This is the first of an official twice-weekly Miami Dolphins training camp report that I will be writing through the preseason for bleacherreport.com.
I will not be able to attend most of the training camp live (since I live outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania). I do hope to get down to South Florida to bring you a live report and I will update you on the progress of those plans.
But since we live in a virtual world, I will rely on the many, almost innumerable resources out there to provide you with up to date and important information along with my own personal analysis.
Thanks and citation immediately is given to the Florida Sun-Sentinel and writers Omary Kelly and Mike Berardino for their instant updates via twitter. The same applies to the Miami Herald and Armando Salguero and the Palm Beach Post and Brian Biggane. If you don't already follow them on their newspaper blogs and twitter, you probably should.
Each of these reports will bring you ten of the top storylines that are occurring at camp.
Starting on Friday, July 30th, the Miami Dolphins got their training camp underway in Davie, Florida. So here is what we learned over the weekend...
Coach Sparano was asked who impressed him the most so far in camp.
He replied, "Karlos Dansby. I personally don't like to single out any of these guys, but I've been really impressed with what's happening with Dansby right now."
Play recognition and Dansby's immediate ability to react has been what has stood out to the Dolphin's head man.
"He runs so well for a big guy," Sparano said. "When Karlos sees it, he pulls the trigger right away. Some people don't do that.”
First, reserve quarterback Pat White didn't show up for the first day of practice. Then, the rumors started. White was going to be released or traded. He was going to miss the season with a non-football injury. He was abducted by aliens and given a new left arm to throw accurate passes (ok, I made that last one up, but you can only hope).
Adding to the intrigue, the Dolphins are reportedly bringing in AFL quarterback Tommy Grady for a tryout on Monday.
On Saturday, White only clouded the picture further.
“I was having personal issues,” he said. “They've been handled. It is what it is. I'm happy to be back out here, thankful I have people around me that care about people in general. Just thankful my teammates are here, and we're working, moving on to the next day.”
Just what personal issues White has remain personal and not public. Continued speculation has indeed centered on whether White wants to continue his professional football career. If so, the tryout of Grady would make sense.
Stay tuned, this isn't the end of the story. White practiced Saturday and Sunday without incident.
There was some question of how Brandon Marshall would perform coming off hip surgery. Marshall answered the question emphatically on Friday, as he manhandled cornerback Sean Smith for a couple of big gains.
First, he beat Smith on a “stop-and-go” route. Then, he used his body to shield away the 6'3" 215 pounder defender who slipped as Marshall hauled the ball in on the left sideline.
Marshall didn't have the same kind of startling impact during the rest of the weekend, but the Beast served notice that he is ready to eat opposing defensive backs up. This behavior goes hand-in-hand with the new slogan that the Dolphins unveiled this weekend: “I am starving. Feed the wolf”.
Not only did the Dolphins get all eight of their draft choices signed and into camp on time, their top three selections are lining up as starters. Jared Odrick has been starting at the right defensive end position, Koa Misi is the starter at the strong-side outside linebacker position, and John Jerry is in the top spot at right guard.
Likely, Miami wants to see what it has right up front in terms of new talent. It will be interesting to see who remains with the first team. My bet is on Odrick and Misi. Jerry seems to need some more seasoning.
Jake Long and Vernon Carey are the starters at left and right tackle respectively. The interior line is a much bigger question mark. Joe Berger and Jake Grove split time as the first team center. Corey Procter started as the first team left guard before Donald Thomas was promoted on Sunday.
John Jerry was the starter at right guard during the weekend but will probably give way to Richie Incognito at some point. If past preseasons are any indication, Miami likes to flip-flop linemen until they find the right combination.
Say it after to me, Ikaika Alama-Francis. Ok, don't. Former Green Bay Packers standout defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila was given the moniker "KGB", so Alama-Francis will now be known as “IAF”.
That “IAF” is a player worthy of a catchy acronym is news in itself. But apparently, linebacker coach Bill Sheridan saw enough in the former University of Hawaii product to move him from defensive end to outside linebacker.
Currently, “IAF” is running on the second team with Charlie Anderson so the experiment is gaining some traction. IAF is 6'5" and around 280 pounds, so if the athleticism is there, Miami could have quite a thumper at the position.
While the jury is still out on “IAF” as a reasonable possibility to make the roster, never less an impact, this is not good news for Quentin Moses and his chances of sticking with the team.
The return game remains a major question mark. Davone Bess is once again the favorite for the punt returner's role. Bess averaged under eight yards per return, but has dependable hands for the most part.
If you read really hard through the tea leaves at training camp, Brian Hartline and then Greg Camarillo (who stepped in when Hartline had a minor injury) have been lining up with Brandon Marshall, not Bess. Could it be because it will free Bess up for return duties?
At kick returner, Patrick Cobbs looks like the primary option. For a player who is coming off an ACL tear, Cobbs apparently had quite a bit of elusiveness in running away from linebacker Tim Dobbins on a wheel route on Sunday.
Cobbs has yet to prove that he can excel as a returner at the pro level, but he probably won't run out of bounds most of the time like that last guy who got shipped to San Francisco.
Kory Sheets, Tristan Davis and rookie Nolan Carroll will challenge Cobbs for this key role. Coach Sparano has said the job will come down to how the players perform during "at bats" as he puts it, or in other words during preseason games.
The first training camp fight featured...drum roll please...Richie Incognito and Tony McDaniel. I know that you are as shocked as I am that a model citizen like Incognito got into a little extra-curricular activity.
The fight was reported pretty tame with a few exchanged shoves and a slap to the helmet by Incognito. Apparently, no ones feelings got hurt and everybody is still one big happy family.
Ah, another pre-season, another summer of watching Jason Allen getting toasted by a receiver, any receiver.
This time it was by Julius Pruitt on a 60-yard touchdown pass from Chad Pennington. Who? Exactly.
Eventually, Allen has to get the boot, special team’s ace or not.
Keep in mind, this is all about perspective, but the consensus among various sources is…
Nolan Carroll - had a pick six of backup quarterback Tyler Thigpen when he stepped in front of Greg Camarillo and showed athleticism throughout the week.
Paul Soliai - Overall had a real solid weekend. He split snaps with Randy Starks on Sunday and saw time in a nickel package which means he is in shape.
Cameron Wake - Beat offensive lineman enough to get noticed, even by Jake Long.
John Nalbone - Fringe roster players can't drop passes. He did and so did Roberto Wallace.
Corey Procter - Got beat by an inside pass rush a few times, particularly by rookie Jared Odrick.
Evan Ogelsby - I feel bad picking on a guy who wasn't there because he was sick, but the more time you miss, it gives others the chance to step up. Ogelsby is on the roster bubble already.
My next report will be on Friday, August 6th. Be sure to check my archive as well between now and then for additional NFL and Miami Dolphin news.