AFC East: Shawn Murphy
They have one of the game's best left tackles in Jake Long. Right tackle Vernon Carey is effective.
But all the clutter between those bookends makes me wonder how the Dolphins can be considered elite. In the three years since Bill Parcells assumed control of football operations and hired offensive-line coach Tony Sparano to run the show, the Dolphins have turned over their interior with alarming frequency.
The Dolphins on Thursday released center Jake Grove. The Dolphins identified him as a critical upgrade last year and signed him to a four-year, $29 million contract.
Now Grove is gone, just like their big free-agent signing from 2008, left guard Justin Smiley. The Dolphins signed Smiley for five years and $25 million. He lasted two seasons.
They'll use their third center over the past three opening days and have constantly changed guards.
No other unit in football depends on chemistry as much as an offensive line, but the Dolphins have been malcontents with their centers and guards.
Let's take a look at O-line personnel the Dolphins have rototilled since Parcells, Sparano and general manager Jeff Ireland came aboard with emphasis on starters.
Hired offensive line coach Mike Maser in January 2008, fired him in January 2009.
Hired offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo in January 2009.
Smiley started 12 games in 2008, 12 games in 2009 (released).
Andy Alleman started five games, including postseason, in 2008 (traded).
Nate Garner started four games in 2009 (injured reserve).
Richie Incognito projected 2010 starter.
Samson Satele started 16 games in 2008 (traded).
Al Johnson was 2008 backup (released).
Grove started 10 games in 2009 (released).
Joe Berger started six games in 2009, projected 2010 starter.
Donald Thomas opened 2008 season with job, started 12 games in 2009 (released).
Ikechuku Ndukwe started 15 games in 2008 (traded).
Garner started four games in 2009 (injured reserve).
John Jerry projected 2010 starter.
Guard Shawn Murphy, 2008 fourth-round draft pick deactivated all 22 games (released).
Center/guard Steve McKinney played zero games in 2008 (released).
Guard Evan Mathis played seven games in 2008 (released).
Guard Matt McChesney played one game in 2008 (injured reserve/released).
Guard Andrew Hartline played two games in 2009 (released, practice squad).
Guard Cory Procter signed, released last week and re-signed Thursday.
Tackle/guard Pat McQuistan acquired last week in a trade.
In a double-decker bus, we bring you the inactives for Sunday's game between the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Wembley Stadium.
You'll notice linebacker Adalius Thomas isn't on the list for a second straight week, and you'll also see a change of scenery didn't get former Miami Dolphins guard Shawn Murphy in pads for his first NFL game. Tampa Bay's Pro Bowl return man, Clifton Smith, is out after taking that cheap shot from Carolina's Dante Wesley last week.
New England Patriots
- Running back Sammy Morris
- Running back Fred Taylor
- Receiver Julian Edelman
- Tackle Matt Light
- Guard Kendall Simmons
- Offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger
- Defensive tackle Ron Brace
- Cornerback Terrence Wheatley
The Miami Dolphins admitted their first notable mistake of the Bill Parcells era Tuesday by cutting second-year guard Shawn Murphy and signing 6-foot-7 tackle Lydon Murtha off the Detroit Lions' practice squad.
Murphy will be best remembered in South Florida as the son of baseball star Dale Murphy, but Shawn was fully expected to cut his own swath in the sports world. The Dolphins drafted him in the fourth round out of Utah State last year.
Murphy not only failed to start a game, he didn't dress once. The Dolphins deactivated him every week even though he never was listed on the injury report.
Soon after the Dolphins drafted Murphy, he was surpassed on the depth chart by sixth-rounder Donald Thomas, who a Connecticut coach discovered during a pickup basketball game on campus and didn't start until his senior year.
When Thomas went down with a season-ending foot injury on opening day, the Dolphins plugged in Ike Ndukwe, who'd been released by three previous NFL teams. Rather than trust Murphy enough to put him on the field, the Dolphins churned the waiver wire for guys like Matt McChesney and Evan Mathis.
The Dolphins gave Murphy the chance to assert himself. They inserted him as the first-team guard at the start of training camp, while Thomas was recovering from an injury. The experiment didn't last.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
MIAMI -- Man, is it hot.
Even by South Florida standards in October, it's muggy for Monday night's game between the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins in Land Shark Stadium.
The high was 91 degrees, and it should be around 85 degrees for kickoff. The humidity as I type this is 69 percent.
Among the most significant pregame updates are Jets receiver Jerricho Cotchery and Dolphins outside linebacker Joey Porter have been given the green light and will start.
Both were listed as questionable because of hamstring injuries. Porter missed last week's victory over the Buffalo Bills.
Inactives for the game:
New York Jets
- Quarterback Erik Ainge (third QB)
- Quarterback Kevin O'Connell
- Guard Matt Slauson
- Defensive end Ropati Pitoitua
- Linebacker Jamaal Westerman
- Cornerback Lito Sheppard
- Cornerback Donald Strickland
- Cornerback Ahmad Carroll
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
Inactives from Sunday afternoon's AFC East matchup between the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins in Land Shark Stadium:
- Quarterback Gibran Hamdan
- Receiver Steve Johnson
- Tackle Demetrius Bell
- Defensive end Chris Ellis
- Defensive tackle John McCargo
- Linebacker Paul Posluszny
- Safety Donte Whitner
- Safety Bryan Scott
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
No major developments on the inactive list from the Miami Dolphins' game against the San Diego Chargers in Qualcomm Stadium.
But somewhat newsworthy is outside linebacker Cameron Wake will make his NFL debut.
Despite having the AFC's reigning sackmaster (Joey Porter) and the NFL's active leader in career sacks (Jason Taylor), the Dolphins haven't gotten much of a pass rush through the first two weeks. Maybe Wake, who recorded 39 sacks in two CFL seasons with the BC Lions, will chase Philip Rivers around a little.
These players have been scratched:
- Quarterback Chad Henne
- Receiver Patrick Turner
- Tight end John Nalbone
- Guard Shawn Murphy
- Tackle Andrew Gardner
- Defensive end Lionel Dotson
- Linebacker Erik Walden
- Safety Chris Clemons
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
MIAMI -- The Indianapolis Colts have scratched safety Bob Sanders for Monday night's game in Land Shark Stadium, while the Miami Dolphins have deactivated the same eight players as they did in Week 1.
Dolphins rookie Pat White will be the second quarterback again so he can run Wildcat plays without concern over the third-quarterback rule.
- Quarterback Curtis Painter
- Receiver Anthony Gonzalez
- Tight end Tim Santi
- Guard Jamey Richard
- Defensive end Fili Moala
- Safety Bob Sanders
- Defensive back Jerraud Powers
- Defensive back Jamie Silva
Note: It originally was announced in the press box defensive end Keyunta Dawson, and not Moala, was inactive.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
The Miami Dolphins have designated Chad Henne as their No. 3 quarterback for Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons, even though he's really their primary backup to Chad Pennington.
Rookie quarterback Pat White actually is third on the depth chart, but if the Dolphins wanted to use him in any Wildcat schemes, they wouldn't have been able to put him on the field had they not declared Henne the No. 3.
I addressed this scenario in May, a few days after the Dolphins used a second-round draft pick to select White out of West Virginia. The Dolphins announced their intentions right away to keep the scrambler at quarterback and not convert him to receiver, as other teams were considering.
Here's what I wrote then:
In 1991, the NFL instituted a third-quarterback rule that allows teams to have an emergency quarterback in case the first two get hurt. This was done because teams had been trying to maximize their 45-man rosters by riskily carrying only two quarterbacks and keeping an extra player who could contribute on special teams.There were some other notable decisions among the Dolphins' inactives. They scratched outside linebacker Cameron Wake, receiver Patrick Turner and guard Shawn Murphy.
The third quarterback doesn't count toward the 45-man roster, but if he is inserted into the game before the fourth quarter, then the first two quarterbacks are not allowed to go back in at any position.
That means the Dolphins would have to designate Henne their third quarterback so White could get on the field in the Wildcat.
Wake is the much-discussed Canadian Football League import who registered 39 sacks over the past two seasons with the BC Lions. He apparently hasn't adjusted to the NFL fast enough.
Turner, a third-round pick out of Southern California, was Mark Sanchez's top target last year.
Murphy, a fourth-round draft pick last year, still hasn't dressed for a game. The son of former baseball star Dale Murphy was given a shot to be the starting right guard in training camp, but Donald Thomas took it back.
The Wildcat was called, but the plays were reruns. The Dolphins ran five Wildcat plays, but none revealed anything new. They were the same plays we watched last year, including a long flea-flicker pass from Chad Pennington to Patrick Cobbs. Dolphins coach Tony Sparano probably won't show off any new wrinkles. We didn't see rookie quarterback Pat White try it out.
Davis was called for three penalties in the preseason opener, but was effectively aggressive Saturday. He snuffed running back Mike Goodson for a 4-yard loss on a dump pass at the end of the first quarter and was all over receiver Jason Carter for a 2-yard loss in the third quarter.
"It just was a blessing to bounce back from penalties and stuff like that," Davis said. "I just feel great about my play today."
Ronnie Brown looked terrific. On Miami's six-play opening drive, Brown ran for 3, 10 and 12 yards and finished it off with a 28-yard catch and run for a touchdown. He caught the ball around the 15-yard line and made a sweet move that made safety Chris Harris look foolish. Brown didn't do much while handling all five Wildcat plays, but all in all he was in mid-season form.
After a sensational game last week, Miami's most talented receiver was Ginnvisible. In the preseason opener, the Dolphins made sure Ted Ginn was involved heavily. Pennington threw at Ginn five times in the first quarter. Ginn was responsible for four first downs, including one on a 14-yard reverse.
On Saturday, Pennington threw to Ginn once for an incompletion. That was all. Ginn didn't have a catch or a yard all night.
Dan Carpenter got the juicier opportunity in the kicking battle. Carpenter, the second-year incumbent, made a 41-yard attempt. Free-agent contender Connor Barth made a 21-yard attempt but was used on two extra points.
Donald Thomas probably has sewn up the right guard job. Thomas appears to have regained his position after the Dolphins gave Shawn Murphy a shot at it. Thomas, fully recovered from a torn pectoral muscle, started against the Panthers and played well.
A collection of AFC East quotes from Sunday's training camps (the Buffalo Bills had the day off):
"When you play as many years as he's played, to get something out of the offseason both physically and fundamentally is important. Sometimes players get on in that age and that many years in the league and you can't tell them anything. This guy is not built that way. He wants all of the information that he can get.
"What I have noticed out of him is arm strength. I noticed him making some throws a little bit easier that may be were a little more uncomfortable last year because of the physical strength and what [quarterbacks coach David] Lee had done with him from a fundamental standpoint."
"When you've got an unusual guy like Brad Smith, you're able to do those things, whether it's Wildcat or whatever they call it. We'll have our own form of that. I always think it's tougher when you have a guy who can throw it. I think that's why Miami took that guy from West Virginia in the second round, Pat White. You've got that kind of ability, like Michael Vick. We have that in Brad."
"It's pretty good when your second corner is a Pro Bowl player. That's not all bad. We'll take our chances. I know we're not very good there, but we'll be OK I guess."
Dolphins rookie cornerback Vontae Davis on the 3,152 fans who showed for the start of camp:
"I mean, it's crazy. Before we actually practiced, I told one of the veterans, that this feels like a spring game to me in college. That is how the spring game is. But it's practice; the first practice."
Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor:
"There is no place like home. It was great to come out today and be back on the field with pads on playing the game that I love, in a place that I love. It was great when I came out. I got a big reception, and that was obviously very heartfelt and emotional for me."
Patriots coach Bill Belichick on the elimination of the three-man wedge from kick returns:
"I don't think it will affect us too much. That really hasn't been a major thing for us. I'm not saying we never did it, but that wasn't the focus of our kickoff return blocking scheme. But it certainly is with some other teams and I think it will affect them more than it does us.
"We'll see how exactly that is officiated and how it gets called. Being a yard away when everybody's running full speed and then there's going to be a big collision between coverage guys and blockers. Where that yard is and if it does or doesn't exist at the right time, we'll see how all that gets officiated. I don't really have the answer to that question."
Sparano on second-year guard Shawn Murphy, who was inactive for every game last year:
"In my mind, 'Murph' gets to go in there and it his job to lose, you know, when you put him in there and you let him go."
- South Florida Sun-Sentinel reporter Omar Kelly tells us about receiver Anthony Armstrong, who's turning some heads.
- Palm Beach Post reporter Edgar Thompson reviews what stood out at this weekend's minicamp.
- Mike Berardino of the Sun-Sentinel writes about Monday's unsurprising cuts.
- Miami Herald reporter David J. Neal writes about a veteran's role as quasi-coach to rookies.
- Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post checks in with second-year guard Shawn Murphy about finally getting on the field.
- Jonah Bronstein of the Niagara Gazette thinks cornerback Drayton Florence might not make the team out of training camp.
- Brian Galliford of BuffaloRumblings.com takes a look at how the Bills use their safeties.
- Canandaigua Messenger Post columnist Bill Pucko dislikes Bills owner Ralph Wilson's decision to have ESPN's Chris Berman present him for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
New England Patriots
- Bill O'Brien doesn't have the title, but he will be New England's offensive coordinator, writes Boston Globe reporter Christopher L. Gasper.
- WEEI.com's Christopher Price shares his thoughts on what he's seen now that OTAs and minicamp are over.
- Michael Blunda of Pro Football Weekly says Tom Brady's knee is the top fantasy football story to follow for 2009.
New York Jets
- New York Daily News reporters Rich Cimini and Ralph Vacchiano write the Jets have lost interest in Plaxico Burress.
- Newsday's Bob Galuber thinks the Jets would be wise to steer clear of Burress.
- Before Mark Sanchez has taken a snap in shoulder pads, he "has New York in the proverbial palm of his hand," Mark Cannizzaro writes for Pro Football Weekly.
- CBSSports.com senior writer Clark Judge takes a look at why the Jets and other teams are getting their draft picks signed quickly.
DAVIE, Fla. -- Shawn Murphy doesn't have to venture far to find someone who understands.
The Miami Dolphins selected Murphy in the fourth round of last year's draft. He was an honorable mention All-American guard at Utah State. The Dolphins were high on him.
He didn't start a game, didn't play a game, didn't even dress for a game his rookie year.
Murphy's father has a story to relate. Dale Murphy had a career many people think was good enough to earn induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Dale Murphy is in baseball's rare club of back-to-back MVP winners and hit 398 career home runs.
Dale Murphy, however, struggled to break through as a professional. The fifth overall pick in 1974, he didn't debut in the majors for two years. He was switched from catcher to first base to outfield. He didn't play 20 games until his fourth season.
"He was a natural athlete, a big, strong guy," said Shawn Murphy, who has been getting first-team reps at minicamp. "But he had a lot of technical things to work on. It just took time."
Dale Murphy always seemed on the verge. The other exclusive back-to-back club he belongs to? The Topps trading card company featured him as a top rookie prospect two years in a row, 1977 and 1978. That means he failed to meet expectations the first time.
"He ended up being a two-time MVP, being a great player," Shawn Murphy said. "But he always relates to how he started. He was a work in progress. That's how it is for everyone.
"I'm not even saying that my career is going to be like his. I'm not trying to compare them at all. But it's an example that you can have a rough start and work through it and have a great career."
Shawn Murphy was inactive for all 16 games last year. He was leapfrogged on the depth chart by sixth-round pick Donald Thomas, who was viewed as a project.
When Thomas went down with a season-ending foot injury on opening day, the Dolphins plugged in Ike Ndukwe, an undrafted player who had been released by three previous NFL teams.
"I wouldn't really call it self-doubt. It was frustration," Shawn Murphy said of his lost rookie campaign. "I trust my coaches. If they're saying I'm not ready to play, then what do I need to do to improve? It was a question of what I have to do to play."
Thomas has been sidelined with a pectoral muscle injury, clearing the way for others to get first-team reps.
"I try not to think about it from a first-team, second-team perspective," Shawn Murphy said. "I try to think 'Did I do better today that I did yesterday?' Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don't."
He claimed he has put his disappointing season behind him and is feeling much more comfortable in the NFL.
"It's been a gradual thing," Murphy said. "I don't think there was any moment of revelation. It was just sort of a gradual process. I needed to pick it up in this area or that area, and then when the season ended I said I was going to treat  like a fresh new season.
"I'm going to forget what happened last season. I'm going to come out and work hard all offseason, come to OTAs and camp with a new perspective."
The Miami Dolphins, not content with their 11-5 record, have fired veteran offensive line coach Mike Maser.
Maser's next media guide entry will state he helped the Dolphins pull off one of the greatest one-year turnarounds in league history, shaped the line for an offense that set a record for fewest turnovers in a 16-game season and sent running back Ronnie Brown to the Pro Bowl.
Not bad. But obviously not enough to keep his job.Miami Herald beat writer Jeff Darlington reports New York Giants assistant offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo is the leading candidate to replace Maser. Here is DeGuglielmo's bio from Giants.com.
Two days after Tony Sparano took over as head coach, he named Maser his first assistant.
The Dolphins ranked 11th in rushing offense, averaging 118.6 yards a game. They surrendered only 26 sacks.
But as I wrote in a blog the day after the Baltimore Ravens ousted the Dolphins from the postseason, there are serious questions about a ground game many expected to be elite behind Brown and Ricky Williams.
In 11 games, Brown failed to rush for at least 60 yards. Williams failed to reach 60 yards in all but two games. Seven times, Williams ran for fewer than 30 yards.
The Dolphins had trouble locating serviceable depth and patching together their three interior linemen, especially after left guard Justin Smiley went down with a season-ending leg injury in Week 13.
Sixth-round draft pick Donald Thomas surprisingly emerged from training camp as the starter at right guard but suffered a foot injury in the season opener. Even so, disappointing fourth-round pick Shawn Murphy was inactive every game.
The list of free-agent centers or guards the Dolphins signed and cut included Mike Byrne, Steve McKinney, Ruben Riley, Pedro Sosa, Trey Darilek and Evan Mathis. Matt McChesney was an in-season free agent who landed on injured reserve.
- WR Terrance Copper
- CB Evan Oglesby
- RB Jalen Parmele
- LB Antwan Barnes
- LB Robert McCune
- T Oniel Cousins
- G David Hale
- QB Todd Bouman
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Greetings from balmy Giants Stadium, where the Miami Dolphins can claim the AFC East title with a victory over the New York Jets. Conditions are warm and windy, but nothing like the tornadic gusts at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
There are no surprise scratches for Sunday's showdown. The Dolphins will have both linebacker Channing Crowder and cornerback Will Allen, who missed considerable practice time this week but will dress.
- QB John Beck
- WR Ernest Wilford
- LB William Kershaw
- G Shawn Murphy
- DE Lionel Dotson
- LB Quentin Moses
- T Nate Garner
- DE Rodrique Wright
New York Jets