The first two-a-day of the '09 training camp has come and gone down in Davie for the Dolphins. And two storylines took center stage. One centered around Matt Roth - and we'll touch on that in a minute. But first, let's talk about the battle between the receivers and cornerbacks.
COMPETITION BETWEEN RECEIVERS AND CORNERS HEATING UP
If I was in South Florida and attending camp, these battles are the ones I'd be watching closest. There's nothing like watching a receiver and a corner go at it one-on-one when their fighting for their depth chart position - or even their roster spot. On Monday, the receivers and corners got after one another - both in one-on-one drills and in team drills. So let's digest some of the developments.
In the battle between Brandon London and Anthony Armstrong, it seems like London has the early leg up. He had the highlight catch of the day yesterday. And after an early drop today, he reportedly looked very good catching the football - both over the middle and along the sidelines. He's 11 pounds slimmer and, according to the Sun-Sentinel's Mike Berardino, "less of London seems to be more." Armstrong, on the other hand, is yet to really stand out like he did during OTAs. It's early but Armstrong needs to flash at some point during the first week to keep up with London - especially considering Brandon is a major contributor on special teams as well.
Ted Ginn also reportedly had a good day on Monday. The Palm Beach Post says Ginn had beat Gibril Wilson deep for a touchdown pass from Chad Pennington. He also made an adjustment to catch a pass that was underthrown by Chad Henne, beating Tyrone Culver. And he also beat Will Allen for a 20-yard pass. But Ginn was unable to beat rookie Sean Smith during one-on-ones. Smith impressed by showing the ability to stay with Ginn step-for-step. And keep in mind the man is over 6'3. That's ridiculous when you think about it.
Davone Bess and Greg Camarillo also continued to be their steady selves. Bess got Mike Berardino to wonder if he ever drops a pass. Camarillo, meanwhile, participated fully in both practices - without a knee brace. He reportedly looks very good and it doesn't seem like the knee is hindering him at all. He beat Jason Allen deep (which is becoming a theme) and beat Will Allen on a square in. He also got by Joey Thomas for a long touchdown on Monday.
But I just brought up both "Allens" - so let's touch on them. Omar Kelly said Will Allen "dominated" during one-on-one drills. Edgar Thompson also raved about Will, referring to some "blanket coverage" on Camarillo's slant pattern. Allen also had an interception in the morning session - which prompted some to wonder why quarterbacks even throw to Will's side in practice. He's looked that good.
On the other hand, Jason Allen has struggled. Jas was beaten badly twice - once by Camarillo (who was reportedly five yards beyond Allen) and once by Bess on a comeback route. Bess also beat Allen for a long TD on a double-move during one-on-ones by Bess. But it's not just that Allen was getting beat. On one play, Allen was lined up wrong, causing Will Allen to stop the play and get Jason in the right position. Once he did that, though, it didn't help. Ernest Wilford badly beat Jason but was overthrown by Chad Henne. And to top it off, Patrick Turner actually blocked Jason Allen so badly he actually "lifted Allen's feet off the ground" - according to the team's official site.
I know all of you Jason Allen lovers will continue to defend him. But let's face the facts - he just doesn't seem to have what it takes to cut it at this level. Jason is officially "on notice" - don't be surprised to see him given the ax when cuts come around if he doesn't drastically improve.
THE MATT ROTH CONTROVERSY
We touched on this yesterday for a moment, but this saga is getting interesting. Here's what we know. We know that Roth failed the conditioning test given to every player over the weekend - resulting in Matt getting placed on the PUP list. Roth then met with Tony Sparano to discuss what happened. Roth claimed he was feeling "ill" in two separate meeting with Sparano. Then on Sunday night, Drew Rosenhaus said on TV that Roth was actually suffering from a groin injury - something that has plagued him for a lot of his career it seems.
Blood tests came back negative on Monday for any kind of illness. So now it's very possible that Roth does have a groin injury. According to Armando Salguero, Sparano is "upset" with Roth and thinks Matt might have lied to him two different times about this situation. Sparano and Roth were also scheduled to sit down and talk for a third time on Monday evening. So we should expect this situation to come to a head on Tuesday when Tony meets with the media. It's unknown at this point if Roth will also talk to the media on Tuesday.
But Sparano, in between Monday's two practices, told the media the following:
"I believe Matt Roth when Matt Roth is telling me that he is sick. This groin thing ... it is the first time I have heard of it. We are going to investigate it, but I have been told on two different occasions that it is an illness. [A groin injury] is not what I was told was the reason for the performance [in the conditioning test] that I saw [Sunday]."
With Sparano having publicly come out and declare his trust in Roth, things could get ugly for Matt if it turns out he did lie. We know Tony will be very angry if a player of his lied twice to his face. Now making him look like a bit of a fool in the media by providing what might turn out to be false info is only going to get Roth deeper in Sparano's dog house.
Meanwhile, Jason Taylor has been stepping up his game as he gets accustomed to playing the strongside in Miami's 3-4 defense. Some reports raved about Jason beginning to look like the Jason of old. And if that's the case, Roth is really going to want to clear this up as soon as possible and then get back on that field. Every opportunity he gives Taylor is just another opportunity for JT to make a case to either start at Roth's spot or severely cut into Matt's playing time.
But let's not down play this and just think Taylor could come in and replace Roth with ease. Roth was very good at stopping the run last year. By late in the year, teams wouldn't even run at Roth's side because of how effective he was at setting the edge and making plays on the ball carrier. Taylor was never great at defending the run and, at his age, likely is nowhere near as effective as Roth is at it. So having Roth and Sparano work this out - and getting Matt back on the field - is very important.
The Dolphins have two practices again tomorrow - at 9 am and 5 pm.