Saturday, August 9, 2008

Updated Thoughts/Observations/Predictions (offense and special teams)

We're a couple weeks into camp and the Dolphins play their first preseason game tonight, and while not many major roster moves have been made my views and predictions on the way the roster will shake out have changed drastically. Here are some of my updated thoughts/observations/predictions based on what's been reported thus far.

Quarterback
  • The acquisition of Chad Pennington definitely changes the team's quarterback competition. There are good arguments for the release of either McCown or Beck, but McCown should and probably will be the guy to get the axe (or in his case, chain saw). McCown was here to be the veteran of the bunch and Pennington is an upgraded version of that. Beck may not pan out, but he's still unproven and has potential which is why he'll stay over McCown, who has pretty much established his mediocrity.
  • That being said, reports of camp regarding Beck have been generally negative. While two weeks of camp don't define a career, we've yet to see Beck has taken the next step and there's little cause for optimism. With Chad Henne being the organization's hand-picked quarterback of the future, it seems unlikely Beck fits into the team's long-term plans.
Running back
  • You have to love the reports about Ronnie and Ricky coming out of camp. Ronnie will probably be eased back into the starting role in 2008 as he heals, but it sounds like he's recovering nicely and the two should be a hell of a tandem.
  • There have also been plenty of good reports about rookie Jalen Parmele, and it sounds like he'll be a quality backup at the very least. He probably won't see too much action in 2008 barring injury (the Lorenzo Booker of the year), but his touches will increase in future seasons.
  • It looks like I was wrong in my prediction regarding rookie Lex Hilliard. Word is he hasn't shown much in camp on offense or on special teams (the condition I had for him beating out Patrick Cobbs), while Cobbs continues to excel on special teams and seems to be one of the team's hardest workers. I'd be very shocked if Hilliard makes the team and Cobbs does not. Hilliard is practice squad material at best, and perhaps not even that.
Fullback
  • Another prediction I think I got wrong. Mauia has shown nothing catching the ball, while Grigsby has at least been solid and has the major edge on special teams. Given that, combined with Sparano's comments about preferring to only keep one fullback who can contribute in different areas, I'm inclined to believe that Grigsby not only beats Mauia out for the starting job, but Mauia doesn't even make the squad.
Wide receiver
  • It's good to hear how second-year receiver Ted Ginn, Jr. is progressing with his route-running. Dolphins fans may not have agreed with the pick and may still not, but if this guy ever gets a legit quarterback he could be the next Steve Smith.
  • It's not a good sign that Ernest Wilford is falling down the depth chart. While Derek Hagan deserves some credit for his good camp, Wilford was brought in as a starter and his inability to get separation is disappointing even for a possession guy like him. Hopefully he picks it up, because he was a guy I wanted in free agency and I feel he can be a legit starter (not to mention a damn good end-zone threat).
  • No surprise that Davone Bess has been the best undrafted rookie wideout thus far. Him making the team as the No. 5 receiver is one prediction I still feel good about.
Tight end
  • No surprise that Fasano has already jumped into the starting tight end job. He's not a game breaker, but I think he'll be solid.
  • I'm interested to see if incumbent starter David Martin makes the squad. I think Sean Ryan's blocking and connections with the staff give him a good chance to make the team. Justin Peelle's injury has hurt his own chances and may open the door for Martin to stick around if the team keeps three tight ends.
Offensive line
  • You have to love the reports of sixth-round pick Donald Thomas in camp. He's worked at the starting right guard spot for a week now and it seems he has a legit shot to win the job. I'd always heard he had more upside than fourth-rounder Shawn Murphy, but I didn't expect him to excel this quickly.
  • Thomas' emergence is also good because it allows Trey Darilek to be a versatile backup. Darilek is not starting material, as he wasn't even in the NFL last year and hasn't played since 2005. (He has played in the preseason in recent years and also in the CFL last season.) He's a useful guy to have on the bench because he can play four offensive line positions, if not all of them.
  • I'm quite surprised the Dolphins haven't done much to add to the offensive line depth. Perhaps this is a vote of confidence for Darilek and Ike Ndukwe, though you'd think they'd at least bring in a couple more guys to compete.

Special teams
  • I've said it before and I'll say it again: If Dan Carpenter doesn't completely blow Jay Feely away in the preseason, you have to stick with Feely. It sounds like Carpenter is providing some pretty solid competition, but that shouldn't be enough to win him the job over a Pro Bowl-caliber kicker like Feely.
  • Something tells me Brandon Fields and John Denney are pretty safe. Just a hunch.