A six-pack of Dolphins and Canes notes:
• Reshad Jones has played with at least eight safeties during his time in Miami. And it’s unclear who will be his partner when the schedule rolls into November and December.
Nate Allen, who signed a one-year, $3.4 million contract, is the front-runner to begin the season as the Dolphins’ starter alongside Jones, but TJ McDonald is expected to challenge him after McDonald’s eight-game suspension ends for violating the league’s substance policy.
Both new safeties have looked good during the two practices open to reporters so far in the offseason program. Each has at least one interception.
Drafted 37th overall out of South Florida in 2010, Allen had 10 interceptions in five years as an Eagles starter.
He parlayed his very good 2014 season (which included four interceptions and three fumble recoveries) into a four-year, $23 million contract with the Oakland Raiders during the 2015 offseason.
But Allen torn his right MCL early in the 2015 season and was limited to five games and three starts that season.
"It was frustrating for a little while," Allen said this week. "Being able to bounce back mentally is the main thing when you come off something like that."
The Raiders released him last February, 16 months ago, to clear cap space but resigned him a few days later.
Last season, he appeared in 14 games, including four starts filling in for Karl Joseph, and had 24 tackles and two interceptions.
"I think I do a little bit of everything," Allen said of his skill set. "And that’s just, through the years, I’ve had to play in systems where I was a designated free safety and where I’ve had to play where I was a designated strong safety. So I feel like I, I can play both and wherever they need me to be, whether it’s down the box, in the post, in coverage, whatever they need me to do."
Allen loves the chance to play with Jones.
"His play speaks for itself." Allen said. "He’s who he is for a reason and he’s the guy. He makes a lot of plays and he’s just a great playmaker. I can see it early and I’ve watched him through the years. As I’ve been other places, I’ve always watched him on tape. He stands out. He’s a prolific playmaker and he practices hard. He helps out the young guys in the classroom. We just kind of feed off each other."
Allen, who grew up in Ft. Myers, said returning to Florida was appealing.
"That was like one of the big factors with it," he said. "And I saw also what this organization was doing as far as making it to the playoffs last year and building and bringing good guys in and with the coaching staff and everything. I just wanted to be a part of it. Not to mention, it was shoot, an hour and 45 minutes from my hometown. So you can’t beat that."
Pro Football Focus rated McDonald 59th among 80 safeties last season, but that seems to underestimate his ability. (Allen would have been 68th if he had enough snaps to qualify.)
"You compete and you’ve got to be on top of your game every day, and me and T.J. know that," Allen said.
Jones sees chemistry developing with the safeties.
“Luckily, I have a veteran guy in Nate," Jones said. "We both came out – this is our eighth season so we came out (in the same draft) together. I kind of knew him. He knows ball. It’s just bonding. Like this time, during OTAs, just take the time to kind of learn each other (and) get the communication down pat, because we’re like the quarterback on the defensive side of the ball. Basically, getting these reps out here is critical during this time in spring ball." T.J. (McDonald) is running around pretty well. He’s another safety that I think, when he gets back – or whatever his situation is – he’ll be able to help us also."
• Ryan Tannehill is spending time working on chemistry with his new tight ends, as we saw good signs with Julius Thomas on Wednesday when Thomas hauled in several passes.
But the Tannehill-Anthony Fasano chemistry remains a work in progress. During 11 on 11 drills, all of passes thrown to Fasano (at least three) were incomplete or in one case, intercepted.
• The Dolphins say Dick Stockton, Bob Griese and Nat Moore will return on preseason telecasts on WFOR-4. Jimmy Cefalo, Joe Rose and Griese are being retained on WQAM’s radiocasts.
• Former UM quarterback Jack Allison, who transferred, will visit West Virginia this weekend and has serious interest in the Mountaineers, who have offered a scholarship. He’s also considering going to a community college for a semester and then enrolling at a major program.
Allison transferred because he wants more playing time.
He would be required to sit out a season if he goes to another FBS school.
UM prohibited from transferring to any any ACC school or any school on its schedule.
• So what’s the deal with Southridge receiver Mark Pope, who has seemed shaky in his oral commitment to UM?
Pope, rated by Rivals as the No. 6 receiver and No. 25 player overall in the 2018 class, visited UF with his teammate, three-star receiver Daquris Wiggins, another UM oral commit.
"We went up there today to visit and talk to the coaches," Pope told Canesport’s Matt Shodell. "I got to talk to all the coaches really, but Coach [Corey] Bell and Coach [Kerry] Dixon and some of the players I already know the most. We hung out up there. Everything went good up there…
"I want to have fun, but I'm committed. Miami is my number-one. But I would say Alabama and Florida are still in the mix."
Wiggins said he went to see "what’s going on there" but expects to end up a Cane.
### UM’s non-conference men’s basketball schedule includes Princeton Dec. 2 at AmericanAirlines Arena and these other games:
Nov. 1 – Newberry College (Exhibition)
Nov. 10 – Gardner-Webb
Nov. 12 - Navy
Nov. 16 – Florida A&M
Nov. 22 – vs. La Salle (Reading, Pa.)
Nov. 25 – North Florida
Dec. 5 – Boston University
Dec. 16 – at George Washington
Dec. 22, 23, 25 – Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic
The LaSalle game will allow incoming UM five-star player Lonnie Walker to play close to home. The Dec. 16 game in Washington D.C. will allow incoming UM four-star point guard Chris Lykes to play close to home.