Week two of Miami Dolphins training camp began with two practices on Monday and the release of the first "team-released" depth chart. But it was quarterback play that highlighted Monday's action.
CHAD HENNE STRUGGLES
Following a solid, if unspectacular, performance in Saturday's team scrimmage, Chad Henne began week two of training camp with a disappointing day - particularly in the afternoon session on Monday. Henne, who has struggled all camp during one of Tony Sparano's favorite drills - the two-minute offense - had some ugly moments on Monday. Chris Clemons, the rookie safety out of Clemson, picked off Henne twice during Monday afternoon's practice - and nearly intercepted Henne a third time on a pass intended for Ricky Williams in the flat that would have resulted in a pick six for Clemons.
But it was Henne's inability to lead the two-minute offense - a theme of training camp thus far - that the Palm Beach Post provides play-by-play of. Play one, screen pass that is tipped away. Play two, pass broken up by two defenders. Play three, too far outside of intended receiver. Play four, the previously mentioned near pick by Clemons. Henne connects on the next four, though. And the following pass was also reportedly a great throw that Brian Hartline just couldn't come up with as he had Vontae Davis defending him well. And it wrapped up with Vontae Davis breaking up a pass intended for Brandon London.
As the Post points out, too, Henne's performance in the two-minute offense all camp has been unimpressive - with Henne "rarely driving the team into reasonable scoring position." And just for good measure, Henne ended the practice by "missing a wide open Anthony Fasano by a mile in the endzone during goal-line offense." Yikes!
Of course, it's far too early to panic. It's really too early to even think about panicking. But why then did I bring this up? Simple. It's too illustrate the fact that we still don't know what we have in Chad Henne. However, you have to love how Tony Sparano plans to handle this situation. It's tricky. You want to get Henne experience and see what you have in him. At the same time, you can't risk losing the locker room by benching Chad Pennington - a leader on that team and a player coming off of his best career season.
That's why the Dolphins are handling this situation so well. I love the idea of Henne getting most of the playing time in the preseason. It'll give us all a chance to see Henne perform with "semi-live bullets" flying.
With that said, Henne's struggles in the two-minute offense illustrates why Pennington is the starting quarterback of this football team in 2009. CP is efficient. He doesn't have the big arm Henne has. But it's clear that Henne's arm isn't helping him move the ball in simulated two-minute drills during practice. And right now, it's Pennington - not Henne - that gives the 2009 Miami Dolphins the best chance to win. While some of you want to just throw Henne into the starting role without him earning the job just to see him play and possibly prepare him for the future, I'm not ready to give up on the present. CP is the present.
If Henne outplays Pennington at any point during training camp or the preseason, then I'm on board with making a switch ASAP. But that's not going to happen.
RISERS AND FALLERS
We talked yesterday about how week two of training camp is the time Tony Sparano likes to promote and demote players. And as expected, changes were made - headed by the promotion of rookie corner Sean Smith to the starting role opposite Eric Green. Green was sent to the second team to play opposite rookie Vontae Davis. While this is far from a permanent change, it does reward Smith for his solid play through one week of camp and it provides the coaches with a chance to see how Sean performs against better competition. I'd suspect Davis will get a shot at some point during camp as well - even if he has progressed slower than some anticipated.
Randy Starks also saw a promotion, getting his chance to work with the starters on the opposite side of Kendall Langford. Phillip Merling remained with the second unit after getting moved there last week despite beginning camp with the starters. Tony McDaniel dropped back to the second unit after replacing Merling on the first team last week. Look for those three to continue rotating until the coaching staff gets a better feel for those guys.
The other big riser on was Donald Thomas. While Shawn Murphy remained the starter at right guard, Thomas - despite missing most of the OTAs and the early part of camp - was promoted to the second unit as he inches his way back into the starter's role he won as a rookie out of camp last year. Ike Ndukwe was the loser here - and it's starting to look like his days could be numbered if Thomas remains healthy and progresses as we all think he will.
DEPTH CHART RELEASED
Yes, the Dolphins released their first depth chart on Monday. No, it doesn't mean very much. This depth chart is completely irrelevant because the depth chart basically changes day to day. For example, Donald Thomas is listed as the 3rd string RG right now. But he practiced with the second unit on Monday. Cameron Wake is listed as the fourth string weakside linebacker, but has spent most of his time on the second unit in camp.
The release of this depth chart is a reason why I do my weekly "depth chart bubble watch." At this point, it's probably more accurate as to how the coaches see the 53-man roster looking than this team-released chart is.
Some quick thoughts on Monday's action:
- Chris Clemons has been around the ball a lot recently, according to various reports. Could he cut into Tyrone Culver's role as the team's top reserve safety and find his way onto the field in the team's dime package?
- Channing Crowder picked up two sacks in the afternoon session. What's gotten into him? Whatever it is, I hope it says with him. He needs to be a play-maker this year.
- Cameron Wake got to work with the first-team defense in the morning replacing Joey Porter (sitting out just for rest) on the weakside. Not surprisingly, Jake Long handled him. But it's good to see the coaches challenging Wake - who has surprised me so far.
- Speaking of surprises, Quentin Moses has quietly been putting together a solidd camp. Moses had two sacks and a tipped pass in the afternoon session.
- Interesting battle brewing between Davone Bess and Greg Camarillo for the starting job opposite Ted Ginn.
- Yeremiah Bell has been reportedly looking much improved in coverage during camp.
The Dolphins practice only once on Tuesday - beginning at 2 pm. Wednesday will feature two practices, though. And the late session has been moved outside and will begin at 8 pm.