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Dolphins Training Camp, Day 4: Passing game takes center stage

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The Dolphins took to the practice field on Monday morning and then went back to work in the evening. But for the first time during this camp, the Dolphins got to practice in the cooler confines of the indoor bubble. And based on the media reports (which is all we have since bubble practices are closed to the public), the Dolphins did a lot of work centered around their passing game.

Henne erratic on Monday night?
Like I said, it seems like Monday night's practice in the bubble was very much heavy on passing. What ends up happening in practices like this, though, is some over-analysis of the quarterbacks. And of course, at the center of it all, is Chad Henne - who very well might be the key to Miami's 2010 season. This team will only get as far as Henne will allow.

Now I know that it's not fair for me to criticize a practice report from one of the local papers because I wasn't there. In fact, nobody was there except the media last night. But I can't help but wonder if "erratic" is the word to describe Henne's performance yesterday in the bubble - as the Palm Beach Post did.

The report describes two "unimpressive" throws from Henne during 7-on-7s. One was a "badly overthrown" ball directed at Patrick Turner on an out route, with Vontae Davis in having "excellent coverage." Perhaps Henne was purposely overthrowing Turner because nobody else was open. The other was an under throw to Julius Pruitt over the middle.

On the flip side, Henne completed 7 of 10 passes during the "receiver vs. cornerback" drill. But more importantly, Henne was 4 of 6 during the 7-on-7 drill and finished the drill with a touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall, who beat Vontae Davis and the rest of the secondary.

Henne also did not throw an interception - and has just one (I believe) since camp started. All in all, Henne seems to be coming along just fine.

Is receiver depth chart set in stone?
I know - this is a stupid question. We're only four days into camp. How could any position battle be done? But it's not crazy to think, assuming there aren't any injuries and the top two continue to perform well.

Brandon Marshall is the number one - no questions asked. He has been outstanding every day and that continued on Monday. It's easy to see why this guy catches 100+ passes every year. The Sun-Sentinel's Mike Berardino even went so far as to refer to Marshall as a Venus Flytrap, saying that the "guy catches everything."

The interesting thing so far, though, has been that the battle for the starting receiver spot opposite Marshall - one that everyone was excited to see play out - hasn't been much of a competition at all. Second-year man Brian Hartline has worked as the starter for every single practice so far and it seems like he's cementing himself as the number two guy on this roster. Tony Sparano said on Monday that he likes Hartline as the starter opposite Hartline because of his ability to run after the catch, adding that "he had some big plays for us with his hands on the football running the ball so there was a little bit of that there."

Sparano did caution that this doesn't necessarily mean Hartline will win the job. However, Brian continues to make plays in practice. Today Hartline made a couple of notable grabs, including a "leaping catch along the sidelines" that caught the attention of some teammates. If he keeps this up, he's going to be starting week one in Buffalo. Right now it is clearly Brian's job to lose.

Quick Camp Hits

  • The offensive line remains a fluid situation, with the interior line rotation continuing. What we can start assuming, though, is that Donald Thomas will work at left guard exclusively for now. The coaches told him the like him better there and Donald has been working hard to get acclimated to the new sides after spending his entire football career on the right side. As for the right side, it looks to be a battle between rookie John Jerry and veteran Richie Incognito. Sparano said Jerry has made "minimal" mental mistakes. But he'd like to see Jerry play faster. That will only come with more reps, though.
  • Nolan Carroll continues to impress. I'm beginning to think that if Carroll can shake the injury bug that cursed him in college that he may have been a huge steal. The Dolphins used the pick attained from Ted Ginn to get Carroll so it'll be interesting to see how the careers of both play out. For now, though, Carroll seems like he could see playing time as the fourth corner in 2010 - especially if Jason Allen continues to...well...suck.
  • Speaking of corners, Vontae Davis seems to be the top corner in camp right now according to most reports. In fact, Jeff Darlington tweeted that "Vontae Davis continued to look like a top-end cornerback today. He has improved so much in a year."
  • Patrick Turner is coming alive. He may be the front runner for the fifth receiver spot. But even so, don't get crazy. The Dolphins usually don't even have their fifth receiver active on game day. So I wouldn't expect much of a contribution from him - not with the four in front him healthy and playing well.
  • A really good breakdown of the receiver/defensive passing drill by Armando Salguero. He transcribes every match-up and the result.
  • Rookie A.J. Edds injured his knee yesterday and the Dolphins reportedly "fear the injury is serious."

Quote of the Day
"Still limping slightly, but looks great so far. Big year coming in 2010." - Ben Volin of the PBP, tweeting a response to a Ronnie Brown question.

Up Next
The Dolphins will practice just once tomorrow. It's scheduled for 2 pm and is open to the public. Also note that the Dolphins have made the August 9 evening practice a "Monday Night Lights" practice. It will take place a Sun Life Stadium and will begin at 7:15 pm.