AFC East: NFL draft

Jamar Taylor, Dion Jordan and Will Davis AP Photo, Getty ImagesJamar Taylor, Dion Jordan and Will Davis made a minimal impact as rookies.
Most of the attention over the next three weeks will be focused on the 2014 NFL draft, as each team tries to shape its present and future by identifying the right college players to fill needs.

But for the Miami Dolphins, success or failure this season will depend more on the development of the 2013 draft class. Few teams got less production from their rookies last year than Miami. Only the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks had fewer snaps from first-year players -- and those teams, which competed in Super Bowl XLVIII, were stacked with established veterans.

The Dolphins, who faltered down the stretch and finished 8-8, did not have that luxury.

It's time for Miami's second-year players to come of age during an important time for many within the organization. Head coach Joe Philbin is entering an important third year after going 15-17 his first two seasons, and there could be a lot of change next year if the Dolphins aren't successful.

Most of Miami's top picks -- including defensive end Dion Jordan, offensive lineman Dallas Thomas and cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis -- basically had red-shirt seasons in 2013, thanks to injuries, inconsistency and lack of confidence from the coaching staff. That lack of production was one reason why the Dolphins failed to get to the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year.

"They got less than anybody in the league out of their draft class, and they had high picks. That's a huge issue," ESPN.com NFL scout Matt Williamson said. "But if that group, the corners and especially Jordan, can play up to what Miami thought they were and what most people thought they were, the Dolphins could rebound."

"We have a lot of hope for the draft class from last year," Philbin said at the NFL owners meetings in late March. "A lot of them have been back early, working. You want to see development throughout the course of an individual player's career, but I think all of you guys would agree you usually see a significant jump between Year 1 and Year 2. These are guys we thought highly of a year ago when we drafted them.

"They had some injury issues that kind of curtailed their development in Year 1. So I'm excited about working with them, developing them and seeing them progress here this season."

The 2013 draft class was one point of contention last year between Miami's coaching staff and the front office. Philbin didn't feel his rookies were ready to take on larger roles. Jeff Ireland, then the Dolphins' general manager, believed in the talent of his draft picks and felt they were not being used properly. Jordan, the No. 3 overall pick in 2013, was perhaps the biggest example.

Due to offseason shoulder surgery, Jordan missed time in training camp and the preseason. He never found his footing in the regular season and he fell behind veteran defensive ends Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon and Derrick Shelby.

Williamson described Jordan as "a ridiculous athlete." He has immense potential but spent most of the season as the third or fourth defensive end and on special teams. He was involved in 321 snaps and had a disappointing 26 tackles and two sacks.

There have also been offseason trade rumors involving Jordan, which Philbin has denied. Miami's head coach expects Jordan to have a larger role in 2014.

"We feel like with a full offseason, with more time devoted to his fundamentals, he will have a better grasp of the position he's playing," Philbin said. "We do want to do a better job with the numbers, rotating him in. ... We want to get him more snaps on first and second down. "

The Dolphins also are counting on young corners Taylor and Davis, who were drafted in the second and third round, respectively. Both had injury setbacks last season and played a combined 104 snaps.

Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes will occupy one starting job, and Taylor and Davis will compete with veteran free-agent acquisition Cortland Finnegan for the other spot. Finnegan, a former Pro Bowl corner, is the favorite to start due to experience. But Philbin is not going in with any preconceived notions.

"I want to see the best player, whoever can help us win football games," Philbin explained. "Whoever performs the best should be the starting corner."

Miami got most of its rookie production last year from unlikely sources. Fifth-round kicker Caleb Sturgis proved to be the Dolphins' best rookie acquisition last season. He beat out longtime Miami kicker Dan Carpenter in training camp and led the Dolphins with 111 points.

The Dolphins also had decent production from undrafted rookie guard Sam Brenner, who made four starts and played 274 snaps. Brenner stepped up following the suspension of guard Richie Incognito in Miami's high-profile bullying scandal.

Brenner's production highlighted the fact that Thomas, a 2013 third-round pick, was too green to step in and be productive. Thomas was rotated between guard and tackle in training camp and never got comfortable in either position. Thomas must find a home at this season in order to provide quality depth.

In fact, it will be vital for Miami's entire 2013 draft class to find roles and contribute next season. The Dolphins used nine draft picks last year, and most have yet to make an impact.

"The Dolphins have a young quarterback [Ryan Tannehill], so they need to build a real core for the long term," Williamson said. "They need last year's draft and this upcoming come to build around Tannehill. They don't need to live for today. A strong core is more important than winning it all this year, although that philosophy can get you fired in Miami if you're 6-10."
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.
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins took the practice field for the first time this week in preparation for Thursday's preseason finale against the New Orleans Saints. But there was one conspicuous absence that caught my eye.

Dolphins rookie cornerback Will Davis was not present Monday during the early portion of practice open to the media. Although there has been no official word from the team, Davis appeared to have injured his leg in Saturday's preseason loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Miami is already hurting with cornerback depth after recently releasing veteran Richard Marshall. Davis is one of the young corners expected to step up, along with fellow rookie Jamar Taylor and Nolan Carroll. Both Carroll and Taylor practiced Monday.

Here are some other quick injury notes from Miami's practice:
  • No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan dressed but only rehabbed his shoulder during the portion of practice open to the media. Jordan is not expected to play Thursday against the Saints. But Miami is trying to get him ready for the regular-season opener against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 8.
  • Miami backup offensive lineman Nate Garner is improving and participated in team drills for the first time since injuring his shoulder. Garner lined up as the second-team left tackle during the early part of team drills.
  • Fellow offensive tackle Jeff Adams did not practice Monday, and wore a sleeve on his left leg.

Dolphins report: Dion Jordan update

August, 22, 2013
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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.
The Miami Dolphins suffered a major loss with starting tight end Dustin Keller out for the year with a right knee injury. Keller's knee took a gruesome hit Saturday night as he went down on a reception against the Houston Texans. His leg hyperextended, and Keller needed to be carted off the field.

With Keller done for the year, let’s examine what is next for the Dolphins at tight end.
  • Dion Sims: Miami’s fourth-round pick has been a pleasant surprise in training camp. Sims joined the Dolphins with the reputation as a big, blocking tight end. But Sims has showed more athleticism and catching ability than originally advertised. He is already Miami’s best blocking tight end, so he was going to get playing time regardless. The Dolphins may need him more than originally thought.
  • Charles Clay: The versatile H-back has played both tight end and fullback in Miami’s offense. But Clay is not particularly special at either position, especially as a full-time player. The Dolphins have been using Clay as a fullback more this year in training camp and the preseason. But that may have to change. He could revert to playing mostly tight end if needed.
  • Michael Egnew: The Dolphins have waited more than a year for the light to go on for Egnew, who is a 2012 third-round pick. This is a golden opportunity for him to prove his worth under dire circumstances. Egnew has a lot of natural ability as a pass-catcher. He's big and can run well. However, Egnew's inconsistency and struggles with blocking have kept him off the field. Egnew must continue to work to gain the trust of Miami’s coaching staff. He should get plenty of opportunities to show what he can do in the coming weeks.
The Dolphins also could look to free agency, but at this point, it's slim pickings at tight end. Their best chance for now is to develop the players they have in-house and try to get them ready for the regular season.
MIAMI -- The Miami Dolphins concluded their 2013 training camp on Thursday. Much of the focus has been on Miami’s rookie class, which came in with hype but also had some early injuries.

How well have the Dolphins' rookies done so far? Let’s examine.

Dion Jordan, DE, first round

Walker's update: Miami's No. 3 overall pick has been somewhat of an enigma. Jordan had shoulder surgery in February that kept him off the field until several days into training camp. Jordan flashed a lot during a short time in camp and the preseason. He showed much of the athleticism and explosiveness that made Jordan Miami’s top pick. But the shoulder remains an issue and the team shut him down again this week. The missed time most likely makes Jordan a backup defensive end to start the regular season behind Olivier Vernon, who had a strong camp. Right now Jordan’s focus must be on getting healthy and developing a role as a third-down pass-rusher.

[+] EnlargeDion Jordan
AP Photo/Lynne SladkyInjuries have slowed No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan thus far.
Jamar Taylor, CB, second round

Walker's update: Miami's second-round pick is another player who's had health issues this offseason. Taylor's injury was previously reported as a sports hernia. But according to a source, the rookie corner has been working to overcome three separate ailments: a double-hernia injury, an abductor muscle tear and most recently a strained groin. Taylor is improving and recently returned to practice, but the source said the corner is playing at about "70 percent." That's contributed to Taylor's slow start. It's going to take time for the rookie to get back to full health and make up for the lost time.

Will Davis, CB, third round

Walker's update: So far Davis has been the pleasant surprise of Miami’s 2013 rookie class. Perhaps no player from the first day of training camp to now has improved as much as Miami's third-round pick. Davis was getting beat fairly consistently three weeks ago when camp began. But the light has turned on for Davis the past couple of weeks and he's making plays. Davis has been a ball hawk and made at least a half-dozen interceptions in practice. He also recorded a leaping interception in the second preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Davis is currently the fourth corner in Miami’s defense, but he is a fast-riser.

Dallas Thomas, OL, third round

Walker's update: Thomas had a rough first training camp. He battled everyday against Miami’s defensive line, which is probably the deepest and most talented area of the team. Thomas also has been moved around to various positions the past few weeks. The Dolphins’ coaching staff already had Thomas at right guard, left tackle and right tackle in training camp. Yes, this is the time to experiment. But you also don’t want to confuse a rookie early in his career and have him lose confidence. Thomas looked decent at guard early. He even made a brief appearance with the first team due to injuries. But the Dolphins need more help at offensive tackle and have since used Thomas on both sides. Thomas has been struggling ever since. Eventually, Miami must pick a position for Thomas. I think his best position is guard.

Jelani Jenkins, LB, fourth round

Walker's update: Jenkins is a raw project with good athleticism. But he didn't make an impact in camp. Jenkins can move, especially sideline to sideline, and he brings the most value on special teams. The Dolphins don’t have much depth at linebacker behind the starters, and general manager Jeff Ireland doesn’t like to cut rookie draft picks. So look for Jenkins to make the team.

Dion Sims, TE, fourth round

Walker's update: Sims is another pleasant surprise. He came to Miami with the reputation as a blocking tight end with good size. But Sims runs better than advertised and is showing good ball skills. Barring injury, Sims is almost a lock to make Miami’s 53-man roster. Sims already is the best blocking tight end Miami has, and he’s made more plays catching the ball than expected. Other bubble tight ends such as Michael Egnew and Kyle Miller haven’t been as consistent.

Mike Gillislee, RB, fifth round

Walker's update: Gillislee has been steady but not spectacular. He’s not a home run hitter. But Gillislee is at his best between the tackles, has good vision and falls forward more often than not. Lamar Miller is the projected starter. But Daniel Thomas has been pushed by Gillislee and Jonas Gray for the No. 2 role. It’s very possible that Miami could keep four tailbacks. Gillislee's spot most likely is safe considering his draft status.

Caleb Sturgis, K, fifth round

Walker's update: As expected, Sturgis won Miami’s kicking job. Sturgis’ strong leg and low salary ($405,000 in 2013) made for an easy choice in Miami over high-paid veteran Dan Carpenter. What the Dolphins don’t know is if Sturgis can make clutch field goals in big spots as a rookie. But that was the same issue last year for Carpenter, who was due to make $2.68 million this season. The Dolphins spent a lot of money this offseason on other positions, and it simply made sense to shave more than $2 million at kicker. Caleb seems to have a good, even-keeled mentality to handle the position.

Don Jones, S, seventh round

Walker's update: As Miami's seventh-round pick, Jones came to Miami as a long shot. He’s had a quiet camp and that certainly doesn't help his case. The Dolphins lack depth at safety and are searching for impact players on special teams. But so far Jones has not made an impression. Time is running out.
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins completed their 2013 training camp Thursday, and one of the top players in camp was second-year defensive end Olivier Vernon.

The former third-round draft pick has been arguably Miami's most improved player throughout organized team activities, minicamps and training camp. Vernon beat out No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan for the starting job at defensive end, although Jordan has been hampered by an injured shoulder.

Vernon was a backup for the Dolphins last year and registered 3.5 sacks off the bench. This year he’s looking for more. I caught up with Vernon Thursday after the final practice of camp to get thoughts on his progress.

[+] EnlargeOlivier Vernon
Robert Mayer/USA TODAY SportsDefensive end Olivier Vernon (50) hopes to build on a solid rookie season.
James Walker: Olivier, you and left tackle Jonathan Martin have been going at it a lot in this camp. How much are you making each other better for the regular season?

Olivier Vernon: We’re making each other a whole lot better. We try to go against each other every time in practice. As far as pass-rush moves, with me using my hand techniques, I’ve learned so much [facing Martin]. I’ve grown so much from last year to now, it’s like a whole different person. I have him to thank for that. He helped me a lot, and being able to see him, he’s gotten so much better. It works hand and hand.

Walker: I was going to ask about your growth since your rookie year. Has the game slowed down for you in Year 2?

Vernon: Last year was a whole boatload I had to learn. It was kind of overwhelming. But I just tried to go out there and played my best. Now, this year I feel like I know most of the things that’s going on. So it’s much easier. You don’t have to worry about, “Do I have to do this? Do I have to do that?” It slows down for you mentally.

Walker: What’s it been like playing for Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle?

Vernon: He’s a real cool dude. He sets people in position to make plays. If you know your role and you’re good at your role and do your job, you’re going to make plays. Last year was a new coaching staff, so he couldn’t put everything in. We had to crawl before we [could] walk. So this year it should be more things added on defense-wise.

Walker: Miami’s defensive line has a lot of depth. What’s the ceiling for this group?

Vernon: It can be great. We got a special D-line group. We all try to make each other better, especially with competition. The sky is the limit I feel like for this D-line.

Walker: Any predictions for your alma mater this year: the University of Miami?

Vernon: For the U? I know they’re going to beat the Gators [laughs]. That's for one. But I feel like they’re going to be okay. They’re going to be alright. It all depends on what happens with this whole NCAA thing [investigation].
The preseason is heating up and training camp is almost over for the Miami Dolphins. Let’s check in with Dolphins fans and answer some questions.

Scott from Austin, Texas, writes: If the Dolphins miss the playoffs again this year, will general manager Jeff Ireland's job be in danger?

James Walker: Thanks for the question, Scott. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross met with the media (myself included) last week, and I didn’t get the sense of panic from the top. Ross seems patient. He knows Ireland spent a lot of his money, and Ross’ goal is the playoffs this season. However, Ross wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s playoffs or bust. As long as the Dolphins show well and look promising for the long haul, I think Ireland will be safe. But if the team completely falls apart and wins fewer games than last year, that could be trouble for Miami’s general manager.




Brent from Palm Beach, FL. writes: James, with Olivier Vernon playing so well at the DE position, could you see Dion Jordan taking over the weak side Line backer position from Koa Misi?

Walker: I don’t see it, Brent. Jordan is a natural defensive end and he looks really good with his hand down. Jordan could get time standing up in sub packages on third down in a lesser role. But Miami’s coaches drafted him No. 3 overall to wreak havoc on quarterbacks. If Misi gets injured, maybe Jordan at OLB is full-time is more of a possibility. But that’s not in defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle’s plans right now.




Alfred from Florida writes: What do you think of Jimmy Wilson's potential? He barely played but when he did he usually makes a big play.

Walker: I like Wilson in his current role, Alfred. He’s a good No. 3 safety. I say that in a nice way, because you need versatile backups to field a strong team. Injuries happen, players struggle, etc. Wilson is a player who can fill in for a couple games and be fine. He also contributes on special teams. But I wouldn’t want Wilson as my starting safety for 16 games.




Dwayne from Glendale, AZ, writes: How is TE Michael Egnew future looking with the Dolphins? Is it time he works on becoming a special teams player?

Walker: Egnew is definitely on the bubble, Dwayne. He hasn’t done much in training camp, but he did have one good preseason game. Egnew has a lot of weaknesses that keep him off the field. His blocking is poor and he’s not physical enough to play on special teams. It’s going to be up to Ireland and the coaching staff to determine if his potential is still worth holding onto. I think the Dolphins have other tight ends who are more productive and versatile.

Dion Jordan continues to progress

August, 5, 2013
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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.”
After plenty of changes in the offseason, the Buffalo Bills will take the field for the first time in training camp on Sunday. The Bills are the last team to practice this year in the AFC East.

Buffalo is a major team in transition in 2013. The Bills have a new head coach, a new offensive coordinator, a new defensive coordinator and a new quarterback. Therefore, there is plenty of work to be done.

Here are three things to watch in camp:

No. 1: QBs Kevin Kolb vs. EJ Manuel

Analysis: All eyes will be on the quarterbacks in Buffalo. The Bills are entering training camp with a high-profile competition between veteran quarterback Kevin Kolb and rookie first-round pick EJ Manuel. Kolb has been a bust in his two previous stops with the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals. This third opportunity in Buffalo is probably Kolb’s final chance to prove that he can be a franchise starter. Manuel was a surprise first-round pick but has a lot of tools, such as size, a good arm and mobility. But Manuel remains raw and will have to make immediate strides in order to win the starting job in Week 1.

No. 2: Mike Pettine’s defense

Analysis: Buffalo's defense had talent last year but grossly underperformed. Former defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt got most of the blame, and he was fired after the season. Enter former New York Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. He was hired new Bills head coach Doug Marrone to liven up Buffalo's defense. Pettine usually got the most out of his defensive players in New York, and that will be the goal in Buffalo. Players like Mario Williams, Stephon Gilmore, Kyle Williams and Jairus Byrd (whenever he signs his franchise tag) provides a good foundation on defense. But it's Pettine’s job in training camp to get everyone on the same page.

No. 3: Competition at WR

Analysis: For years, the Bills have been looking for another legit receiving threat opposite Steve Johnson. That search continues this season with an entirely new cast of receivers, many of which are rookies. The Bills drafted second-round pick Robert Woods, third-round pick Marquise Goodwin and signed top rookie free agent Da'Rick Rogers in an effort to boost depth behind Johnson. Woods, a former USC star, has been the most polished receiver thus far. He's the favorite to win the No. 2 job but must earn it in training camp. Goodwin has plenty of speed and could add a deep element to Buffalo, and Rogers also has potential to contribute if he stays out of trouble. Rogers was passed over by every team in the draft due to various off-the-field concerns.

 
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addressed the media for the first time following the release of Aaron Hernandez. New England cut the former tight end after Hernandez was charged with murder and five additional gun charges.

Here was Belichick’s opening statement Wednesday to the media:
"I’m going to address the situation involving Aaron Hernandez today. I felt that it was important enough to do that prior to the start of camp. It’s a sad day, really a sad day on so many levels. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim and I extend my sympathy really to everyone who has been impacted. A young man lost his life. His family has suffered a tragic loss and there’s no way to understate that. When I was out of the country, I learned about the ongoing criminal investigation that involved one of our players and I and other members of the organization were shocked and disappointed in what we had learned. Having someone in your organization that’s involved in a murder investigation is a terrible thing. After consultation with ownership, we acted swiftly and decisively. [Patriots owner] Robert [Kraft] and his family and I, since I got here in 2000, have always emphasized the need for our team and our players and our organization to represent the community the right away both on and off the field. We’ve worked very hard together over the past 14 years to put together a winning team that’s a pillar in the community. I agree 100 percent with the comments that Robert has already made on the situation; I stand behind those as well. This case involves an individual who happened to be a New England Patriot. We certainly do not condone unacceptable behavior and this does not in any way represent the way that the New England Patriots want to do things. As the coach of the team, I’m primarily responsible for the people that we bring into the football operation. Our players are generally highly motivated and gifted athletes. They come from very different backgrounds. They’ve met many challenges along the way and have done things to get here. Sometimes they’ve made bad or immature decisions but we try to look at every single situation on a case-by-case basis and try to do what’s best for the football team and what’s best for the franchise. Most of those decisions have worked out but some don’t. Overall, I’m proud of the hundreds of players that have come through this program but I’m personally disappointed and hurt in a situation like this. Moving forward consists of what it’s always been here: to build a winning football team, be a strong pillar in the community, be a team that our fans can be proud of. That’s what we’re here for."

This was not your typically staunch Belichick. Although guilt or innocence has yet to be determined, Belichick was genuine in his disappointment for Hernandez putting himself in this position as well as personal sorrow for the victim's family. He also admitted that the Patriots may make alterations to the way they evaluate players. That will be important for Belichick and Kraft going forward.

Belichick was wise to address the media about the Hernandez situation a couple of days before training camp. Patriots players will still face Hernandez questions this week. But both Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, the team’s top leaders, have said their part and can begin moving on from a controversial situation.
The New York Jets will begin their rebuilding process Friday when the team takes the field for training camp in Cortland, N.Y.

Most view 2013 as a down year for the Jets. This is a group that was 6-10 last year and lost a lot of veteran talent in the offseason.

Here are three things to watch for the Jets in training camp:

No. 1: Mark Sanchez vs. Geno Smith

Analysis: All eyes will be on the quarterbacks. What was expected to be a three-man race became a two-man race when veteran David Garrard retired due to a knee injury. That left only Sanchez and Smith to compete for New York’s starting quarterback job. Sanchez is the early leader due to experience. But both players remain very confident. Sanchez has led the NFL in turnovers the past two years and is wildly inconsistent. Smith has an opening to take over the job if he’s a fast learner this summer.

No. 2: Who will develop on offense?

Analysis: The next question is who will the quarterbacks throw to? The Jets’ offense lacks depth at the skill positions. The team's No. 1 receiver, Santonio Holmes, is still recovering from a broken foot. Second-year receiver Stephen Hill is very raw and hasn’t proven reliable. New York’s late signing of former Pro Bowl tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. was a smart move. He brings a dynamic element to the tight end position. But new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has a tall task of making something out of New York’s wide receiver group if Holmes can’t quickly get back to form. It doesn’t matter who the quarterbacks are in New York if the receivers can’t get open.

No. 3: Adjusting to life without Revis

Analysis: This will be the first time since 2007 that the Jets’ defense enters a season without Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis. New York traded the shutdown cornerback to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason, which will dramatically alter how the Jets play defense. There will be no more “Revis Island” in New York. The Jets cannot simply shut off half the field like they’ve done in the past. The good news is New York played most of last year without Revis, so the team should be used to it by now. Young corners such as Kyle Wilson and rookie first-round pick Dee Milliner must step up in the secondary.
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins completed Day 4 of training camp on Wednesday. The AFC East blog has been with the Dolphins all week to bring you the latest.

Here are some notes and observations from Miami’s practice:
  • The Dolphins’ offense bounced back after an awful session on Tuesday. Particularly, starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw the football better and was sharp. He made several nice throws to Mike Wallace, which included a back-shoulder throw for a touchdown that showed flashes of the pair’s potential. Tannehill also made a couple of nice throws to receiver Armon Binns for big gains. Most importantly, Tannehill did not turn the ball over Wednesday after throwing a pair of pick-sixes against Miami’s defense on Tuesday.
  • Miami’s No. 3 overall pick, Dion Jordan, increased his level of participation but was still limited in his second practice back from his shoulder injury. Jordan is moving around well and certainly looks the part in pads. But the team is being cautious and keeping him from contact for now. Jordan said he expects to be full-go in a few days.
  • The Dolphins did a lot of work on their red zone offense and defense Wednesday. This is a big emphasis for Miami head coach Joe Philbin, who wants his offense to score more touchdowns and his defense to continue to force field goals. That combination makes a big difference in close games.
  • Dolphins rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis is struggling early in camp. He missed another pair of field goal attempts Wednesday and has fallen behind veteran incumbent Dan Carpenter. The Dolphins' official stance is the best player will win the job. However, money could play a factor. Sturgis is due to make just $405,000 in the first year of his rookie contract. Carpenter will make $2.68 million if he makes the team. The Dolphins could save more than $2 million and valuable cap room by going younger at the position. But Sturgis must prove that he can be reliable. I haven't seen it so far.
  • Miami’s kickoff returners were Marcus Thigpen, Lamar Miller, Jasper Collins and Nolan Carroll. Thigpen did a good job last year and is the clear favorite. But the Dolphins must explore backup options.
  • On the injury front, Miami backup running back Cameron Marshall suffered a leg injury during practice and didn’t finish. Rookie cornerback Jamar Taylor missed his second day of practice for an undisclosed injury. Taylor dealt with a sports hernia injury all offseason.
  • The Dolphins will have their first day off of training camp on Thursday. Miami will return to the practice field on Friday at 8 a.m. ET.
Lamar MillerSteve Mitchell/US PresswireWith Reggie Bush gone, Lamar Miller (26) appears to have the inside track to lead the Miami Dolphins' rushing attack in 2013.
DAVIE, Fla. -- The South Florida sun is beaming on the Miami Dolphins this week during training camp. They were among the first handful of teams to kick off the 2013 NFL season, and the July weather is unrelenting.

But no spotlight in Miami is hotter or brighter right now than it is on Lamar Miller. The Dolphins, who have playoff aspirations, are banking on their second-year tailback to carry the running game despite a small sample size in Miller's rookie season.

Miller is a proud Miami product through and through. He grew up in Miami, played high school football in the city and was a star running back in college for the Miami Hurricanes. Last year, Miller completed the Miami football trifecta when he was drafted by the Dolphins in the fourth round.

This year, Miller gets the rare opportunity to be the featured runner for his hometown NFL team. The Dolphins showed a lot of confidence in Miller this offseason by letting leading rusher Reggie Bush walk in free agency. It was Miller, not Bush, who led Miami with 4.9 yards per attempt last season, and the Dolphins expect more of the same in 2013.

Miller appears ready for the challenge. He certainly has a quiet confidence about him in Year 2 that he didn't have as a rookie.

“I feel very comfortable just getting used to running the ball, the offensive line scheme and just being [involved] more,” Miller said. “I just know what I’m doing. I’m not second-guessing too much, and I’m just doing what the coaches are telling me to do. Last year, I was thinking about it too much.”

Are the Dolphins making the right decision? It’s too early to tell whether Miller can handle the load after just 51 carries last season.

Miller ranked 10th among rookie rushers last season with 250 rushing yards. Other drafted running backs such as Alfred Morris (1,613 yards) of the Washington Redskins, Doug Martin (1,454 yards) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Trent Richardson (950 yards) of the Cleveland Browns had far more productive rookie campaigns and are safer bets as starters in 2013.

However, Miller has been praised by the Dolphins all offseason. Miami’s coaching staff and front office are seemingly as high on Miller as Washington is on Morris and Cleveland is on Richardson. It's a calculated risk, but Miller is doing all the right things at this point to make the Dolphins feel secure in their decision.

“[Miller] is very, very fundamentally sound,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said. “He is a guy where we talk to our team about ball security. ...There were a lot of good clips we showed the ball club yesterday of him in practice executing the fundamental of where we want to.

“I think his knowledge of the system has definitely increased. He appears to be a lot more comfortable in what he is doing. [There] doesn’t appear to be much indecision in his play. He’s doing a nice job.”

The hunger for more is what’s fueling Miller. He made a wise decision this offseason to train with four-time Pro Bowl tailback and fellow University of Miami alum Frank Gore. Miller looks up to Gore, 30, because they have a lot of similarities. Gore also is a Miami native who took a similar path to the NFL by starring at the University of Miami. Similar to Miller, who suffered a shoulder injury in college, Gore (knees) also entered the NFL with injury concerns but went on to have a stellar career.

Miller believes his time with Gore will make him a better NFL player in 2013.

“He gave me a lot of advice, going from his first year to now,” Miller explained. “He taught me how to pass protect, catch the ball out of the backfield and take whatever the defense is giving me.”

Being a starting running back in Philbin’s offense isn’t easy. The player must have multiple talents, many of which do not include just running the ball.

Philbin and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman run a quarterback-heavy West Coast system that requires running backs to do a lot of pass protecting and catching the football in open space. The closest comparison would be Pro Bowl quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ offense in Green Bay, where Philbin served as offensive coordinator from 2007-11. Philbin is trying to mold the Dolphins into a similar attacking-style offense.

The Bush safety net is no longer available for Miller. He is the focal point of Miami’s running game and must prove he can be a complete tailback. Miller averaged just 3.2 carries per game last season, and that number could get into the 20s on most weeks this year.

There is certainly a buzz in Miami that Miller is ready to produce his first 1,000-yard season. But Miller isn’t focusing on his own preseason hype.

“I hear people talking about it, but I really try not to get into it,” Miller said. “I’m just staying humble and just staying focused on what the team wants me to do.”
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins continued their 2013 training camp with Day 2 of practices.

Here are several notes and observations from Monday's session:
  • It was a good day to watch the battles in the trenches between Dolphins starting left tackle Jonathan Martin and rising defensive end Olivier Vernon. Both are part of Miami’s 2012 draft class and looking to fill big roles on the team this season. Martin got the best of Vernon first with a pancake block during a nice run by tailback Lamar Miller. A few minutes later, Vernon used a swift inside move to run past Martin in pass-rushing drills. This kind of exchange will make both young players better.
  • A player I’m really looking forward to seeing in camp is rookie second-round pick Jamar Taylor. Miami was 27th against the pass last season and would like Taylor, a cornerback from Boise State, to make an immediate impact in the secondary. However, Taylor has been bothered all offseason by a sports hernia injury. He’s in practice for the first time but was limited on Monday and sat out team drills. Taylor needs to get healthy fast if he wants to earn a role on the team by Week 1.
  • The stars of Monday’s practice were quarterback Matt Moore and tight end Dustin Keller. Moore ran the second team very well and had a good day throwing the ball. He had the best two passes of the day with a pair long completions for touchdowns to receivers Rishard Matthews and Kenny Stafford. Keller also had a nice day getting open and caught several passes over the middle. Keller and starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill are quickly developing a rapport on the field.
  • Dolphins rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis struggled with his field goal attempts Monday. He was 1-for-2 at the end of practice, which isn't good enough when competing with veteran Dan Carpenter, who made 10 in a row on Sunday. Sturgis remains the favorite because the rookie makes a fraction of what Carpenter will make this season. Perhaps it was just rookie jitters. But Sturgis cannot be too inconsistent in practice and the preseason if he wants to make the team.
  • Miami is still searching to find its punt returners after the departures of Davone Bess and Reggie Bush in free agency. The Dolphins had five players field punts on Monday: Miller, cornerback Brent Grimes and receivers Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson and Jasper Collins. The Dolphins will continue their training camp Tuesday at 8 a.m. ET.

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