When the Dolphins hired Joe Philbin to replace Tony Sparano, among the reasons for the move was a belief by the organization that Philbin would develop talent better than his predecessor.
Midway through Philbin’s rookie season as an NFL head coach, the jury remains out, but the signs are encouraging.
Brian Hartline and Mike Pouncey have made the biggest jumps, and Nolan Carroll has played noticeably better than in his first two years.
Hartline already has set a career high in receiving yards (662, 11th-most in the NFL).
Pouncey has graded out as the league’s third-best center, according to Pro Football Focus.
“I’d have to say, it’s definitely improved from last year,” Hartline said of the coaching staff’s teaching ability. “They do communicate at a high level and have a lot of good qualities.”
Rookie running back Jonas Gray, who spent the first six weeks of the season on the physically unable to perform list (he tore his ACL while with Notre Dame last November), will finish up his third week of practice Friday.
League rules dictate the team must activate Gray to its 53-man roster next week, shut him down for the season or cut him.
“I think I’ve shown them enough, the fact that I’m close to 100 percent,” Gray said. “They were right to take a chance on me, keep me on the team as long as they have. Hopefully I’ll get an opportunity. I think I’ve shown them a lot.”
Whatever disappointments Dolphins fans experience this year, they can take heart in knowing that things could always be worse.
Take the Titans, who are buried in the standings and lost 51-20 at home to the Bears last week, prompting owner Bud Adams to tell the Tennessean (Nashville):
“In my 50 years of owning an NFL franchise, I am at a loss to recall a regular-season home game that was such a disappointment for myself and fans of the Titans. We were grossly outcoached and outplayed from start to finish.”
Said Titans coach Mike Munchak: “I think Mr. Adams said exactly what we were all feeling. When that happens in your home stadium and you turn the ball over six times and really gave the game away, it’s hard to watch.”
THIS AND THAT
• De’Andre Presley, cut Tuesday by Miami, was signed to the practice squad after clearing waivers.
• A Sporting News poll of 103 NFL players from 27 teams voted Richie Incognito the league’s second-dirtiest player, behind the Lions’ Ndamukong Suh. Incognito tweeted out the story, and his only comment was a smiley face.
• Reggie Bush has a new nickname in his corner of the locker room: Santa Reggie.
Bush on Thursday gave Jorvorskie Lane the free XBox 360 and Halo 4 game he received from Microsoft. Lane said he planned to give the game system to his child.
• DT Tony McDaniel missed practice Thursday with a knee injury, the same issue that kept him out of Sunday’s game. McDaniel had arthroscopic surgery on the knee earlier this season. WR Davone Bess was excused from practice with a non-football, personal issue.
LB Koa Misi (calf), who was held out of practice Wednesday, worked on a limited basis Thursday.