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Impressions From Mini Camp

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Impressions From Mini Camp

Postby VaderFin » Mon Jun 12, 2006 7:18 am

Here is a nice article from Miamidolphins.com on the just finished mini camp.


In My Opinion
Andy Cohen, Editor of Dolphin Digest

Impressions From Mini-Camp
June 12, 2006

Got to admit it was a strange feeling, watching a quarterback the caliber of Daunte Culpepper on the Dolphins practice field, throwing one picturesque spiral after another. We’ve waited so long for this, a dominating player behind center once again. But there he was, every bit as real as we hoped, makings plays every bit as proficient as we had heard about. Mini Camp 2006 came and went last weekend, but the memory of Culpepper, unveiled for the first time for media and fans, will remain vivid.

First impressions of Daunte Culpepper.

• He throws the ball so effortlessly, it’s almost as if he is doing it in slow motion. Until, that is, it leaves his hand and you see that pass soaring through the hot air, finding a receiver in perfect stride. On one play, he threw a 25-yard rocket down the middle of the field to Wes Welker. Welker just put his hands up and the ball was there. You had to see it to truly appreciate it. On another, he took a pitch from Ronnie Brown and could have hit any one of three receivers. He chose free agent Fred Gibson deep down the right sideline and he couldn’t have placed it in his hands any better. These are hard throws that Culpepper made look ridiculously easy.

• He is so big for a quarterback, the first time you focus on No. 8, you tell yourself, “that can’t be him.” He could be a linebacker or a tight end. Maybe even a defensive end. To think a man that massive has the tools needed to play a position like quarterback, well, it boggles the mind. It also opens up so many possibilities. “Nobody is going to bring Daunte down with one hand,” said coach Nick Saban. “I told the receivers that plays have a chance of lasting longer now than with our quarterbacks from last year.”

• The knee. Everybody looked at the knee. It is wrapped with a brace. There is a limp, a slight, hardly detectable limp. You had to focus hard to see it, but it was there. What did you think? Seven months after a massive ligament-repairing operation, he would show no side effects? Get real. But it didn’t slow Culpepper down. It didn’t change his passes, nor alter his footwork.

• The scramble. There was one play, on the morning of the Friday practice, when Culpepper couldn’t find anyone open, so he took off and ran. Instincts. All instincts. He darted up the middle, cut left strong, and then turned on the jets as he rolled through the secondary. Nobody was going to hit him. The wrath of Saban would have exploded had that happened. But just to see Culpepper do that, with that limp unable to detect during those few scrambling moments, was something to behold.

• The dive. There was a fumble on the ground in the two-minute drill of a Saturday practice. No big deal, except Saban does not want his players on the ground during practice. Stay upright. It’s the easiest way to avoid injury. Except the competitor in Culpepper took over. So he dove on the loose ball. No big deal. Except your heart had to skip a beat with the quarterback we’ve been waiting for throws his body around as if this were a September Thursday night in Pittsburgh. Culpepper was fine, shrugged it off as “just part of the game.” Saban said he’s never lost a player diving for a fumble, so he was good with it too. Still . . .

• The leader. The Dolphins have plenty of leaders on defense, but were void of enough leaders on offense a year ago. Culpepper, it is clear, is a leader. The other players have taken to him and his value as a “follow me” type of player can not be overstated.

• Conclusion: Nobody is going to predict anything in June because nobody has to. The season opener is still almost three months away. There is a lot of rehabbing to do for Culpepper and major obstacles that must be cleared. But how can you not be optimistic about his chances after watching him during this three-day mini camp? After watching mediocrity behind center since Dan Marino retired, it was so refreshing to see a difference-maker.

I can’t tell you that Culpepper will be in the starting line-up against the Steelers in that nationally-televised opener. But I can tell you this: When he is 100 percent again, when he is totally right, you’re going to see a very special player at quarterback. There should be no doubting that.

Other thoughts as mini camp concluded and training camp looms in the distance, still about six weeks away.

• Joey Harrington was a steal for a sixth-round pick. To have an insurance policy of his caliber behind Culpepper gives the Dolphins the type of security it badly needed. Suddenly, in one off season, you can make the argument that quarterback has become the strength of this football team.

• While there are no guarantees that Marcus Vick will make this football team, nor are there guarantees that he will walk the straight line that is so imperative for a player with a troubled past, his pure athletic ability is intriguing. Offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey has a history of using players who can do many things (see: Kordell Stewart) and with Vick he’s got, at least potentially, a quarterback, a receiver, a runner and kick returner.

• Can’t really form any impressions on the linemen with no hitting and no pads. But, at first glance and with the offensive system largely in tact from a season ago, it seems like everybody is ahead of where they were last season. This is imperative with an imposing test in the regular season opener as the world champion Steelers.

• This doesn’t pertain to mini camp, but somebody asked Saban a question about Ricky Williams, playing in Canada. Enough already? Maybe it’s just me, but with no chance of Williams playing for the Dolphins this season, I’m ready to move on. Let him do his thing in Canada. I’d rather hear about the players that will contribute this season. Not somebody several thousand miles away.

• You see wide receiver Marty Booker dive for a pass and stay on the ground. You see him wheeled off on a cart. You see concern in everyone’s eyes. You realize that even on a lazy summer day in June, even with no hitting taking place, this is a game of violence where good lucks plays such a huge, undeniable role. Fortunately for Booker and the Dolphins, it was only a sprained ankle. A much needed piece of good luck.

• Hated to see defensive linemen Manuel Wright overweight. Nice to see he quickly took off some of that excessive baggage. The concern here is commitment. Wright, a supplemental pick a year ago and a player once criticized by Saban for being out of shape, has enormous potential. But he can’t let his body go during the off season and then diet feverishly close to camp.

• I like what I’ve seen so far of rookie receiver Derek Hagan. Has excellent size and he caught everything thrown his way during mini camp. The Dolphins could certainly use this third-round pick to come up big.

• And finally, as much as we’d like to think there will be a carry over effect on last year’s season-ending, six-game winning streak, these players are too smart to fall into that trap. That was a different team, a different set of circumstances. You can just look at the quarterback position to know that.
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Postby Dolfin99 » Tue Jun 20, 2006 10:31 pm

Miami is getting close, it ought to be a fun season.
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Thanks to deluxe_247 for the awesome sig.
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