NFL Nation: John Nalbone
Biggest surprise: The Dolphins' decision to release tight end David Martin isn't surprising on account of his ability, but because of the depth chart. Joey Haynos is out with a foot injury, leaving incumbent starter Anthony Fasano and the unconvincing John Nalbone. The Dolphins also cut guard Donald Thomas, who was good enough to be their opening-day starter as a rookie in 2008 and again last year. Thomas played all 16 games last year and started 12. But the Dolphins have been trying to find the correct combination for the interior offensive line since Bill Parcells arrived at the end of the 2007 season. They signed free agents Richie Incognito and Cory Procter, drafted John Jerry in the third round and just traded for Pat McQuistan from the Dallas Cowboys. Thomas couldn't beat out any of them.
No-brainers: Based on 2008 draft status, it's notable that the Dolphins already have given up on quarterback Pat White (second round) and receiver Patrick Turner (third round). But they didn't belong. Neither of them ever showed they belonged in the NFL. White was drafted to enhance the Wildcat package, but he couldn't throw. Turner was deactivated for all but two games last year and was outplayed by undrafted rookies this summer.
What's next: Miami has no glaring needs, but they could stand to improve at a number of positions. General manager Jeff Ireland will be scavenging for what he call "acorns" that have fallen out of other teams' trees. Areas to look at will be the pass rush and, as always, interior O-line.
- In the final dress rehearsal for Miami's starters -- unless coach Tony Sparano puts them on the field in next week's preseason finale out of principle -- the offense failed to generate much. The second-team wasn't any better. There has to be some uneasiness heading into the regular season.
- The Dolphins haven't been connecting with Brandon Marshall. He had another drop Friday night, giving him four in three games. He and quarterback Chad Henne don't always seem to be on the same page, but that's to be expected. Marshall missed offseason workouts because of hip surgery. They have two weeks to work it out.[+] EnlargeAP Photo/Wilfredo LeeChad Henne struggled Friday and ended the night going 10-of-23 with an interception.
- Marshall did make some nice plays and finished with three catches for 51 yards. But he was targeted eight times.
- The Dolphins' leading rushers? Receiver Marlon Moore gained 12 yards on an end around, and quarterback Chad Pennington scrambled once for 9. Ronnie Brown had eight carries for 9 yards. Ricky Williams had four carries for 5 yards.
- Dolphins inside linebacker Karlos Dansby makes coverage look easy. He's 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, but he can run with tight ends and backs.
- Miami's best player was cornerback Vontae Davis, a fearless tackler. He finished with a game-high seven tackles, one for a loss, one forced fumble and three passes defensed.
- Problem is, teams have an attractive target on the other side of the field from Davis. Sean Smith usually is over there. Jason Allen got the start Friday because Smith violated a team rule. Roddy White beat Allen for an 18-yard touchdown in the first quarter and sprinted waaaaaaaaaaaaay behind Smith down the left sideline for what should have been a long touchdown, but Matt Ryan overthrew him.
- Second-year quarterback Pat White received his first meaningful snaps of the preseason and looked pretty good against the Falcons' backups. White entered with 8:04 left in the game. He completed all four of his passes for 27 yards and had a 5-yard run.
- Henne was razor sharp in last week's exhibition with the Jacksonville Jaguars but had a rough night against the Falcons. He was 10-of-23 for 123 yards and no touchdowns with an interception in the end zone. The Falcons sacked him only once, but applied plenty of pressure.
- Henne had two shots at a two-minute drill at the end of the first half. First possession started with 1:43 left, went three-and-out and took 30 seconds off the clock. Thanks to an interception, the Dolphins got it back with 66 seconds left. Henne hit Marshall for 26 yards and again for 20 yards to give Miami first-and-goal from the 7 with 13 seconds left. Henne threw a pass to Anthony Fasano that was deflected by a linebacker and intercepted.
- Another troubling stat: The Dolphins failed to convert six third downs and a fourth down before they finally moved the chains just before halftime. They converted one of nine third or fourth downs before Henne left in the third quarter.
- This week's trade of Greg Camarillo opened a roster spot for another receiver to make the club. Moore, an undrafted rookie from Fresno State, could be the beneficiary. He had another strong showing. Patrick Turner, a third-round pick last year, had one catch for 10 yards.
- Joey Haynos went down with a right foot injury in the second half and was carted off the field. The Dolphins remaining tight ends are Fasano, David Martin and John Nalbone. They waived Kory Sperry this week, and he was claimed by the Denver Broncos.
- Miami's special teams were a mixed bag. They didn't allow a blocked punt for the first time in the preseason, but they were too forgiving on returns. The Falcons averaged 27.7 yards on three kickoff returns (Eric Weems had a long of 36 yards). Weems averaged 15 yards on four punt returns.
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.
DAVIE, Fla. -- Minicamps and organized team activities are a time of lollipops and rainbows.
All is wonderful. Rookies have big upside. Veterans are in the best shape of their lives. Every club is headed for the playoffs.
Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano was pleased enough with his team's offseason program he canceled two of next week's three remaining OTAs. One more practice and they're on their own until training camp.
Reporters won't have any access to the team between now and then, so I had to ask Sparano what he disliked. Sparano is a straight shooter. There had to be something.
Their work in the red zone was the one thing Sparano "didn't finish these OTAs with feeling really tremendous about."
None of the Dolphins three quarterbacks -- Chad Pennington was back Sunday after missing Saturday's minicamp sessions to attend his sister's wedding -- had much success near the goal line. Chad Henne zipped a nice pass to rookie tight end John Nalbone, who beat rookie safety Chris Clemons in the end zone. The ball sailed through Nalbone's hands.
"That red area is an area that nobody in this league can take for granted," Sparano said. "You never feel comfortable down there, and you never feel like you got enough [work]."
When it came to red-zone touchdowns, Miami ranked third in the AFC and seventh in the NFL by breaking the plane 60 percent of the time it got inside the 20-yard line. It scored 27 touchdowns on 45 trips.
But when you factor in field goals, Miami ranked 19th in scoring percentage at 84.4 percent. Seven times, Miami got inside the 20 and came away with no points.
The Dolphins can expect to get drilled over and over in Wednesday's OTA finale.
"It's hard to practice, especially when you're practicing in helmets and T-shirts," Sparano said. "I think the quarterbacks particularly, but really both sides of the ball, things happen a lot faster down there, so you're looking for the speed and you don't quite get it. That can frustrate you sometimes.
"As many at-bats as we can get down there in that area will help us. That's one of the deals we felt was still out there to clean up."
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