The Dolphins hit the practice field three times over the past two days in heat that could only be described as ridiculous. A 100+ degree heat index at all practices over the weekend took it's toll on players (Randy Starks throwing up mid-practice) and fans (at least one fan being taken out on stretcher) alike.
But the weather wasn't the only thing heating up. Training camp in full swing down in Davie, with position competitions and tempers heating up as well. But it was something Tony Sparano said over the weekend that really caught my attention.
Dansby most "eye-popping" player so far in camp
When you read these practice reports or (if you're lucky enough) attend practice yourself, most people focus in on how the offense looks. Usually the headlines on defense are left for either sacks or interceptions.
Karlos Dansby has neither. For those who have attended camp, I'd bet most don't pay too much attention to the inside linebackers on a play-to-play basis. For those left to just reading what the media says, I'd bet you won't read about too many highlights that include Dansby's name in it.
But over the weekend, head coach Tony Sparano told the media that it's his new star inside linebacker that has stood out the most to him. Said Sparano:
"I personally don't like to single out any of these guys, but I've been really impressed with what's happening with Dansby right now. The combination of him and Channing right now, when you're watching them communicate and watching them going what they're going through in the huddle together has been really impressive to me.
"To have someone like that, with that kind of range and that kind of skills has been pretty good out there. Karlos would be the guy for me."
Not coincidentally, it's reportedly been Dansby who has been handling the defensive play-calling duties. That's really not surprising at all and I expect Dansby to be the bearer of the "green dot" on game days this season - taking those duties from Channing Crowder.
Like I said above, with the little we've heard or read about Dansby in camp so far, it's great to hear how much he's been impressing his new head coach. After all, the Dolphins made two huge investments this offseason. The larger investment - receiver Brandon Marshall - has stood out since camp opened and has regularly been making plays. Dansby was the other.
Now we know he's earning his money, too...for now.
Defensive line has some interesting story lines
One thing I was interested to see heading into camp was how the defensive line depth chart looked after the injury sustained by Phillip Merling just days before camp began. Perhaps not surprisingly, rookie first-round pick Jared Odrick has taken Merling's place as the starting right defensive end right now. Sparano said that Odrick is certainly big enough and strong enough to start from day one. He's also flashed a few times in practice and shown an ability to get to the quarterback - something the Dolphins need more of out of their defensive ends.
But right behind Odrick is the recently signed veteran Marques Douglas. He has experience with Mike Nolan defenses and is coming off a very productive season last year in New York. Douglas said that he believes he will win the starting job. This is one battle that will be very interesting to watch develop as camp progresses.
Meanwhile Kendall Langford is a lock to start at left defensive end. Tony McDaniel continues to work as his back-up, with the other recently signed veteran - Charles Grant - as the number three at the position.
One intriguing note? The Dolphins showed a 2-4-5 nickel package on Sunday that featured Odrick and Randy Starks as defensive ends shifted to the interior to make room for outside linebackers Cameron Wake and Koa Misi on the ends of each line with their hands in the dirt. In that package, Dansby and Crowder were the two inside linebackers. I wonder how long before rookie A.J. Edds takes Channing's place in that package?
Quick Camp Hits
- The offensive line continues to get shuffled. It seems like rookie John Jerry will focus on right guard in camp after being worked at left guard during the offseason. Sparano said he's a better fit for that side and, currently, has been working with the starters while Richie Incognito works as his back-up. That meas the left guard spot will come down to Donald Thomas or Cory Procter. While Procter has seen the most first-team snaps, I think this is Donald's job to lose. Unless the Dolphins give Nate Garner - who is exclusively working as a right tackle right now - a chance to win the LG spot.
- Brian Hartline has continued working as the starter opposite of Brandon Marshall. But when Hartline missed a few plays with a minor leg issue (likely a cramp), it was Greg Camarillo taking Brian's spot...until Hartline returned, that is.
- Cameron Wake is proving that he's a legitimate pass-rusher. He has looked good getting to the quarterback so far in camp according to most reports. And he even beat Jake Long a few times this weekend.
- Koa Misi has gained 10 pounds and is up to 255, which is where the coaches wanted him entering camp.
- Nolan Carroll is making a strong push to make this team. He has impressed with his quickness and break on the ball. He also picked off Tyler Thigpen on Sunday and returned it for a would-be touchdown.
- On the flip side, Jason Allen continues to get burnt left and right. Is this the year he gets his pink slip? Or will he special teams play keep him around one more season?
- Paul Soliai is reportedly having a strong beginning to camp. He's in better shape and has been a force, even splitting first team NT reps with Randy Starks. Keep an eye on this development.
- This Ikaika Alama-Francis position switch to OLB is not an experiment. He's going to stay there and attempt to win a roster spot. That's bad news for guys like Quentin Moses and Erik Walden, who are also fighting for a spot.
- All of the guys coming back from serious injuries (Ronnie Brown, Channing Crowder, Patrick Cobbs, and Will Allen) are all coming along great and not showing any signs of their injuries. Cobbs even dusted the defense for a touchdown on a wheel route.
The Dolphins have another two practice on Monday. The first is at 9 am and the second is scheduled for 5 pm. But the evening practice is not open to the public.