The Henne Hiccup

When asked about his performance against Tampa Bay last Thursday, Chad Henne said simply: "It wasn't me out there." For the Dolphins' sake, they better hope it wasn't Henne because that would be cause for concern about the idea that Henne is going to be taking over at quarterback sometime before too long.

Henne was 2-for-8 for 55 yards that day with one interception and a horrific passer rating of 16.1. The two completions were a short out to Greg Camarillo that he turned into a 52-yard gain and a 3-yarder to tight end John Nalbone.

The one interception ended a scoring opportunity and occurred when Henne failed to see Bucs lineman Chris Bradwell drop into coverage.

Henne's performance was particularly disappointing because he was coming off a solid effort against Jacksonville in the preseason opener and a very good outing against Carolina in the second game.

Now, we're not ready to jump off the Henne bandwagon just because he had a poor preseason game, but there's a lot at stake in Henne's development.

As the No. 2 quarterback, he's one play from taking over for Chad Pennington, a fact that should be emphasized considering Pennington has never gone two consecutive seasons without an injury that's kept him out of games.

There's also the long-range issue.

Pennington is signed only through this season, and franchises that intend to keep their quarterback usually don't take a chance to letting that player get to free agency.

It would seem if the Dolphins wanted Pennington to be their quarterback beyond this year, he would have been signed to an extension.

Henne was taken in the second round of the 2008 draft, and it clearly was with the idea he'd be the quarterback of the future -- don't even think about Pat White in that role because it ain't happening.

Everybody on the Dolphins, from Henne to Pennington to Coach Tony Sparano, will tell you Henne is a better quarterback than he was last season, and that should be true in terms of understanding the offense and making reads and all the intangibles that come with the position.

But the fact remains Henne has thrown only 12 passes in a regular season game, and all of those came at the end of the blowout loss to Arizona last year.

There really wasn't much pressure in that situation, so the Dolphins really don't know how Henne will react.

In the meantime, he continues to prepare himself as best he can.

"If I don't prepare myself as a starter, I'm only going to take a step back," he said. "And I don't want do that."

The Dolphins don't want that, either. They can't afford that, really.

The argument clearly could be made that the Dolphins should sign Pennington to an extension because he's still got a lot of football left and he's still very effective.

If the choice is to go with Henne starting next year, it would be comforting if he at least could close out the preseason with a strong outing.

As Henne said, "I definitely want to see myself bounce back. It's a big opportunity for myself. You never know when your next opportunity presents itself. I wanna go out with a bang."


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