Henne Looking Sharp

Chad Henne was expected to represent a question mark at quarterback for the Miami Dolphins. Instead, during the majority of the preseason, Henne has been his team's unquestioned strength.

After completing 15 of his 24 attempts for 194 yards against Carolina during the Dolphins' second preseason game, Henne followed that by completing 10 -of 12 passes for 174 yards in Miami's 17-13 defeat against Tampa Bay at Raymond James Stadium.

Put the two halves together and Henne's stat line has rarely ever looked so good: 25-of-36 for 369 yards. Best of all, perhaps: He hasn't thrown an interception in the past two games, after throwing two in the first quarter in the preseason opener at Atlanta.

Not coincidentally, Henne's increased production has been coupled with increased confidence. He has remained poised amid pressure -- both the intangible and tangible, which has come often given the struggles of the Dolphins' offensive line.

"Maybe, it's things I've learned in the offseason," Henne said recently when asked why he appears to be playing with more confidence. "I think it's going on year four for me, so I definitely feel a comfort level."

Whether Henne's success is a sign of what's to come or a mirage will be determined in the regular season. For now, though, he at least appears to be capable of a breakthrough entering his third full season as a starter.

Best of all, at least to Dolphins fans who have yearned for more offensive firepower and creativity, Henne continues to form a more positive connection with receiver Brandon Marshall. Henne targeted Marshall early and often during that victory against the Panthers.

And against the Buccaneers, they connected for a 60-yard touchdown pass during the Dolphins' first offensive series. Henne's pass gave Marshall a chance to catch it where no one else could -- and he did catch it, near the right sideline. Marshall had beaten single coverage and then ran free, stiff-arming one final defender on his way into the end zone.

Though that play represented the Dolphins' only real highlight against Tampa Bay, Henne's play as a whole was memorable. In addition to the long pass to Marshall, he often calmly avoided the Buccaneers' fierce pass rush that collapsed the pocket around him.

Henne especially found success on short and intermediate routes over the middle. He led the Dolphins to the 1-yard line in the first half before they settled for a field goal, and Henne was in the midst of another potential scoring drive when Marshall fumbled away a big gain late in the first half.

"I thought Chad did a good job -- I thought he threw the ball well," Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said after watching Henne perform in the first half. "They (were) trying to pressure him out there a bunch. He got rid of the ball a few times. We have to do a better job of protecting the quarterback."

Sparano earlier in the preseason was among Henne's staunchest defenders when he criticized fans who had booed Henne during an open practice at Sun Life Stadium. During that practice, those in attendance had started a "we want Orton" chant, which referenced Denver quarterback Kyle Orton, whom the Dolphins inquired about acquiring.

These days, though, Henne is making believers out of those who once questioned him.


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