While many of us will be enjoying a nice holiday weekend, the Dolphins will be holding their first - and only - full squad mini-camp of the offseason. It's a three day camp that will run through Sunday. And though it's difficult to really glean anything from these practices in helmets and shorts, there are still reasons to monitor what is going on down in Davie at the team's facility.
So let's quickly highlight some of the more interesting story lines that should be watched closely over the next three days.
Free safeties look to impress
The Dolphins will continue the battle for the starting free safety spot this weekend. Chris Clemons worked as the starter, playing next to strong safety Yeremiah Bell, at OTAs last week. Rookie Reshad Jones worked with the second team while Tyrone Culver spent his time as Bell's backup. This upcoming weekend will be another opportunity to show what they can do and prove that at least one of them can be a quality starter. After all, there's a very good free safety who will become an unrestricted free agent on June 1, meaning these three young safeties need to give this regime some reasons not to go spend money on another safety.
Henne and the passing attack
Heading into training camp as the clear starting quarterback, Chad Henne has to take on a much bigger leadership role this offseason. So it won't just be Henne's throws and decision making that are watched closely. How he handles himself and how he interacts with his teammates will be every bit as important.
With that said, it's still going to be interesting to see how this offense is changing as Henne gets more comfortable. We won't see Brandon Marshall this weekend as he continues to sit out recovering from the offseason "procedure" that he underwent following the trade from Denver. But Henne did tell WQAM that the offense will "take chances down the field" this season. Hopefully we get an early preview this weekend.
How is Ronnie's rehab going?
Ronnie Brown is continuing his recovery from surgery on his right foot. It's now been over six months since he went under the knife and Brown has been running for some time now. He's been participating in the offseason training program and was even out there for OTAs last week, though he was limited. But he's still not 100% and said last week he still feels some soreness in that foot every so often. The good news is that he's optimistic about being ready for training camp and feels he's ahead in his recovery. So how much will Ronnie participate this weekend?
The impact of Merling's arrest
Last we heard, Phillip Merling was chilling in a Broward County jail as his teammates prepare for this weekend's mini-camp. While we don't know how this situation will play out, I would imagine it's likely Merling misses some (or all) of this weekend's camp. So how does this reshuffle the depth chart? Will first round pick Jared Odrick now work with the starters? And who becomes the top backup at defensive end? Tony McDaniel? Lionel Dotson? Does Ryan Baker get back to working as a defensive end rather than nose tackle? The Dolphins were believed to be deep at end. But without Merling, the depth certainly takes a hit.
The shuffling of the offensive line
Here's what we know. Jake Long will be the starting left tackle. Vernon Carey will be starting at right tackle. Those are locks. But the rest is really up in the air. Jake Grove and Joe Berger are in an open competition for the starting center spot. At right guard, it's believed the starting job is Richie Incognito's to lose. The left guard spot is clearly one of the most competitive competitions on this team. Donald Thomas was working as the starter last week at OTAs. Rookie John Jerry has seen action on both sides. And Nate Garner, who didn't participate last week while recovering from some kind of offseason procedure, is as versatile as they come - having the ability to play either guard spot as well as center or right tackle if needed (as we saw last season). It'll be interesting to see who works where and with what unit this weekend.
When will Wake earn his starting spot?
It's been expected since Joey Porter and Jason Taylor left that Cameron Wake would become the team's starting weak side outside linebacker. But last week he was with the second team defense while Charlie Anderson worked as the starter. Like I've been saying since JT left, that's not acceptable. Some think I've been hard on Anderson. But I'm just being honest. For a 3-4 to work, you need a very good pass rusher to man the WOLB spot. Anderson isn't going to cut it. I'm sure this coaching staff was just making a point to Wake - letting him know that they aren't just going to hand him the job. But when will Wake show enough to earn that starting spot that we all want him to win?