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  Dolphins Likes, Dislikes
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by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist

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LIKE: Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. I was worried that Ronnie would be slow out of the gates, having just healed from a serious foot injury. Happily, he looks as spry as ever. And Ricky continues to defy the rules for a 33 year old RB; he is still a force.

DISLIKE: The season-ending injury to Kory Sheets. I would have liked to see him push Lex Hilliard in training camp. Unfortunately, Hillard really hasn't had much competition for his job this preseason. He could have used some. The Dolphins will also miss Sheets as a kick returner.

 

LIKE: Chad Henne's improvement. It's obvious that he is a better QB this year. Touch passing, though still a bit deliberate, is much better. Footwork is smoother. Decision-making has been good for the most part, with a red zone pick against the Falcons the only truly ugly blemish on his preseason work. Henne put the offseason to good use.

DISLIKE: The way the local media has been reporting the Pat White story. Look, it's very clear that White hasn't been impressing people for most of camp. But it is also clear that "something" is bothering him. Itís the only explanation relative to his talents, which are considerable. Perhaps itís personal in nature; we donít know. What we do know is that the guy had a tremendous offseason and is clearly improved with his passing and physical stature, as we saw against the Falcons. He may not make the team in the end, but I wish the media wouldnít be so quick to beat him down.

 

LIKE: Ikeaika Alama-Francis. The more I watch him, the more I like his game. He's really active and looks to be a better option than rookie Koa Misi at the Sam position. That's not to say I dislike Misi, but he doesn't seem ready for full time duty yet. Letís see how Tony Sparano decides to use Alama-Francis.

DISLIKE: The overall lack of productivity from the rookie LB class in general. The Dolphins spent half their 2010 draft picks on linebackers and they havenít been very productive thus far. Misi looks lost at times, Austin Spitler and Chris McCoy have not impressed on special teams, and AJ Edds is out for the season with a knee injury. Ironically, undrafted rookie Micah Johnson is the one who has impressed the most.

 

LIKE: Brandon Marshall. I knew he was a force, but I didn't realize how well-rounded his game truly is. I am particularly impressed with his blocking skills, an understated quality in NFL WRs. Of course there's the route running and the elusiveness, both of which are superior. And he is very tough to tackle one-on-one.

DISLIKE: The play of the WR corps this preseason. Too many drops, bad routes, and other mistakes. Very sloppy, especially for a veteran group.

 

LIKE: Chris Clemons. Last season we saw his range and ball skills, but we also saw inexperience. This year "he knows", as Sparano put it. I look forward to watching him play. He is going to be a good player.

DISLIKE: Will Allen's knee injury. Clearly, he just wasn't ready to return. When healthy, Allenís presence gives Mike Nolan more options on coverages, dogs, and blitzes. Can newcomer Benny Sapp get the job done in the interim?

 

LIKE: Randy Starks. I was skeptical of the decision to move Starks to DT. Not anymore. His quickness is going to be a big problem for interior linemen, especially as games wear on. This will open up opportunities for other guys across the front seven to apply pressure and, hopefully, make sacks.

DISLIKE: The lack of pressure on the QB from the base defense. This is problem the Dolphins created for themselves when they let Joey Porter and Jason Taylor go, and moved Starks inside. No one is stepping up right now. Not good.

 

LIKE: Jared Odrick. I didnít think the Dolphins top draft pick was capable of winning a starting job as a rookie. I was wrong, and not just because Phillip Merling was lost for the season. Odrick looks like he belongs at RE; heís active and shows good burst and stoutness. He has a ways to go yet, and Sparano will have to put up with the mistakes he will surely make. But Odrick is a guy who will get better as the season rolls on.

DISLIKE: Merling. His problems on and off the field are frustrating, and weíve got to start worrying if this is another second round draft pick gone bust. The Dolphins sure could use him this year.

 

LIKE: Mike Nolanís defense. By all accounts he has his guys primed for some impactful work. We wonít see but a sliver of what he has planned until the season opener, which is as it should be. Still, Iím very impressed by what we have seen thus far. Nolanís reputation surely precedes him.

DISLIKE: John Bonamegoís special teams. Once again his special teams arenít very special. This is the third year in a row we are talking about this. Why is that? For some reason, the dogs just arenít eating what he is serving.

 

LIKE: Signing TE David Martin. The Dolphins really helped themselves by bringing Martin back. Martin allows them to run a more potent two TE offense, as we saw in 2008 when he became one of Chad Penningtonís favorite targets. And he looks to be healthy again, though still out of ideal football shape.

DISLIKE: Trading away Ted Ginn, Jr. I still fail to see what the Dolphins gained by trading Ginn away. He was an impact returner and could have been a nice compliment to Brandon Marshall in multiple WR sets. Proponents of the trade maintain that Nolan Carroll is better (Carrollís the guy the Dolphins drafted with the pick they received from the 49ers in exchange for Ginn). But thatís not the case today, on defense or as a kick returner.

 

 

LIKE: Jake Long and Vernon Carey. These two have a chance to go down as the greatest pair of tackles in team history. Yeah, theyíre that good.

 

DISLIKE: Sparanoís game of musical chairs at the guard and center position. Never have I seen him more unsure than he has been this year in naming his interior line starters. Itís really out of character for him. Sometimes you can stare at a problem so long and so microcosmically that you lose the big picture. In this case, the continuity of the offensive line and the offense as a whole is suffering from Sparanoís indecisiveness. Another four quarters of play against Dallas wonít tell Sparano any more than he already knows. He needs to decide, like yesterday.

 
     
   
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