Barry Jackson

Dolphins summon inside linebacker to team offices; UM personnel notes

pportal@miamiherald.com

TORONTO - A six-pack of Dolphins and Hurricanes notes on a Friday as we await Heat-Raptors:

• As draftnik/BBC Radio’s Simon Clancy reported, I’ve confirmed that the Dolphins are using one of their 30 non-local draft prospect visits on productive Southern Illinois linebacker Chase Allen, a potential late-round pick.

In 2016, Allen had 77 tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss, a sack, a pass breakup, a forced fumble, a blocked kick and seven QB hurries.

Allen, 6-4 and 244 pounds, attended Northwestern’s Pro Day and ran the 40 in 4.58 seconds, which would have ranked no lower than third among NFL Combine times for linebackers. He also is considered a very good special teams player.

• The Dolphins have shown interest in a bunch of linebackers, predictably, and add Kansas State’s Elijah Lee to that list. The Dolphins took him out for a meal after his Pro Day, according to a source.

Lee was all Big 12 as a junior last year, with 110 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions.

Here was Lance Zierlein’s assessment on NFL.com: “Lee's playing style is more subtle than it is urgent and his upright playing style limits his tackling efficiency and suddenness in his change of direction. Lee has the speed to range all over the field and has the ball skills to warrant consideration on passing downs. If a linebacker coach can get him to play with better bend and get the play speed to match the timed speed, Lee could become an eventual starter in the league.”

• We mentioned a few days ago that UM linebacker Darrion Owens was looking better now that he’s two years removed from knee surgery.

Here’s what defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said about him Thursday:

“We like the way that he performed in our off-season program, felt he was one of the top three linebackers in terms of his effort and technique in our mat drill program,” Diaz said. “With him it’s his confidence, and he’s moving around better. Certainly he’s a big, strong physical guy. Now he’s got to trust himself to go play like that. We’re trying to teach him to be a bully, a big, strong guy and play like that. I’ll be curious to see how he plays on Saturday.”

Shaquille Quarterman and Mike Pinckney will remain starters, but CJ Perry is pressing Zach McCloud for the other linebacker spot.

UM should have more depth at backup linebacker, with Owens, Jamie Gordinier (still working his way back from knee surgery) and three freshmen.

De’Andre Wilder, the only freshman linebacker that hasn’t arrived on campus yet, “brings a skill set that not a lot of guy in that [linebacker] room have,” Diaz said. “So now the battle for Mike and will and the batting order of how we come will really come in August camp.”

• Running back Trayone Gray, off last year’s knee surgery, has been cleared for some individual work but not contact work. There have been questions internally about how instinctive a runner he is, but UM – badly needing depth at running back – will give him a chance.

“Whenever [Gray] is released to me 100 percent I’ll take him, we’ll go full force ahead,” offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said. “He looked pretty good today doing individual [drills], looked like he’d been working a little bit to get in shape. He’s put some weight on, looks physical built to come back and compete. We’ll see, I’m excited about that.”

• Guard Marcus Evans, who averaged 19.1 points as a sophomore at Rice last season, announced on Twitter on Thursday that he will transfer to UM, Arizona or VCU.

Evans is considered the best guard on the transfer market, and UM would love to add a transfer guard who would be eligible in 2018-19, because they are prepared for the strong possibility that Lonnie Walker and Bruce Brown will move on to the NBA after next season. And Ja’Quan Newton has only one year of eligibility left.

Evans, 6-2, shot 42.5 percent from the field and 37.6 percent on threes but had nearly as many turnovers (128) as assists (131) last season.

And here’s lots of Heat news from this morning’s shootaround.

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