The Dolphins are looking forward to the peace and quiet of training camp, where they can sweat off the prolonged offseason distractions.
After Nick Saban decided he liked college coaching better and lied on his way out of town, you would think fans would cut replacement Cam Cameron some slack. But Miami fans aren't ready for rebuilding, not even after coming off a disappointing 6-10 season good for last place in the AFC East.
With the defensive player of the year in Jason Taylor leading a unit that placed fourth in the league, the expectation is for offensive coach Cameron to produce instant results.
So his decision to unceremoniously cut ties with quarterback Daunte Culpepper and trade for 37-year-old Trent Green is one of the bolder moves of the year and certainly not indicative of a rebuilding mode.
That's why Cameron made speedy receiver-kick returner Ted Ginn his No. 1 pick. Ginn produces instant results, even though fans who booed the announcement at the draft were unable to appreciate the game plan. They thought quarterback Brady Quinn was a no-brainer, given Culpepper's uncertainty and Cameron's success in developing Philip Rivers in San Diego.
The Dolphins let productive slot receiver Wes Welker go to rival New England and veteran tight end Randy McMichael go to St. Louis mainly because of a desire for speed. Ex-Packer David Martin is faster than McMichael, though not nearly as accomplished. Ginn is faster than Welker, though totally untested and still a bit gimpy from a foot injury suffered in the BCS game.
Ginn said he was full speed at offseason camps, but without pads and hitting, nobody is ready to let out a deep breath and pretend everything is OK. That won't happen until maybe the first time Green connects deep with Ginn.
Ginn and speedy third-round running back Lorenzo Booker should provide nice complements to Chris Chambers and Ronnie Brown.
Cameron drafted BYU's John Beck in the second round and will be eager to see him develop. In San Diego, Cameron watched the late general manager John Butler trade draft rights to Michael Vick, landing LaDainian Tomlinson in round one and Drew Brees in round two, so there is a warm spot in Cameron's heart for second-round quarterbacks.
The defense that already had Taylor coming off one edge with a 13.5-sack season added Joey Porter from Pittsburgh to join excellent linebackers Zach Thomas and Channing Crowder. Anticipating that offenses will not allow Taylor to single-handedly wreak havoc against them again, Dolphins defensive coordinator Dom Capers hope Porter has more left in his 30-year-old body than the Steelers think he does.
With relatively ancient tackles Keith Traylor (38) and Vonnie Holliday (31) anchoring a defensive front short of depth, the Dolphins expect Porter to play like a kid. They can only hope he doesn't act like one with South Beach replacing Greater Pittsburgh as his stomping ground.
Cameron's offensive line is in the capable hands of veteran coach Hudson Houck, who has been known to perform miracles and needs another one. All five starters could be different from last year so how quickly the new unit jells is a key to any realistic chance the Dolphins have of competing. In early camps, rookies Samson Satele and Drew Mormino were thrown into the first unit before anyone even introduced them, but whether they last is what training camp is all about. Right tackle Vernon Carey has switched spots with left tackle L.J. Shelton, while Rex Hadnot, Jonathan Ingram, Chris Liwienski and Dan Stevenson try to hang onto spots. The Dolphins let four contributors go, so the situation is urgent.
Another reason Cameron was willing to bypass Quinn and get rid of Culpepper besides Green and Beck is the presence of Cleo Lemon. Untested but not unknown to Cameron, Lemon spent time on San Diego's practice squad until he was acquired by Miami for A.J. Feeley. With Beck and Lemon as young prospects, Cameron wasn't worrying about Green taking Culpepper's place.
Lots of pieces have to come together quickly for Cameron's offense in order for the Dolphins to rebound from last year's slump, and the defense is putting a lot of faith in an aging front seven. But with Oakland, Houston and Cleveland among their first six games, the Dolphins could gain confidence in time to be a factor in the AFC East. A lot depends on whether Green quickly adapts to the new offense or whether the severe concussion that knocked him out of most of last season has turned his thought process into "scrambled eggs," as Taylor so indelicately put it.
ProFootballTalk: Patriots QB Tom Brady addressed Wes Welker’s decision to head West to Denver. Brady says he isn’t surprised by anything after being in the league for so long and hopes that Welker has a great season with the Broncos.
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