AFC East: Hall of Fame game

Miami Dolphins Stock Watch

August, 6, 2013
8/06/13
1:05
PM ET
MIAMI -- We are entering Week 3 of training camp for the Miami Dolphins, and the team already has one preseason game in the books.

Let’s take an updated look at whose stock is up and down in Miami:

Falling

1. Dallas Thomas, tackle/guard: Sunday’s game was not a strong debut for Miami’s rookie offensive lineman. He struggled mightily against Dallas in his audition for the backup left tackle spot. From my viewpoint in training camp, Thomas performed better the past two weeks as a guard. However, he has some versatility and Miami is thin at left tackle. So the Dolphins coaching staff wanted to provide Thomas a look in a game scenario. If the first preseason game is any indication, Miami may want to keep Thomas at guard going forward.

2. Dolphins’ tackling: I know it’s just the first preseason game, but Miami’s defense put on a poor tackling exhibition on all levels. Both the starters and backups showed poor form trying to stop Dallas ball-carriers. That was a major reason why Dallas’ starters and backups rushed for 170 yards on 34 carries. The Cowboys averaged 5.0 yards per carry. Perhaps this was just early jitters. But tackling is an area to keep an eye on later in the preseason.

3. Philip Wheeler, linebacker: Wheeler is having a good training camp, but he struggled in limited playing time in the Hall of Fame Game. On the opening drive, Wheeler was beat by Dallas tight end Dante Rosario for 18 yards. Wheeler also displayed some poor tackling and whiffed in the open field against Cowboys tailback Lance Dunbar. It almost looked as though Wheeler was playing too fast. But, again, this was a small sample size and there’s no need to go overboard. I’ve seen more good than bad from Wheeler since the spring.

Rising

1. Young defensive ends: Miami’s defensive line from top to bottom has been dominant in training camp. The Dolphins showed some of that depth Sunday against Dallas with backup defensive ends Derrick Shelby and Dion Jordan both wreaking havoc. Shelby led the Dolphins with two sacks, and he also had two additional hits on the quarterback. Jordan, who played only on third down, also had a pair of tackles and two quarterback pressures. Miami’s defensive-end rotation looks very strong with Pro Bowler Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon currently the starters, and Jordan and Shelby as the backups. It’s early, but Miami’s pass-rush definitely looks improved.

2. Chad Bumphis, wide receiver: I owe Bumphis an apology. He’s been making plays with regularity in training camp. But I’ve mostly looked the other way and ignored Bumphis, because he’s done it mostly against the third team. Bumphis showed up against Dallas and led the Dolphins in receiving with five receptions for 85 yards. The highlight was a 45-yard reception. Bumphis did have a big error when a dropped pass led to a pick six. But overall, it was a good night for the smallish receiver. He continues to push for a roster spot.

3. Lamar Miller, running back: Similarly, Miller had mostly good plays but one big mistake. It was that kind of night for Miami. Miller botched a hand off from quarterback Ryan Tannehill on Miami’s first offensive play. Tannehill got credited for the fumble, but it appeared Miller deserved most of the blame. Otherwise, Miller had a strong night. He looked explosive in his two carries for 21 yards. That was enough work for Miller, who has an important role replacing former starter Reggie Bush.

Dion Jordan continues to progress

August, 5, 2013
8/05/13
10:00
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CANTON, Ohio – The Miami Dolphins are still bringing No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan along slowly after February shoulder surgery. His work has gradually increased in training camp, and Jordan played only on third-down situations in Miami's 24-20 preseason loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

But Jordan made the most of his limited reps by impacting Sunday's Hall of Fame Game. He recorded two tackles and two quarterback pressures in his NFL debut.

Jordan was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise sloppy game for Miami.

“I’m practicing my butt off so I will be prepared when the [regular] season and games come,” Jordan said in the locker room Sunday night. “As far as when I get out there [more] and timetables, you have to talk to coach. They’re letting me know what I have to do to get prepared.”

Jordan's best play happened in the third quarter. He sprinted around the edge and forced Cowboys quarterback Nick Stephens to move in the pocket and into the arms of Miami teammate Derrick Shelby.

On that play, Jordan showed the explosiveness, fluid movement and aggressiveness getting to the quarterback that Miami needs this season.

“I looked like one or two times he got adequate pressure and got around the quarterback a little bit,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said. “We will take a closer look at the tape.”

Jordan’s workload will continue to increase in training camp and the preseason. He’s currently behind second-year defensive end Olivier Vernon on the depth chart.

Miami’s defensive line is arguably the deepest unit on the team. Performances Sunday by Jordan and Shelby (two sacks) further proved that point, but Jordan is looking for more.

“We can be really deep,” Jordan said of his fellow defensive linemen. “The front line starts it all off and it works its way to the [backups]. It’s good that we got pressure on the quarterback, but we have to finish as a unit. As a defense, we have to do better.”
CANTON, Ohio -- The new-look Miami Dolphins' offense could not get off to a worst start to the 2013 preseason. After spending millions on new weapons and earning a nice preseason buzz, their first play from scrimmage was a fumble in Sunday night’s 24-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill attempted a hand-off to starting tailback Lamar Miller for a routine running play. However, the ball bounced off Miller and fell forward into the hands of Dallas defensive tackle Nick Hayden. Tannehill was credited for the fumble, but much of the blame appeared to be on Miller.

Tannehill wasn’t sure how things went wrong.

“I guess Lamar and I aren’t on the same page,” Tannehill said Sunday night in the locker room. “It’s frustrating to start off like that. You come out, and something as simple as a hand-off goes awry. It’s definitely something that we will get corrected and it won’t happen again.”

The first play pretty much set the tone for the rest of the night, particularly with Miami’s starting offense.

The Tannehill-led Dolphins failed to produce points or move the ball with any consistency in two-and-a-half series of work. Miami’s offensive starters began a third series but were pulled by head coach Joe Philbin after Tannehill made a pair of completions. Tannehill finished the night 2-of-5 passing for 11 yards and a fumble.

Besides some strong runs by Miller, who had 21 rushing yards on two carries, there wasn’t much good to take out of this game for Miami’s starting offense. This group will go back to the drawing board to tighten some things up this week.

The good news for Miami is the preseason is just beginning. This team has a total of five exhibition games leading up to their regular-season opener against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 8.

Miami’s next preseason game will be Friday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. After Sunday’s sloppy performance in Canton, there’s nowhere to go but up for Miami’s starting offense.

“It wasn’t our cleanest game or our best game,” Tannehill said. “I’m glad we can get that one out of the way early. We have four more preseason games before we get into the regular season. So hopefully this was our sloppy game.”

Live from the Hall of Fame Game

August, 4, 2013
8/04/13
6:47
PM ET
CANTON, Ohio -- The Miami Dolphins are set to take the field in about an hour for the first time in the 2013 season. They will play the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame Game at 8 p.m. ET.

This is the first of five preseason games for Miami. Expect the Dolphins to limit playing time for their starters. For example, starting receivers Mike Wallace (groin) and Brian Hartline (calf) haven’t done much in warm-ups so far. Nothing is official, but there is a good chance that at least one or both receivers won’t play.

Check back with the AFC East blog tonight for more on the Dolphins from the Hall of Fame Game. You can also follow me on Twitter for live updates from Canton.

Dolphins Hall of Fame Game preview

August, 4, 2013
8/04/13
10:25
AM ET
CANTON, Ohio – The Miami Dolphins will have their first preseason game Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET against the Dallas Cowboys in the annual Hall of Fame Game. There have been a lot of interesting developments during the first two weeks of training camp, and now we get to see Miami in a game scenario.

The AFC East blog will be live in attendance for the first preseason game of the NFL season. Here are five things to keep an eye on from Miami’s perspective:

No. 1: Offensive line

Analysis: This has been Miami’s weakness unit through two weeks of training camp. The Dolphins’ offensive line has been pushed around for the most part and lacks depth. An injury to starting guard John Jerry has caused the coaching staff to scramble. The Dolphins have tried out multiple replacements such as Josh Samuda, Nate Garner and Dallas Thomas. Right now there are more questions than answers. But Sunday’s game will be a good opportunity for this much-maligned unit to show improvement.

No. 2: Miami’s passing game

Analysis: Miami starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill has a lot of new weapons, and this will be the first chance to show them off in a national game. Starting receivers Mike Wallace (groin) and Brian Hartline (calf) are nursing injuries this week and will be game-time decisions. But Tannehill, at the very least, will throw to new tight end Dustin Keller and receiver Brandon Gibson. All of these players need to be on the same page by Week 1. Playing against another team for the first time presents a good challenge.

No. 3: Second starting cornerback

Analysis: Veteran corners Dimitri Patterson and Richard Marshall have battled back and forth with the starters. This competition won’t be settled until there are preseason games. Patterson currently has the hot hand and has shown good quickness and athleticism. Both players could get a lot of playing time in sub-packages, but only one can start opposite Brent Grimes. This is the time for one of these veteran corners to step forward.

No. 4: Kicking battle

Analysis: Miami’s kicking competition between rookie Caleb Sturgis and veteran incumbent Dan Carpenter is about even after two weeks of camp. It will probably take several preseason games to determine this one. Sturgis is the favorite because he’s a fifth-round pick scheduled to make just $405,000 this season. Carpenter is on Miami’s books for $2.68 million if he makes the team. Therefore, if the competition is close, the edge goes to the rookie.

No. 5: Which unknowns will step up?

Analysis: With five preseason games for Miami this year, look for many of the Dolphins’ backups to get extended playing time Sunday. That means this is a golden opportunity for lesser-known players to shine and make a push for roster spots. Several players who come to mind are tight end Michael Egnew, receiver Jeff Fuller, tight end Kyle Miller and rookie linebacker Jelani Jenkins. These are the kind of bubble players who must show up in preseason games to make the 53-man roster.

There will be a full report from the game later tonight in the AFC East blog. You can also follow me on Twitter for live updates from Canton before, during and after the game.
NORTHEAST, Ohio -- One of the biggest weaknesses for the Miami Dolphins last season was their 27th-ranked pass defense. That is why Miami’s secondary could use at least a series or two against a quality quarterback like Tony Romo.

The Dallas Cowboys wisely will sit Romo in Sunday’s Hall of Fame Game. Romo had back surgery this summer, and Dallas and Miami both have five preseason games this year. Romo threw for a career-high 4,903 yards, 28 touchdowns and 19 interceptions in 2012. That set the table for Romo to get a $108 million contract extension from Dallas.

Miami’s first-team defense will get Dallas backup quarterback Kyle Orton instead. Romo would have been a nice test for Miami’s secondary and particularly its cornerbacks. The Dolphins remade their cornerback position signing Brent Grimes in free agency and drafting rookies Jamar Taylor and Will Davis in the second and third rounds, respectively.

But Dallas is doing the right thing. The most important thing about the Hall of Fame game for both sides is avoiding injury. The Dolphins’ secondary will have to wait until later in the preseason to face a starting-caliber quarterback.
DAVIE, Fla. -- For new Miami Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes, September 9, 2012 carries significance. That was the last time Grimes played in an NFL game.

Grimes tore his Achilles in the regular-season opener with the Atlanta Falcons last year. His long road back to the field will be complete when Grimes plays for Miami Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame Game.

Grimes will only play in a series or two with Miami's starting defense. But that doesn’t make Sunday's comeback any less significant after nearly a year on the shelf.

“Yeah, it’s cool because I was out and missed all of last year,” Grimes said. “I’ve been doing this (practice) but it’s not the same as actually going in a game. So it’s going to be fun, even though it’s going to be brief probably.”

Grimes, who signed a one-year, $5 million contract with Miami, has been one of the most consistent performers in Dolphins' training camp. Grimes is athletic, consistently around the football and projected to be Miami’s top cornerback in the regular season.

Miami’s pass defense was ranked 27th last year and very inconsistent. The Dolphins are counting on Grimes to stay healthy and add stability to this unit. Grimes has looked 100 percent in camp and has not had any setbacks with his Achilles injury.

“I’m feeling real good,” Grimes explained. “Any time you come into training camp, it’s about getting your timing down and getting back into football [shape]. You can run all offseason, but when you put the helmet and pads on, it’s a whole different kind of shape. I think I’m in a good spot right now.”

Grimes is expected to defend Miami’s best opposing receivers this year. The Cowboys have two good receivers coming to Canton, Ohio, this weekend in Dez Bryant and Miles Austin.
DAVIE, Fla. -- It was Day No. 10 for training camp with the Miami Dolphins. These are the dog days for the players during another hot and humid practice.

Here are several notes and observations:
  • Miami’s rookie cornerbacks showed significant flashes. Third-round pick Will Davis got his hands on the ball a lot on Thursday. He recorded a whopping three interceptions in practice and two pass defenses. It was an impressive day for Davis after some early struggles in camp. Second-round pick Jamar Taylor also participated in 11-on-11 drills for the first time and saw time with the second team. The Dolphins are hoping at least one of these young corners can step up and find a role on the defense this season.
  • Miami receiver Mike Wallace said he had a groin injury, but he described it as a "small setback.” Wallace is optimistic about playing in Sunday’s Hall of Fame game against the Dallas Cowboys. Both Wallace and Brian Hartline (calf) dressed for Thursday’s practice but worked with trainers on the sideline. “[I want it] bad. This is a new situation for me,” Wallace said. “So I want to get out there and just feel it out. I want to feel out this new situation and be with my new teammates and have a great time.”
  • No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan continues to look impressive. What what was interesting Thursday is Jordan got reps both at left defensive end and right defensive end. He got the better of Miami starting left tackle Jonathan Martin a couple times. Jordan’s reps have really increased this week after being brought along slowly due to shoulder surgery.
  • It appears Josh Samuda is the early leader in the clubhouse for the starting right guard position. Miami has been trying out different combinations since starter John Jerry went down in the first week of camp. Samuda spent nearly all his time with the starters on Thursday. Versatile backup Nate Garner is another player in consideration.
  • The Dolphins also got an extended look at backup defensive tackle Kheeston Randall with the starters. Randall got the promotion after the team held out fellow defensive tackles Randy Starks and Jared Odrick. Randall is an intriguing prospect who is having a good camp. He should earn some playing time in the rotation this year.
  • Starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill's interception-less streak finally ended Thursday, courtesy of cornerback Richard Marshall. Tannehill had a pass tipped in team drills that Marshall picked off in 11-on-11 drills. Prior to that, Tannehill hadn’t turned over the ball in practice since July 23.
  • Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said “95 percent” of the team's install is complete on both sides of the ball. That means just about the entire playbook will be available to players in Sunday’s exhibition game. The coaching staff has been installing the playbook since the spring in organized team activities.
You heard the collective groans from Miami Dolphins fans last week at training camp. Starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill got off to a slow start during the first three or four practices -- which started some premature panic in Miami.

Not since Hall of Famer Dan Marino have there been so much preseason expectations put on a Miami quarterback. Tannehill had a solid rookie season and won seven games in 2012 with few weapons. This year Tannehill has plenty of new toys, such as tight end Dustin Keller and receivers Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson. So when Tannehill was erratic and threw several interceptions in the first few days of camp, some began to wonder about the second-year quarterback.

However, Tannehill has hit his stride in the past week and has been much more efficient and accurate. Tannehill threw three touchdowns in Monday’s scrimmage at Sun Life Stadium. He also hasn't thrown in interception in more than a week.

Tannehill has built momentum heading into Miami's first preseason game this weekend against the Dallas Cowboys.

“I definitely think I am improving, and that’s what you want to do,” Tannehill said. “You want to come out here, improve every day, learn from your mistakes, don’t make the same mistake twice. I think, not only myself but the quarterbacks in general, we’re doing that.”

The Dolphins and Cowboys will be the first NFL teams to hit the field for the 2013 season in Canton, Ohio, for Sunday's Hall of Fame Game. The Dolphins have earned some preseason buzz after spending more than $200 million in free agency. Miami has playoff aspirations and wants to put on a good showing before a national audience.

Tannehill's limited reps will be watched closely. He may only play a couple series. But it is a chance for Tannehill to show the strides he's made in camp.

“I think it’s exciting,” Tannehill said. “Like I said, it’s a good thing for this team to be able to get an extra week of work in, get a lot of guys some reps, maybe that wouldn’t be able to get as many reps, if we only had four preseason games. I think it’s very crucial for our team to use this time wisely.”
MIAMI -- The Miami Dolphins lost some depth at receiver Sunday with the season-ending knee injury to Armon Binns. But the team is quickly exploring outside options to see what’s available.

Free-agent receiver Laurent Robinson is scheduled to work out with Miami on Tuesday, a source confirmed. Robinson played with the Jacksonville Jaguars last season.

Robinson recently signed a five-year, $32.5 million contract with Jacksonville but was released after one disappointing season. He caught just 24 receptions for 252 yards and zero touchdowns in 2012. Robinson also had concussion issues.

In the past week, Robinson also had workouts with the New England Patriots, New York Jets and Detroit Lions. The Dolphins, who have already spent more than $200 million in free-agency this offseason, are looking for another receiving threat off the bench behind starters Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and slot receiver Brandon Gibson.

The Dolphins will open their preseason schedule on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboy in the Hall of Fame Game. They also will have a scrimmage Monday night at 7 p.m. ET.
NFL football will return in about one month when the Miami Dolphins take on the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio on Aug. 3. That means the regular season also is just around the corner.

With that in mind, let's take an early peek at Week 1 matchups and see which AFC East teams are best positioned to get off to a fast start.

No. 1: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills

Storylines: This is a big game to kick off the AFC East season. The Patriots have owned the Bills over the years. However, Buffalo may be catching New England at the right time. The Patriots are reeling after back and arm surgeries to Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is questionable for Week 1, and cutting star tight end Aaron Hernandez, who was charged for murder and faces five additional gun charges. New England also will be using a new cast of receivers around quarterback Tom Brady this year, and it could take time to get on the same page. Considering the excitement of a home opener and first game under new Bills coach Doug Marrone, this could be a tricky first game for New England.

Very early favorite: Patriots

No. 2: Miami Dolphins at Cleveland Browns

Storylines: This is an underrated game involving two young teams with a lot to prove. It also involves an interesting battle of two second-year quarterbacks: Miami's Ryan Tannehill and Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden. These were two players from the famed 2012 quarterback class that few people talk about on a national scale. The new-look Dolphins spent more than $200 million in free agency and need to get off to a fast start amid high expectations. Miami also will get to face former Dolphins receiver Davone Bess, who was traded to Cleveland this spring.

Very early favorite: Dolphins

No. 3: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Jets

Storylines: This game will be hyped by the fact that star cornerback Darrelle Revis is expected to make his Tampa debut and return to New York against the Jets. It’s a perfect recipe for disaster if you're the Jets. New Jets general manager John Idzik traded Revis to their Week 1 opponent, and Revis gets a chance to kick off New York’s season with a loss. Jets quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and rookie Geno Smith have not provided any optimism in organized team activities and minicamp that they can attack Revis. Jets head coach Rex Ryan is in a must-win year and has to come up with a wise strategy.

Very early favorite: Buccaneers

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