Barry Jackson

What Phil Simms thinks of Dolphins' offseason changes. And a second-year player on the rise.

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Danny Amendola stretches during a June practice. CBS' Phil Simms said he became a different player with the Patriots.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Danny Amendola stretches during a June practice. CBS' Phil Simms said he became a different player with the Patriots. dsantiago@miamiherald.com

A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Monday:

Like NBC’s Cris Collinsworth, CBS’ Phil Simms said he understands and sees merit in the Dolphins reshuffling their roster this offseason, even though that meant parting with three very good players (Ndamukong Suh, Jarvis Landry, Mike Pouncey).

“I understand what they’re doing — it’s hard to explain and I can’t quantify it, but you have to create a culture and the head coach is a huge part of that,” Simms said by phone. “You have to have the right blend of personalities and talent. To me, that’s what they were trying to do this offseason. I could tell Adam Gase wasn’t happy with the makeup of the team. I think it was a good offseason for the Dolphins.”

Simms likes the acquisitions of receivers Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson.

“Amendola and Wilson replace what Landry gave you,” Simms said. “Amendola is a different guy than when he came to New England. I saw him improve there. I saw him get stronger and faster and he’s tough as hell. He’s going to be productive and he has an edge to him. He’s not Julian Edelman, but close.”

Simms also likes that the Dolphins found a skilled pass-receiving tight end in Penn State’s Mike Gesicki.

“The best matchups for offenses are tight ends and running backs because they are in middle of the field,” Simms said. “It’s physically one of the matchups that really favors the offense. You have to take advantage of that.



“It’s a league of big plays, too. I didn’t feel like big plays happened enough for Miami. It’s creativity too. Big plays don’t have to come from receivers.”

Isaiah Ford, the former seventh-rounder a year removed from knee surgery, enters camp as my front-runner among receivers competing for a sixth spot on the roster — if the Dolphins keep six.

He said he’s “extremely confident” he will make the team.

“I’ve had a year to just pick everyone’s brain, so to say, just to learn and understand the terminology, the language and what the coaches are expecting and how they want things done. I think just spending all of that time and having the confidence in myself and my abilities that the Lord has given me, I’m extremely confident.”

The Dolphins have played him outside and in the slot.

“I’ve played in the slot a bunch in high school, a bunch in college as well — my freshman and sophomore year and a little bit my junior year,” he said. “I played mostly outside my junior year, but I’ve gotten a bunch of experience inside also.”

Incidentally, we’re told that if the Dolphins had not had the chance to draft Minkah Fitzpatrick at No. 11, their next choice would have been Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds or a trade down.

According to the NFL players union, the Dolphins have $14.2 million in cap space for this season.

Miami will need more than $3 million of that, but the rest can be carried over to next offseason, unless a roster need arises in preseason or during the season.

For 2019, the Dolphins have only $6 million in cap space — third lowest in the league, according to overthecap.com. And the Dolphins’ $13 million in dead money for 2019 is most in the league.

So a lot more cap space will need to be created next spring through releases and restructurings.

This is neat: Mark Duper said he, Mark Clayton and Dan Marino try to see each other at least once a year, and the wisecracks and playful jabs start up immediately even if they haven’t been together for months.

“Dan always says Duper never dived for a ball,” Duper said. “I don’t know where he got that from. I was able to run under it. We tease each other a lot.”



The Marks Brothers — the nickname for Duper and Clayton during their glory years of catching hundreds of Marino’s passes and lighting up scoreboards — sit down with a list of games every week during football season, predict the winner of every NFL game and send each other their picks.



The Marks Brother who picks the most winners at the end of the season gets a prize.



“I can’t tell you what it is,” Duper said, laughing. “It’s mostly just bragging rights. He’s beaten me the last few years.”

Maintaining their special bond is important to all three of them. Duper, who lives in Louisiana, communicates regularly with the Dallas-based Clayton and said he speaks to Marino every week.

“We got together for golf in the Bahamas last year and will do it again this year,” Duper said. “We are always the Marks Brothers.”

Duper, who said several years ago that he was exhibiting worrisome signs of cognitive loss, said he is feeling better and credits it partly to regular use of a hyperbaric chamber.

“It gives me energy and mentally helps, too,” he said.

Duper gets Sunday Ticket to watch all Dolphins games from his home in Louisiana.

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