ACC: Chase Ford

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins is a no-brainer choice for the ACC’s Preseason Player of the Year.

He’s just not a lock to actually win the award.

The league is too talented and crowded at the quarterback position, including in Death Valley, where if Watkins is having another record-setting season, that must mean that Tajh Boyd is faring pretty well, too. One of Clemson’s biggest strengths this season -- much as it was a year ago -- is the number of options coordinator Chad Morris will have to work with. DeAndre Hopkins, Andre Ellington, and Brandon Ford – just to name a few – give Watkins the luxury of not having to do it all, while at the same time opening up opportunities for him and Boyd.

Watkins edged out Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas by four votes for the preseason award, but the reality of the situation is that EJ Manuel at Florida State could surpass them all. He’s on the team that was predicted by the media to win the ACC championship this fall, a preseason top-10 team good enough to contend for a national title. While Manuel might not be the best quarterback in the ACC (depending upon whom you ask), his accomplishments would be hard for the voters to ignore should the Noles actually live up to expectations this fall. Historically, voters tend to go with a player from a division champ (David Wilson, C.J. Spiller, Matt Ryan). NC State quarterback Mike Glennon could also have a spectacular season, especially with the veteran linemen he’ll have in front of him, but if the Wolfpack isn’t in the title game, he could be overshadowed.

Watkins, who may or may not be suspended for a portion or all of the season opener against Auburn, enters 2012 as the best player in the conference. It’s debatable, though, whether the voters will still see it that way at the end of the season.
As mentioned in lunch links, Clemson announced the signings of undrafted lineman Landon Walker (Cincinnati Bengals) and punter Dawson Zimmerman (Atlanta Falcons). And a couple of generous readers have passed along a few more signings from ACC schools.

Virginia Tech guard Blake DeChristopher signed with the Cardinals, and Hokies defensive back Cris Hill signed with the Bills.

Big thanks to Matt from Alexandria, Va., Ben in Blacksburg, Va., and Lynn in Blacksburg, Va., for the head's up.

The updated, working list is below. Feel free to pass along any oversights.

BOSTON COLLEGE
CB Donnie Fletcher: New York Jets

CLEMSON
DE Kourtnei Brown: San Francisco 49ers
FB Chad Diehl: Baltimore Ravens
OL Antoine McClain: Baltimore Ravens
DT Rennie Moore: Houston Texans
OT Landon Walker: Cincinnati Bengals
P Dawson Zimmerman: Atlanta Falcons

DUKE
S Matt Daniels: St. Louis Rams

FSU
WR Bert Reed: Cleveland Browns
S Terrence Parks: Kansas City Chiefs
P Shawn Powell: Buffalo Bills

MARYLAND
CB Cameron Chism: Indianapolis Colts
RB Davin Meggett: Houston Texans

MIAMI
WR LaRon Byrd: Arizona Cardinals
OL Joel Figueroa: Miami Dolphins (rookie camp tryout)
TE Chase Ford: Philadelphia Eagles
DL Marcus Forston: New England Patriots
LB Jordan Futch: Tampa Bay Bucaneers
G Harland Gunn: Dallas Cowboys
QB Jacory Harris: Miami Dolphins (rookie camp tryout)
C Tyler Horn: Atlanta Falcons
S JoJo Nicolas: New York Giants
DL Adewale Ojomo: New York Giants
DT Micanor Regis: Atlanta Falcons

UNC
CB Charles Brown: Baltimore Ravens
C Cam Holland: Kansas City Chiefs
WR Dwight Jones: Houston Texans
S Matt Merletti: Indianapolis Colts
DT Tydreke Powell: Minnesota Vikings

NC STATE
TE George Bryan: Dallas Cowboys
FB Taylor Gentry: Kansas City Chiefs

VIRGINIA
CB Chase Minnifield: Washington Redskins
OG Austin Pasztor: Minnesota Vikings
S Rodney McLeod: St. Louis Rams
DT Matt Conrath: St. Louis Rams

VIRGINIA TECH
WR Jarrett Boykin: Jacksonville Jaguars
OT Jaymes Brooks: Green Bay Packers
G Blake DeChristopher: Arizona Cardinals
CB Cris Hill: Buffalo Bills
S Eddie Whitley: Dallas Cowboys

WAKE FOREST
TE Cameron Ford: Green Bay Packers
S Cyhl Quarles: Baltimore Ravens
Thirty-one players from ACC schools were drafted this past weekend, but many more signed free-agent deals with NFL teams in the aftermath of the draft.

The following is a list of ACC players, by school, who have signed undrafted free agent deals with NFL teams. It was compiled largely from NFL.com, along with official releases from NFL teams and ACC schools. Georgia Tech is the only ACC school currently without an undrafted free-agent signing.

By all means, feel free to let me know if I have overlooked anyone.

BOSTON COLLEGE
CB Donnie Fletcher - New York Jets

CLEMSON
DE Kourtnel Brown - San Francisco 49ers
FB Chad Diehl - Baltimore Ravens
OL Antoine McClain - Baltimore Ravens
DT Rennie Moore - Houston Texans

DUKE
S Matt Daniels - St. Louis Rams

FSU
WR Bert Reed - Cleveland Browns
S Terrence Parks - Kansas City Chiefs
P Shawn Powell - Buffalo Bills

MARYLAND
CB Cameron Chism - Indianapolis Colts
RB Davin Meggett - Houston Texans

MIAMI
WR LaRon Byrd - Arizona Cardinals
TE Chase Ford - Philadelphia Eagles
DL Marcus Forston - New England Patriots
LB Jordan Futch - Tampa Bay Bucaneers
G Harland Gunn - Dallas Cowboys
C Tyler Horn - Atlanta Falcons
S JoJo Nicolas - New York Giants
DL Adewale Ojomo - New York Giants
DT Micanor Regis - Atlanta Falcons

UNC
CB Charles Brown - Baltimore Ravens
C Cam Holland - Kansas City Chiefs
WR Dwight Jones - Houston Texans
S Matt Merletti - Indianapolis Colts
DT Tydreke Powell - Minnesota Vikings

NC STATE
TE George Bryan - Dallas Cowboys
FB Taylor Gentry - Kansas City Chiefs

VIRGINIA
CB Chase MinnifieldWashington Redskins
OG Austin Pasztor - Minnesota Vikings
S Rodney McLeod – St. Louis Rams
DT Matt Conrath – St. Louis Rams

VIRGINIA TECH
WR Jarrett Boykin - Jacksonville Jaguars
OT Jaymes Brooks - Green Bay Packers
S Eddie Whitley - Dallas Cowboys

WAKE FOREST
TE Cameron Ford - Green Bay Packers
S Chyl Quarles - Baltimore Ravens

The Hurricanes also announced that quarterback Jacory Harris and offensive lineman Joel Figueroa have both been invited to rookie camp tryouts with the Miami Dolphins.

ACC WRs and TEs could shine at combine

February, 22, 2012
2/22/12
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ESPN's Scouts Inc. broke down the top NFL prospects at each offensive position heading into the NFL combine, and it looks like the ACC could have some stars at wide receiver and/or tight end.

When it comes to ball skills, former Virginia Tech receiver Danny Coale ranked among the top five receivers at the combine. Scouts Inc. also ranked the receivers by their big-play abilities, and Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill ranked No. 4, followed by Miami's Travis Benjamin, who was tied for fifth.

Former Clemson tight end Dwayne Allen was No. 3 in the "separation skills" category, while Miami's Chase Ford was No. 3 in big-play abilities, and NC State's George Bryan was No. 2 in competitiveness.

Two of the ACC's offensive linemen were also featured, as Florida State's Zebrie Sanders was the No. 3 tackle in run blocking, and Wake's Joe Looney was the No. 2 guard in awareness.

ACC season predictions

August, 30, 2010
8/30/10
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The wait is over. Week 1 of the 2010 season is officially here, and so are the conference predictions. Here’s a look at how this season might unfold for the ACC:

Coastal Division winner: Miami

The Canes have all of the pieces in place to win their first division title since joining the ACC. They’ve got experience and depth in all of the right places, and have finally been under the direction of the same coordinators for two years.

Atlantic Division winner: Florida State

Jimbo Fisher has the advantage of starting his career in the weaker of the two divisions, and offensively, nobody else compares in the Atlantic Division. The Noles have a veteran offensive line and one of the league’s top quarterbacks. Defensively, FSU can only get better.

ACC champion: Loser of the regular-season matchup

Revenge is sweet, and the loser of the Oct. 9 rivalry game in Miami will get it. Final word? FSU redeems itself from last year’s loss to the Canes during the regular season, but Miami wins it all in December.

Offensive MVP: Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder

He could be a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate, and he’s got plenty of surrounding talent to work with.
Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams is also a legitimate candidate here, but he won’t get enough carries with Darren Evans joining him in the backfield this season.

Defensive MVP: Clemson safety DeAndre McDaniel

He had eight interceptions for 128 yards and 102 tackles. The interception total was tied for third in the nation and he was the only player in college football last season with at least eight interceptions and at least 100 tackles. He was the first player in Clemson history to do both in the same season. He also had two sacks and a total of five tackles for loss.


Surprise team: Maryland

The Terps have enough talent to rebound from their abysmal 2-10 season – particularly at running back and wide receiver, but they’ll have to improve up front on both sides and will be under the direction of first-year starting quarterback Jamarr Robinson.

Team most likely to disappoint: North Carolina

(If it hasn’t already.) After back-to-back eight-win seasons that ended with losses to Big East teams in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, expectations have risen for Butch Davis in his fourth season. He has one of the best defenses in the country, a Top 25 team, and experience on offense. But the program has also been clouded by an NCAA investigation into possible improper contact with agents, and the university is investigating possible academic misconduct.

Surprise player: Wake Forest quarterback Ted Stachitas

He’s tasked with replacing the winningest quarterback in school history, but he was recruited for this offense and will find a way to move the chains.

Newcomer of the Year: Miami junior college transfer Chase Ford

He has already drawn comparisons to Jeremy Shockey, and is expected to contribute immediately. He led the Southwest Junior College Football Conference with 32 receptions and 545 receiving yards. He was the league's MVP at Kilgore Junior College.

Freshman of the Year: FSU cornerback Lamarcus Joyner

The USA Today National Defensive Player of the Year is a bigger version of Greg Reid and might contribute as a kickoff returner as well. ESPN Recruiting services ranked him the No. 1 cornerback in his class and the No. 6 prospect overall. He could also see some snaps on offense.

Coach of the Year: Duke coach David Cutcliffe

Last season’s 5-7 record was the best the program has seen since 1994. If Cutcliffe is able to take the next step and win six games, it will be the Blue Devils’ first bowl appearance since 1994. Cutcliffe has already made a case for his award.

Can’t-miss game: Virginia Tech at Miami, Nov. 20

These are the ACC’s two highest-ranked teams heading into the season, and it’s likely this matchup could determine the Coastal Division winner. The series is even the past two years.

ACC's lunchtime links

August, 24, 2010
8/24/10
12:30
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Did somebody say chat?

ACC practice reports

August, 11, 2010
8/11/10
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Here's a quick recap of the latest practices, with information and quotes provided by the sports information directors at each school who releases them:

CLEMSON

The Tigers had their first scrimmage on Tuesday and got in about 100 snaps in a little over two hours.

Offensive highlights: Kyle Parker completed 9 of 18 passes for 114 yards. He did not throw and interception and ran for a score on a 14-yard run. Tajh Boyd completed 7 of 18 passes for 71 yards. He had a 13-yard run for a score that culminated a 75-yard drive early in the scrimmage.

Rod McDowell was the top rusher with 76 yards on 12 carries. He had a 22-yard run and a 34-yard run on the same drive. Andre Ellington gained 45 yards in 11 carries, while Jamie Harper had seven carries for 35 yards. Ellington had the only rushing touchdown among the running backs with a 15-yard score.

Five different receivers had two catches apiece. Dwayne Allen had 2-49, including a 36-yard completion from Parker. Drew Traylor had 2-29, Terrance Ashe had 2-28 and Marquan Jones had 2-11. Jaron Brown had 2-14 and also had an 18-yard run.

Defensive highlights: Andre Branch intercepted a tipped pass and raced 25 yards for a score. Tig Willard was the top tackler with seven, while Brandon Maye, Coty Sensabaugh and Scotty Cooper all had five apiece. Jonathan Meeks had two tackles for loss. Freshman Tra Thomas had the only fumble recovery.

Special teams: Richard Jackson was 4-4 on field goals attempts, including a pair from 42 yards. Spencer Benton was 3-4 and Chandler Catanzaro made 2-3 with his only miss from 56 yards.

Dabo Swinney said: “It was a better scrimmage than I expected for the first scrimmage. We had a lot of new guys in action in Death Valley for the first time and we did a lot of mix and matching during the scrimmage. We need to perform better in the red-zone on both sides of the ball.

“Defensively, Andre Branch had the big play of the day with an interception return for a touchdown I thought he was a consistent player last year. But, he has become a physical player who is a team leader. Opposing teams will talk about 93 [Da’Quan Bowers], but they better pay attention to number 40 [Branch].

Injured: All-American safety DeAndre McDaniel, who suffered an injury near his tailbone. He was able to walk off the field on his own. I'll try and get an update for you on this today. Freshman running backs D.J. Howard and Demont Buice both missed the scrimmage as they recover from a concussion suffered this past Saturday. Da’Quan Bowers missed the scrimmage as he is home with his family after the sudden death of his father last Sunday.

DUKE

The Blue Devils held their second practice on Tuesday night.

Defensive highlights: Johnny Williams, who moved from receiver this past spring, showed that he is grasping the cornerback position well as he intercepted a deep pass down the sideline during 7-on-7 drills and also made two nice plays to force incompletions during the 1-on-1 period against the receivers.

The defense has emphasized forcing turnovers early in the preseason and came up with three on Tuesday. Along with Williams' interception, junior safety Lee Butler returned an interception for a score off a tipped ball and redshirt junior Charlie Hatcher recovered a fumble. The defense had several other pass breakups on the day, including a couple by sophomore safety Walt Canty.

Offensive highlights: Redshirt freshman wide receiver Tyree Watkins made several big plays, and senior wide receiver Austin Kelly ran two good routes during team drills to provide redshirt sophomore quarterback Sean Renfree with some wide open looks. The offensive line did a good job in both pass and run blocking during the first session of team drills.

MARYLAND

The Terps opened camp on Tuesday in temperatures in the upper-90s, and spent much of the practice working on individual drills to help acclimate 21 newcomers and refresh veterans. Maryland has 24 preseason workouts scheduled.

Ralph Friedgen says: “The kids showed they worked hard over the summer. We’re a little further along in some areas than I thought. I think it got hot out there at the end and they got a little tired, but overall I thought it was a good first day.”

Jamarr Robinson, who proved to be a dangerous dual-threat quarterback while filling in for an injured Chris Turner last year, enters camp atop the depth chart. The Terps also have a pair of talented redshirt freshmen in Danny O’Brien and C.J. Brown, who spent a year learning offensive coordinator James Franklin’s system and look ready to contribute.

“I saw more of a leadership role by Jamarr [today],” said Friedgen. “I thought his fundamentals were better. I thought his reads were better. The guy that kind of showed some improvement was C.J. Brown. I thought he did some things better than he did in the spring. I sat in a meeting with him and to me he was a lot sharper than he has been, so maybe he’s starting to mature a little bit.”

Notable: Avery Murray, who was the listed as the backup at Mike linebacker behind Alex Wujciak, has left the team for personal reasons. Sophomore Ryan Donohue moves up a spot on the depth chart. Redshirt freshman De’Onte Arnett, a reserve defensive tackle, will also miss preseason camp. He was diagnosed with a cyst on his ankle and will be out of action about six weeks. Taylor Watson is the only other member of the two-deep who will not be a part of the 105-man preseason roster. Watson had knee surgery in the spring and is not expected back until next month.

MIAMI

The Canes had a walk-through practice Tuesday morning on the Greentree Practice Fields. They spent just under an hour on the practice fields sharpening up for the first fall scrimmage Wednesday night. After working through positional drills, the team came together and spent the rest of the session in 11-on-11, two-minute drill work.

Defensive highlights: In the two-minute drill, the first-team defense forced a quick three-and-out, and only allowed one score the rest of the session. Among the highlights were a DeMarcus Van Dyke pass breakup, a Marcus Forston quarterback hurry and a Luther Robinson sack.

Offensive highlights: Tight end Chase Ford may have turned in his best showing of camp on Tuesday. Ford caught a first down pass over the middle on a third a long before later scoring the session’s only touchdown on a 40-yard catch-and-run down the right sideline.

Up next: Wednesday’s scrimmage is closed to the public. Following the scrimmage, the team will take its first day off from camp on Thursday before returning to the practice fields for its first two-a-day on Friday.



WAKE FOREST

The Deacs practiced in pads for the first time.

Jim Grobe says: “We didn’t have the greatest practice mentally but it was a good night effort wise. The guys are working real hard, flying around and bumping into each other. We have a lot in right now offensively and defensively and the young guys are a little flustered but at least when they're making mistakes, they’re making them in a hurry.”

On the competition: “We have nine seniors and quite a bit of juniors but some of our most talented guys at spots are freshmen and sophomores. So there is quite a bit of competition right now and there are number of spots were you can feel comfortable at the top of the depth chart one day and be at the bottom of the chart the next. It’s a good position for us because we don’t just have guys that are talented at the top and there’s no one pushing them. We have talent at every position and guys know they have to come out to practice each day and get after it.”

On the quarterbacks: “We have a great group of guys right now at quarterback. I think you get a little concerned if you don’t have any talent back there but we have three or four guys that have enough talent to win. What we’re looking for right now is a guy who makes very few mental mistakes and does not turn the football over. That’s going to be the key. The flashiest guys, the fastest guy, the guy with the best arm may not end up being our quarterback. It’s going to be the guy that doesn’t get us beat. The guy that takes care of the ball the best and makes the fewest mental mistakes is probably going to be the guy.”

Up next: The Deacons continue to practice this week as they prepare for their first intra-squad scrimmage on Saturday at 2 p.m. at BB&T Field. The team will practice again Wednesday evening from 8-10 p.m. at the Doc Martin Practice Complex on campus.

Opening camp: Miami

August, 5, 2010
8/05/10
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Schedule: Practice starts at 8 a.m. Saturday’s 8 a.m. practice will be open to season-ticket holders and UM employees.

What’s new: Rick Petri takes over coaching what should be the deepest defensive line in Randy Shannon’s tenure. Petri has a reputation for developing some of the best linemen in college football, including former Canes Warren Sapp, Kevin Patrick, Kenny Holmes and Kenard Lang.

Sidelined: No players on the two-deep are expected to be missing, but running back Graig Cooper will be eased back into practices slowly and held out of the first scrimmage.

Key battle: Tight end. Richard Gordon is the only experienced player returning at the position, and he is more of a blocker. The Canes are looking for another receiving tight end like Jimmy Graham. Junior college transfer Chase Ford could help, and true freshmen Asante Cleveland, Andrew Tallman and Clive Walford will also compete for playing time.

New on the scene: TE Chase Ford. He came to Miami from Kilgore Junior College, where he led the Southwest Junior College Football Conference with 32 receptions and 545 receiving yards.

Breaking out: Redshirt freshman Lamar Miller. Miller has enough talent to separate himself from a crowded backfield. He was rated the No. 119 player in the ESPNU 150 class and the No. 12 running back in his class by ESPN.com. He led Dade County in rushing as a senior with 1,749 yards and 22 touchdowns.

Don’t forget about: Fullback Patrick Hill. He suffered a season-ending injury last year but earned a medical hardship waiver. Without him, the running game was limited, and the pass blocking struggled. Hill is an instrumental blocker whose health will make a difference this fall.

All eyes on: Quarterback Jacory Harris. The potential to throw for over 3,000 yards in a second straight season is there, but so is the potential for another boatload of interceptions. If Harris can cut down on his 17 turnovers and make better decisions (and also get better protection and more help from his receivers), Miami’s offense will flourish.

Quotable: “We’re a big offensive line. Not a fat offensive line. We’re huge. This is the first time we’ve been this big since I’ve been here, either as a player or as a coach.” -- Randy Shannon to the Palm Beach Post.

Fresh faces: Miami

July, 28, 2010
7/28/10
10:30
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Seantrel Henderson's face isn't fresh. It's been splashed all over the news. Let's give some other guys some pub:

RB Lamar Miller: He's stuck in a crowded backfield, but after a redshirt season, Miller is capable of earning some carries. He was rated the No. 12 running back in his class by ESPN.com and ranked 119 among the ESPNU 150. He led Dade County in rushing as a senior at Killian High School with 1,749 yards and 22 touchdowns.

Juco TE transfer Chase Ford:The Hurricanes are thin at tight end, so Ford could help immediately. He led the Southwest Junior College Football Conference with 32 receptions and 545 receiving yards. He was the league's MVP at Kilgore Junior College.

DB Jamal Reid:He redshirted last year but came to Miami ranked No. 80 in the ESPNU 150 class. He was ESPN.com's No.6 athlete in his class. He caught 49 passes for 1,224 yards and 17 touchdowns, and he made 68 tackles and six interceptions (including one returned for a touchdown) as a senior.

More fresh faces:

ACC's lunchtime links

June, 29, 2010
6/29/10
12:30
PM ET
You're missing the chat! Wait, am I?? Gotta run ...

Miami spring wrap

May, 7, 2010
5/07/10
8:30
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MIAMI

2009 overall record: 9-4

2009 conference record: 5-3

Returning starters

Offense: 6, defense: 8, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners

QB Jacory Harris, T Orlando Franklin, WR Leonard Hankerson, WR LaRon Byrd, DE Allen Bailey, LB Sean Spence, LB Colin McCarthy, P/PK Matt Bosher, CB Brandon Harris, RB Graig Cooper (injured)

Key losses

OT Jason Fox, C A.J. Trump, TE Dedrick Epps, RB Javarris James, S Randy Phillips, CB Sam Shields, LB Darryl Sharpton, DT Joe Joseph

2009 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Cooper* (695 yards)

Passing: Harris* (3,352 yds)

Receiving: Hankerson* (801 yds)

Tackles: Sharpton (106)

Sacks: Bailey* (7)

Interceptions: Harris, Phillips, Micanor Regis* (2)

Spring answers

1. Depth at running back. The running backs had arguably the best spring of any position group and proved they’re still deep, despite the loss of James and not having Cooper, who is recovering from a torn ACL. Lamar Miller, a redshirt freshman, was tough to bring down in the open field, and had good speed. Storm Johnson, a true freshman who enrolled early, picked up the offense quickly and ran hard. Damien Berry showed the same form he had at the end of the season when he finished strong, and Mike James returned to running back from fullback.

2. Deeper at QB. What a difference a year can make. After both backup quarterbacks transferred a year ago, this position has the best depth it’s seen under coach Randy Shannon. A.J. Highsmith, Spencer Whipple and Stephen Morris all moved the ball this spring. Highsmith seemed to be the front-runner for the No. 2 job behind Jacory Harris, as he took most of the first-team reps with Harris out.

3. Defensive line shines. First-year defensive line coach Rick Petri’s group was one of the Canes’ bright spots this spring. The defensive ends go about three deep on each side. Adewale Ojomo, who missed all of last season with a broken jaw, is back, and the tackles were solid.

Fall questions

1. Wanted: tight ends. Miami only had two tight ends this spring, but the Canes will add four in the fall, including Chase Ford, a junior college transfer. Richard Gordon and Billy Sanders will finally get some competition. Gordon has the most experience and he’s a senior, but he only played in one game last year. He was granted an extra year of eligibility and should have a bigger role this season. Sanders, a redshirt freshman, was on the scout team.

2. Transition at center. Tyler Horn isn’t a rookie, but it's unclear how he'll adjust to his new role in taking over for A.J. Trump. Horn was the top option at center this spring with true freshman Shane McDermott, an early enrollee, behind him. Horn has been there for three years, and it’s his job to lose.

3. Stuck in the middle. Who will take over at middle linebacker? Miami is still working out its depth issue here. Kylan Robinson started to emerge there in the spring, and Shayon Green was another option. At the end of spring, Colin McCarthy was still at strong side and Sean Spence was at weak side, but Shannon could make some moves to get the best group of linebackers in there. That could mean McCarthy moves to the middle. In the past two years, Shannon liked to put an older player there (Glenn Cook, Darryl Sharpton), but McCarthy played the majority of the spring at his usual spot. The return of Spence and Jordan Futch from injuries should help Shannon figure out the right combination.

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