Progress Report

The Dolphins returned to practice on Monday after taking their first day off of training camp and two days after their intrasquad scrimmage. We catch up on the latest happenings around the team.

-- The Dolphins quarterback race took a dramatic turn this week as rookie quarterback Chad Henne closed ground on veteran Josh McCown and second-year player John Beck at Saturday's controlled, yet unscripted scrimmage.

Henne showed a grasp of the offense and a strong, accurate arm, while Beck continues to look jittery in the pocket, seemingly pressing not to make a turnover rather than relaxing and let his talent take over. As a result, he's holding onto the ball too long and is taking 'would-be' sacks.

"You're trying obviously to maximize every play when you're in a quarterback competition like this," Beck said. "You don't want to go out there and force the ball, and not take advantage of a play, so you're really trying to be perfect.

"Some people may say, 'Oh, that's pressing but I say that's what the game is like. ... Some teams may give you one shot for a home run. You got to go and find it."

So far, Beck is whiffing, while veteran Josh McCown has shown a better command of the system and is clearly the most accurate of the three on long balls. However, McCown, who has a 12-19 record as a starter and just a 35-40 touchdown to interception ratio, still makes dangerous throws into coverage.

"It was good to finish up that way. As a quarterback, any time, especially in these situations where you know there is not going to be a passer rating at the end, I had that goofy interception and you want to come back and equal that out," McCown said.

-- Quarterback Quincy Carter came in for a workout. He played for Bill Parcells and Tony Sparano at Dallas before drug allegations kept him out of the NFL since 2004. "It was just a tryout. He looked fine. He threw the ball well and did some things. ... There are no immediate steps. We brought him in for a tryout. We wanted to see where he was. We flipped over a rock. That's where we are," said Sparano on Carter.

-- Coach Tony Sparano had to admit he was a lifelong Mets fan in a Yankees family when speaking to Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez, who was a guest of Bill Parcells at practice this week. "No, I'm a Mets fan. My father gives me hell too. But I did talk to (Fredi Gonzalez) and I've been out there watching them play several times. ... They have an outstanding young team and I like watching them. They're exciting. I was in the tank this week at the end of it," Sparano cracked about the Mets losing two of three to Florida.

-- Super agent Drew Rosenhaus was huddling with Tuna and GM Jeff Ireland during Saturday's scrimmage. Dolphins fans could only hope that they're working on a deal to bring unhappy receiver Anquan Boldin to the receiver-strapped Dolphins.

-- Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino also chatted with Bill Parcells at Saturday's scrimmage, and it must've been tough for him not to run out on the field and take the ball from a trio of struggling quarterbacks. "I'm sure we would've liked to have done a little bit better. ... Maybe it brought back a few memories for Dan. He's a pretty fiery guy. I'm sure he wishes he was still throwing it around a little bit," quarterback John Beck said of having Marino looking over his shoulder.

-- Sparano is impressed with quarterback Chad Henne's poise. "He doesn't say a whole lot that way so he's not a big talker or any of those things but I like his presence in the huddle and he does seem kind of relaxed out there. I'm interested to see what happens when the game comes. This guy has played in front of bigger crowds then we'll play in front of. You put 100,000 people into a stadium, I mean he's played in front of 100,000 people out there in critical situations. I'm kind of interested to see how he handles the game when the game comes around and it really is moving as fast as we've been trying to prep him for."

-- Sparano is not a believer in tackling in training camp so players aren't allowed to take their teammates to the ground. Of course, accidents happen, like when rookie defensive end Phillip Merling threw a 1-2 combination at fellow rookie left tackle Jake Long the other day. Sparano said he, "kind of liked it," because he likes, "tough guys." "Coach said he liked it. Maybe next time I'll swing back," joked Long, who at 6-7, 310 is three inches taller and 20 pounds heavier than Merling.

-- Sparano said he won't be spending much time looking at Tampa Bay, this Saturday's exhibition opener. "I don't think we can do that right now. I think we need to concentrate on some of the critical situations that go on out here on the field and keep competing. That's what this team needs; we need to keep putting them into these kind of competitive situations like today," he said.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't care. I don't like any of them. I don't like any running backs, offensive linemen, receivers. I don't like offensive players period. But they will be good and they will go with whoever they think is the most helpful for the team." -- LB Channing Crowder, on the QB competition.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The defense is light years ahead of the Dolphins offense, particularly the passing game, which has been abysmal. It's difficult for coach Tony Sparano to evaluate the three quarterbacks while the receivers steadily drop passes they should've caught. Sparano is hopeful that this week's practices leading up to the exhibition opener against the Bucs sees the offense catch up. It's difficult for the young receivers going up against a veteran-laden secondary that has CBs Will Allen and Andre' Goodman seemingly knowing what plays are coming. Also, the D-linemen, including rookies Phillip Merling and Kendall Langford, are dominating their counterparts on the O-line, giving the QBs very little time to throw downfield.

-- OT Reuben Riley was cut less than a week after being signed. The former Michigan product was struggling with blisters. Coach Tony Sparano didn't wait for them to heal.

-- LB Joey Porter was taken off the non-football injury list and passed his conditioning test. The so-called ankle injury seemed 100 percent as Porter has looked frisky in notching several sacks coming off the edges.

-- QB Quincy Carter came in for a workout this week and reportedly was told to improve his conditioning and wait to see if any injuries occur to any of the three QBs in camp. If John Beck doesn't start improving, Carter could soon take his spot.

-- DE Vonnie Holliday has been taking some snaps at OLB because Tony Sparano is a firm believer in "roster flexibility."

-- CB Chris Roberson, a seventh-round pick out of Eastern Michigan in 2005 by the Jaguars, played six games his rookie season before sitting out the next two seasons with a shoulder injury. Undrafted rookie CB Scorpio Babers was cut. "It's all part of trying to stir the bottom of the roster a little bit and trying to make the bottom of the roster a little bit better. Roberson was a player that we knew all about. We kind of (monitored) him throughout the draft process," Tony Sparano said.

ROOKIE REPORT: DE Kendall Langford was all over the QBs last week. "He's probably made the greatest improvement in the offseason program when the rookies were here by themselves. Now I'm watching a guy play with his hands, and playing stronger at the point of attack. He's got a lot of things to work on seeing some of the reads for the first time but I've been impressed with him," said Tony Sparano. ... QB Chad Henne made huge strides toward a possible starting job by showing off a strong and accurate arm this week. "The game is starting to slow down for Henne," Sparano said. ... WR Davone Bess and Selwyn Lymon are the best of the young receivers while Anthony Armstrong took a step backward with a dropped pass of a perfectly thrown bomb by Josh McCown in the scrimmage. Lymon caught one of two TDs in the scrimmage as he used his 6-4 size to catch a lob from McCown. ... G Shawn Murphy is losing ground to G Donald Thomas in the battle for the starting RG spot. ... RB Jalen Parmele continues to display a rocket-like burst on plays up the gut, but stands a tad too upright and must improve on his pass protection. ... WR John Dunlap missed the important scrimmage Saturday because of family reasons.

INJURY REPORT

-- CB Michael Lehan is close to returning from an ankle injury sustained at last month's minicamp.

-- RB Ronnie Brown said his knee is sound but it's more mental at this point. He will not be rushed into contact while he fully recovers from ACL surgery last October.

-- G/C Steve McKinney (knee) participates in one practice during two-a-days.

-- TE Justin Peelle (knee) isn't helping his chances by riding the stationary bicycle while fellow tight ends are practicing.

-- TE Aaron Halterman (back) was cut and will be given an injury settlement.

-- T Daren Heerspink missed a few practices with a sprained knee, but returned Saturday.


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