The Dolphins wrapped up their three day minicamp on Sunday. Obviously, there is a lot that came out of this weekend's minicamp that deserves discussion. So I'll touch on some of the things that stuck out to me the most and then open to floor to all of you so you can highlight what you found most interesting about the minicamp down in Davie.
TED GINN IS OPENING EYES
This is a big year for Ted Ginn Jr. and early reports indicate that Teddy is looking very much improved. Of course, it's important to keep in mind that this was just a minicamp and no contact is allowed. But even still, the rave reviews that Ginn has been receiving are encouraging and should give even the most pessimistic Dolphins fans some hope.
The Palm Beach Post's Edgar Thompson wrote that Ginn is beginning to look like a veteran, "showing a burst and soft hands." The Sun-Sentinel's Omar Kelly adds that Ginn "appears faster than everyone on the field." While a cynic would simply write that comment off because Teddy has always had speed, you have to think about this in football terms.
Yes - Ginn is fast. We all know that. But he never played as fast as he timed. What I anticipate seeing from Ginn in 2009 is more speed when running his routes. That's what will make the biggest difference in Ted's game. He has to show the ability to get open 15 to 20 yards down the field - not 50 yards down the field. So what I am taking from these observations made by the beat writers is that Ginn is now playing faster than he has - probably because he's got a better understanding of the mental aspect of the game. If he recognizes and processes what he sees faster, he can then run his routes faster. It's that simple.
It may be beginning to click for the third year receiver now.
RONNIE BROWN SEEKING BIG SEASON
Just like Ted Ginn, Ronnie Brown knows he's entering a big season, too. And all reports are indicating that Ronnie is in better shape now than he ever has been. Before getting into what Ronnie himself said, here are some of the ways Brown has been described this weekend at minicamp. Edgar Thompson wrote that Brown "had a lot of touches and got to the outside quickly on several plays." Omar Kelly wrote that Ronnie "looks quick hitting the outside corner." But my favorite quote about Ronnie this weekend came from Thompson's twitter page, which reads, "Ronnie Brown looks blazing fast, he'd dust Ricky W in a race."
So how does Ronnie feel right now? "I'm stronger and a little faster, and I just feel I'm in better shape," Brown said. "As far as the knee situation it's pretty much gone."
Which brings me to my next point. To most football fans - myself included - it looked like Ronnie was fine last season. It didn't seem like the knee was slowing him down. But Brown, who did his homework this offseason by requesting and then watching a video of every play he was on the field for in 2008, said even he thought he was perfectly fine - until he watched the tape. Said Ronnie:
"I looked at that, and I could see I wasn't 100 percent. I just wasn't. I feel right now I'm more explosive right now in the things I'm doing. I watched [last year's plays] and thought there's more I could've done."
But Brown says now that the knee is completely healthy - which is probably why he looks as explosive as ever in practice. But head coach Tony Sparano made it a point to tell the media that he wants to see more long runs out of Ronnie. Brown agrees, saying "that's one of my goals this year, to break some long runs."
Ronnie must prove to the front office and the coaching staff that he's worth the long-term contract extension he is probably seeking. This is his year to show the world - and, in particular, the Ronnie "haters" out there - that he is among the game's elite running backs.
LET'S TALK QUARTERBACKS
I don't want to stoke the fire here because I know it's a heated debate among Dolphins fans. But I just wanted to highlight some observations made by some of the impartial beat writers who covered this weekend's events. There are a lot of people who simply want to hand the starting quarterback job to Chad Henne. But here is why you simply cannot just hand it to him - he must win it.
Edgar Thompson wrote in his blog, "Pennington outplayed Chad Henne when the two were both on the field this weekend. Henne had looked terrific in OTAs, but was erratic the past three days. Pennington showed the kind of calm, command and efficiency a team wants in a starter."
Meanwhile, the very even-keeled and "football smart" Omar Kelly writes:
Is Chad Henne ready to take over as the starting quarterback right now? Nope. His arm is amazing. Sometimes he zips balls into tight spots and I'd swear we're looking at Joe Flacco (yeah I said his name, violating Mob rules), but the offense doesn't move like it does under Pennington. It moves, but in spurts. Pennington rarely sputters....
I think that about sums it up right now. Chad Pennington is the offensive leader of this team. I mean - the guy left his sister's wedding at 1 in the morning and made it back for practice at 10 back down in Davie. And he wasn't even hung over. Impressive!
But, seriously, let's make Henne earn the job. If he can't beat out Pennington in practice, then he shouldn't be handed a damn thing. And with that said, I'm fully confident that by next season, Henne will pull even or ahead of Pennington as he learns more and more from Pennington.
-I'm not concerned at all about Pat White's early struggles. He's learning a new offense and it's going to take time. Please get off his back, everybody.
-Channing Crowder has done a lot of talking over the past week or so. But this weekend, he said something that I really like hearing. He said what many of us already know - that he needs to make more impact plays. Says Crowder, "They gave me the reins. I'm a three-down 'backer. I'm out there the whole game. Now it's time for me to step up."
-Tony Sparano pointed out that while the minicamp was very good, the one area that he isn't comfortable with yet is the red-zone offense. But Sparano did eliminate two OTA days this week, leaving Wednesday as the final day before vacation time for the players prior to training camp. In that session, Sparano said that they "will take care of" their one problem area.
-Remember that these OTAs and minicamps are all non-contact - so take what you read with a grain of salt. Jason Taylor probably said it best, declaring, "we look good in pajamas."