2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Dolphins open camp with 'college mentality'

By STEVEN WINE - AP Sports Writer
    2013-07-18 16:45

MIAMI (AP) - The Miami Dolphins' 2012 finale dispelled any illusion they could compete with the AFC's best. Joe Philbin's first year as coach ended with a 28-0 loss at New England, an ugly exclamation point to Miami's fourth consecutive losing season.

Philbin, though, won mostly favorable reviews despite going 7-9, and rookie Ryan Tannehill's promising play was a plus, so for a change Miami went into the offseason with stability at coach and quarterback. But the need for significant shakeups elsewhere was clear, and general manager Jeff Ireland spent the offseason revamping the receiving, linebacker and cornerback corps.

As a result, the Dolphins could have 10 new starters this season. Their roster appears faster and deeper, and it's definitely younger.

``Everybody has the college mentality around here,'' said former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Mike Wallace, the most heralded free-agent acquisition. ``It's a lot different coming from where I come from with the older guys. I think everybody is hungry, everybody wants to get better, and everybody wants to be what we need to be to have a winning record.''

Five things to watch as the Dolphins try to finish above .500 - and perhaps even win a playoff game for the first time since 2000.

1. DOLPHINS WILL IMPROVE IF TANNEHILL DOES: The first-round draft choice became the Dolphins' 17th starting quarterback since 2000, then became their first rookie QB to start all 16 games. His passer rating was 27th in the NFL, and touchdowns were tough to come by. But he threw for 3,294 yards - more than fellow rookies Robert Griffin III or Russell Wilson - and the Dolphins believe a better supporting cast will allow Tannehill to improve dramatically in 2013.

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2. JEFF IRELAND NEEDS GOOD SEASON: The general manager has been much-maligned due to their 27-37 record over the past four years, and may need a breakthrough by the team in 2013 to keep his job. A stockpile of draft picks and considerable salary cap space allowed Ireland to be aggressive during the offseason, and in free agency he signed Wallace, the top available receiver, and six other likely starters. He also traded up nine spots in the draft to select linebacker-end Dion Jordan of Oregon with the No. 3 overall choice. Dolphins fans, including team owner Stephen Ross, are certain to grade Ireland on how the newcomers perform.

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3. BIG PLAYS MAY BE ONLY A SNAP AWAY: The Dolphins ranked 27th in yards last season, when the wideouts totaled three touchdowns, and Philbin lost his biggest playmaker via free agency when Reggie Bush signed with Detroit. But the coach believes speedy second-year pro Lamar Miller will provide a breakaway threat to rival Bush, and a revamped receiving corps might be Miami's best group of pass catchers in 20 years. Wallace gives Tannehill the deep threat he lacked last year, and Ireland also acquired tight end Dustin Keller and slot receiver Brandon Gibson to team with Brian Hartline, who had a career-high 74 catches in 2012 and will now benefit from single coverage.

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4. BALL-HAWKING A PRIORITY: Miami forced only 10 interceptions and recovered just six opposing fumbles last year to tie for fourth worst in the NFL in takeaways. That was the biggest deficiency in an otherwise solid defense, and to address the problem Ireland went shopping. Jordan is expected to help as a pass rusher to complement veteran Cameron Wake. Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett, the team's top tacklers, have been replaced by two younger, faster free agent acquisitions, Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler. Miami also signed veteran cornerback Brent Grimes, who won raves in offseason practices, and added cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis in the second and third rounds of the draft.

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5. DOLPHINS CHASE LEBRON: From the Don Shula Expressway to Dan Marino Boulevard, Miami has always been a football town in a football state. But LeBron James and the two-time NBA champion Miami Heat gave South Florida a serious case of hoops fever. Now it's the Heat who are the talk of the town, even in July, while the Dolphins have lately played home games in a half-empty stadium. Everyone agrees about what would bring fans back to the Dolphins: winning.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

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Seattle Seahawks FB Derrick Coleman (foot) and TE Zach Miller (ankle) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 22, and they have been ruled out for Week 8 against the Carolina Panthers.

Frostee RuckerOct 22 06:53p

Arizona Cardinals DE Calais Campbell (knee) and TE Troy Niklas (ankle) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. S Rashad Johnson (knee) was limited, while DE Frostee Rucker (calf) practiced in full.

Johnathan JosephOct 22 06:53p

Houston Texans LB Brian Cushing (knee), CB Johnathan Joseph (knee), CB Darryl Morris (ankle), LB Brooks Reed (groin), LB John Simon (ankle) and LB Jeff Tarpinian (knee) did not [ More ]

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Kansas City Chiefs WR Donnie Avery (groin) has been ruled out for Week 8 against the St. Louis Rams. WR Junior Hemingway (hamstring) and CB Christopher Owens (knee) did [ More ]

Tre MasonOct 22 06:32p

St. Louis Rams RB Tre Mason could be the top candidate for a majority of carries since he is averaging 5.4 yards per carry. Mason rushed for 85 yards [ More ]

Dion SimsOct 22 05:53p

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Jo-Lonn DunbarOct 22 05:43p

St. Louis Rams C Tim Barnes (shoulder), DE William Hayes (illness), CB Janoris Jenkins (knee), S T.J. McDonald (concussion) and OT Rodger Saffold (knee) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. [ More ]

Scott SolomonOct 22 05:43p

Cleveland Browns WR Jonathan Krause, Seattle Seahawks TE Rashaun Allen and Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Solomon Patton and DE Scott Solomon cleared waivers and became free agents Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Billy WinnOct 22 05:33p

Cleveland Browns DE Desmond Bryant (wrist) and LB Barkeveous Mingo both fully participated in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. DE Ahtyba Rubin (ankle) and CB K'Waun Williams (concussion) were both [ More ]

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Chicago Bears CB Kyle Fuller (hand, hip) and SS Danny McCray (knee) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. LB Jonathan Bostic (back) and LB Lance Briggs (ribs) [ More ]

Sharrif FloydOct 22 05:13p

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Dashon GoldsonOct 22 05:13p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Jonathan Casillas (hamstring), OT Anthony Collins (knee), S Dashon Goldson (ankle) and S Keith Tandy (hamstring) were limited in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. C Johnthan Banks (neck) practiced in full.

Brandon BrownerOct 22 05:13p

New England Patriots DE Chandler Jones (hip) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. CB Brandon Browner (ankle), LB Jamie Collins (thigh), OG Dan Connolly (concussion), DE Dominique [ More ]

Josh McCownOct 22 05:13p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Josh McCown (thumb) was listed as a limited participant in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Brett KeiselOct 22 05:03p

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Jimmy GrahamOct 22 04:53p

New Orleans Saints TE Jimmy Graham (shoulder) was limited during practice Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Jonathan GoodwinOct 22 04:53p

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Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green (toe) wasn't feeling good enough to return to practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. Head coach Marvin Lewis said Green won't play in Week 8 against [ More ]

Pierre ThomasOct 22 04:43p

New Orleans Saints RB Pierre Thomas (rib, shoulder) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Reggie WayneOct 22 04:33p

Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne (elbow) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Jake LockerOct 22 04:33p

Tennessee Titans QB Jake Locker (thumb) was a limited participant in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Kelechi OsemeleOct 22 04:33p

Baltimore Ravens DE Chris Canty (wrist) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. OT Eugene Monroe (knee) and OG Kelechi Osemele (knee) practiced in full.

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Indianapolis Colts TE Jack Doyle (knee) and OT Gosder Cherilus (rest) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. CB Darius Butler (ankle) was limited during practice, while DT [ More ]

James StarksOct 22 04:33p

Green Bay Packers RB James Starks (ankle) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. Starks injured the ankle in Week 7 against the Carolina Panthers.

Brandon ThompsonOct 22 04:33p

Cincinnati Bengals LB Rey Maualuga (hamstring) has been ruled out for Week 8 against the Baltimore Ravens. DE Robert Geathers (toe), CB Leon Hall (back) and OG Mike Pollak [ More ]

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Jacksonville Jaguars CB Alan Ball (bicep) and DE Andre Branch (groin) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. C Luke Bowanko (ankle), CB Aaron Colvin (knee) and S Craig Loston (hamstring) were limited.

Trent RichardsonOct 22 04:23p

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson (hamstring) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22.

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