Dolphins Roundup 8/25/04

Compiled throughout the day from a variety of sources.

- The Florida Times-Union reported that the Dolphins have expressed interest in defensive end Tony Brackens, who was released last Sunday by Jacksonville.

Brackens would help fill the void created at defensive end by the Ogunleye trade.

Brackens, 30, registered 55 sacks during his eight years with Jacksonville, including a team-best six in 2003. But his lengthy injury history played a significant role in why Brackens was released, as he was scheduled to earn $1.025 million for being on Jacksonville's roster for the first regular-season game.

The Dolphins have not scheduled a visit with Brackens and had been interested in ex-New York Giants starter Kenny Holmes, who had a free-agent workout earlier this month.

- Taylor Whitley grew up in a small Texas town where football isn't a way to kill a few hours on a Friday night. It's a way of life.

"I'm from a little bitty town with about 800 people, so when you have a high school football game, everybody leaves town. There's nobody there," said the Dolphins' second-year offensive lineman.

"In Texas, if you don't like football, there's something wrong with you. I was just fortunate to be able to grow up in that environment."

As much fun as it may have been to play on a team of 18 friends in front of the entire frenzied population of Sudan, Whitley's roots in small-town football were hardly an advantage for him in forging college and professional careers.

"In a place like that, they have a lack of good competition that the bigger schools get all the time," said former Texas A&M; coach R.C. Slocum, who coached Whitley in College Station.

"That's why the players at small schools don't develop as fast as the players in the bigger programs. When he came here, he was behind, but he worked hard to catch up."

Slocum wasn't surprised to learn that Whitley is on the verge of winning the starting job at right guard.

"One thing about Taylor is that he works so hard," Slocum said. "He's so conscientious. He's always been a tough, high-effort guy.

"It's just a matter of getting experience. He was always a good player for us, but he kept working and peaked in his senior year."

Whitley's success paid off when the Dolphins drafted him in the third round, but his pro career, as in college, got off to a slow start.

A&M; linemate Billy Yates, signed as an undrafted free agent by the Dolphins, played in three games; Whitley remained inactive for all 16 games last season.

"Honestly, it was very frustrating. You get drafted and you come in and think, `All right, I'm going to play for the Miami Dolphins' -- and then all you do is sit around for a year," Whitley said. "Yeah, I was frustrated for a while, but then I realized I had an opportunity to learn from guys like Todd Perry and Tim Ruddy and see the things that they did.

"It was really a good opportunity to learn a lot and watch a lot of football. It was really frustrating for me, personally, because you want to play. It's human nature. You're a competitor. You want to compete, but in the end, it's probably the best thing that could happen."

The 6-foot-4, 315-pound guard apparently learned enough to make an impression on his friend and former A&M; linemate, Seth McKinney, who is the front-runner to win the job at center.

"From the beginning of camp until today he's made a good improvement with his hands," McKinney said.

"He gets them up on people. You can see from the beginning of camp how he's progressed. Everyone should progress so smoothly. He made a concerted effort and he stuck with it and played hard."

As well as he has practiced, Whitley, 24, still considers himself a work in progress.

"With pass protection in the past, I've had problems with my hands," he said.

"Then one day it just kind of clicked and I had a feel for it. It's just a thing, if you get your hands on someone, you can shut them down. It's an area I've tried to improve a lot, and now I'm going to other things and improve there. Hopefully I can pick out one thing every day and try to get better at that. If you do that over time, you're going to be a better player."

Whitley has been up-front with offensive line coach Tony Wise that it would take time for him to make the transition from college to pro.

"He has always said, coming from Sudan, that when he came to A&M;, he didn't know what he was doing and it took him a long time to develop," Wise said.

"After he made that comment to me, he said, `Coach, that is not out of the ordinary for me. I'm used to being a little slow because, coming from a small high school to A&M;, I had to develop these things.' He knew that it would take him a little time."

- The weather wasn't the only thing storming Tuesday afternoon at Dolphins headquarters.

Coach Dave Wannstedt was forced to cancel practice because of lightning after 80 minutes, which was at least a half-hour early.

Although the practice field is surrounded by lightning rods, a bolt that struck behind a parking garage at nearby Nova Southeastern University caused a group of players led by quarterbacks A.J. Feeley and Sage Rosenfels to run for cover.

Wannstedt stopped the session and was clearly furious walking off the field.

Wannstedt even canceled a postpractice media session for the first time since becoming coach in 2000.

"He was disappointed because we couldn't get a good practice in because of the weather," media relations spokesman Harvey Greene said.

"He said, `I've got nothing to say.'"

Wannstedt's anger is understandable.

Not only was it the third practice wiped out by weather, this session was particularly important because the Dolphins are installing a game plan for the first time in the exhibition season, for Saturday night's game at Tampa Bay.

The Dolphins also had hoped to get their first look at wide receiver Marty Booker, acquired Monday in a trade that brought him and a 2005 third-round draft choice from Chicago for defensive end Adewale Ogunleye.

Booker got limited action in a seven-on-seven drill before practice was canceled.

- The Dolphins had interest in Pittsburgh tailback Jerome Bettis, but the Steelers aren't willing to deal him because of a $3 million salary-cap hit in such a transaction. Bettis, 32, is the NFL's No. 6 all-time rusher, with 12,353 yards, but is expected to play a lesser role because of Pittsburgh's addition of tailback Duce Staley.

The Dolphins are scouting tailbacks, including Cleveland's James Jackson, in hope of upgrading a rushing attack that produced 25 yards on 17 carries in Saturday's 17-0 loss to Washington.

- Wide receiver Terrence Wilkins, who missed the first two exhibition games because of a hamstring injury, has dropped to third-string punt and kickoff returner.

Wilkins was listed as the starter in both spots before being supplanted by tailback Fred Russell (kickoffs) and wide receiver Sam Simmons (punts).

- The Miami Dolphins today were awarded wide receiver Bryan Gilmore off waivers from the Arizona Cardinals. Also on Tuesday, the team waived wide receiver Willie Johnson.

The 26-year old Gilmore first joined the Cardinals as an undrafted college free agent out of Midwestern State (Texas) in 2000. Over the past four years, he had played in 25 games, including 10 starts. He has caught 18 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns. He had his best season in 2003 when he opened 10 of the 14 games in which he appeared for Arizona and totaled 17 receptions for 208 yards and a pair of scores.

The 6-0, 195-pound Gilmore was a four-year starter at Midwestern State (1996-99) during which time he caught 155 passes for 2,722 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also returned 49 kickoffs for a 21.5-yard average. Born July 21, 1978, Gilmore attended Lufkin (Texas) High School.

- The Dolphins currently have 87 players on the roster.

- Newly acquired WR Marty Booker practiced with the Dolphins for the first time Tuesday.

- The Dolphins practiced in shorts, helmets and shoulder pads Tuesday afternoon for approximately two hours. Practiced was delayed 25 minutes due to a thunderstorm. It rained throughout practice Tuesday.

G Taylor Whitley (On the pressure being placed on him) "Not much pressure, not as much as I put on myself. All the pressure for me comes from me trying to improve every day. I'm trying to be accountable for my teammates and play the best I can. Most pressure for me comes internally."

G Taylor Whitley (On working to improve) - "I'm just trying to get a feel for the way we do things here. I'm trying to watch other guys and take things from their game and apply it to my game. It's just one of those things where over time you get things out, and try them and if it doesn't work, you can it and if it does you go with it. It's a trial-and-error type of thing and once you get a feel for things you can really try to work on the little things."

QB A.J. Feeley (On what the Dolphins want to accomplish against Tampa Bay) "As long as we move the ball and put points on the board, we will be O.K. It's not about winning in the preseason. We just need to improve on offense this week."

By The Source
Aug 24, 2004
© Copyright 2004-2005

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