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things arent going so well for Griese so far

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Guest marlins02

New system has Griese scrambling

Published June 24, 2003



DAVIE ? So far, Jay Fiedler has nothing to worry about.


After last week's three-day minicamp, it was clear that Brian Griese is waaay behind Fiedler when it comes to competition for quarterback. Because he signed late, Griese may need the entire preseason to become comfortable in Norv Turner's offensive scheme.


The Dolphins are prepared to give Griese plenty of snaps in exhibition games, which could cut into the playing time of third-stringer Sage Rosenfels. Those games should provide a better indication of whether the interceptions Griese threw in each of his first three practices were the result of inexperience in a new system or the disturbing penchant for turnovers he had the past two seasons in Denver.


With the Dolphins having completed their final minicamp, here is a unit-by-unit look at news and tidbits from other positions:


Wide receiver: Although the free-agent status of Oronde Gadsden remained one of the top stories, the player the Dolphins signed as his potential replacement quietly enjoyed an excellent offseason. Derrius Thompson should make a strong push for James McKnight's starting spot opposite Chris Chambers. Also, don't be surprised if fifth-round pick J.R. Tolver makes a bigger impact than a slew of receivers selected ahead of him in April's draft.


Running backs: Because the Dolphins are four-deep at tailback, Sedric Irvin was switched to fullback after returning from NFL Europe. A 1999 third-round pick by Detroit, Irvin is trying to return from a knee injury after spending last year out of football.


Tight ends: The Dolphins lost both top backups, but it appears Marco Battaglia and Donald Lee will serve as capable replacements for Jed Weaver (San Francisco) and Desmond Clark (Chicago). Battaglia caught three touchdowns during a May minicamp practice. Lee needs time to develop as a rookie, but the fifth-round pick has shown more athleticism than expected from one used almost exclusively as a blocker at Mississippi State.


Offensive line: Of the three drafted, tackle Wade Smith (third round) has performed better than guard Taylor Whitley (third round) and tackle Tim Provost (sixth). While he will make his share of mistakes against more-experienced pass rushers, Smith is fast enough to make amends. Still, Smith doesn't appear ready to challenge Mark Dixon to start at left tackle.


Defensive line: Adewale Ogunleye remains unsigned, but expect the defensive end to sign a one-year, $375,000 contract by the start of camp. Although Ogunleye had 91/2 sacks, the Dolphins have no desire to pay him above the NFL minimum for a third-year player because of the impact it would have on the salary cap and the precedent it would set in negotiations with other restricted free agents. But with a repeat performance from last season, Ogunleye could cash in during the offseason as a restricted free agent.


Linebackers: The Dolphins don't usually blitz linebackers, but the addition of Junior Seau could change that. Seau, who has 47 sacks in 13 NFL seasons, worked in pass-rush drills last week with the defensive linemen.


Secondary: Cornerback Sam Madison is on his way to a full recovery from offseason knee surgery.


Coach's initial slip-up


Coach Dave Wannstedt accidentally said last week that Jason Taylor would miss minicamp because he was on a UFO tour. It was a USO trip to visit Marines in Kuwait. ...


Somebody had to take the spot, but it was curious that Griese was given the same locker space once occupied by Dan Marino. Marino's locker is on display in the lobby of team headquarters. ...


Defensive lineman Jay Williams will host a charity pool tournament July 10 in Davie, with proceeds going to the Boys and Girls Club of Miami. The event, which will include players from the Dolphins and Houston Texans, will be at Gatsby's, 1805 S. University Drive, from 7-10 p.m. For information, call 215-519-6523. ...


Dolphins staff counsel Matt Thomas was among the NFL front-office personnel selected to participate in a weeklong management program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. The program, which begins today, is billed as helping "high-potential club executives from diverse backgrounds develop their careers." Thomas already is well-regarded by Dolphins management for his work on the financial side of team operations.


Alex Marvez can be reached at amarvez@sun-sentinel.com.

Copyright ? 2003, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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