Greg Cote

Belichick grudgingly confirms Pats playing Sunday

You’ve heard of soft openings? This isn’t one. The Dolphins opening their season at home with nemesis New England is like you starting your day by being awakened not by a gentle nudge but by a brass band.

Dolfans needn’t wait long to find out if Miami is finally ready and able to bust the Patriots’ long stranglehold on the AFC East.

The buildup to Sunday’s game has been comical for its secrecy.

While each team signed the other’s former players to try to gain inside info, Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor declined to reveal how uptempo his offense would be after a preseason that didn’t show much of the expected faster pace.

Pats coach Bill Belichick, of course, is king of the information blackout. Quarterback Tom Brady missed a practice Thursday because of his calf, but Belichick would provide no details whatsoever or even acknowledge if Brady had a calf, leading reporters to wonder whether Brady missing practice was not related to a leg injury at all, but rather to a baby cow.

Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, emulating Belichick, declined to confirm there would be a game played Sunday, or to speculate on its location.

In other news, new Dolphins special adviser Dan Marino has advised the Dolphins to win Sunday.

I actually think Miami will win and have predicted a 24-20 upset.

My family read that and attempted to have me Baker Act-ed.

• The field was set Saturday for the NASCAR Sprint Cup 10-race Chase for the Cup culminating Nov. 16 at Homestead. They’ve tinkered with the Chase format a lot, but, for TV ratings, I think it needs one last tweak: An automatic berth for any driver named

Danica Patrick

.



• FAU played at No. 2 Alabama on Saturday. The game ended by mid-afternoon but the Crimson Tide is still scoring.



• Florida coach

Will Muschamp

decided last week’s canceled-by-lightning non-game against Idaho fulfilled the one-game suspension he had given three players. Muschamp evidently thinks punishment and principles both are overrated.



• Colts owner

Jim Irsay

was fined $500,000 and suspended six games by the NFL for impaired driving while high on prescription pills. Irsay required no medical treatment for his slapped wrist.



• That committee Dolphins owner

Stephen Ross

formed months ago to review the team’s conduct policy? It has never met. Time to form a new committee to investigate why.



• The 49ers’

Ray McDonald

was charged with domestic violence just after the NFL dramatically increased penalties for that. McDonald also was cited for aggravated stupidity and really bad timing.



• 

Jerry Jones

and

Jimmy Johnson

continue their long feud. The Cowboys owner blasted the ex-coach as disloyal in a recent interview, and Johnson shot back that Jones “comes across like a rich a-hole.” To be accurate, he comes across like a rich a-hole whose team has cascaded to mediocrity ever since Johnson left Dallas.



• Question: Who enjoys media-bashing the current state of their former team more: the 1972 Dolphins or the Glory-Days Canes? Agreed. Too close to call.



• NBA superstar

Dwyane Wade

marries an actress in a $5 million wedding at an $11 million castle with a guest list full of sports stars and celebrities, and he wanted to keep it quiet. That’s so cuuuute!



• 

Maria Sharapova

was ousted at the U.S. Open by

Caroline Wozniacki

, denying Sharapova the chance to be ousted by

Serena Williams

as usual.



• The Panthers signed NHL No. 1 draft pick

Aaron Ekblad

as they prepare to open prospects camp Thursday and full training camp Sept. 19 under new coach

Gerard Gallant

. (The preceding has been a hockey item. Don’t get used to it.)



• Nude photos of Tigers pitcher

Justin Verlander

and girlfriend/supermodel

Kate Upton

appeared on the Internet. It was a damnable invasion of privacy made somewhat less damnable by the fact Upton makes a lucrative living pretty much wearing as little as possible at all times.



• It’s Phoenix led by

Diana Taurasi

and

Brittney Griner

against Chicago led by

Elena Delle Donne

and Miamian

Sylvia Fowles

in a star-filled, terrific WNBA Finals matchup starting Sunday.



(The item immediately above is for the angry reader who bet me I couldn’t mention the WNBA without a snide comment. Pay up, Ma!)

• Sentences I Never Imagined Writing (one in a series): “Hall of Fame coach

Bobby Knight

escaped injury when his vehicle struck a cow on a dark northern Wyoming highway.”



• 

Kevin Sutherland

became the latest touring golf pro to shoot a record-tying 59. I too once carded a 59. But then I ruined my round by having to play the final six holes.



• 

Parting thought:

The Heat “reassigned” veteran assistant coaches

Ron Rothstein

and

Bob McAdoo

. That’s a nice way to put it. Similarly, the Dolphins might “reassign”

Joe Philbin

should the team fail to make the playoffs this year.



Visit Greg’s Random Evidence of a Cluttered Blog daily at MiamiHerald.com and follow on Twitter @gregcote and also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Hot list

Today: Dolphins’ biggest season openers. The three most outstanding performances by a Dolphin in 48 previous Week 1 games in the three major offensive categories:

Player (Year) Category Yards (Opponent)
Dan Marino (1994) Passing yards 473 (vs. Patriots)
Chad Henne (2011) Passing yards 416 (vs. Patriots)
Bob Griese (1969) Passing yards 327 (at Bengals)
Sammie Smith (1990) Rushing yards 159 (at Patriots)
Abner Haynes (1967) Rushing yards 151 (vs. Broncos)
Mark Higgs (1991) Rushing yards 146 (at Bills)
Irving Fryar (1994) Receiving yards 211 (vs. Patriots)
Mark Duper (1984) Receiving yards 178 (at Redskins)
Paul Warfield (1971) Receiving yards 146 (at Broncos)

Note: Most points scored by Miami in a season opener have been 52 (1995 vs. Jets), 49 (2002 vs. Lions) and 45 (1982 at Jets).

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