Jake Long's Debut

The Dolphins opened their three-day rookie minicamp on Friday, and naturally a lot of eyes were on offensive tackle Jake Long -- the first overall pick in the 2008 draft. While it's really difficult to assess the work of an offensive linemen in minicamp practices, there was enough to form an early impression.

The first thing that really jumped out on Friday was just how big Long is, and just how well he moves for someone that big.

Fellow rookie offensive lineman Shawn Murphy, the team's fourth-round pick, sure noticed.

"We were doing foot drills and just watching his feet, he has great body control," said Murphy, the son of former Atlanta Braves slugger Dale Murphy. "He's tough, he's strong, he's got arms that are about 10 feet long. He looks like a power forward out there."

Another highlight for Long on Friday came on a running play toward the end of practice when he locked up seventh-round pick Lionel Dotson and eventually drove him to the ground.

Coach Tony Sparano said he was hoping to see confidence, mobility and power out of Long this weekend, and was able to get some of that on Friday.

"Just on first impression, I see him go through bag drills, I see him do some of those things," Sparano said. "In individual (drills), you can see some flashes and some power and some of those things, but we have a long way to go here."

It was, all in all, a very good first day with Long, who also handled himself very well in a press conference afterward.

Long admitted to feeling pressure about being the first overall pick, saying it was something he lived with every day.

But remember that Long also said on draft day that he liked the pressure and was used to it. So you get the feeling that if this guy fails, it won't be because he can't handle pressure.

Truth is, Long looks like a guy with all the tools to succeed.

There has been a question as to whether he has the feet to line up at left tackle, although Sparano and GM Jeff Ireland have said that's not even an issue.

Left tackle clearly is where Long will be lining up, and the only concern we would have with him is being able to handle the speed rushers, the guys like Dwight Freeney.

But there aren't that many of those around, so that issue won't come up very often.

Long clearly was the right choice for the Dolphins at No. 1, regardless of the circumstances surrounding his selection.

Again, we caution against reading anything into minicamp practices, but you certainly can say his first day as a Miami Dophin was impressive. Dolphins minicamp story DAVIE, Fla. (AP) -- Massive offensive tackle Jake Long managed to make a big impression on a couple of his rookie teammates in his first practice with the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins opened their three-day rookie minicamp on Friday with 39 players, including Long, the first overall pick in the draft. On a simple running play toward the end of practice, the 6-foot-7, 315-pound Long locked up defensive tackle Lionel Dotson, the Dolphins' seventh-round pick, and drove him to the ground. Earlier, he had shown off his mobility to guard Shawn Murphy, the team's fourth-round selection. For Long, Friday's practice represented an opportunity to begin showing why the Dolphins made him the top pick and gave him a five-year contract worth $57.75 million. "There's definitely pressure," Long said. "I have that over my head every single day. That pushes me to go out and work as hard as I can and prove to people that I earned that No. 1 spot and earned the money. I've got to go out there and earn it and show people why I have it." Before Long went out for practice, he got a few pointers from new Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano, who coached the offensive line in Dallas the last three years. Sparano said there were certain things he wanted to see out of Long this weekend, such as confidence, mobility and power. Long wore number 79 on Friday, but he said negotiations might begin soon with second-year guard Drew Mormino for number 77, which Long has worn going back to his high school days. "We'll see what happens," Long said. "But I like 79. My little brother (Joe) wears 79; 79 is a great number, too." One thing that remained the same from Long's college days was the presence of Chad Henne at quarterback. Henne was drafted in the second round with the second of Miami's two picks in the round. He, too, drew praise from Sparano. "I was pleasantly surprised," Sparano said. "I was happy with what Chad did, especially from a mental standpoint. With a quarterback, it's all about what he does in the huddle, how he takes control and how he does some of those things. "I've been in some situations where we've gone out there and the quarterback, quite honestly, hasn't been able to get the play out of his mouth on Day 1. Chad was very good that way today. He took control of the huddle, thought he managed the team fine at the line of scrimmage." Henne, a four-year starter at Michigan, was the second quarterback taken in the second round by the Dolphins in the last two years following the selection of John Beck in 2007. Henne, Beck and veteran free agent acquisition Josh McCown will battle for the privilege of becoming Miami's fifth different opening-day starting quarterback in as many years. "We have a quarterback competition here," Sparano said. "At the end of this, we're going to find out who the best quarterback is. If it's Chad, it's Chad; if it's Beck, it's Beck; if it's McCown, it's McCown. But when they get in here, we're going to have a competition, just like we are at every other position on our team." Henne said Friday he was completely healthy following a senior season during which he battled knee and ankle problems, as well as a slightly separated throwing shoulder. "I think definitely injuries hindered our season, especially myself," Henne said. "Especially going through a separation in my right shoulder; five games I had to get injections to numb it up and try to play through it. It definitely wasn't the velocity on the ball and the accuracy I'm used to, but hopefully that toughness can carry on and hopefully I won't have an injury like that again." Also declaring himself 100 percent healthy on Friday was defensive end Phillip Merling, the first pick of the second round. Merling, who underwent surgery for a sports hernia in March, said he felt good enough to have gone through a full-contact workout. There will be no full-contact practice this weekend. But the Dolphins will be back on the field for two practices Saturday. "I'm excited about it," Long said. "Today was fun. It was a short practice. I wanted to keep going. I'm excited that we've got two tomorrow. (I want to) keep learning and keep putting the offense in and learn from it."


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