Tannehill is too green.
I believe that Garrard will be the starting quarterback come opening day. It's not because I have a horse in the race (I want the starter to be whichever quarterback gives Miami the best chance to win), but because of what the Dolphins' coaches have said about Garrard and Moore (via Miami Herald):
Philbin speaks well of Moore, but his praise of Garrard has been more extensive and effusive the past three months.
“Garrard’s impressive,” Philbin said. “He looks you in the eye, shakes your hand and you feel good about the guy. He can still move well. He throws the ball with a lot of velocity and his accuracy has been good. His command of the offense is good.”
What about Moore? “I like the way he caught onto the system,” Philbin said. “He’s doing well.”
Those words tell me Garrard is the front-runner for the starting position.
Clyde Gates: Stock Down
Last season, speedster Clyde Gates was expected to be the Dolphins' receiver of the future.
A deep threat who could also return punts and kicks, Gates was rarely used in the return game (with the more sure-handed Davone Bess usually getting the call), but at times during the season he teased the 'Phins and their fans with his speed and agility.
But in the new scheme being implemented, Gates might find himself on the outside looking in by the end of training camp unless things change soon.
According to Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post, Gates "is certainly no lock to make the roster." The reason for this is simple: He's not a West Coast offense receiver and there are plenty of those in camp.
The good play of fellow receivers Roberto Wallace and Julius Pruitt, as well as the fact that the tight ends on the Dolphins will get the ball more in the West Coast scheme, is another reason why it's likely that Gates will have to turn in his playbook during an episode of "Hard Knocks," if not sooner.
Artis Hicks: Stock Up
It's been a tale of two offensive lines in Miami.
On the left side, you have the perennial all-pro Jake Long holding down the fort. Even at 70 percent, Long has been better than the majority of left tackles in the NFL have been at 100 percent. He's been worth the No. 1 draft pick used on him in 2008 and should continue to be a cornerstone of the Dolphins' offensive line for the foreseeable future.
Next to him is Richie Incognito and second-year center Mike Pouncey. Expect Pouncey to have a huge second year and make his first Pro Bowl.
But then you have the right side of the offensive line. This is a different story altogether.
For 2012, much needed renovations have been made, one of them in the form of former Browns guard Artis Hicks, who's currently competing with the perennially disappointing John Jerry for the right guard spot.
In news that should come as surprising to no one that follows the Miami Dolphins, Hicks leads the race for the starting right guard position.
Hicks will likely get the starting spot because of his experience, which will help alongside draft pick Jonathan Martin, who will likely be Miami's starting right tackle.
For once, the Dolphins might not have to worry about the right side of their offensive line being a virtual turnstile for opposing pass-rushers.
Chad Ochocinco: Stock Down
I originally had nothing to say about Chad Ochocinco for this piece. From all I've heard, he's been a good teammate since signing with Miami, and I thought that while he might not be the same Chad Johnson from Cincinnati, he would at least be more productive than what we saw last year in New England.
But I had to say something about his "Twitter-beef" or "tweef" with rapper The Game that I saw on Sunday while on Twitter.
While this isn't something that HBO would mind, the Miami Dolphins would likely have a problem with it. Public relations-wise, it just doesn't look good for the team, even though rap-beefs are a bit different from when I was growing up.
While it did seem to start as a joke between Ochocinco and the rapper (a rapper who I thought had disappeared, but that's probably because his first album was his best), it didn't seem to end like one. Instead, it came off as two guys who had too much time on their hands that should be sticking to their day job.
Whether Game sticks to his day job or not, I don't care. But I do care that Chad does since he does play for the Dolphins.
Again, he's been a stellar teammate thus far, especially the way he's been working with Ryan Tannehill (despite the likely fact that Ochocinco might never catch a pass from Tannehill in a real NFL game). But this is a distraction the Dolphins simply do not need, whether it was a joke or not.
Les Brown: Stock Up
Already there are four tight ends on the Dolphins roster not counting Les Brown, who has the most improbable story.
We could rehash the story of the undrafted tight end that hasn't played football since 2005, but this is about how he's doing now.
Head Coach Joe Philbin has already praised the former accountant and talked about what he could bring to the Dolphins (via Sun-Sentinel):
When he came down here he ran the ball very well and he caught the ball very well...Those probably were the two things that jumped out very well. ... Whether he can translate that to success on the field, that remains to be seen. But again the more multiple you can be with formation, with certain body types on the field, can create some advantages for you against the defense.
While in Green Bay, Philbin used plenty of tight ends, not just their star, JerMichael Finley. Even though there are five on the Dolphins' roster now, there could very likely be five tight ends on the Dolphins roster come opening day.
Brown will be one of them if that's the case, which would be an amazing story in itself.