Sunday saw the Miami Dolphins conduct their first full scrimmage of training camp, playing in front of the fans at the Dolphins' training complex at Nova Southeastern University. Less than a week ago, those fans were booing the Dolphins' quarterback, Chad Henne, and chanting, "We want Orton," a reference to the Dolphins' near trade to get Denver Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton.
On Sunday, Henne gave those same fans a reason to cheer.
Before practice, Henne and wide receiver Brandon Marshall took time to work on their communication. "In the previous practices, we just weren't on the same page," Henne explained. "We talked before practice, communicated, and got it done today."
And got it done they did.
On the opening series of the scrimmage, Henne found Marshall in the back of the endzone. Marshall, having beaten cornerback Sean Smith by a step, came down with the ball, resulting in a 29-yard touchdown.
Henne to Marshall was just getting started.
On the next play, from the 9-yard line, Henne again connected with Marshall, who beat safety Chris Clemons, once again putting six points on the board.
And, the two still weren't done.
Later in practice, going against the second team defense, second-year corner back Nolan Carroll was Marshall's victim on his third touchdown catch from Henne, this time a 20-yard strike.
Henne and Marshall finally seem to be putting their past behind them. The two publicly feuded last season, which Marshall admitted, "The way I handled it at times may not have been appropriate." Marshall recently revealed he was diagnosed during the offseason with Borderline Personality Disorder, one symptom of which is trouble dealing with others and relationships.
Henne found Marshall one more time in the endzone, but Marshall dropped the ball, with assistance from Carroll's defense.
The Dolphins demonstrated some of their new "explosive" offense, with several multiple wide receiver formations. Several times, Marshall lined up with Davone Bess, Brian Hartline, and Reggie Bush, with Henne successfully spreading the ball among his targets.
Henne finished the day going 10-for-15, for 146 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. The pick, on a throw from the six yard line, would have resulted in six points the other direction if linebacker Karlos Dansby had been allowed to return it.
However, Dansby got beat badly on a pass from Henne to Bush. Running a simple slant route, Bush just ran away from the linebacker, turning a 7 yard pass into what would have been a big gain.
The offense wasn't the only unit to find success on Sunday, however. Along with Dansby's interception, the Dolphins defense found several ways to make plays during the scrimmage. Linebacker Cameron Wake recorded a sack. Linebacker Jason Taylor, who abused every right tackle put in front of him, had two passes defensed and a quarterback hurry. Defensive end Jared Odrick recorded a tackle for a loss when he caught wide receiver Brian Hartline in the backfield on a screen pass. Safety Yermiah Bell recorded a sack.
Kicker Dan Carpenter went 6-for-6 on field goals.
Dolphins' first round draft choice, center Mike Pouncey, had trouble with one snap during the scrimmage, but otherwise impressed. "Mike did things from a recognition standpoint that he didn't do two days ago," Head Coach Tony Sparano said after practice.
Quarterback Matt Moore, who was brought in to camp to compete with Henne for the starting position, struggled on the day, going 2 for 7, for only 21 yards.
But the story of the day was Henne and the offense. "We had some good spacing out there today and I think that's something we've been working a lot on...is the spacing," Sparano said. "The timing looked a little better today that it has the last couple of days. I felt like Chad's been throwing the ball well in the last couple of practices, and today, out there, I thought he threw the ball well, particularly in the first two series. He made some plays today with Brandon, and I thought those guys got on the same page, so I though [Offensive Coordinator] Brian Daboll did a good job of mixing things up there."
"We're definitely on attack mode," Henne stated.
After practice, Sprano continued to praise Henne, both for his performance during training camp, and for the workout he organized during the NFL's 136-day lockout. "You would have to envision that when you're at Indianapolis, or a place like that, that people are going to Peyton [Manning] for answers," Sparano said. "Well, more people are going to Chad for the answers now - that's a direct reflection of what this young guy has done during this lockout period."
Monday is the Dolphins' second day off during this year's training camp. The team returns to practice on Tuesday and Wednesday. Miami travels to Atlanta on Friday for their first preseason game at 7:15pm.