Dolphins Training Camp, Day Four: Pennington struggles, the line gets shuffled & the WR battle heats up

There was only one practice down in Davie on Wednesday.  But there's still plenty to talk about.  And it must have been a tough practice physically, as the heat index in South Florida rose to over 100 degrees on Wednesday afternoon.  Below are some talking points.

Oh - and don't forget to check back later for an updated version of my "depth chart bubble watch."

CHAD PENNINGTON HAS A ROUGH DAY
Every quarterback goes through days like this.  The only reason this is really headline news in Miami is because of how well - and how efficient - Chad Pennington performed in 2008.  But Pennington was "un-CP10" like today.  Perhaps Omar Kelly described it best, writing, "For the first time since he's been a Dolphin Chad Pennington played as good as three-day-old fish smells, and tastes."

Pennington was overthrowing open receivers.  He had some issues taking the snap from center.  He took sacks.  And depending on who you talk to, Chad threw either one (according to Palm Beach Post) or two (according to Sun-Sentinel) interceptions.  Now that is very uncharacteristic of CP10.

Of course, it wasn't all bad for Pennington.  He made a few good throws, too - including a 40+ yard touchdown to Anthony Armstrong (more on him in a minute).  But overall, this was probably his worst training camp practice as a Dolphin.  With that said, I'm not worried at all about Pennington.

BATTLE FOR FINAL WR SPOT HEATING UP
For the past few days, we've been hearing very good things about Brandon London.  On the other hand, his top competitor for the final receiver spot, Anthony Armstrong, was relatively quiet.  Well that changed on Wednesday.

Armstrong finally made a big play, catching a 40 yard touchdown pass from Chad Pennington - beating Eric Green (who is currently working as a starter).  And Omar Kelly wrote that both Pennington and Chad Henne are finding Armstrong more often now following the release of Brennan Marion.  Armstrong was open a lot more often on Wednesday - but was overthrown a couple of times by Miami's quarterbacks.

Meanwhile, Brandon London is still playing well.  London beat Will Billingsley on one play - but the pass was incomplete as Pat White's throw was a little behind Brandon.  Brandon also continues to make plays during the one-on-one receiver vs. cornerback drills. 

Look for this battle to go down to the wire.  And what's interesting is that there seems to be a divide between Dolphin fans as to who they are pulling for.  But in the end, I get the feeling Armstrong is really going to have to impress simply because he isn't much of a special teams contributor while London is one of the team's best coverage guys.

THE LINES GET SHUFFLED
Last year, the coaching staff didn't start "experimenting" with different players on different units until the second week of camp.  But Tony Sparano and company started early this year.  Shawn Murphy, who had been working as the starting right guard, worked with the 2nd team on Wednesday.  Joe Berger, who is the team's primary backup center, spent most of Wednesday replacing Murphy at RG.  But Murphy did get some reps with the 1st unit just before the end of practice.

On the defensive side, offseason acquisition Tony McDaniel worked with the first team at defensive end for the second consecutive day replacing Phillip Merling.  What's always interesting to note, though, is how the "demoted" player reacts when he's sent down.  And according to Omar Kelly, Merling has been making plays as part of the second unit.

Look for more of this "experimenting" to continue between now and the first preseason game on August 17.

ODDS & ENDS

  • Vontae Davis picked off a long Chad Pennington pass intended for Brandon London - showcasing his closing speed.
  • Donald Thomas was back at practice - but didn't work too much as he eases back into things.
  • Brian Hartline - a very criticized pick around these parts - has put together back-to-back great days of practice.  He followed up a good day yesterday by making the catch of the day today - a diving TD catch from Chad Henne.  He also made a lunging catch from Chad Pennington and caught a deep pass down the middle of the field from Pat White.  Right now, Hartline is hot and it doesn't matter which of the three quarterbacks are throwing to him.  He's making plays consistently right now.

UP NEXT
The Dolphins have two practices tomorrow - one at 9 am and one at 5 pm.  Both are open to the public - weather permitting.

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