Friday, June 29, 2007

Evans axed; International player acquired

Well, that didn't take long. On Thursday, the Dolphins waived DT Fred Evans. Despite Evans' youth and promise, it's clear that Cam Cameron is not willing to hold onto players who repeatedly get in legal trouble (although I'm pretty sure Joey Porter is going to be the exception to that rule. After all, Porter was Cameron's first big acquistion, whereas Evans was a leftover from Saban's regime. Hypocritical? Maybe. We'll have to wait to see how Porter's situation with the league plays out).

So how does this affect the Dolphins? Well, it's not going to be a seismic shock wave or anything. However, Evans was a talented youngster, almost certainly more talented than his possible replacements Kevin Vickerson and Chase Page. He probably would have proved a solid back end of the defensive line rotation this season while possibly becoming an effective starter sometime down the road. That vision is over now. Rookie Paul Soliai will likely become Keith Traylor's backup at the NT position immediately. I see Kevin Vickerson beating out Chase Page for the final spot in the rotation.


According to the official team site, the Dolphins were assigned WR Marvin Allen (see picture above) as their International Practice squad player. Until this point, I was previously unaware of the International Practice squad designation. Here's how it works. Allen will join the Dolphins for training camp, but he will not count towards either the 53-man roster or the 8-man practice squad. The one catch is that he cannot sign to any team's active roster during the 2007 season which means that Dolphins fans shouldn't expect to see him getting called up for the game-day roster this year. The International Practice squad designation has been in use by the NFL since 2004 as a way to expose the most talented international players to the highest level of competition that is the NFL. And there really is no downside to having an extra practice squad player who doesn't count against any roster limits.

Allen (5'10", 180 lbs.) is 24 years old and a native of London, England. He has spent the last three years playing in NFL Europa. This past season, he recorded 21 receptions for 222 yards and one TD while playing for the Rhein Fire. He also spent the entire 2006 season on the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad as their International Practice squad player.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Evans was already on probation; News Roundup

DT Fred Evans' recent legal troubles in Miami could be complicated by the fact that he is currently on probation in Texas for possession of marijuana.

Evans was arrested in Texas in February 2007, and he was later sentenced to one year of supervised probation. It's still unclear how his probation will tie in with his recent charges, but it's certainly not going to help the situation. In my opinion, this latest development only furthers the chance that Evans will be cut loose from the Dolphins.


* Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga is currently in negotiations with the University of Miami for the Hurricanes football team to play at Dolphins Stadium. He's still unsure whether a deal will get done, and the probability is "50/50" that it happens. I see no reason why the Hurricanes shouldn't come to Dolphins Stadium. Their use of the field shouldn't affect the playing surface for Dolphins games and Huizenga would be able to make some extra money from concessions and the like.

The Florida Marlins, on the other hand, need to get out. Their lease at the stadium runs through the 2010 season. Once that lease ends, Huizenga should have no qualms about kicking them to the curb. The infield dirt is a plague to the Dolphins home games. It's unnatural and it makes sharp cuts very dangerous. It also shreds up the guys' skin when they get brought down on it. That's why you see Zach Thomas' arms running red with blood at every home game with the infield dirt in place. The Dolphins should not have to deal with that added injury risk and harsh surface during the first half of the season.

Huizenga was asked what would happen if that Marlins did not have a new ballpark by the time their lease runs out. He seemed to give a clue as to what his intentions were when he said,
"Very interesting question. I don't know. That's why we gave them plenty of notice [about their lease expiring]."

* GM Randy Mueller's contract with the Dolphins was extended through at least the 2010 season. While he will get a raise, the salary details were not released. This a good front office move since Mueller formed a tight relationship with Cam Cameron from the very beginning, and they seemed to be able to form a cohesive and effective plan during this year's draft. Mueller has had good success with drafting in the past, and when given full GM controls this offseason following the departure of Nick Saban, he made prudent decisions about bringing in talent without overpaying for it. This move should bring some measure of stability to the Dolphins front office which will help the team implement a successful strategy for the foreseeable future.

* DE Jason Taylor has been nominated for an ESPY award as the Best NFL Player of 2006. His competition is Peyton Manning, LaDanian Tomlinson, Larry Johnson, Drew Brees, and Brian Urlacher. Go to to vote.

* QB John Beck and WR Ted Ginn said they will sign contracts before the start of training camp, thus avoiding any harmful holdouts.


The Dolphins signed free agent S Chris Harrell (6'1", 212 lbs.). Harrell, 24, was an undrafted college free agent last season who was signed by the Cardinals but released before the start of the regular season. This spring, he played in NFL Europa for Berlin, tallying 48 tackles and 2 INTs.

Here is what has to say about Harrell:

Strengths: burst out of breaks, tackling ability
Weaknesses: coverage awareness
"Possessing good size, football intelligence and a physical nature, Harrell is a solid strong safety. Late-round prospect with potential at the next level, assuming he passes medical exams prior to the draft."
It'll be a long-shot for Harrell to make the team, but he's only entering his second season so if he shows promise he could wind up on the practice squad.

NFL Europa Season Stats

With the 2007 NFL Europa season in the books, here's a look at how the Miami Dolphins-allocated players performed and what impact we can expect them to have on the team this year.

DT Steve Fifita, Frankfurt
Played in 10 games, started 4
26 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 fumble recovery
Expectations: I don't see this guy making the 53-man roster, even with the possible release of DT Fred Evans. There's already a good deal of youth on the defensive line, and if either of the two Miami Europa DTs is going to make the team, it will most likely be Kevin Vickerson. I don't know if Fifita is still eligible to land on the practice squad, but that could be an eventual destination for him.

CB Shirdonya Mitchell, Frankfurt
Played in 10 games, started 9
31 tackles, 9 passes defensed, 2 INTs (one returned 81 yards for TD)
Named to All-NFL Europa League Team
Expectations: Mitchell has a legitimate chance to make the final roster as the fifth cornerback. CB is one of the weaker positions on the Miami defense, and he could wind up seeing significant playing time. Assuming Andre' Goodman gets healthy in time for the season, I would project the top four CBs to be Will Allen, Travis Daniels, Andre' Goodman, and Jason Allen. That means Mitchell will have to battle it out in camp with the undrafted free agents, Michael Lehan, and waiver-acquisition Derrick Johnson. Before Mitchell went down with injuries, he showed some promise. If he's fully recovered, he has a good chance of locking down that fifth CB spot.

WR P.K. Sam, Rhein
Played in 9 games, started 7
32 receptions, 529 receiving yards, 3 TDs
Expectations: I liked Sam when he was coming out of college, and I thought there was a chance that Miami would draft him. Well, he's now on the team and he has a chance to battle it out for a receiver spot. The chances are stacked against him, however. Assuming the Dolphins only keep 5 receivers on the roster, the first four are going to Chris Chambers, Marty Booker, Derek Hagan, and Ted Ginn. Veterans Kelly Campbell and Az-Zahir Hakim have a leg up on Sam for the fifth spot since they've been with the team during these minicamps, learning the new offensive system. David Sutton has also showed promise, but he will most likely end up on the practice squad. That's also a possible destination for Sam, since I think Campbell will make the roster if he stays healthy (albeit that's a giant "if").

DT Kevin Vickerson, Cologne
Started all 10 games
31 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 2 passes defensed
Named to All-NFL Europa League team
Expectations: Vickerson's chances to make the roster just got a lot better with Fred Evans' recent troubles with the law. If Evans is cut loose, Vickerson will most likely take his place on the roster.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Evans faces litany of charges

After the last minicamp ended, it seemed as if news from the football world would come to a grinding halt, as players and coaches went away on vacations before the beginning of training camp in late July. Football news would take a break from the 24/7 media whirlwind that it is. Alas, even though the pads are off and most of the team is away from the facilities, DT Fred Evans made some poor decisions and wound up making some football- related news after all.

On Saturday, Evans was arrested on Miami Beach. He was charged with battery on a police officer, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and trespassing.

The situation began with an argument between Evans and his taxi driver. When police arrived, Evans refused to exit the cab. A physical struggle then ensued, as the police tried to handcuff Evans. One officer was bitten on the wrist, while another sustained bruises to the knees. Evans had to be Tasered multiple times before submitting.

What had just looked like a promising young career not a couple weeks back, has now turned into a very ugly story. By all accounts, Evans looked sharp from the day he joined the Dolphins, and he was expected to be a part of the defensive line rotation this season. Those plans are now in serious jeopardy, however. You can't get away with harming a police officer. That's just plain idiotic behavior. What's more is that every single NFL player by now should be well acquainted with new Commissioner Roger Goodell's justifiably harsh personal conduct policy. There's absolutely no excuse for a player acting like Evans did, and it would not surprise me in the least to see him get cut - even if his level of skill would suggest he deserves a roster spot.

It's a shame that this has happened. There will almost assuredly be punishment brought down by Goodell, but perhaps the level will be lessened since this is Fred's first run-in with the conduct policy. On the other hand, he did injure police officers, and that is inexcusable.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Gone Daddy, Gone

After losing out on a sixth-round pick when DT Dan Wilkinson failed to show up for a physical with the Denver Broncos, Miami has finally decided to cut ties with the large and lazy former number one overall selection in the 1994 NFL Draft.

The Dolphins terminated his contract earlier this week, and it is very possible that he has retired.

I was hoping that Miami could eventually find a way to trade him again during training camps, but that's out of the question now. He was never in the Dolphins' plans for next season, but if he hasn't retired he may just suddenly say he wants to play another season and join up with another team midway through their offseason camps. I just can't get behind a guy who doesn't have the perseverance or toughness to gut out offseason workouts and training camps. Sure, it may be harder for him now that he's older, but look at Keith Traylor. If you're good enough, teams will be willing to cut you some slack. It's completely selfish to try and avoid offseason work like "Big Daddy" has.

Oh, and after hearing about his contract being terminated, I couldn't help but hum the Gnarls Barkley tune "Gone Daddy Gone" with a smile on my face. So long, Big Daddy.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Reader Question: Best 5 Dolphins Ever

I'd like to take this opportunity to answer another reader-submitted question. All questions are welcome, so send me an email ( and I'll post my response.

This question comes from Alexander Freund. (As an aside, Alex writes for the website Bleacher Report, and I would urge you to visit that site and take a look at its extensive sports coverage.)

Q: Who would you say are the best 5 Dolphins ever?

A: It's always fun to answer questions like this because a large part any individual's response will be determined by how old they are, and which teams they were able to watch in person from a young age.

As for myself, I wasn't around to see the Dolphins dynastic years during the early 1970s, but as a true fan, I've made sure to research those teams and their players to get a feel for the history of the franchise. Nothing compares to watching and following players week in and week out, seeing both their best performances and their forgettable ones. As a result, some people may consider a selection or two of mine debatable, claiming that I am leaning too far towards the present and eschewing the glorious past. But that's the greatness of a list like this. It depends so much on what a person looks for in a sports icon.

So, without further ado, here's my list of the top 5 Dolphins players in franchise history:

5) Larry Csonka - Csonka is the epitome of a bruising running back, and he was exactly the kind of player that power running schemes are designed around. He was not one to fool around with long runs to the outside involving unnecessary east-west style running. Instead, he bulled straight up the middle of the offensive line, shedding tacklers with an incredible level of ease. The most amazing thing about him, however, may have been his toughness. Csonka would play through almost any pain imaginable, continuing to get up after every gang tackle.

Miami led the NFL in rushing in 1971 and 1972 largely due to the workhorse-like effort of Csonka, and in those two seasons, he averaged more than 5 yards per carry. The running-game that he fueled helped lead the Dolphins to three straight Super Bowl appearances and two championships. And, of course, he was a main cog in the ultimate machine that was the 1972 undefeated squad.

4) Zach Thomas - No, he hasn't yet finished his career in Miami. Yes, I do believe, even at this point in his career, that he has proven himself worthy of being on this list. If I were to choose this list simply on who my favorite Dolphins players are, Thomas would be second on that list only to Dan Marino.

If Larry Csonka is toughness personified, then Zach Thomas is surely heart. As a player coming out of college, he was routinely criticized for being too small to play linebacker at the pro level. But as they say, "It's not the size of the dog in the fight..." Thomas exemplifies that old saying more than anyone I've ever seen. Furthermore, with every game that I see Thomas play, I become increasingly convinced that his blood is not red like the rest of us - rather, it flows in bright aqua and orange. For the past decade-plus, Thomas has quite literally been the backbone of the Dolphins franchise. As players came and went, and seasons started and ended, the one thing that all Dolphins fans could be sure of come September was Thomas lining up at middle linebacker and giving everything he had week in and week out. It has become routine for him to finish in the top 5 on the league leader board for tackles.

A player must not be judged on how many Super Bowl rings he has. Unfortunately for Thomas, the Miami offense has often lagged severely behind the defense in terms of effectiveness. Because of this, he has had to bear witness to far too many bitter, losing campaigns. One would think that such an overexposure to losing would dampen the spirits and energy of a player. Perhaps it has, but you'd never know it. Even if the team was 1-14 heading into the last week of the season, Thomas would still lace up his cleats like always and do everything in his power to get that ever-elusive win.

3) Bob Griese - Continuing with the trend, Bob Griese represents the pinnacle of leadership. His stats won't particularly wow anyone, but his results will. Griese was the man at the helm of the ship for each of Miami's three consecutive Super Bowl appearances including the legendary undefeated season. Throughout the 1970s, he led the Dolphins to nine winning seasons. He was an AFL All-Star twice and was selected to the NFL Pro Bowl six times. There have been few quarterbacks who could consistently manage an offense to victory as Griese.

Management - that was Griese's specialty. Not one to make poor decisions with the ball, Griese was content to pass less often in order to let the ball-control running-game of Csonka pave the way. Make no mistake, however, when crunch time came, Griese was not afraid to make the play, exhibiting supreme confidence and poise.

2) Jason Taylor - Jason Taylor is intensity, pure and simple. He is the spark plug of the Miami defense. Much of what I said about his brother-in-law Zach Thomas can also be said about Taylor. Taylor was also criticized for being to small to effectively play on the defensive line, but he has destroyed that perception, almost creating a new breed of player by himself - the thin and wiry lightning-fast DE sack-master who is also a force to be reckoned with in the running game. And, oh yeah, he's a pure playmaker too. Taylor's motor is running non-stop and that allows him to always be in a position to make a big play on the ball. Not only can he do everything (bat down balls, stop the run, rush the passer, drop into shallow zone coverages, force fumbles, make interceptions, etc.), but he does everything extremely well. Jack-of-all-trades, master of all.

1) Dan Marino - As much as the rest of this list might differ from person to person, the number one spot on a vast majority of people's lists (dare I say a unanimous decision?) will be this guy - Dan "The Man" Marino. Larry Csonka is toughness. Zach Thomas is heart. Bob Griese is leadership. Jason Taylor is intensity. And Dan Marino is a miraculous combination of all those qualities. In my mind, Marino is far and away the greatest player to ever play the game of football. I can honestly say that and know that I am not simply being a "homer." Marino legitimately is the greatest NFL player.

My earliest memories of watching games on TV were of this gunslinger confidently leading his team up and down the field with the fiery intensity of a true leader. I was most amazed by his ability to weave his way untouched and unfazed around a collapsing pocket and fire a bullet to his receiver with incredible accuracy. He did all of this, of course, with a gigantic brace attached to his creaky knee. It was always clear to me that I was watching a legend perform and that is a rare occurrence - one that we are all lucky to have had.

I'm sure that everyone is well aware of how Marino single-handedly rewrote the NFL record books. He was the king of quantifiable statistics. That's not what makes him the greatest football player, however. Statistics are only a part of the bigger picture. Dan Marino possessed all of the intangibles that commentators always mention. He combined the greatest attributes of every player, resulting in the type of player who will never be seen again.

For someone looking to discover the game of football and wanting to see all its best aspects on display, I would point to Dan Marino and tell them that the soul of American football rests in the performance of that one man - the one who suited up for the Miami Dolphins for 17 unbelievable years.

There's my list for the top five best Dolphins ever. I'd also like to mention two honorable mention players - Larry Little and Richmond Webb. I always like to give credit to the grunts on the offensive line when possible, and those two guys certainly deserve the credit.

I'd like to hear from you what your list would be like and what you think of mine. One thing we can all be sure of after an exercise like this is how lucky we all are to be Dolphins fans.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

News Roundup (6/14)

Here's a collection of the news that's been going on recently.

* For starters, QB Daunte Culpepper injured his left (non-throwing) hand on Wednesday when he was involved in a two-car crash. Fortunately, the injury was nothing more than a cut, and Culpepper has said he is fine. X-rays on the hand were negative. The injury shouldn't have any effect on his eventual trade or release,
other than perhaps slowing down the process.

* T Joe Toledo underwent surgery on Wednesday to repair a fractured metatarsal in his right foot. He hopes to be ready by training camp. In other injury news, LB Joey Porter sat out his second straight practice on Wednesday due to back spasms. The move is just a precautionary one; at this point, there's no reason to senselessly endanger one of the best players on the team. DE Jason Taylor and FB Cory Schlesinger didn't attend Wednesday's voluntary workout because they had family commitments.

* The team has two more weeks of conditioning before breaking for vacation.

* Despite previous reports that suggested the possibility, the Dolphins will not practice with the Tennessee Titans, or any other team, during training camp.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Two Sides To Every Story

QB Daunte Culpepper has taken his controversial situation to the NFL Players Association. On Tuesday, the NFLPA filed a grievance on behalf of Culpepper against the Dolphins. The crux of the grievance is that the Dolphins are breaching Culpepper's contract by prohibiting him from participating in the team portions of drills. The NFLPA ultimately wants to see the Dolphins release Culpepper so that he can latch onto another team sooner rather than later and compete for a starting job.

The Dolphins, of course, are not content with releasing him outright. They would like to make a trade and thus recoup at least some tangible aspect of the steep investment they made in him (a second-round draft pick and $8 million paid out last season).

So, who is in the right and who is in the wrong in this case?

Realistically, each side has good reason to be taking the stance that they are. Daunte wants a chance to compete for a starting job somewhere, and he's already been told that somewhere is not Miami. The Dolphins, on the other hand, have every right to desire some sort of compensation for a player who is under contract to them.

Now, I'm no legal expert, but I really don't think the NFLPA's grievance against the Dolphins holds any water. According to Richard Berthelsen, the attorney for the NFLPA, "He's being employed as a skilled football player, and unless they're going to let him be one, he should be released." First of all, does any professional football team higher someone as an unskilled football player? The Dolphins are employing Culpepper as a player. Period. The only reason Culpepper would have for filing a grievance would be if he was barred from the team's facilities, as Steve McNair was in Tennessee before last season. However, that is not the case. All of the team's facilities and training equipment are still open and available to Daunte. The only thing Daunte can't do is participate in team drills, and as far as I know coaches have every right to decide how repetitions are divided. If Cam Cameron doesn't feel like giving valuable practice repetitions to Culpepper since he's no longer in the team's plans rather than to a developing guy like John Beck, then that should be his prerogative. I don't see how the NFLPA can force a coach to give reps to someone.

Additionally, even though Culpepper said he was medically cleared to practice by his surgeon, it's still the team's decision to ultimately decide his health-status.

I have been a vocal supporter of Culpepper during his stint in Miami. He did everything he could to rehabilitate his knee in an effort to come back and lead the Dolphins. But there's a new regime in town and it has made its decision on who will lead this team - Trent Green. I respect Daunte for the tireless work he put in for Miami, but it's time to move on. In a perfect world for Daunte, the team would simply release him and let him sign with another team.

But they don't have to do that, and they shouldn't do that. He is still under contract to the Miami Dolphins and this organization should exhaust every opportunity to gain some value from him - even if it is just a late-round draft pick. It would be nice to do right by Daunte and release him, but the main task of GM Randy Mueller is to do right by the Miami Dolphins, and that would mean getting value for a guy like Culpepper.

It's been made public that the Jacksonville Jaguars have expressed some interest in Culpepper, and that makes a lot of sense. Even though Byron Leftwich is the declared starter, it's pretty clear that he holds a tenuous grasp on that role at best. Also, Daunte Culpepper fan Mike Tice is the Jaguar's assistant head coach. Tice coached Culpepper in Minnesota where he was elected to three Pro Bowls. Unfortunately, Culpepper has said that he will not allow himself to be traded by refusing to restructure his contract. It doesn't appear that there's a whole lot of interest for Culpepper other than from the Jaguars, however. If that really is the case, then Culpepper is misguided in thinking that becoming a free agent is going to create a battle between teams for his services and thus driving up his market price. If he really wants to compete for a starting job, he should just accept a trade to the Jaguars and get settled in there. Cameron has already stated that he is fully prepared to hold onto Culpepper into training camp which is in late July. If Daunte stubbornly hangs on that long, then he is self-sabotaging his goal of starting this season.

I understand the sympathy for Culpepper's situation. I feel for him myself. But as a Dolphins fan, I would never want the team to put the interests of a single player over the interests of the team as a whole.

Here's to hoping that Daunte backs off his stance, and a trade gets done. In the end, it's probably what's best for both sides.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sunday Minicamp Wrap-Up

Here's a recap of what went on during Sunday's minicamp practice and the news that has filtered out afterwards:


First Team Offense
QB Trent Green/QB Cleo Lemon (alternating) RB Ronnie Brown
TE David Martin WR Chris Chambers WR Marty Booker WR Kelly Campbell
LT Vernon Carey LG Chris Liwienski C Samson Satele RG Rex Hadnot RT L.J. Shelton

(WR Ted Ginn and WR Derek Hagan are working with the second-team offense.)

* As far as the first-team defense goes, DE Jason Taylor and LB Zach Thomas have been sitting out the team drills as an exercise in caution so as to avoid injury. That's definitely a smart move. Those two guys certainly don't need to go through minicamp drills and risk injury - they know what they're doing out there.

* LB Joey Porter sat out of Sunday's practice due to back spasms. G Joe Toledo (foot), T Anthony Alabi (knee), DT Chase Page (hamstring), CB Andre' Goodman (shoulder), and WR Kerry Reed all sat out and rode the stationary bikes. Toledo is scheduled to undergo surgery on his broken foot this week, and he hopes to be ready to go by the start of training camp.


* As advertised, P Brandon Fields has a very strong leg. The only thing he's going to have to prove now is consistency and accuracy.

* QB Trent Green is showing a very quick release.

Sources: Palm Beach Post

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Saturday Afternoon Minicamp

Greg Bedard at the Palm Beach Post is continuing his live blogging at this afternoon's minicamp. Here's the most important stuff to know:


* In addition to T Joe Toledo (foot), T Anthony Alabi (knee), and CB Andre' Goodman (shoulder), the following players are also sitting out and riding the stationary bikes: DT Keith Traylor (rest), DE Chase Page (right knee), WR Kerry Reed, and FB Kyle Eckel. WR Az-Zahir Hakim sustained a minor leg injury.

* Trent Green is the first-team QB again and Chris Liwienski is the first-team LG. QB Gibran Hamdan is working with the third-team offense ahead of QB John Beck.


* CB Jason Allen looks a little better but is still struggling in coverage. CB Will Allen, on the other hand, is looking very good.

* WR Chris Chambers and WR David Sutton are doing a good job during the 10-yard end zone fade pass drills. WR Ted Ginn doesn't look comfortable at that part of the field.

Saturday Morning Minicamp

Greg Bedard at the Palm Beach Post is live blogging again from the Dolphins minicamp today. Here's the most important info from the morning practice:


First Team Offense
QB Trent Green
LT Vernon Carey LG Drew Mormino C Samson Satele RG Rex Hadnot RT L.J. Shelton

(QB Cleo Lemon is with the second team; QB John Beck is with the third team. QB Daunte Culpepper is not on the field.)

* T Joe Toledo (foot), T Anthony Alabi (knee), and CB Andre' Goodman (shoulder) are all sitting out. DE Jason Taylor and LB Zach Thomas are sitting out the team drills, most likely for rest. LB Channing Crowder is manning Thomas' MLB spot, while LB Derrick Pope takes over Crowder's WLB position, and DE Abraham Wright is substituting for Taylor.

* LG Drew Mormino was replaced in the first team offense by LG Chris Liwienski after he committed a false start penalty.


* CB Jason Allen continues to look shaky.

* WR Derek Hagan is running good, precise routes and catching the ball well.

* The quarterback play from Trent Green and John Beck has been very unimpressive. The offensive line has also been "absolutely atrocious."

* RB Lorenzo Booker looks just as quick and agile as advertised.

Daunte Culpepper Update:

* The NFL Players Association is now reviewing Daunte's situation to make sure no union laws are being broken. Cam Cameron said that he is prepared to hold onto Culpepper into training camp so that a trade can be worked out.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Friday Afternoon Minicamp

I'm making a new post for the afternoon minicamp. See the post below to get caught up on what happened this morning. Greg Bedard is continuing his live blog at the Palm Beach Post.

Daunte Culpepper Updates:

* Culpepper is still a Dolphin, as of 3:50 P.M. He is not on the field for the afternoon practices, however. This is to be expected since he said he was done with any on-field work.


First Team Offense
QB Cleo Lemon FB Cory Schlesinger RB Ronnie Brown
TE David Martin WR Chris Chambers WR Marty Booker
LT Vernon Carey LG Drew Mormino C Samson Satele RG Rex Hadnot RT L.J. Shelton

(QB Trent Green also saw work with the first-team.)

Second Team Offense
QB John Beck RB Lorenzo Booker H-Back Aaron Halterman
TE Jason Rader WR Ted Ginn
LT Julius Wilson LG Chris Liwienski C Johnathan Ingram RG Tala Esera RT Mike Rosenthal

First Team Defense (Dime Package)
LE Joey Porter DT Matt Roth DT Vonnie Holliday RE Abraham Wright
LB Channing Crowder
CB Jason Allen CB Travis Daniels CB Will Allen
S/LB Yeremiah Bell S Renaldo Hill S Cameron Worrell

(Jason Taylor is not participating in team drills, but he doesn't appear to be injured.)


* G Joe Toledo (foot), T Anthony Alabi (knee), DT Keith Traylor (ankle), and CB Andre' Goodman (shoulder) are riding the stationary bikes or watching from the sideline. WR Marty Booker sustained a minor injury, but he seems fine. LB Joey Porter practiced with a brace on his right knee.

* QB Trent Green showed a good arm and threw tight spirals. QB John Beck looks more confident than he was during the last minicamp.

* WR Ted Ginn is showing good athleticism and agility, but he's dropped several passes on comeback routes. WR Chris Chambers is looking dominant, and WR David Sutton is also coming on nicely. RB Ronnie Brown is catching the ball well.

* CB Jason Allen is allowing a lot of completions.

Friday Morning Minicamp

Note: I will be updating this post throughout the day as news comes out about this minicamp, so keep checking back.

The Palm Beach Post is posting live updates concerning today's minicamp. Here's the most important information to know:


First Team Offense
QB Cleo Lemon RB Ronnie Brown FB Cory Schlesinger
TE David Martin WR Chris Chambers WR Marty Booker
LT Vernon Carey LG Drew Mormino C Samson Satele RG Rex Hadnot RT L.J. Shelton

Second Team Offense
QB Trent Green RB Lorenzo Booker FB Reagan Mauia
TE Justin Peelle WR Derek Hagan WR Kelly Campbell
LT Tala Esera LG Chris Liwienski C Johnathan Ingram RG Dan Stevenson RT Julius Wilson

(QB Daunte Culpepper was on the field and doing drills on the side. However, in the middle of throwing, he was escorted off the field by the team's head of security. There's been no word yet, but that probably means a trade has been worked out or he has been released. Stay tuned for updates.)

* RB Patrick Cobbs is working with the third-team.

First Team Defense (Nickel Package)
DE Jason Taylor DT Vonnie Holliday DT Rodrique Wright DE Matt Roth
LB Zach Thomas LB Joey Porter
S Renaldo Hill CB Will Allen CB Travis Daniels CB Will Allen S Yeremiah Bell

Second Team Defense
DE Rodrique Wright DT Paul Soliai DT Fred Evans DE Abraham Wright

(DT Keith Traylor started the practice on the sideline, but later joined the first-team, substituting for Wright. LB Derrick Pope substituted with Zach Thomas for some drills.)


* G Joe Toledo (foot), T Anthony Alabi (knee), and CB Andre' Goodman (shoulder) are out. Cam Cameron has said that Toledo requires surgery to repair a broken bone in his foot. There is currently no timetable for his return. It is looking more and more likely that Toledo is turning into the Will Poole of the offensive line - lots of upside and talent, but never healthy enough to stay on the field and show it. Alabi is expected to be healthy by the start of training camp.

* WR Ted Ginn is on the field practicing. He is wearing a regular jersey as opposed to a cautionary red one. He has a bit of a limp, but that's probably to be expected at this point. He is the starting punt-returner during drills. Punts are being taken in this order: Ted Ginn, Az-Zahir Hakim, Marty Booker, Lorenzo Booker, Travis Daniels, Kelly Campbell, and Chris Chambers. Cameron said that Ginn is over 90% recovered from his sprained foot.

Culpepper Updates:

* After being told that he would only receive reps during one-on-one drills, Culpepper left the field of his own volition, choosing instead to use the weight room. He said he would not participate in any more of the team's minicamp activities, and will instead work out in the weight room to get stronger.

* Despite a rumor that Culpepper had been traded to the Jaguars, he said that he will refuse to restructure his contract and thus essentially block any trade from occurring unless another team is willing to take on his existing contract. Here's a quote from Daunte:

“I am going to force them to release me because I will not be traded. My mind’s not going to change about this. I’m not going to agree to be traded. All I’m going to say to any team that’s interested in my services, just sit tight. Because I’m not going to agree to a trade."

* According to PFT, Adam Schefter of the NFL Network says that Culpepper won't be released this weekend or "anytime soon," but a trade could happen at any time.

Soliai signed

The team signed yet another of its draft picks to a deal on Thursday. DT Paul Soliai signed a four-year contract. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. He is the sixth draft pick signed by Miami, leaving only four picks left to sign. Soliai will probably be gradually worked into the defensive line rotation, subbing in as one of Keith Traylor's backups (in addition to Fred Evans) before eventually taking over for him full time in the future.

Negotiations with sixth-round draft pick G Drew Mormino are currently ongoing.

Here is my post-draft write-up of Paul Soliai:

Round 4 (108) - DT Paul Soliai, Utah
Weighing in at 345 pounds, Soliai is one big dude. I really think that Miami got great value at this spot. He's not going to record a bunch of sacks, but he has a great chance of becoming a fine NT in the mold of Keith Traylor. He has the ability to clog running lanes and he can easily take on two blockers. He's not a pass-rushing threat, but he wasn't brought in to be one. He clogs up the middle of the field, pure and simple.

Expectations: This was one of my favorite picks in the draft. Miami got such great value here in the fourth round. As a rookie, Soliai will most likely be part of a rotation as he polishes his skills, but with Traylor's injury history and age, it's very likely that he will be pressed into action later in the season. After Traylor is gone, look for Soliai to step right in and fill the NT position more than adequately.

Other news of note:

* The team is expected to release Daunte Culpepper before today's minicamp unless they can find a trade partner overnight.

* WR Ted Ginn practiced at the Dolphins facility on Thursday, and he is now allowed to participate in all Dolphins-related activities since Ohio State has concluded its final exams. It's uncertain to what degree he will participate in this weekend's minicamps due to his foot injury.

* Director of Pro Personnel George Paton left the Dolphins to take a similar position with the Vikings.

* Check out this article over at the Bleacher Report. It's a look at the Trent Green situation with some ironic humor thrown in.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Culpepper demands his release

A day after the Miami Dolphins brought in Trent Green and told Daunte Culpepper that he is no longer in their plans, the deposed quarterback gave the front office a written request asking the team to immediately release him.

While it is very probable that he will no longer be on the team come this weekend, the team is currently trying to trade him for a low-round draft pick. The front office has given him permission to speak to other teams about a trade. Interested teams are speculated to be the Jaguars, Patriots, Rams, and Lions. If he isn't released by the weekend, Culpepper said that he plans on taking part in the minicamp practices. The Dolphins would like to avoid this situation, since if Culpepper suffers an injury in the minicamp, the team would then be responsible for his $5.5 million salary this year.

I hope that the team will hold onto him long enough to secure a deal with another team for a draft pick and not cut ties with him out of fear. This situation is sure to heat up very quickly so stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Green passes physical; possible interest in Milford Brown

Here are some updates on the Trent Green situation.

According to the Sun-Sentinel, Green passed his physical examination for the Dolphins today, completing the trade. According to John Clayton at ESPN, Green is expected to sign a three-year contract worth between $4 and $5 million a year.

As for the performance incentives that Green will have to reach in order for the conditional fifth-round pick to be upgraded to a fourth-round pick, the plateau is for Green to play 70% of Miami's offensive snaps. That's a condition that will most likely be reached unless Green were to suffer an injury that keeps him out of numerous games.

Daunte Culpepper, meanwhile, was told by Randy Mueller and Cam Cameron that the team has made its decision to go in another direction at quarterback. He was also told that the team is actively trying to trade him. The only problem is that Daunte doesn't want to be traded. He wants to be released so that he can become a free agent. He can potentially refuse to restructure his contract so that a trade can only happen if the interested team is willing to pay his full salary which is quite pricey for a player who has questions lingering around him.

As for Green, his former coach Dick Vermeil had this to say about him: "I think he can play at least two more years, if he has a good supporting cast(emphasis added)." Problem is, he most likely won't have a very good supporting cast. While the Dolphins offense may be improving, it's certainly nothing spectacular. The offensive line, in particular, can't hold a candle to what Green was accustomed to playing behind in Kansas City with Hall of Fame-caliber players like Willie Roaf and Will Shields. If that's the case, then it will be very interesting (and critical to Miami's slim chances of making the playoffs) to watch how Green functions alongside his new Dolphins teammates.


There are some reports that the Dolphins are interested in signing G Milford Brown who played for the Arizona Cardinals last season. If brought in, he would likely compete with Chris Liwienski for the starting LG spot.

That LG spot is the glaring weakness on the line. I don't have a lot of confidence in Liwienski to be a solid starter, and I don't think that Brown is that much better. It would be nice to think that Joe Toledo could fill that spot once he's healthy, but that is really unknown at this point.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Green Deal Gets Done...Finally

The deal that has seemingly been existing in permanent limbo since the offseason began has finally been consummated. Trent Green is now a Miami Dolphin.

The price? A conditional 2008 fifth-round draft pick that could become a fourth-round pick if Green plays a certain amount of time. The trade will be completed once Green passes a physical exam for the Dolphins.

I've made my opinions on this situation clear in the past. I am a fan of Trent Green, and I am even more of a fan now that he will be wearing Miami's colors this season. However, I think Miami really made a mistake in paying the price they did for Green. See my previous commentary article explaining why I don't think Green was worth a draft pick, especially not a fourth or even a fifth-round pick. That article says everything I have to say about the price Miami paid. I think Chiefs GM Carl Peterson ended up getting the better end of the deal even though it seemed like Miami had most of the leverage throughout the stalemate.

But that's all water under the bridge at this point, I suppose.

It's now time to look forward towards the teams next minicamp which begins on Friday. And wouldn't you know, Daunte Culpepper just received clearance from his surgeon and from team doctors that he could begin practicing on Wednesday and will be able to fully participate in the minicamp this weekend. Unfortunately, we all know that he won't be getting a true opportunity to prove himself to this coaching staff. More realistically, he will be performing for other teams who may be interested in his services. Hopefully, Miami is able to salvage some value from this situation by trading Daunte for a draft pick. There has been some speculation that Miami has been looking for trade partners already. Possible trade partners could be the Rams or the Jaguars. Unfortunately, Miami probably doesn't want to hold on to Culpepper for too long, now that Green is in town, and they may release him if a trade can't be worked out quickly.

Don't get me wrong. I think Green will be a great fit for Miami's offense. I just think the team is being done a disservice by not allowing Culpepper to compete for the starting job. He may yet return to his old-form. Not one of us knows if he will, but there is that possibility. It's as if the team is holding a lottery ticket, but they are choosing to throw it out before the numbers are even called. The chances may not be great, but there is a chance. I would feel a lot better about the situation if the front office can recoup a draft pick by striking a deal with a team looking for a potential starter or solid backup with plenty of starting experience.

But mostly, I feel sympathy for Daunte. He's given every ounce of his determination and effort in an attempt to rebuild himself for the Miami Dolphins. It seems disingenuous to cut ties with him right when he's on the cusp of making a full return.

To sum everything up, I would like to restate the words that I wrote at the very first signs of Miami's interest in Green:
"I don't think it would be a bad move if the Phins were to get Green, but it wouldn't be the best move, either." That sentiment is only intensified by the price that Miami ended up paying.

Trent, welcome to Miami. You have a true supporter in myself, and I hope that your play this year will end up making that draft pick the Dolphins gave up for you seem like a bargain.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Joey Porter: NFL's Most Overrated Player?

Pete Prisco, at CBS SportsLine, recently wrote an article discussing the league's most overrated and underrated players. His conclusion: new Dolphins acquisition Joey Porter is the most overrated player in the NFL. His reasoning is as follows:
  • The five-year, $32 million contract with $20 million in guaranteed money that he received from Miami is far too much for a 30-year old linebacker.
  • Porter has become a big-name player more for his notorious demeanor than for his play on the field.
  • Porter's seven sacks last year are misleading since six of them came in three games. In the eleven other games that he played in, he only recorded one sack.
So, is Prisco right in calling Porter the most overrated player in the NFL? Well, I certainly agree that he is overrated to some extent, but I wouldn't go as far as calling him the most overrated.

What is it that makes a player overrated? In most cases, it is a personality or image that exceeds the player's abilities on the field. The "overrated" label is tailor-made for guys like Joey Porter, whose rambunctious, energetic, ferocious, and fiery personality are more widely known amongst the general football-watching population than his potent pass-rushing skills and leadership qualities. When a player willingly creates an image like Porter has, they are fashioning themselves as a target for criticism if they don't play at a Hall of Fame level every game. If they are going to talk the talk, they had best walk the walk at all times, or as we see here, they will be called overrated. If Zach Thomas saw his play and production slip for a stretch of time, would people call him out as overrated? I think not, and that's because Thomas never brings attention to himself through his words. The general public hardly notices Thomas' production until the end of the year when they notice that he's compiled the most tackles in the NFL for the umpteenth time. I'm not criticizing Porter's personality - it is, after all, what makes him such an effective leader - but we must realize that any player who chooses to act like he does, accepts the reality of being under the microscope of criticism at all times.

Another aspect of the "overrated" label is a player's salary. Prisco's argument that Porter is overpaid is a valid one. The counter-argument that I would offer is that the massive increase in teams' salary caps has resulted in huge salary increases across the board. Miami had enough room to sign one top-tier free agent this offseason, and no offensive player was deemed worthy of the kind of money that Porter eventually received. They had the money to spend, so they made sure that they locked up Porter before he could visit any other teams. The total amount of money being paid out is probably too much for a 30-year old linebacker, but not by a huge amount. Even though the most important thing for a player is his production on the field, his play will always be measured against the portion of the salary cap that he consumes. Porter may come in and play very well for Miami, but $20 million in guaranteed money is going to lead to some very over-inflated expectations for his output. That too is setting Porter up to be labeled overrated.

Prisco then moves on to Porter's actual game play. The point that he makes about his seven sacks last year is a good point. Tallying six sacks in three games and only one sack in his eleven other games is the height of inconsistency. If that trend continues, Miami fans will have reason to be disappointed. But Prisco is only looking at one year of Porter's career. Last year, Porter battled hamstring issues for much of the season, and he missed two games as a result. It's understandable that his production was erratic. I also must note this completely absurd quote from Prisco's article: According to an AFC personnel director, "3-4 outside linebacker[s]...are expected to get double-digit sacks at the least(emphasis added)." Are you kidding me? Let's take a look at last year's Pro Bowl outside linebackers:
  • Adalius Thomas - in seven years has only one season with double-digit sacks. Averages only 5.5 sacks/year.
  • Shawne Merriman - in two seasons has tallied double-digit sacks both years. Some place an asterisk next to his stats since he was suspended for four games for taking steroids.
  • Terrell Suggs - in four years, has tallied double-digit sacks twice.
  • DeMarcus Ware - in two seasons, recorded double-digit sacks once.
  • Julian Peterson - in seven seasons has only one season with double-digit sacks. Averages only 4.5 sacks/year.
  • Derrick Brooks - in twelve seasons has never recorded double-digit sacks. Averages only 1.125 sacks/year.
  • Lance Briggs - in four seasons has never recorded double-digit sacks. He has only 3.5 sacks in four years.
Those are all great players, and to say that they are expected at the very least to get double-digit sacks year in and year out is absolutely stupid. During every season in which he has played at least 15 games (other than his rookie season), Joey Porter has managed to record at least seven sacks and averages 9.2 sacks. He has two seasons with more than 10 sacks. To call someone overrated because they don't reach double-digit sack totals is ridiculous. Only six linebackers (both middle and outside; seven including Jason Taylor) recorded double-digit sack totals last season. If every team has two starting outside linebackers, that means there are 64 starting outside linebackers in the NFL. If only seven linebackers total (11% of OLBs) are recording double-digit sacks, there's no way that should be an expected plateau.

A more important fact, in my opinion, is the amazing consistency of greatness that Porter has showed throughout his 8-year career. For instance:
  • Over his eight years, Porter has averaged 56 tackles, 5 passes defensed, 7.5 sacks, 2.25 forced fumbles, and 1.25 interceptions. That's a good stat sheet by itself.
  • Here's his average stats if his rookie season is taken out of the equation: 61 tackles, 6 PD, 8.25 sacks, 2.42 FF, and 1.43 INTs. That's an even better stat line.
  • Most importantly, here's his average stats for his last three seasons, a better indicator than just last season for how he'll fare this year: 55 tackles, 7 PD, 8.2 sacks, 2.3 FF, and 1.7 INTs.
The most amazing thing about all those stat lines? Their consistency. Even though Porter recently turned 30, there's absolutely no reason to think that he will suddenly hit a brick wall. Zach Thomas is three years older and hasn't showed any signs of slowing as a key member of the Dolphins defense. Jason Taylor is two years older and he seems to get better with age. I'm not saying that Joey Porter is equal to either of those two stalwarts, but the 30 year mark is not as damaging to linebackers as it is to runningbacks, for example.

Another thing that's lost in all this talk of Porter as the most overrated player in the NFL is the leadership that he brings to the team. The Dolphins have lacked a fiery leader like Porter for some time now. He's also as durable as they come, having missed only 6 games over eight years. His addition immediately gives Miami one of the top three linebacking corps in the league. Being surrounded by players like Thomas and Taylor might make Porter even better. That much remains to be seen, however.

Final Conclusion: Is Joey Porter overrated? Yes, but mostly due to his own personality rather than a significant drop-off in play. Most overrated? Not in my opinion. I'd give that label to somebody like Michael Vick, Brett Favre or Terrell Owens.