Dolphins Weekend Roundup 8/15/04
By The Source
Aug 15, 2004
Compiled from a variety of sources throughout the day
-The Dolphins' embattled offense showed signs of life Saturday night in the first half of a 16-5 exhibition victory against visiting Jacksonville, but any enthusiasm was tempered by the loss of another prominent wide receiver.
Coach Dave Wannstedt said Kendall Newson "popped" his left Achilles' tendon while trying to run a pass route. Newson, who was elevated to the third receiver spot following the season-ending knee injury suffered last week by David Boston, fell to the ground after pushing off his left leg late in the first quarter.
Wannstedt said further testing would determine the extent of Newson's injury. Newson injured his Achilles' tendon during a Thursday afternoon practice but was cleared to play against Jacksonville.
"He warmed up and was fine," said Wannstedt, who also lost reserve cornerbacks Korey Banks (neck) and Alphonso Roundtree (left ankle) to potentially serious injuries Saturday. "He got hurt during the game. That's the only thing I have to say about that. ... He was playing well to that point."
Newson's replacement helped the Dolphins win their first exhibition season opener since 1998 before an announced Pro Player Stadium crowd of 67,978. Ronald Bellamy, a first-year player who spent most of last season on the developmental squad, caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Sage Rosenfels to give the Dolphins an 11-point lead with 7:52 remaining.
Newson's injury, combined with the absence of three receivers (starters Chris Chambers and Derrius Thompson and backup Terrence Wilkins) because of sore hamstrings, resulted in extensive playing time for reserves. It also forced Wannstedt to change his approach toward divvying playing time between his quarterbacks.
Instead of allowing Jay Fiedler to play the entire first half as originally planned, Wannstedt inserted A.J. Feeley on the fourth possession so he would have the chance to receive snaps with the top backup players.
Fortunately for both quarterbacks, Bellamy and fullback Rob Konrad helped pick up some of the slack in the passing game and make amends for a running game that produced just 12 yards on 11 first-half carries. Particularly discouraging was the Dolphins' inability to run between the tackles. Starting tailback Travis Minor gained no yards on five attempts.
"The running game, we have a long way to go on that," Wannstedt said.
Konrad caught three Fiedler passes for 54 yards, including a 31-yarder out of the backfield on the first possession that led to a 44-yard field goal by Olindo Mare.
Fiedler started and completed 7 of 11 attempts for 89 yards in three series. Fiedler was especially sharp on his final drive, completing all four of his throws for 24 yards to set up a 51-yard Mare field goal early in the second quarter.
"Overall, I thought it was pretty good with all the injuries we have in the receiver spot to come out and be productive like that," Fiedler said.
Feeley got off to a rough start, having a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage intercepted by rookie linebacker Daryl Smith. But Feeley rebounded to stake his claim for a starting spot by leading an impressive scoring drive to end the first half.
The Dolphins seemed content to run out the clock until Bellamy caught a third-down pass he initially bobbled for an 18-yard completion. Bellamy then made a diving one-handed catch for a 31-yard completion, putting the Dolphins in position for a 32-yard Mare field goal.
But while he has exhibited a better touch than Fiedler on long passes throughout the preseason, Feeley remains more mistake-prone than the four-year starter. An example of that came in Feeley's lone series of the third quarter. He failed to anticipate the pass rush of Jaguars rookie defensive end Bobby McCray near the Dolphins' goal line. Feeley was penalized for intentional grounding while trying to avoid the sack, giving the Dolphins a third-and-33 at their own 2-yard line.
After a carry by reserve tailback Renaldo Works lost 1 yard, Matt Turk had a punt blocked out of the end zone by Ernest Wilford for a safety that cut the lead to 9-2. Feeley completed 8 of 12 passes for 105 yards before being relieved by Rosenfels.
With the exception of one 42-yard run by Jacksonville tailback Fred Taylor, the Dolphins' defense had a solid performance, especially in light of four starters -- linebacker Zach Thomas (knee), defensive tackle Tim Bowens (rest), and cornerbacks Patrick Surtain (groin) and Sam Madison (hamstring) -- being held out. The Dolphins also benefited from an erratic performance by Jaguars rookie kicker Josh Scobee, who missed first-half attempts from 42 and 24 yards before finally connecting from 34 yards in the third quarter.
"There were a lot of bright spots for us," Wannstedt said. "But to get a couple of guys injured, you never want that."
-More injuries thin ranks at cornerback
The receiving corps isn't the only unit in need of reinforcements. Cornerbacks Korey Banks and Alphonso Roundtree were injured and taken off the field by cart.
Banks, 25, suffered what is believed to be a sprained neck and concussion. He was hurt while tackling the Jaguars' Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala after the 6-foot, 252-pound fullback caught a 13-yard pass from quarterback David Garrard in the second quarter.
Banks, who is vying for a backup cornerback spot and a role on special teams, remained motionless for several minutes as the medical staff immobilized the former Santaluces High standout.
Banks did show movement before being taken to the locker room. He will remain overnight in the hospital.
"He's doing fine. Once we calmed him down, he started to feel a lot better," coach Dave Wannstedt said.
Roundtree, who has excelled in training camp, is believed to have broken his left ankle while returning a punt in the fourth quarter.
Roundtree and Banks were undrafted free agents last year. They played most of the season on the practice squad.
Kendall Newson hobbled off the field with an Achilles' tendon injury in the first quarter, further depleting the receiver corps. In last week's scrimmage with the Houston Texans, starting receiver David Boston (knee) and safety Chris Akins (knee) were lost for the season, although Boston said he hopes to return by the end of the season.
Tailback Ricky Watters and wide receivers Andre Rison and Oronde Gadsden contacted Dolphins officials in light of the loss of tailback Ricky Williams (retirement) and Boston but were unsuccessful in their attempts to get workouts.
Watters, 35, rushed for 10,643 yards in 10 NFL seasons but hasn't played since 2001. Rison, 37, had 10,205 receiving yards and 84 touchdowns in 12 seasons, with his last playing time coming with Oakland in 2000. Rison made off-field news earlier this month when a Georgia judge ordered his arrest for failing to pay $107,350 in child support.
Gadsden played with the Dolphins from 1998-2003 but wasn't re-signed. Gadsden, who turns 33 on Friday, rejoined the Dolphins last November after being released in the preseason following an injury settlement. But Gadsden caught just four passes for 48 yards. The Steelers and Chargers have expressed interest in Gadsden.
Due to the rash of minor injuries to receivers and cornerbacks, there were several lineup switches. Receiver J.R. Tolver started in place of Derrius Thompson (hamstring) and Kendall Newson, who was nursing a sore leg Thursday, started instead of Chris Chambers (hamstring).
Starting corners Sam Madison (hamstring) and Patrick Surtain (groin) were replaced by rookie Will Poole and former Carolina starter Reggie Howard.
Morlon Greenwood started at middle linebacker, giving Zach Thomas (knee) another week to recover. Second-year linebacker Eddie Moore started at strongside linebacker for Greenwood. Left defensive tackle Jeff Zgonina started for Tim Bowens (back).
Rookie back Fred Russell returned kicks in the second half and had a nifty 31-yard return on his first attempt. In the waning seconds of the game, Russell burst through the middle for an 88-yard jaunt before being stopped on the 9-yard line. He had 101 yards on nine carries. ...
First-round pick Vernon Carey made his pro debut in the second quarter, substituting for starting right tackle John St. Clair.
-NOT GETTING HOPES UP
Fullback Rob Konrad sparked the offense in the first half, catching three screen passes for 54 yards, including a 31-yarder. He has longed to be more involved in the offense since being drafted out of Syracuse in 1999.
"Every preseason it seems I get a bunch of catches," Konrad said. "Hopefully, they'll make it into the season this year.
"It's great this year as far as the short passing game and West Coast stuff for me being involved in the offense. I got the opportunity to touch the ball."
Former Dillard High and Florida A&M; standout Quinn Gray and former Pope John Paul II running back Rich Alexis got into the game in the fourth quarter. Gray completed 6 of 7 passes for 61 yards. Alexis gained 13 yards on five carries. ...
Former University of Miami All-America center Brett Romberg saw some action for the Jags.
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