Weekend Roundup: Talking expectations, Chad Henne & player news

I hope you all had an excellent weekend.  Though if you're an Orlando Magic fan, you probably did not.

But for Dolphin fans, there were plenty of articles to read this past weekend.  Let's catch up on some of them.

MICHAEL LOMBARDI LIKES THE DOLPHINS TO REACH PLAYOFFS ONCE AGAIN
Michael Lombardi, former NFL executive and current contributor to The National Football Post, seems to be one of the few members of the national media who gets it.  He really gets it.  He understands what the Miami Dolphins are all about.  Many out there just think of the 'Wildcat' when they think about the Dolphins.  They don't realize how the Dolphins did what they did in 2008 - putting together the greatest single-season turn-around in NFL history.

In an article that was posted on Friday, Lombardi does an excellent job of summing up who exactly the Dolphins are and why they have success.  In the post, Lombardi looks at both sides of the spectrum and tell us why the Dolphins could return to the playoffs in 2009 as well as why they might not have the ability to duplicate their '08 season.  He then wraps it up by giving us his prediction for the '09 Dolphins.  I highly recommend giving the full article a read.  But here is how Lombardi concludes his post:

The Dolphins are a very good football team — they were not just lucky last year. They are extremely well-coached, and they have incredible attention to detail, making their opponents play their best. They force their opponents to find alternative ways to win the game. They are disciplined; they have a "Born to Run" mentality to keep doing what they do well. (A "Born to Run" mentality is when teams don’t get bored doing the same things. They perform with enthusiasm, as Bruce Springsteen does every time he plays "Born to Run" in concert.)

I like the Dolphins. I like their team toughness, and I like them to be back in the playoffs next season. 

Like I said, Lombardi really "gets it."  Sure - the Dolphins aren't the most talented team on paper.  But the game is played on the field and there will never be a time when the Dolphins are not well prepared.  Assuming their execution on the field is as crisp as it can be, you will not easily defeat this team.  I think back to the team's 9-1 finish to the 2008 regular season.  The one game they did lose, it wasn't because the Dolphins were out-coached.  They simply had less talent and fell apart late in the game.  But Miami did keep the game close into the 4th quarter (it was just a 3 point game early in the 4th).

With improved play from the offensive line and the secondary in 2009, no team will be able to simply step on the field and easily dispose of this Dolphins team.  The Dolphins put together an amazing turnaround in 2008 - but there were still many holes to be filled entering this offseason.  After all, it's impossible to fix all the holes in one year when you take over a 1 win team.  If the Dolphins show the kind of improvement in 2009 that they showed in 2008, there's no reason to think that the Dolphins simply can't reach the postseason for a second consecutive season.

CHAD HENNE WILL BE READY
There was an excellent piece in the Sun-Sentinel over the weekend by Ethan Skolnick about Chad Henne.  The article really helps you get to know Henne better.  And he comes across very well as a calm, cool, and collected person both on and off the field.  Henne's fiance, Brittany Hartman, is quoted a lot in the article.  One thing she points out is how Henne handles being in a high-profile position like the QB of a big-time university:

Someday, Henne will replace Pennington, perhaps at this season's conclusion, when Pennington's contract expires. Perhaps before. If you're trying to project how he'll handle a role that requires far more than throwing passes, it's worth reviewing how he handled four seasons starting at Michigan, where he was subject to parody and scrutiny. It's worth asking the person who knows him best.

"I took it all much harder than he did," Hartman says. "He has a very even temper. He doesn't get stressed out. That's why he is in this position."

One way to judge a person is to see how they handle attention and adversity.  Jake Long says he handles it just fine:

"If we don't win a Big Ten championship or contend for a national championship, as a Michigan quarterback, you get all the blame," Long says. "Chad took a lot of stuff. He never got frazzled by it."

Now Henne expects that difficult experience to help, whenever he becomes an NFL starter. "I think I should be well-prepared for taking the stage and knowing how to handle myself on and off the field, and being in the community and learning to give back," Henne says. "We always talk about not being a celebrity quarterback. I'm not that kind of person. I'm kind of a low-key, small-town guy."

While we haven't seen much from Henne on the field in "real" game situations, Henne is certainly saying all the right things.  And I think that at least a small part of that has to be thanks to Chad Pennington, who has nothing but positive things to say about Henne:

"He’s been unbelievable. This is a very awkward situation for him too. And I’ve been in awkward situations like that. For him to come in and accept me, and the relationship that we now have. Because it is very hard to play if you feel the guy behind you is trying to undermine what you’re doing. And I’ve never felt that, from Day 1 with Chad."

DONALD THOMAS "CLOSE TO RETURNING"
There was a bit of positive injury news to come out of this weekend.  While taking part in the charity golf and fishing event this weekend, guard Donald Thomas - recovering from a torn pectoral muscle he suffered last month - believes he's making very good progress:

Thomas, who injured his chest early last month and has been held out of all OTA team activities, said he has resumed his normal weight-lifting regimen and is confident he will be ready for the start of training camp on Aug. 1.

"I don't see why [not],'' said Thomas, who had fishing assistance from defensive tackle Joe Cohen. "My timetable is now. When I'm healed up, I'm healed up. ... But [I'll be] back pretty soon though.''

This would be a major boost.  The seemingly injury-prone second-year guard really needs to participate as much as he can in training camp to make up for missing all but one game last season with his foot injury.  He was very raw coming out of UConn to begin with and could use the experience gained in camp and in exhibition games.

If Thomas can get healthy and regain his 2008 training camp form - when he impressed the coaches and even got Bill Parcells to reportedly refer to Thomas as a "godsend" - then there's a chance we could see one hell of an offensive line in 2009.

QUICK HITS
-Center Jake Grove is reportedly making a splash at practice -exciting teammates who can't wait to see Grove play once the pads go on.  The article points out one big reason why we could expect big things from Grove is because of how rejuvenated Grove feels to get out of that hell-hole known as Oakland.

-Rookie WR Patrick Turner has reportedly been impressing his teammates at practiceChanning Crowder even said that Turner "is catching everything."  Maybe this regime knew something that all the "draft experts" didn't after all.

-As we highlighted on Friday, Channing Crowder isn't too happy with how the media seems to be writing off the Dolphins already.

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