Before getting to some quick Dolphins training camp observations, let me just say having been attending TC at least once a year since Saban, this was by far the oddest practice I've experienced. What seemed like a fun night early on took a weird twist from the bleachers. Though I left with a sour taste in my mouth, my tempers have been cooled by an observation in this post regarding the previous day's practice which states practice was held on the far field. A bit on that later. First, some football...
QB Battle: Overall they performed as can be expected. The first drill was two QBs at once taking snaps and throwing to their respective side of the field and as the drill progressed the receivers would run different routes. Mostly short to intermediate patterns. For the most part they all completed their passes aside from some passes on outs toward the sideline, but hopefully that comes with more practice.
Chad Henne: Overall hit most of his passes. One play that struck me as odd was him pat the ball and hesitate to throw while Matt Moore, who would throw together with Henne throughout the drill, just threw. Perhaps a receiver I did not see missed a route due to me watching through binoculars, but still the patting struck me as odd in a drill where he should just be letting it go.
Matt Moore: Compared to Henne, looked a bit quicker in his drop. Maybe his first day on the field and he's going a bit fast, but if he plays quicker like that it could mean getting into his reads quicker and possibly getting the ball out of there quicker.
The second set of passing drills involved deeper passes with one-on-one coverage.
Chad Henne: Completed most of his passes, though still underthrown on a few.
Matt Moore: A bit more accurate in his deep throws. The receiver usually doesn't have to come under the DB to make the catch. Even on well-covered plays, the receiver either catches in stride or in the air, but the ball is on target. (Sidenote: I feel overall the WRs had a nice night. Made some nice catches out there, limited drops. Julius Pruitt stood out for me and Clyde Gates looks fast out there. Nice job by that group tonight.)
Pat Devlin: He actually impressed me some on the deep throws. Had good touch and mostly completions.
Finally, some scrimmage...
Chad Henne: Was actually doing OK with passes over the middle. Seemed to struggle some with plays designed to move him around. I know the Fins last year liked running that roll-out with Henne to get him outside the pocket, and even though he completed some short passes in this situation tonight, it just never completely looks fluid. He also underthrew a few, particularly on one play where Brian Hartline had to come back between two defenders and catch an intermediate pass. A nice catch, yes, but a bad throw.
Matt Moore: In contrast with my point about Henne, Moore seemed to move around the pocket a bit better. One play in particular he made a shifty move avoiding a right side pass rush, broke contain a bit and made a nice throw on the move. But not all roses. I'm sure being his first action on the field, he sometimes looked a little slow getting the ball out. Probably just learning reads and patterns in this new system. One play, though, JT got to him quick and untouched and would've certainly been a sack. It was fun to see. I do hope Matt gets more time taking first-team reps as he took part in drills almost exclusively with the second unit, but its his first day, so I didn't expect different.
Overall, they did fine as a group, even if not spectacular. One thought that crossed my mind is none from this group seemed to gain some good chemistry with Brandon Marshall. His catches were either leading him towards the sideline or just not in space where he can possibly gain some YAC. Not a stand-out night for him.
-Though JT may be older and he'll have a limited role on his team, he still moves well out there in contact drills.
-Reggie Bush looks quick out there. Daniel Thomas also looks strong. One play in particular he blasted right through the hole and was in the secondary before you knew it. Personally though, RB is always hard to gauge in practice since defenses aren't going full out. But overall they looked OK.
-Nice to see JT working with Cam Wake off to the side for a bit, discussing different swim moves and hand slaps during pass rush. Pass on that knowledge, Ol' Skool!
-Defensive coverages for the most part were on point. No receivers left running free out there. During the scrimmage portion, at one point the defense seemed to be throwing blitz packages at the offense and you could see the effects, as the QBs had trouble getting the ball out in a timely fashion. Hopefully the D plays that quick all year.
-Oddly (and the kickers + John Denney were the only players practicing on the near field), I noticed DC$ sorta pooching some kickoffs, which are from the 35 now, starting this year I do believe. I know the NFL is trying to avoid player injuries during high-speed special teams collisions, and certainly a closer kickoff would somewhat limit runbacks, but its almost as if they had him practice trying to land the ball near the goal-line to induce a runback. Perhaps a strategy to gain a few yards in field position by not automatically giving them a touchback. Interesting.
And then in the weird department... I'm not sure if fan backlash at Monday's practice is behind this or not, but as to what I was speaking about at the beginning of this post, the crowd became very restless as they realized we would not get any action on the near field, aside from the aforementioned trio of Carpenter, Fields, and Denney. Even sarcastic chants of "We Love Henne" were started as a plea to bring practice to the near field. Again, I'm now kinda dismissing all this knowing what I know about practice also being on the far field the day before, but it just seemed a bit suspicious after what happened at Sunlife Stadium Monday night with the booing and the subsequent Sparano reaction. Some suggested he kept the team away from the crowd out of spite or to protect his guys, but it even warranted a team official, along with a policeman, coming to the fence near where I was seated where a particular fan was getting loud with taunts at Sparano. Apparently the team official was explaining how they supposedly alternate fields day to day or maybe it was that the near field was in poor condition, even though it didn't rain all day and the defense worked on the near field at the start of practice. I honestly find this as a lame excuse if that is what he truly told the unruly fan. In my few years now attending Fins camp, they've always used both fields and usually run the scrimmage portion on the near field.
Coincidentally, another gentleman gave the team official an earful as he exited about half way through the practice and while the official was still speaking with the unruly fan. Obviously some fans were very upset. Hopefully there is a good explanation, because at the time it seemed spiteful to not have the team practice on the near field on a night with a full house and where the new FAs are getting their first action, a night highly anticipated by these football-starved fans in attendance. So basically, we wanted to see some action and got this...
Anyways, hope this info gives you little fill. I apologize if I couldn't get more into detail but again, the practice being so far away, I was mostly watching through binoculars and thus not able to gain perspective on plays or coverages as a whole or get any good pictures for that matter. Either way, it was good to see guys in pads running around.
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