Miami Dolphins: Recapping the Latest Buzz Heading into Training Camp
While rumors and news around Miami has been a constant the last week and a half, the Miami Dolphins seem to be a bit overlooked.
That's not to say there isn't any news, rather it's the opposite, as the Dolphins have had a busy month in that department.
The Dolphins have already been through a roller coaster of injuries, signings and even a performance-enhancing drug suspension. Under normal circumstances, these stories would be at the front of Miami sports fans, but these aren't normal circumstances.
With training camp only 15 days away (camp will open on July 25, per George Richards of The Miami Herald), here's a look at some of the top Miami Dolphins stories heading into training camp.
Dion Jordan Suspended for PEDs
Well, let's start with the bad news: how Dion Jordan will make me look like an idiot in the first four games of the season.
Not exactly, I can do that myself, but Jordan will be suspended for the first four games of the season for using a banned stimulant, per James Walker of ESPN.com.
Jordan will still be allowed to participate in training camp and in preseason games, but for the first four games of the season, he not only won't be able to play, but he will also not be allowed on the premises in Davie or at Sun Life Stadium.
For the Dolphins, this takes out a player who was to be a major component of their defense, as Jordan was set to be part of a speed rush package that also included Olivier Vernon and Cameron Wake.
This also eliminates any competition between him and Vernon, a competition that Jordan likely would've lost out on due to Vernon's stellar 2013 season.
While the suspension is bad, let's not make it out to be worse than it is. Jordan will be back for Miami's Week 6 contest against the Green Bay Packers (Miami has a bye in Week 5), with plenty of season left to play.
An even better sign: Jordan stepped up and took responsibility, issuing this statement in the Dolphins' press release, per the team's official website, announcing the suspension:
I recently learned from the NFL that I tested positive for stimulants that are banned under the NFL policy. I worked carefully with my advisors and the union to investigate the test results, and I take full responsibility for the test results.
I’m very sorry for the impact of this situation on my teammates, coaches, Stephen Ross, the entire Dolphins organization, fans and my family as well. I will continue to work extremely hard during training camp and preseason. During the suspension, I will stay in top shape and will be ready to contribute upon my return.
Considering how many pro athletes are quick to deny any wrongdoing, no matter how guilty they may be found to be, this was a breath of fresh air.
This also doesn't change my opinion on what type of season he will have. Jordan will still have 12 games in 2014, and I wouldn't rule him out when it comes to making a big impact in those games. The Dolphins defense will still be fun to watch.
Charles Clay Will Get More Attention from Defenses in 2014
Charles Clay was Miami's offensive MVP of 2013 in my view.
He helped make the offense go, thanks to his pass-catching abilities, grabbing 69 catches for 759 yards and six touchdowns.
Clay even got the attention of the New England Patriots and Bill Belichick, who specifically game-planned against him in Miami's Week 15 victory over the Pats, holding Clay to one (very important) catch for five (very important) yards on a 4th-and-5 play in the fourth quarter.
The Dolphins tight end expects more of that attention in 2014, even with the new offense being implemented, but as he told Chris Perkins of The Sun-Sentinel, he expects that.
"It'll be tough," Clay said of dealing with being a focal point of sorts.
"I've got just come out and keep working, trying to get better every day, just keep improving. But it won't be easy, obviously. People know now."
Clay's 2013 performance led to him being ranked No. 89 on the NFL's Top 100 players of 2014.
Clay will need to continue his consistent performance in 2014, a tough task since he will be game-planned against every week. This is something he will be able to handle this season, as I expect him to exceed his 2013 numbers this season.
Mike Pouncey to Miss 3 Months
From good news about a great player to potentially devastating Dolphins news about a great player.
It's no secret by now that center Mike Pouncey will miss the next three months due to hip surgery that he underwent on June 23.
The surgery was to repair a torn labrum, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.
Due to the surgery, Pouncey will be out until at least Week 4 against the Oakland Raiders; however, the Dolphins could put him on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, which would make him eligible to return in Week 7 against the Chicago Bears, according to Mike Coppinger of NFL.com.
The best bet on what the Dolphins should do with Pouncey is to tie it into how the season is going. The PUP list would be the best idea, as it would give him an extra three weeks to recover and get back into football shape. If the Dolphins are competitive, welcome him back into the lineup for the stretch run of the season.
On the flip side, Pouncey isn't the type of player that should be wasted on a lost cause of a season.
If the Dolphins get off to a horrendous start in their first five games (by horrendous I mean 0-5 before their Week 7 contest, possibly even 1-4 but no better than that), then the more prudent thing to do for both the Dolphins' future and Pouncey's would be to sit him out for the season and allow him to get healthy and ready for 2015.
I highly doubt they'll do it, mostly because I highly doubt the Dolphins will start off worse than 2-3, (which isn't good but still in the thick of things with plenty of games left) and also because Pouncey is too much of a gamer to allow that to happen. If he's healthy, he's playing.
It is something to consider, though.
Knowshon Moreno out 1 Month After Knee Surgery
The injury hits keep coming for the Dolphins, who have a running back currently recovering from knee surgery.
Knowshon Moreno underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in late June, according to ESPN.com's Adam Schefter.
The surgery is expected to cost Moreno a month, but he should be ready in time for training camp. NFL.com's Albert Breer reported the prognosis, according to Dan Hanzus also of NFL.com.
As Chris Perkins of the Sun-Sentinel reported, Moreno has struggled in OTAs since signing with the Dolphins, often playing with the second team, while Lamar Miller takes first-team snaps. The hope for Moreno is that, after the surgery, he will be relatively pain-free and will be able to compete for the starting job.
As of right now, he has a long road ahead of him.
Miami Dolphins Getting Upgrades to Sun Life Stadium
Sun Life Stadium, home to the Miami Dolphins since 1987 and the University of Miami Hurricanes since 2008, is finally getting its long-awaited face-lift.
The plan, which calls for Stephen Ross to foot the entire $350 million price tag in exchange for Miami-Dade County paying the Dolphins' incentives for any marquee events held at the stadium, was approved by the Miami-Dade commission on June 17 by a vote of 7-4, according to Craig Davis of the Sun-Sentinel.
The renovations officially began on June 28, according to the Miami Dolphins' official website and are expected to be finished by the start of the 2016 season.
From purely a football perspective, fans should love the renovations. With the new canopy, the field of play will continue to be open to the elements, while shading the fans, thus allowing the Dolphins to maintain one of their biggest home-field advantages.
The stadium will get a lot more intimate as well, as seats will be much closer to the sidelines than they are now (a common complaint among fans).
The fact that Stephen Ross is paying for the entire project is a victory for taxpayers as well. Yes, Miami-Dade county will pay when marquee events come to town, but the amount they will pay is a pittance compared to the money that will come in, thanks to the events the stadium will likely host.
Overall, this was a great deal for Dolphins fans, especially the part of the deal that keeps the Dolphins in Miami for the next 30 years.
This is the best news to come out about the Miami Dolphins in a while. (And hopefully it won't be the best news about the team or sports in Miami in 2014.)
Statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, unless otherwise noted.