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Notes on the Dolphin - Titan Scrimmage
The Dolphin-Titan scrimmage started out as a flag football game for first-stringers. No hitting, no tackling. The Titans began on offense and when they ran their plays, the Dolphin defenders would simply "tag" the Titan possessing the ball. "Bang-bang! You're dead!" While by plan, this meant the play was supposed to be over, those silly-assed Titans players would then break free and keep on running toward the end zone. This juvenile stunt delighted the partisan Tennessee crowd but pretty much pissed-off the Dolphin players who were just sticking to the agreed rules. Let's not get anyone hurt.
With such a format, it would be impossible to say with much certainty whether the touches would really be tackles. Having watched a couple of real NFL games before, I can state with some confidence that players are often touched in this manner but frequently decide not to go down just yet. With the Titan players showing-off for the crowd, I was expecting some of the touches to get a little rougher. I used to hate playing flag football - you just can't NOT tackle. Anyway, it looked as if this would be totally meaningless - like there was no way to get a feel for our rookie players and I seriously considered finding something else to watch on TV. Still, Ricky had a nice run and Chambers made a sweet grab for a TD. That's two basic data points…
Then things got better! A lot better.
Once each first-team had completed an offensive series, the rookie substitutions started and suddenly there was real hitting, with real tackling! When rookie Zak Kustok came on to replace Lucas at QB, he wasn't even wearing a red jersey! Oddly, he was the only QB on either side who didn't don a red top. I think he probably just forgot. Then again, maybe the coaches don't like him?
Judging by the way the Miami defense played, I think the guys were really angry about the "keep running" stunt during the girlie-section of the scrimmage. They pretty much pounded those Titans blue.
Here are the highlights and lowlights I observed.
Ricky Williams played just a tiny bit during the flag portion of the scrimmage. We have a back by the name of Leonard Henry who runs hard and absolutely inflicts himself on would-be tacklers. If Travis Minor or Robert Edwards played, I missed them.
Lucas struggled early but wound up being decent as the starter. His elbow was hurting going in and he had it iced as soon as he came out. Rookie Zak Kustok throws flat-footed and was not particularly impressive. He tossed an ugly INT that was a gift to any player in the end zone. His best play was when he ran from the pocket. - he runs pretty well. Tim Levcik looks like the more polished QB as compared to Kustok. Tim made several nice passes including a dart through the keyhole for a touch down to Margin Hooks. Both these guys will make the team. You have to love that name… Margin Hooks!
Seth McKinney played - he certainly has a chance of unseating Ruddy, but not real soon.
Brent Smith was out-rushed by Jevon Kearse on virtually every play.
DT Henry Taylor looks like he'll make the team - he was getting in on the Titans early and made a nice tackle for a loss on Eddie George.
The Miami secondary was fine and the unit's most outstanding play belonged to a kid named Jason Moore who intercepted an O'Donnell pass and ran it back to midfield. Fletcher and Surtain had notable plays.
In general, the defense did a pretty decent job of rushing the various Titan QB's. Larry Chester, Jay Williams and Jason Taylor were each credited with sacks - most of the time the starting "D" was on the field and, by their second stint, they were hassling the hell out of the Titans at every turn.
Rookie TE Randy McMichael had several nice catches. I can't recall Weaver doing anything - or if he even played.
Rob Konrad dropped an easy pass with no one around him and I'm screaming "This bum has to go!" Then, a bit later, he made a tough catch over the middle and got hammered. He held on to the ball… Go figure.
After the scrimmage was over, Sunshine was stuck for another hour of air time. They showed the players signing autographs and interviewed both Wannstedt and Zach Thomas. It was the usual jock-talk, but Zach did manage to brush aside most of the hype by saying that the Dolphins always played well early but what they needed to do was to figure out how to play well late. 'Nuff said.