Incase you've been living under a rock for the past 48 hours, you know that the main story of this weekend for the Dolphins was their rookie mini-camp, the first one of 2008. And with it's conclusion on Sunday, there's really only one thing that Dolphin fans (and football fans in general) are thinking: Football season can't get here soon enough. All this weekend's mini-camp really did was wet my appetite for, of course, more football. But we'll have to wait a little bit for that.
Here are some of the storylines that came out of this weekend's mini-camp:
A NEW ERA HAS BEGUN
For Tony Sparano, this weekend really marked the beginning of what will hopefully be a successful head coaching career. And he was just as excited as anyone to get on the practice field for the first time. On Friday, Sparano shared with the media:
"It was great. I was excited; didn’t sleep much last night. All of the administrative stuff for me, from that standpoint, was put behind me last evening and I was excited to get out here and get on the field."
And with that, a brand new era kicked off in Miami for the 2nd time in as many years. But as Dolphin fans, we're all hoping this one is different. And we're hoping it's long-term.
The good news is that it does seem different right now. In all of Sparano's press briefings the past few days, he's shown us all that he is indeed a "football guy." He's not going to put spin on anything like Cam Cameron did. And he doesn't seem like a blatant liar like Nick Saban. Instead, he comes off as a person who is just excited to be on the field again and who will tell it like it is. How refreshing is that?
Take the following as a good example of this. On Saturday, Sparano was asked what jumped out the most after watching the tape of Friday's practice. Sparano could have said something like "great effort." But he didn't. He said:
"I think what I saw last night after viewing the film is I saw, clearly in my mind, we had some guys who lacked some stamina, some conditioning and some of those things. As we got on in practice, you could see that show up. And the point I just tried to make to them in the meeting this morning is that this is just a small sample of what’s going to happen and what lies ahead."
Then to further make a point about conditioning, Sparano had this to say about the signing of UDFA Anthony Toribio:
"Honestly, I think one of the things, and to his credit certainly not to ours, he came in here and he was in outstanding shape."
That's right. It seems we got a no-nonsense, straight-shooter in Miami. It's about damn time if you ask me. Let's just hope things turn out differently under this head coach than they have under the team's previous 3 or 4.
DAVONE BESS IMPRESSES
One of the hot topics entering this mini-camp was which of the undrafted free agents that the Dolphins brought in would take this opportunity to stand out from everyone else. The answer? Hawaii WR Davone Bess. And this doesn't come as a shock to me because, like many, I thought the signing of Bess following the draft was an outstanding move.
The Pam Beach Post writes that the Dolphins new offensive coordinator, Dan Henning, is really taken a liking to Bess:
Offensive coordinator Dan Henning, a veteran of 28 NFL seasons, likes what he has seen from rookie wideout Davone Bess. Sure hands. Sharp routes. Nice dreads.
Henning, 65, looked to narrow the generational gap when he complimented Bess' signature blond-tipped dreadlocks during Saturday's practice.
Henning, who even asked Bess for the name of his hairdresser, may have been joking. But for Bess, it was nice to be noticed again.
Even Sparano has taken notice of this former Hawaii standout:
"I see a player that has pretty good ball skills right now. He certainly needs to do some things from a conditioning standpoint. But the one thing with him is, he has been in an offense where they are running a bunch of routes every game. I think that is a positive."
I said this once and I'll say it again because I really believe it: Davone Bess is going to be a Miami Dolphin in 2008. Call me crazy, but I really like the idea of lining up Ernest Wilford and Derek Hagan on the outside and Teddy Ginn and Bess in the slots when Miami goes with 4 wide receivers. I think that Bess' quick-twitch ability will really allow him to effectively work the middle of the field to get open. Many NFL corners will have some issues with how quick Bess can get in and out of his breaks. Just watch his Hawaii highlights and you can see a player who runs good routes and who knows how to get open. And I don't care who it's against. The ability to effectively get open is something that you really can't teach. Bess just has a great feel for the game.
Here are a few other things that came out of camp:
-Chad Henne had a tough day on Sunday but that's to be expected.
-Jake Long is showing why he was a number 1 pick. Many reports all claim that he looked so much lighter on his feet than anyone else despite being the largest of all the offensive linemen participating in camp. It's early, but that's good news.
-Early reports are that Phillip Merling looked a little sluggish at times. But that's too be expected when you consider he's coming off surgery and isn't in football shape yet. He did show great strength, though, when he was taking part in drills and such.