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notes from dolphins mini camp

Guest marlins02

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Guest marlins02

Posted on Mon, May. 02, 2005








Saban sees bright spots


Dolphins coach Nick Saban ended rookie minicamp hopeful that he had found some good undrafted players.




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The treasure hunt is over and Nick Saban seems pretty pleased with himself because he thinks maybe, just maybe, the Dolphins might have uncovered a sparkling nugget or two amid a coal mine.


Miami's rookie minicamp has come and gone, and while the six drafted players are assured of returning to compete with veterans later this summer, the 43 remaining undrafted rookie free agents and tryout players enjoy no such guarantee.


In fact, some of the undrafted free agents and most of the tryout players maybe will never set foot on an NFL practice field again. But Saban thinks a couple of the long shots just might be worth the gamble.


''We haven't even had the opportunity to talk to them yet, but there are probably at least six or eight of them who we're interested in,'' Saban said. ``From a numbers standpoint, we may not be able to sign them immediately, but we're certainly going to work to do that at some time in the near future, when we get space on our squad.''


Saban declined to name the players that have a chance because he wanted to meet with coaches to confirm his opinion and didn't want to cause panic among players at the positions he names.


But some players clearly were proficient.




Punt returner and defensive back Joe Walkins, a Dillard High graduate, seemed very comfortable fielding punts and even broke free of four downfield defenders on one such play, sparking a high-five celebration among teammates and coaches.


Cornerback Ray Green collected at least two interceptions during the three-day camp, which ended Sunday.


Tight ends Joe Munson, Alex Holmes and Victor Sesay all earned Saban's praise.


And cornerback Shirdonya Mitchell, who has a leg injury and didn't participate in even one drill, made such an impression with Saban on tape before the draft that the coach said the Dolphins likely will keep him, even if they have to ``[shelve] him for a year and have a guy that we can work with in the future.''




An NFL future is a light that shines in the distance for these players. And they are all willing to chase the glow.


''You got your whole life to go out get a real job and work,'' former University of Miami receiver Kevin Beard said.


``While you're young, even if you do go get a job, you're still going to work out and try to find a spot somewhere. You keep your agent looking for some tryouts and go from there, trying to live the NFL dream.''


That kind of attitude impresses Saban.


''It says a lot about a guy who makes a commitment to get in shape to be able to come here and try to take advantage of the opportunity because it does take a significant amount of work to go through this,'' Saban said. ``I think it says a lot about a guy's character and want-to.''




Unfortunately, for some players, the Dolphins are looking for talent as well as desire.


The two quarterbacks the Dolphins brought to this camp -- Miami's Brock Berlin and Princeton's Matt Verbit -- struggled with fundamentals, such as taking snaps and handing off, that should be second nature. It also was obvious that the best arm in camp belonged to quarterback coach Jason Garrett, who had a 12-year NFL career before retiring this year.


Other players didn't seem to have the right preparation.


Hawaii defensive tackle Matt Faga said he weighed in at 354 pounds. His playing weight last season was 320.


How did he add the 34 pounds?


''Eating,'' Faga said. ``It's hard to lose weight in Hawaii. I'll tell you that right now.''




Saban agreed with Cowboys coach Bill Parcells that former LSU defensive end Marcus Spears is overweight. In response to a question about playing Spears at defensive end, Parcells said he wasn't going to put ''Chubby Checker'' in the game.


''I actually had three conversations with him before the draft, more as his college coach than as the coach of the Miami Dolphins, to emphasize to him how important it was for him to get down to playing in the low-290s,'' Saban said. ``He's much faster, he's much quicker. It did not surprise me at all that Bill Parcells got on him . . . about his weight.''


Spears reportedly weighs 307. ''He just likes to eat that catfish and jambalaya,'' Saban said.



it would be cool to see kevin beard compete for a roster spot later this year. can anybody tell me something about the guys that saban mentioned? especially that group of tight ends and shirdonya mitchell from mizzou. ive read a couple articles on him and saban seems to love the guy.

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Shirdonya Mitchell is a 6'', 195lb CB who is from Mizzou and was the fastest player on the team in 2004. He ran a pre-season 4.28 for the Tigers and was also one of the best kick returners in the Big 12. He was voted the Spring 2004 Most Improved CB on Mizzou. He is going to turn 22-years-old this month and is originally from Texas.


Here is a pre-draft Bio from my friend Scott Wright:


Strengths: Has amazing speed...Is a very good natural athlete...Has good size...Can stick with wideouts due to his speed, acceleration and quickness...Explosive...Still has a lot of upside and potential.


Weaknesses: Raw and will need to be developed...Hasn't always played up to the level you'd expect from someone with his physical abilities...Technique is lacking...Is not a great tackler...Does not play to his timed speed.


Notes: Is one of the fastest players in the Draft, at any position...Will likely be chosen higher than you would expect due to his top measurables and potential...Interesting developmental prospect.

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