Sunday, August 2, 2009

Dolphins Training Camp: Day 1

It's that time of year folks! That's right, your favorite team is undefeated (even those Detroit Lions fans out there). Optimism is abound for all 32 NFL teams as training camp starts. The Miami Dolphins were the last team in the AFC to start camp, but they started today, and there is no better time in South Florida.

The expectations are high for the Dolphins this year, both on the team and in the stands. This is clear after seeing an announced crowd of 2,250 in the bleachers watching practice. That itself is impressive, but if you throw in the masses of fans watching from the parking garage across the street from the facility and lining up on the fence right outside the fields. I have been going to Dolphins training camps for over 10 years and I have never seen the crowds like they were today. I thought it was absolutely unbelievable. But enough with the sentimental off-field things.

The first day is always going to show signs of rust from all the players, but it was definitely good to see the team get out there and run around in shorts and shoulder pads.

My thoughts and observations from today's practice:

-The wide receivers have a long way to go before they find a true gamebreaker. The regular season is still over a month away, but there was no one that really stood out very much on the first day. Second year receiver Brandon London made the play of the day as he went up over two defensive backs and came down with a long pass down the sidelines.

As far as the big receivers go, he looked better than third round pick Patrick Turner did. Turner dropped a couple of easy passes during drills and looked like he was still adjusting, maybe to the heat and humidity of South Florida. This sure isn't mini-camp anymore.

-The rookie cornerbacks will definitely make a difference this season. Sean Smith is even bigger in person than I read when looking at his numbers. He is big and physical, which will help against the multiple great receivers that are in the AFC East. Vontae Davis also looks good, and is a physical specimen. Although not quite as tall as Smith, he is built very well and is also fast, showing his speed as he ran with Ted Ginn Jr. stride for stride in his deep routes. As of right now, free agent acquisition Eric Green is starting opposite Will Allen. However, Head Coach Tony Sparano said that the other starting corner could change in the coming days. In any event, when the nickel and dime packages are installed you will see all fo the talent on the field. My early prediction is Smith will end up the starter opposite Allen, at least right now. He is too big and too physical to not see action right away.

-LB Matt Roth was not in pads today, he was on the sidelines running for most of the practice. Coach Sparano said that he is currently on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list and he failed his conditioning test. He should be on the field in the next few days according to the coach. That's not a good sign at all, and with Jason Taylor coming back he needs to show that he deserves to be on the field. He is supposed to add depth to the linebacker position and I'll be looking in the next few days to see when he gets out on to the field.

-There were a few gadget plays thrown into practice today, but no Wildcat formation. What I saw was a few reverse passes thrown by some of the receivers. I think that some of it was to please the fans on the first day, nothing that was going to shake up the playbook. Offensive Coordinator Dan Henning is definitely going to be keeping opposing defenses on their toes this year

Thats all for today, I'll be back with another post tomorrow after the morning practice. It is the Dolphins first two-a-day of training camp, so the information will be coming steadfastly. Be on the lookout!

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