The Miami Dolphins players will be rejoicing come tomorrow morning when they check out of the team hotel they have called home for the last 3 weeks. Some will head back to their families while others to their apartments. The Dolphins are breaking training camp following this afternoons final two-a-day practice. While some feel this training camp opened up some eyes, it also left some questions.
The Dolphins have found a new Safety in 2nd year man Chris Clemons. Clemons has been solid thus far but will he step up and become another Yeremiah Bell or another miss in a long line of safety failures?
With training camp over, does this mean that the “injury” bug will leave as well? The Dolphins have injuries to CB Will Allen, offensive linemen Nate Garner and John Jerry, they have lost rookie AJ Edds and CB Evan Oglesby for the season, and a myriad of other players are nicked up with minor inflammations and soreness.
Two of the biggest surprises of training camp will not try and carry their success over to the pre-season games where the Dolphins will now try and prep for the regular season instead of shaking the tree of players. Ike Alama-Francis played so well this training camp that earlier this week he was rewarded with a one year extension and a nice little 300,000 dollar pay raise. Francis has proven that he can take on the NFL as a OLB. He will compete with rookie Koa Misi for playing time…who by the way is playing up to his draft slot.
If the Dolphins were hoping for a healthy secondary this year they were more than disappointed when Will Allen went down with a knee scope. But they had to be absolutely thrilled when 5th round pick Nolan Carroll came up big. Carroll is playing beyond the expectations of a 5th rounder and dare I say it, has had a training camp that could be similarly compared to another 5th round pick that announced his retirement after 13 years earlier this off-season. Carroll is shaping up to be one of this years drafts biggest steals. But he still has a way to go to prove it.
The Dolphins want to believe that the depth chart is all but set. A few spots here and there still have some battles going on. The Center spot is far from certain with neither Joe Berger or Jake Grove clearly a favorite. At RG Richie Incognito appears to have it hand but that is not a guarantee and HC Tony Sparano loves rotating his lineman. On the defensive side of the ball, only OLB is still completely undetermined as Alama-Francis and Misi play to start. If there is any really good news out of all of this, the extended competitions will make all of those involved much better.
The Dolphins still have a lot of work to do to determine this years final roster. The NFL mandates a total of 3 cut dates leading to the opening day roster. A big question still lingers at the WR spot where Patrick Turner is playing far better than last season and Marlon Moore is turning heads with solid hands. The Dolphins are loaded at WR with Brian Hartline and Brandon Marshall on the outside and Davone Bess in the slot. That leaves possession guy Greg Camarillo holding the 4th spot. Turner and Moore will battle for the 5th. I still maintain that the Dolphins could look to move Camarillo or even Davone Bess in a trade for another position spot that may be short. Keep an eye on it.
The Phins will travel to Jacksonville on Saturday night for their 2nd pre-season game and while the team won’t completely game plan they will prepare more than what they did last week against the Buc’s. I would however expect the same vanilla defense they employed last week. Game 3 will be the all out wall banger before they close up the off-season to start the season.
On a final note, the questions remain regarding Pat White. White is expected to see significant playing time on Saturday night, at least the 4th quarter. However, the Dolphins still may be looking at what to do with their 4 rostered QB’s. Tyler Thigpen has a clear lead on White for a role behind Chad Henne. What that role is, 2nd or 3rd, is unknown. Either way, with a little more than 3 weeks left until the 2010 season kick-off, questions will need to be answered.
The final 3 weeks should be a lot of fun, and again, watch for a couple of trades prior to the start of the season. You heard it here first, unless of course you heard somewhere else…;)