AFC East: NFL

IRVING, Texas -- When Dominique Easley walked in for his interview at the NFL scouting combine last February, Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett offered a handshake and hello.

"Dominque, nice to meet you," Garrett said.

Easley quickly responded, "Coach, I've met you already. I came to your camp at Princeton University when I was in high school."

[+] EnlargeDominique Easley
AP Photo/Steven SennePatriots No. 1 pick Dominique Easley attended Jason Garrett's football camp in New Jersey while in high school.
Every June Garrett holds a football camp for kids from the area at his alma mater in New Jersey. Easley attended Curtis High School in Staten Island, New York, and made the drive to Princeton.

Last weekend, Easley served as a counselor at Garrett's camp along with Cowboys Dez Bryant, Morris Claiborne and DeMarco Murray, as well as former Cowboys running back Phillip Tanner.

If things worked out a little differently Easley could have been a Cowboy, but the New England Patriots took him with the 29th pick in the first round.The Cowboys had him in for a pre-draft visit because they liked him as a player and they wanted to check out this surgically-repaired knee.

"The Easley story is a really good story," Garrett said. "He talked to the kids and when he stands up there, there is the 29th pick in the first round and he said, ‘I sat in that seat five years ago, so don't tell me you can't do this.' And there's another kid there every year named Freddie Santana, who also sat in those seats. He ended up going to Holy Cross, graduated from there, was their team captain and was selected for Teach for America and did a couple of years down in Atlanta. Now he's teaching in Brooklyn. The big challenge with those kids, there's about 300 of them, and they come from really tough places. So the idea that they belong and can do something like this, you put Dominque Easley up there, you put Freddie Santana up there and say, ‘I was in Row 3 five years ago,' I think it's effective."

Easley's team ended up winning the round-robin 6-on-6tournament.

"He won when he was a player and he won as a coach, so that was the big story line," Garrett said.

The football is a nice component of the camp, but Garrett hopes something bigger develops. Perhaps in the future he will meet another graduate of his camp at the combine.

"We've got them for 10 hours one day out of the year, but I challenge our coaches," Garrett said. "I tell them, ‘I believe we can make a difference in these kids' lives, OK, so they're going to show up here at 8 and we're going to send them on their way tonight at 6 and we have this window to try to make a difference.' We try to say the right things, do the right things and hopefully make some kind of impact."

James Walker chat preview

August, 27, 2013
8/27/13
3:00
PM ET
The regular season is right around the corner. Let’s chat about it at 4 p.m. ET.

We can also talk roster cuts and whatever else is on your mind with the Miami Dolphins and the rest of the AFC East. There are plenty of injuries and issues to discuss.

Here is the link. Don't miss the party.
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins took part in a full-padded practice Tuesday in preparation for Thursday's preseason finale against the New Orleans Saints.

Here are several notes from Miami's practice:
  • Tuesday marked a significant day of progress for Miami No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan. He dressed in full pads and participated in drills for the first time since re-injuring his shoulder against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Aug. 9. Jordan has been doing rehab assignments and taking things slow with trainers for the past few weeks. The primary goal is to get Jordan ready for Week 1, and he took one step closer to that goal on Tuesday.
  • Dolphins rookie cornerback Will Davis missed his second straight practice and appears unlikely to play against the Saints. The team hasn’t clarified Davis’ injury, but he appeared to have suffered a leg injury in last weekend’s preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Miami's depth at cornerback is not strong after Davis’ injury and recently cutting veteran Richard Marshall.
  • Miami is using backup quarterback Pat Devlin with the second-string offense this week. This probably means Devlin is on the bubble, and the coaching staff wants to see what he can do with a better supporting cast. Devlin is the third quarterback behind Ryan Tannehill and veteran Matt Moore. The Dolphins must decide if they want to keep three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster this week or use that spot to boost another position. Look for Devlin to get a lot of playing time in Thursday's preseason finale.
  • The Dolphins did not make their cuts before Tuesday’s practice. Miami has until 4 p.m. ET to trim its roster down to 75 players. We will post the full list when the Dolphins make their first round of cuts this afternoon.

Five Miami Dolphins on the bubble

August, 23, 2013
8/23/13
2:00
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MIAMI – The Miami Dolphins will play host to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Saturday night in the "dress rehearsal" game for both teams. The first round of cuts to 75 will be next Tuesday, and the final cut to 53 players is coming on Aug. 31.

This is a huge game for Miami's players who are on the verge of making the team or getting released. Here are five players who need a good performance Saturday night:

1. RB Jonas Gray

Analysis: It’s not often that a team keeps four running backs. But Gray is doing everything he can to make that a tough decision for Miami. Gray has been solid in training camp and preseason games. He even carved out a potential role as a short-yardage and goal-line option for the Dolphins this preseason, which he's done well. Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas are locks for the 53-man roster. Mike Gillislee also is a draft pick, so he also sticks. Gray is fighting a number's game, and needs to prove Saturday why it is worth keeping an extra tailback.

2. DT A.J. Francis

Analysis: Perhaps no Dolphins backup has come on stronger in the past week or 10 days than Francis. The light has come on for the raw defensive lineman. Francis put together two good weeks of practice, and had an impressive preseason game last Saturday against the Houston Texans. The problem is that the defensive line is the deepest area of the team. My latest Miami roster projection has nine defensive linemen, and Francis didn’t make the cut. Ideally, the Dolphins would like to keep Francis on the practice squad. But that would risk Miami losing him to another team. Saturday is a good chance for Francis to show why he deserves to be on a 53-man roster -- whether it is Miami's or someone else's roster.

3. Guard Lance Louis

Analysis: Louis has been in a rough spot in training camp. The four-year veteran is coming off ACL surgery. He missed valuable practice time, but also needed to come back early enough to show what he can do before roster cuts. Louis has plenty of starting experience, but he's still rusty and probably not 100 percent. Louis was my last offensive lineman to make the cut. Much of that was because other offensive linemen are injured. This is a big game for Louis to validate his standing.

4. WR Marvin McNutt

Analysis: McNutt is in a neck-and-neck roster battle with fellow receiver Chad Bumphis. McNutt started training camp fast, then Bumphis took the lead, but lately McNutt is back to making more plays in practice. McNutt also has the size Miami's coaching staff covets. He just needs to work on his consistency. Bumphis is a slot receiver who doesn't offer much versatility. But this battle is still up for grabs, and could come down to the final two preseason games.

5. FB Jorvorskie Lane

Analysis: Lane, last year’s starting fullback, has really seen his stock drop in training camp and the preseason. Miami's coaching staff has moved in the direction of versatility and position-flexibility on offense. Therefore, players like Charles Clay and Evan Rodriguez are getting more reps ahead of Lane, who is a pure fullback. If roster cuts were today, I would expect Rodriguez to get the nod over Lane. Rodriguez is a better athlete, receiver and can play special teams. Lane's chances are dwindling fast. He has two more preseason games to try to earn a roster spot.

Dolphins report: Dion Jordan update

August, 22, 2013
8/22/13
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DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins continued to prepare for Saturday’s preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Here are some notes from Thursday’s practice:
  • Miami No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan met with the media for the first time in about two weeks. Jordan re-aggravated his shoulder injury in Miami’s second preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jordan had shoulder surgery in February and said he doesn’t have a timeline to return. When asked about Week 1 of the regular season, Jordan also said he wasn't sure if he'd be ready by then. "It's my body so I know when I'm ready to go or when I'm not ready to go," Jordan explained. "It wouldn't be a surprise [if I'm not ready]."
  • Dolphins offensive lineman Nate Garner made his first appearance in practice this week. He also has a shoulder injury and rehabbed on the side. Garner missed practice all week and is unlikely to play Saturday against the Buccaneers. But the fact that he’s rehabbing with the team shows progress.
  • Miami projected starting guard John Jerry (knee) is expected to make his preseason debut this weekend. He's practiced all week and needs to work off the rust after missing a majority of training camp. “It’s always good to have [reps]; I don’t care how many years you’ve played football,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said. “It’s good to get some game snaps under your belt before the [regular] season starts.”
  • Miami defensive tackle Randy Starks (knee) practiced Thursday and hasn’t missed a day this week. Starks is expected to make his preseason debut Saturday and will rotate with fellow defensive tackles Paul Soliai and Jared Odrick.
  • Dolphins backup safety Jordan Kovacs worked on the side with trainers with what appears to be a leg injury. Kovacs has not practiced all week and also is unlikely to play. Kovacs is on the bubble to make the Dolphins and may need to get healthy fast. Miami backup offensive lineman Will Yeatman also missed practice again on Thursday.

The Dolphins will have a walkthrough on Friday that is closed to the media. Miami will play Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. ET against the Buccaneers.
MIAMI -- The Miami Dolphins will hold their final practice of the week that's open to the media Thursday at 10:30 a.m. Miami will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Saturday night at Sun Life Stadium.

Here are three things to look forward to with the Dolphins on Thursday:
  • The biggest story Thursday involves starting guard Richie Incognito and his incident at a South Beach nightclub earlier this summer. The reported details have been murky. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Incognito punched and knocked out a security guard. However, the Miami Beach police report has no mention of Incognito throwing a punch and says Incognito told police he was attempting to break up the fight. Incognito will have a chance to meet with the media after practice and tell his side of the story.
  • I'm also curious to see if Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill finishes the practice week strong. Tannehill hasn’t been consistent this week and threw picks in his last two practices. On Wednesday he threw a pair of interceptions to rookie cornerback Will Davis and backup linebacker Lee Robinson. Last week Tannehill had his best practices of the summer and it resulted in a quality preseason performance against the Houston Texans. As with most young quarterbacks, consistency is the key, and Tannehill has been up and down all week.
  • This is another important day for Miami projected starting guard John Jerry to get up to speed. Jerry has been full-go in practice for the first time since injuring his knee earlier this month. Barring any setbacks, it appears Jerry will make his preseason debut on Saturday. Jerry is working with the starters and gradually improving. His movement was better on Wednesday than it was earlier in the week. The goal is to get Jerry enough work to be prepared for Miami’s regular-season opener against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 8.

I will be live at Dolphins practice Thursday to provide all the latest developments mentioned above and more. There will be a full report this afternoon in the AFC East blog. But if you cannot wait that long, simply follow me on Twitter for up-to-second updates and observations from Dolphins practice.
Richie Incognito was on one side of an incident this past weekend, when Houston Texans defensive lineman Antonio Smith ripped off his helmet and swung it at the Miami Dolphins guard. Smith, as a result, was suspended for the final two preseason games and the regular-season opener.

Now, it appears Incognito may be on the other side of an ugly incident. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports Incognito was involved in an altercation at a South Beach nightclub where he punched and knocked out a security guard. Schefter also reports the Fontainebleau hotel has footage but is unwilling to turn it over. One source told Schefter that Incognito was punched and provoked first.

The Dolphins simply have to hope for the best with this one. For now, details are murky, although videotape evidence would clear up a lot of things.

Incognito is a team leader and one of Miami’s best offensive lineman. He could face league discipline if all the details of this report are accurate. It’s also possible nothing could become of it. The Miami Beach police report, for example, has no mention of Incognito throwing a punch and says Incognito told police he was trying to breakup the incident. It’s going to be a wait-and-see situation for the Dolphins in the coming days.

Miami has little depth on its offensive line, and it would be a serious blow if Incognito is forced to miss time. Fellow guard John Jerry recently suffered a knee injury and sent Miami’s offensive line scrambling. Losing Incognito would have the Dolphins scrambling even more.

Regardless of the outcome, this has been a bad week for the Dolphins. First, they lost their starting tight end (Dustin Keller) for the season after a controversial hit to the knee. Now Incognito is in the spotlight for the wrong reasons.
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins continued their preparation for Saturday’s “dress rehearsal” preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Here are some notes from Wednesday’s practice:


  • Charles Clay continues to get first-team reps at tight end with former starter Dustin Keller (knee) out for the season. Clay was expected to play more of an H-back for the Dolphins this season until Keller went down. Now, Clay has to focus on the tight-end position. He has 34 career receptions in three seasons. Clay caught a nice touchdown pass down the seam from quarterback Ryan Tannehill in 11-on-11 drills on Wednesday, and made several other nice catches.
  • Tannehill overall had an inconsistent day. He threw two interceptions, to rookie cornerback Will Davis and backup linebacker Lee Robinson, in team drills. But Tannehill also made several nice completions to receiver Mike Wallace, Clay and others. Tannehill had perhaps his best week of practice this summer leading into the Houston Texans game, and his performance showed on the field. The first two practices this week haven’t been as good.
  • Defensive backs react to Tuesday’s cut of veteran cornerback Richard Marshall. He was competing for a starting job with Dimitri Patterson, but Patterson won the job and made Marshall expendable. Marshall could have provided depth, but his approximate $4 million salary this season was too high to be a backup. “It’s a business,” Patterson explained. “Good players are let go for whatever reason all the time. Decisions are made and that’s it. We’re only players at the end of the day.”
  • Patterson also had a solid day working with the first team. He had two interception Wednesday in team drills -- one off backup quarterback Matt Moore and another off Pat Devlin. Patterson also played inside on the nickel defense, with Nolan Carroll moving outside in sub packages.
  • No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan (shoulder) dressed Wednesday, but continues to sit out of practice. Although game status won’t be determined until later in the week, Jordan appears unlikely to play Saturday against the Buccaneers. Jordan’s shoulder has kept him sidelined for the past week or so. But Miami defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said the team is ready to use Jordan despite a lack of practice time. “There’s always going to be a Plan A, Plan B, Plan C as you approach the season,” Coyle said. “We have a plan in place to utilize Dion provided that he’s up and ready to go. I think he’s making strides with his rehab.”
  • Projected starting guard John Jerry continues to work his way back from knee surgery. He worked with the first team on Wednesday and, health permitting, appears to be the favorite to start at right guard. Jerry was injured in the first week of training camp and didn’t get much work in. He didn’t look fluid in Wednesday’s practice, and still has a ways to go. The goal is for Jerry to round himself back into form in time for Miami’s Week 1 game against the Cleveland Browns.
  • Rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis was 2-for-3 on field goals Wednesday. His only miss was from 47 yards. Sturgis is Miami’s official kicker this season after the team released veteran Dan Carpenter.
  • Head coach Joe Philbin said the team is “absolutely” game-planning this week. This is the dress-rehearsal preseason game for Miami. Tampa Bay also is a regular-season opponent for the Dolphins in Week 10. So, much of the intel the Dolphins get from this game -- and vice versa – will be used later in the season.

The Dolphins will return to the practice field again on Thursday.


It’s been 41 years in the making, but the 1972 Miami Dolphins finally made their visit to the White House. The Don Shula-led Dolphins, who remain the NFL's only undefeated championship team, finally got their day in Washington D.C. with President Barack Obama on Tuesday.

The 1972 Dolphins remain a big source of pride for the organization and sports fans in Miami.

James Walker chat preview

August, 20, 2013
8/20/13
2:30
PM ET
Training camps are coming to an end and the preseason is in full swing. Join me at 4 p.m. ET to chat about all the latest with the Miami Dolphins and the rest of the AFC East.

There have been several recent injuries (Dustin Keller, EJ Manuel, Geno Smith) that have shaken up the division. How much will this impact the Dolphins, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets? That’s just one of the latest issues.

Here is the chat link. Don't miss the party.

Historic day for 1972 Dolphins

August, 20, 2013
8/20/13
8:00
AM ET
MIAMI -- It's been a tough week for the Miami Dolphins after losing starting tight end Dustin Keller for the season. But the organization will have a terrific and historic Tuesday, as the best team in franchise history will finally visit the White House.

The 1972 Dolphins will meet with President Barack Obama around 2:05 p.m. ET Tuesday to celebrate their undefeated championship season. You can watch the event live on ESPN3.

It's a visit that is 41 years in the making. Miami won this title before visits to the White House became routine for championship teams.

Hall of Fame coach Don Shula and many of his players from the 1972 team will be in attendance this afternoon in Washington D.C. Those Dolphins remain the only undefeated team in NFL history and a huge source of pride for the organization and South Florida.

Miami Dolphins Stock Watch

August, 19, 2013
8/19/13
4:00
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MIAMI -- Three preseason games are in the books for the Miami Dolphins.

Let's take a look at whose stock is rising and falling for Miami:

Falling

1. Dolphins’ tight-end depth: This weekend, Miami lost starting tight end Dustin Keller for the year with a knee injury. This is a big blow for the Dolphins, who were counting on Keller to stay healthy, produce and provide veteran leadership. Now Miami is scrambling to find answers with young players. The Dolphins have four young tight ends on the roster: Dion Sims, Michael Egnew, Kyle Miller and H-back Charles Clay. This will be a good test of Miami’s depth. Sims, Egnew and Clay were all recent draft picks of the past three years by Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland. If Ireland got it right, at least one of these in-house tight ends should be able to step up and play a bigger role.

2. Dolphins backup O-line: If you thought Miami’s starters struggled at times, the Dolphins’ backup offensive line was worse. Players like offensive tackles Will Yeatman and Dallas Thomas did not do enough to inspire confidence from Miami’s coaching staff. Second-string quarterback Matt Moore (four sacks) was being thrown around in the second half. The Dolphins need some of these backups to step up and earn roster spots. Injuries happen every year on the offensive line, and someone needs to gain the confidence of the coaching staff. That hasn’t been the case so far in three preseason games.

3. Will Davis, cornerback: Miami’s third-round pick has been one of the surprise players of training camp. Davis has made a lot of big plays, but he struggled in his third preseason game against the Texans. Davis was beat on a double-move during a 38-yard touchdown catch by Houston Texans receiver Lestar Jean. Davis also played loose on coverage on a few other plays. Davis has made a lot of interceptions in practice and has a pick in the preseason. But he needs to work on being more consistent.

Rising

[+] EnlargeMike Wallace
Scott Halleran/Getty ImagesDolphins fans finally got to see Mike Wallace, the team's prized free agent this offseason, catch some balls in Miami's preseason game against Houston.
1. Mike Wallace, receiver: Miami fans were prematurely getting antsy because Wallace hadn’t caught a pass in the preseason. But Wallace exploded in the first quarter of Saturday’s preseason game against the Texans with three catches for 58 yards and a touchdown on one drive. Wallace showed a full array of skills against the Texans. He caught a short, intermediate and deep pass on the drive. Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill and Wallace began a good week in practice and it carried over into the game. Dolphins fans can relax now that they saw the combo’s potential in the preseason.

2. Daniel Thomas, running back: With Lamar Miller the probable starter, the No. 2 tailback position was close between Thomas, rookie Mike Gillislee and Jonas Gray. But Thomas did a good job to separate himself with a strong performance against Houston. Thomas rushed for 25 yards on four carries and caught a 27-yard shovel pass. Health permitting, Thomas is now the clear favorite to be the first tailback off the bench to spell Miller. Thomas has been inconsistent and had issues with fumbling and injuries the past two seasons. But coaches have been raving about Thomas in Year 3, and he’s showing signs greater consistency.

3. A.J. Francis, defensive tackle: Miami’s defensive line is easily the deepest area of the team. The second- and third-string defensive linemen have been stout throughout training camp and the preseason. This week Francis, a third-stringer, had a good performance in limited playing time. Francis finished with two tackles, a tackle for loss, a quarterback pressure and a tipped pass. Francis was disruptive and showed good strength and movement down the line of scrimmage. It’s going to be very hard to make the Dolphins as a defensive lineman, but he made a good case Saturday night.

What to watch revisited: Dolphins

August, 19, 2013
8/19/13
11:30
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MIAMI -- Entering Saturday night’s game against the Houston Texans, I provided three keys for the Miami Dolphins. Houston defeated the Dolphins, 24-17.

Let’s take a look back at the game and how Miami performed in these three areas.

1. A fast start for offense: It wasn’t ideal. The Dolphins sputtered and suffered through penalties in the first two series on offense. However, Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill and Co. made up for it on the third drive at the end of the first quarter. The Dolphins drove 80 yards on seven plays during an impressive passing display led by Tannehill and new No. 1 receiver Mike Wallace. The pair combined for three receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown on the series. The highlight was Wallace’s 33-yard deep reception on the sideline where Wallace ran past the defender and made a challenging catch. Miami’s starting offense got extended time and scored another touchdown on a Lamar Miller 4-yard run in the second quarter. Overall, the Dolphins’ offense has something to build on.

2. Running back competition: Speaking of running backs, the Dolphins were looking for separation behind Miller, who is the projected starter. They may have gotten it with third-year player Daniel Thomas. He had his best preseason game against Houston, rushing for 25 yards on just four carries. Thomas has the inside track to become Miami’s No. 2 tailback behind Miller. Dolphins rookie running back Mike Gillislee (three carries, nine yards) and Jonas Gray (four carries, 14 yards) didn’t have productive games.

3. Find depth on defense: Miami’s starting defense is mostly set. However, there are plenty of backup roles available on defense, and this was an ideal time for players to step up. There were a few lesser-known backups who played well in this game. I thought linebacker Josh Kaddu and defensive tackle Kheeston Randall made plays and will be vying for roster spots. But a backup defensive player who helped himself the most Saturday defensive tackle A.J. Francis. In limited time, Francis recorded two tackles, a tackle for loss, a pass deflection and a hit on the quarterback. Miami already has a ton of depth at defensive line. But Francis could be a project for Miami worth developing on the practice squad.

Dolphins film review: G Josh Samuda

August, 19, 2013
8/19/13
7:00
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The Miami Dolphins completed their third preseason game Saturday with a 24-17 loss to the Houston Texans.

Houston’s defense was a strong test for Miami’s offensive line, which has received a lot of criticism in training camp. The right guard position, in particular, has been a focus following the knee injury to projected starter John Jerry.

With that in mind, I went back and studied the game tape of Josh Samuda. Here is how he graded:

First series
  • Miami starts the game with a stretch running play to the right, which is a staple in its offense. Samuda anchors the right side and does a terrific job getting to the second level to deliver a pancake block on linebacker Brian Cushing. (+1 point)
  • On the Dolphins’ first passing play, Houston defensive lineman Antonio Smith kept his footing and ran through Samuda for a sack on quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Samuda couldn’t hold his block or keep his footing. (-1 point)
  • Miami’s third-down call is a screen and Samuda gets beat inside by Texans Pro Bowler J.J. Watt. Samuda nearly holds Watt to prevent another hit on the quarterback, but the play goes nowhere. (-1 point)
Second series
  • Samuda holds ground on a run play that doesn’t go in his direction. Tight end Michael Egnew is called for holding and the play doesn’t count. (even)
  • After back-to-back penalties, the Dolphins dial up a shovel pass to Miller. Samuda’s responsibility is to get up field to block someone and he missed Cushing about 10 yards up the field. (-1 point)
  • Samuda does a good job of pass blocking and helps create a good pocket for Tannehill. Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller makes a reception for 14 yards. (+1 point)
  • On third and 2, Tannehill makes a snap throw to Miller out the backfield that was dropped. Samuda barely engaged on the quick play. (even)
Third series
  • Samuda holds his block well on Tannehill’s first connection to receiver Mike Wallace for 16 yards. (+1 point)
  • Samuda holds his ground on another running play, this time by Daniel Thomas. Samuda shows good effort and continues to plow through the whistle. (+1 point)
  • Miami goes max protection with eight blockers but no one is open. Tannehill is forced scramble but Samuda does his job. (+1 point)
  • Samuda and Dolphins offensive line provide good protection and blitz pickup for Tannehill, who completes a 33-yard reception to Wallace. (+1 point)
  • Thomas rushes to the right. Samuda gets a little push but the run is stuffed. (even)
  • Tannehill throws a quick slant to receiver Marvin McNutt. Samuda gets a pancake block as a Houston defender loses footing. (+1 point)
  • On third down, Miami schemes up Houston’s defense perfectly. Dolphins center Mike Pouncey and Samuda double Watt and provides enough time for Tannehill to throw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Wallace. (+1 point)
Fourth series
  • Samuda and Pouncey double-team Houston’s nose tackle and Miller gets a nice gain. But Dolphins tight end Dion Sims is called for holding and the play is called back. (even)
  • Samuda shows a mean streak by getting to the second level to block Houston linebacker Joe Mays. Samuda does a little extra after the whistle and Mays doesn’t like it. (+1 point)
  • Houston’s Smith continues to beat Samuda. Smith makes a quick step inside to dodge Samuda’s block and wraps up Miller in the backfield. (-1 point)
  • On third-and-long, Samuda helps create a good pocket for Tannehill. But the quarterback throws the ball high to receiver Brian Hartline. (+1 point)
Fifth series
  • Playing against Houston’s backups, Samadu holds his block and Tannehill scrambles for a short gain. (+1 point)
  • Samuda helps pick up a blitz on Tannehill’s incomplete pass to tight end Dustin Keller, who gets injured on the play. (+1 point)
  • Tannehill completes a pass to receiver Brandon Gibson, but Samuda struggles to hold his block and allows a quarterback pressure. (-1 point)
  • Samuda and Miami’s offensive line create a good pocket, but Tannehill rushes an incompletion. (+1 point)
  • Thomas runs to the right behind Samuda and Samuda pushes his guy out the play. (+1 point)
  • Samuda and Dolphins create another nice pocket for another Gibson reception. (+1 point)
  • Thomas plunges forward on a running play. Samuda tries to get to the second level but loses his footing. (-1 point)
  • Tannehill has time but no one is open. Tannehill takes a sack due to good coverage. (even)
  • Thomas gets a 28-yard shovel pass but Samuda fails to locate anyone to block on the play. Good play overall, but a missed assignment by Samuda. (-1 point)
  • Dolphins call a quick slant to Hartline, who drops the ball. Samuda barely engages. (even)
  • Miller runs a 4-yard touchdown to the right side. Samuda helps on a block and seal. On the next drive Samuda moves from guard to center with the second-team offense. (+1 point)
Final point total: +9 points

Conclusion: It’s easy to focus on the bad plays for Samuda. But after cutting up the tape of each individual play, he made many more good plays than bad. Samuda's toughness and versatility are valued commodities for the Dolphins. He certainly plays hard, and that’s half the battle. But Samuda’s made several mistakes this preseason that were drive killers, and he must avoid those if he wants to be a starter. Jerry appears to be recovering well. He dressed for practice last week and was limited. I expect Miami’s coaching staff to gradually work Jerry in with the starters, while Samuda can be the first backup off the bench at center and guard.
The Miami Dolphins lost an important member of their offense this weekend when starting tight end Dustin Keller suffered a season-ending knee injury. Keller was hit low on his right knee while trying to make a catch and his leg hyperextended.

The hit by Houston’s D.J. Swearinger was gruesome but it was not illegal. He was not flagged on the play and will not be fined by the league office. The only loser on this play is Keller, who now has a long rehabilitation ahead and will miss an entire season of football.

However, the play re-opens the debate on the NFL’s stance on low hits. Defensive players are being encouraged more often to hit low on players now that blows to the head are resulting in increasingly large fines and penalties.

"With the rules in this era you’ve got to hit low," Swearinger said, according to ESPN.com’s Tania Ganguli. "If I would have hit him high, I would have gotten a fine. So I think I made the smartest play. I’m sorry it happened and I pray he has a speedy recovery.”

Swearinger’s makes a fair point. Going low is the safest way for a defender to avoid concussions and the wrath of the NFL. But the byproduct is tackling players low can result in major knee and leg injuries that end seasons and are difficult to recover from.

There's no perfect answer to this dilemma. If the NFL starts penalizing low hits and high hits, there won't be many ways to bring an offensive player down. For now, Keller and the Dolphins just have to live with the consequences.

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