Miami Dolphins: Dennis Hickey

Morning take: Cam Wake's quest

September, 1, 2014
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Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Monday from around the web:
  • Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post writes Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake wants to make his first playoff appearance.
  • Morning take: Wake has been one of Miami's best players of the past five years. But team success has not followed. Will this year be different?


  • Chris Perkins of the Sun Sentinel writes Dolphins general manager is happy with the roster but not satisfied.
  • Morning take: Hickey’s first year has gone well so far. But the true test will be during the regular season.


  • Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald writes the Dolphins are hopeful Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey returns soon.
  • Morning take: Pouncey is doing well in rehab and was taken off the physically unable to perform list. Week 4 seems like a reasonable goal.


  • Here is the full practice squad, according to the team site.
  • Morning take: There are some familiar faces with quarterback Seth Lobato, center Sam Brenner and others. Someone may get a call up later this season and must stay ready.

Dolphins add two to secondary

August, 31, 2014
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The Miami Dolphins have two new additions to their secondary. The Dolphins claimed cornerback Sammy Seamster from the Baltimore Ravens and safety Brandian Ross from the Oakland Raiders off waivers Sunday, Miami general manager Dennis Hickey announced.

Miami had just four cornerbacks after cutting down to its 53-man roster. This is a valuable position where depth is needed. Seamster will be the fifth cornerback behind starters Brent Grimes, Cortland Finnegan and second-year backups Jamar Taylor and Will Davis.

Ross replaces safety Don Jones, who was cut Sunday. The Dolphins have their starting safety – Reshad Jones – currently serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Miami also cut receiver Damian Williams.

Some other notes from Hickey's news conference Sunday:
  • Hickey said the team is pleased with the rehab of Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey. That factored into the decision to take him off the physically unable to perform list. Pouncey and the team appear optimistic that he can return before the six-week window. Hickey said the decision of when to play Pouncey will be a collaborative effort with the medical staff.
  • With the release of Williams and Marcus Thigpen, the Dolphins' kickoff and punt returners up are in the air. Rookie Jarvis Landry received the most work in training camp and the preseason of the remaining players on the roster. “We feel we have several guys that can compete there,” Hickey said. “As you’ve seen during the preseason, you’ve seen multiple guys go back there.”
  • The Dolphins only have two active quarterbacks for the first time under head coach Joe Philbin. Hickey said that situation remains “fluid,” but Miami is "very confident" in quarterbacks Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore. The Dolphins, at the very least, are expected to carry one quarterback on the practice squad.

Mike Pouncey, Moreno on PUP

July, 25, 2014
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DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins opened training camp Friday by placing Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey and running back Knowshon Moreno on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.

Pouncey had major hip surgery this summer and reportedly could miss as much as eight weeks of the regular season. Moreno had a cleanup procedure on his knee and should return before the end of the preseason.

Both players are expected to eventually be key members of Miami's offense. Pouncey is arguably the Dolphins’ best offensive player. Moreno, who started last year for the Denver Broncos, signed a one-year contract to compete with incumbent starting tailback Lamar Miller.

The Dolphins opened training camp on Friday. Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey also said everyone passed their conditioning tests.
Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Wednesday from around the Web:
  • Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com ranks the Miami Dolphins at No. 21 in his pre-training camp Power Rankings.
Morning take: The Dolphins are not getting much respect as a playoff team coming off an 8-8 season. This is a team with some question marks and a lot to prove.
  • Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel takes a look at the long odds of the Dolphins winning the Super Bowl.
Morning take: Miami’s odds in this story are 66-1. That means the oddsmakers don’t believe the Dolphins have a strong chance to make a title run.
  • Alain Poupart of the Dolphins team site examines Koa Misi’s move to middle linebacker.
Morning take: This is an underlying but important story to watch in training camp. Miami’s linebackers didn’t produce last season and the team believes this will help.
Morning take: There will be some interesting decisions to make for rookie general manager Dennis Hickey. The competition begins Friday for training camp.
The Miami Dolphins had a disappointing finish as a .500 team for various reasons last season. The offensive line was awful, the run defense was inconsistent and the coaching staff didn’t get the team to finish strong -- particularly on offense.

An underlying reason the Dolphins failed to get over the hump in 2013 was the ineffectiveness of Miami's rookie class. That must change in 2014 if the Dolphins want to end their five-year playoff drought.

Current Miami rookies such as right tackle Ja'Waun James, receiver Jarvis Landry and guard Billy Turner cannot go the route of last year's rookie class led by defensive end Dion Jordan and cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis. The Dolphins must get immediate production from their first-year players. James, Miami's first-round pick, is projected to start at right tackle, while second-rounder Landry and third-rounder Turner are competing for significant roles on offense.

Mid- and late-round picks such as cornerback Walt Aikens, tight end Arthur Lynch and linebacker Jordie Tripp are all looking to add depth and compete to make the 53-man roster this summer. Here is my first projected 53-man roster for the Dolphins if you want to look at how many rookies I believe will make the team.

This is the first draft under new Miami general manager Dennis Hickey. Interestingly, Hickey selected a lot of players from small schools such as Liberty, Montana, Marist and North Dakota State. But those players must aim to immediately find roles this year -- and it starts Friday when the Dolphins take the field for their opening practice of training camp.
Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Thursday from around the Web:
  • Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel takes a look at Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill's chances of success or failure.
Morning take: Tannehill’s success depends on many factors. He has to improve on some of his weaknesses -- such as throwing the deep ball -- but the team around him must also play better.
  • Speaking of the supporting cast, Ross Devonport of Fox Sports Florida wonders if the Dolphins' offensive line is good enough this season.
Morning take: Miami will start five new players on its offensive line. That's a challenge in itself. But Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey missing the start of the season will be more daunting.
  • John Congemi of the Dolphins team site takes a look at early observations for their rookie class.
Morning take: Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey needs an immediate impact from his rookie class. There were some good things this offseason, but it was still football in shorts.
  • Kevin Nogle of the Phinsiders wonders if the Dolphins have enough depth at running back.
Morning take: The Dolphins have Lamar Miller, Knowshon Moreno and Daniel Thomas in their backfield. It’s not a star-studded group, but Miami hopes to get the job done.
There were many criticisms of former Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland from fans in South Florida. Many point to his spotty record signing free agents, questionable trades and personality fallouts behind the scenes with two head coaches (Tony Sparano, Joe Philbin). All points are valid.

But one thing Ireland probably did not get enough credit for during his tenure in Miami was his ability to find talent in the later rounds of the NFL draft. Players such as tight end Charles Clay (sixth round), safety Reshad Jones (fifth round) and receiver Brian Hartline (fourth round) are terrific examples of hidden gems Ireland found in the later rounds and became part of the Dolphins' foundation.

With that in mind, here is a little known fact: Miami's seventh-round picks have made the 53-man roster four straight years. Linebacker Austin Spitler (2010), safety Jimmy Wilson (2011), receiver Rishard Matthews (2012) and safety Don Jones (2013) all made the team as rookies. Wilson, Matthews and Jones are still part of the team and have roles as backups or on special teams.

Can rookie defensive end Terrence Fede keep the streak alive? The rookie from Marist is the first seventh-round pick for new Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey.

Fede is raw, but he has good size and athleticism. I have been particularly impressed with how well Fede moves for a player his size. However, it is too premature to accurately gauge his chances to make Miami’s 53-man roster until the pads come on in training camp.

Going against Fede is the fact that he’s trying to make the Dolphins in arguably the deepest area of their roster. Miami already has stalwarts at defensive end, such as Pro Bowler Cameron Wake, 2013 sack leader Olivier Vernon, former No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan and valuable backup Derrick Shelby. The Dolphins are already four deep at defensive end. At the very least, Fede would be fifth on the depth chart.

Time will tell if Fede can extend Miami’s seventh-round streak to five years. The practice squad also is an option for Fede if he cannot make the 53-man roster later this summer.
The Miami Dolphins have unsuccessfully tried to build a playoff-caliber roster for the past five seasons.

Not since 2008, in former head coach Tony Sparano’s first year, have the Dolphins won double-digit games, the AFC East and qualified for the playoffs. It’s been mostly mediocre play ever since. The Dolphins are 35-45 (.438 win percentage) since their last playoff berth.

A majority of those down years have been under former Miami general manager Jeff Ireland. Now, first-year Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey is trying to improve the roster he inherited and end Miami’s playoff drought.

As of Monday, here is where the Dolphins are allocating their resources:


The Dolphins are currently spending 48.32 percent of their cap room on offense, 47.91 percent on defense and 3.77 percent on special teams. That is a very good balance, although some positions (receiver, defensive line) are clearly more expensive than others (tight ends, running backs).

As we wrote in this space a few times this offseason, Miami is fortunate that it doesn’t have to spend $15-$20 million for a franchise quarterback. Dolphins starter Ryan Tannehill is entering the third year of his rookie contract and has a $3.45 million cap charge in 2014. He’s 15-17 as a starter and still has a lot to prove.

But at some point Miami will have to spend a large chunk of its cap on a quality quarterback. For the next year or two, Hickey still has the flexibility to spend the Dolphins’ resources on other positions.
DAVIE, Fla. -- In the midst of the doom and gloom surrounding Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey's hip injury that will sideline him for 3-4 months, there was some good news that came out of Dolphins minicamp.

Rookie second-round pick Jarvis Landry was a standout during the week and in the scrimmage. Landry was a high-profile draft pick of new Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey, along with first-round pick and projected starting right tackle Ja'Wuan James.

Landry's college scouting report is accurate: He is not the biggest, fastest or most athletic receiver the Dolphins have. But he finds a way to perform in game situations with smarts, strong hands and other intangibles, which are all needed in Bill Lazor's new, up-tempo offense.

"I'll tell you what, you've got to be in shape for sure," Landry said of Miami's scheme. "I think we do a great job with conditioning. But there is never enough conditioning as far as when the game and emotions start getting involved. That can propel you forward. It’s one of those things that we just have to keep working at to be an efficient offense."

Landry also caught the attention of veterans during offseason workouts. No. 1 receiver Mike Wallace spent some time during organized team activities and minicamp getting reps with Landry.

“[He’s] nice. Jarvis, he can hang in the game,” Wallace said of the rookie. “He plays like a three, four-year vet already. He’s really smart, crafty. He’s a really good receiver. He’s going to be good for us.”

The three-way battle at slot receiver is still up for grabs. Landry is competing with veterans Brandon Gibson and Rishard Matthews for an important role in the offense. All three receivers made plays this offseason, and nothing has been determined at this stage.

Miami's slot receiver will be determined throughout training camp and during the preseason. Landry knows he has the most ground to make up since he's entering his first season. But he plans the make the most of "vacation season" in the NFL before training camps start in late July.

“It’s holding yourself accountable and knowing the things that you have to do that are required of you to play at a high level,” Landry said. “It’s not taking a month off and then coming back and expecting to be ready. It’s constant improvement and continuing to learn. But for me, I’ll be here with [quarterback] Ryan [Tannehill], trying to get things going.”
For months, the main concern for Miami Dolphins fans centered around Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey potentially missing the start of the regular season because of his involvement in last year's bullying scandal. Many wondered if a NFL-mandated suspension was looming, but it turns out it doesn't matter.

Pouncey will be sidelined anyway for the start of the 2014 season because of hip surgery, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports. Pouncey is expected to miss the next three to four months, which includes all of training camp, the preseason and the start of the regular season.

This is a huge loss for Miami. A strong case can be made that Pouncey is the one player Miami can least afford to lose. Not only is Pouncey one of Miami's top two or three players, he is the center who works closest with young quarterback Ryan Tannehill and in charge of calling pre-snap protections at the line of scrimmage. Without Pouncey to start the regular season, the Dolphins are expected to have five new starters on the offensive line in Week 1.

Speaking of Week 1, that is when the rival New England Patriots come to Miami. The Dolphins are an awful 4-8 against division foes the past two seasons and need to start the division games on the right foot. The same goes for Week 2 against the Buffalo Bills, who swept the Dolphins last season. Both opponents have solid defensive lines who will look to take advantage of Miami's plight without Pouncey.

The Dolphins' offensive line was awful last year and allowed a franchise-record 58 sacks. New Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey spent the entire offseason remaking the offensive line center around Pouncey. Now, Pouncey won't be available in September. Schefter also reports running back Knowshon Moreno will miss several weeks and should return at some point in training camp, which is of lesser concern.

Where does Miami go from here?

The Dolphins have three options at this stage. First, they can go with undrafted second-year player Sam Brenner, who received second-team reps at center this offseason and filled in at guard last season for the suspended Richie Incognito. Second, versatile backup Nate Garner also played center last season in place of Pouncey for two games and could be the second in-house plan. The third option is to look for outside help via trade or free agency, which could be slim pickings at this stage of the offseason.

Whatever choice Miami makes, it's replacement plan won't be nearly as good as Pouncey. He is one of the top centers in the NFL and the drop off will be significant no matter who plays in Week 1.

This is a make-or-break year for many in Miami's organization to make the playoffs. The Dolphins need a fast start to accomplish that task and it just became much more difficult.
The Miami Dolphins will have plenty of tough decisions to make when it comes time to put together their 53-man roster. This week we're highlighting players on the roster bubble.

Here is a preview of one player on the Dolphins’ roster bubble:

Player: TE Michael Egnew

2013 stats: Seven receptions, 69 yards

Why he could make it: The Dolphins’ coaching staff puts heavy emphasis on position flexibility. Egnew has proven he has the ability to play tight end, fullback and a hybrid H-back position. His ability to play multiple positions helped Egnew survive the roster bubble last year. The Dolphins do not have a true fullback, and Egnew is the closest thing. He also is getting a look in organized team activities at tight end to see if he can contribute there in first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor’s scheme.

Why he couldn’t make it: Egnew is another draft bust of former Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland. Egnew is a former third-round pick who was expected to be a good receiving threat at tight. He’s been anything but with just seven career receptions. New Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey doesn’t have the same attachment to Egnew. Hickey drafted rookie tight end Arthur Lynch this year, and both players could be fighting for one roster spot.

Chances to stick: 50 percent
Training camps are less than two months away. In the meantime, ESPN.com’s Miami Dolphins page examines key questions with the team heading into an important season.

Next we take a look at Miami’s offensive line, which was inconsistent last season.

Biggest reason for hope: Talent upgrade

The Dolphins desperately needed a talent upgrade, and first-year general manager Dennis Hickey put much of the focus and resources in that direction. Hickey signed Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert and veteran guard Shelley Smith in free agency and drafted right tackle Ja’Wuan James and guard Billy Turner in the first and third round, respectively. This group is much better on paper than last year’s offensive line, which set a franchise record with 58 sacks allowed and ranked 26th in rushing. Albert and center Mike Pouncey are a pair of Pro Bowlers. James has a high ceiling and the Dolphins hope Smith can be a solid guard. The left guard position is open with Turner competing with second-year guard Dallas Thomas. The Dolphins are giving Thomas the first shot to start this spring and he’s taking advantage. Thomas, a third-round pick a year ago, looks much improved during organized team activities. The competition should make both young players better.

Biggest reason for concern: Continuity

With so many new pieces, the Dolphins are taking a risk this season with continuity. Miami is implementing a new offense under Bill Lazor, and it will be vital for the offensive line to quickly get on the same page. There is a combination of veterans (Albert, Pouncey, Smith) and young players (James, Thomas/Turner) who need to get up to speed. I’ve seen some early issues with pass protection in OTAs, particularly with communication and missed assignments. Depth also is a concern. The Dolphins have their starting lineup mostly set. However, they are searching for backup positions all across the board.
The Miami Dolphins are preparing for an important 2014 season. The Dolphins have playoff expectations in their third season under head coach Joe Philbin, who is 15-17.

But for the Dolphins to reach their potential, they must answer several questions that will be explored this week. Let's take a look at Miami’s starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

Biggest reasons for concern: Deep ball, pocket presence

Tannehill
Like Philbin, Tannehill is 15-17 as a starter in two seasons. We’ve seen well-defined weaknesses from Miami's quarterback in that span. The two that stand out most are Tannehill's lack of a deep ball and pocket presence. With the addition of speedy No. 1 receiver Mike Wallace, we discovered last year that Tannehill struggles throwing deep. Often his throws were too short when Wallace had the cornerback beat. In those cases, Wallace had to wait and fight for the ball. A few times Tannehill overthrew Wallace and didn’t have good accuracy. It’s possible this throw just isn’t in his arsenal. If that’s the case, it could be a component that prevents Tannehill from truly becoming a franchise quarterback. Tannehill must also improve his pocket presence and play speed. Miami’s offensive line was porous last year (we will get to that next). But a portion of Tannehill’s franchise-record 59 quarterback sacks were due to Tannehill’s indecision and holding the football too long. New Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor says he’s working on improving Tannehill’s play speed, which should get faster with experience.

Biggest reason for hope: Improved offensive line

Tannehill played with the worst offensive line in franchise history last season. The Dolphins set a team record for sacks allowed, were 26th in rushing and had a bullying scandal that took away two starters. These factors made it difficult to fully judge Tannehill as a starter. First-year general manager Dennis Hickey made a point this offseason to improve the offensive line. First, Hickey signed Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert and starting guard Shelley Smith in free agency. Then, Hickey drafted starting right tackle Ja’Wuan James in the first round and potential starting guard Billy Turner in the third round. Miami could have four new starters on the offensive line this year, with Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey being the only holdover from last season. On paper, this group should be much better than last year’s offensive line. Tannehill has two Pro Bowlers at center and left tackle, which are the most important positions on the offensive line. The Dolphins hope young players like James, Turner and possibly second-year guard Dallas Thomas can develop quickly into quality starters. Tannehill can certainly use the extra time in the pocket this year in order to reach his potential.
Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Friday from around the Web:
  • Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald believes the Dolphins should sign veteran offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie.
Morning take: For the veteran minimum, this move could make sense to improve depth. Miami may keep McKinnie on the short list in case there is an injury.
  • Chris Perkins of the Sun Sentinel reports the Dolphins have no issues with Mike Pouncey's leadership.
Morning take: Miami’s brass has said it believes in Pouncey. He’s a very good player on the field but needs to show maturity off the field and in the locker room.
  • Alain Poupart of the Dolphins team site writes Dolphins rookie linebacker Marcus Thompson is living out his dream.
Morning take: Miami is looking for depth at linebacker, and Thompson will compete with several others. But Thompson remains a long shot to make the 53-man roster.
  • Bill Beck of the Elkhart Truth writes a feature on Dolphins Director of Player Personnel Joe Schoen.
Morning take: Schoen works closely with Miami first-year general manager Dennis Hickey. The Dolphins’ front office hopes the right moves were made this offseason to get them to the playoffs.
DAVIE, Fla. – On the first day of rookie minicamp, new Miami Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry worked on routes needed as a slot receiver, an outside receiver, played gunner on special teams and even discussed the possibility of returning kicks. It could be that kind of rookie year for Miami’s second-round pick.

[+] EnlargeJarvis Landry
AP Photo/Wilfredo LeeReceiver Jarvis Landry could see immediate playing time as a rookie because of his versatility.
The Dolphins ignored bigger needs earlier this month and drafted Landry because he’s a versatile and hard-nosed football player. He’s a wide receiver with the toughness of a hard-hitting safety. In fact, Landry was among LSU’s leaders in special-teams tackles during the early part of his collegiate career. That helped him earn the status of team captain last season.

But finding a role in Miami as a rookie will be one of the challenges for Landry and the Dolphins' coaching staff. The team already is deep at receiver with veteran starters Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline, in addition to quality backups Brandon Gibson, Rishard Matthews and Damian Williams. Landry could be as high as third on Miami’s depth chart by the end of training camp or as far back as fifth or sixth.

Rookie minicamp and organized team activities are valuable for Landry to begin finding his niche.

“It’s been a little bit of everything, just trying to learn the system as much as I can and trying not to be so one-dimensional,” Landry said Friday after his first practice. “[Coaches] have been putting us in different positions, making us learn every position on the field. It increases our chances of having success no matter where we line up.”

Special teams is a sure-fire way for Landry to get playing time in his rookie year. Landry was a strong gunner at LSU and also sure-handed enough to return kicks, despite the fact he doesn't have blazing speed.

If Landry or another rookie (Matt Hazel?) proves they can return kicks, it could put specialist Marcus Thigpen on the hot seat. The Dolphins like players with position flexibility and Thigpen hasn't provided much as a backup running back or wide receiver.

“There are a lot of guys that have those [return] skills, and that’s what we’re out here doing, just kind of further investigating,” Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey said. “It’s one thing to do it at the college level. It’s another thing to do it at the NFL level. That’s what our coaches are working with these guys.”

Learning multiple positions as a rookie is not easy. It is difficult enough making the physical transition from college to the pros. However, Landry must be on top of the playbook at multiple positions mentally, as well.

“It’s very challenging, but the coaches, they give tasks and they expect them to be met,” Landry said. “It’s my job to study the way that I need to be on the field and have an effective offense.”

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