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Dolphins Camp Report: Day 5

It appears the free agency frenzy is winding down. The Dolphins have cleared themselves some cap space by renegotiating with Vernon Carey and waiving Tim Dobbins. Some suggest this could lead to another big splash. But who exactly could the Dolphins be targeting?

The Broncos have named Kyle Orton their starting quarterback, so if that possibility wasn’t already dead there is now officially no pulse. The Giants are no longer willing to part ways with Osi Umenyiora, who was never tied to the Dolphins by a creditable source but was an intriguing possibility considering him and Cameron Wake would be a dominant pass rushing force together.

The only place where the possibility of making a splash exists is at receiver. Braylon Edwards and Malcolm Floyd are still floating around out there on the market, but the Dolphins like what they have at receiver. Can you blame them?

Brian Hartline is upgradeable at the number two spot, but he’s substantially better than people realize or give him credit for. Edwards or Floyd would be a potential upgrade, but their price tag wouldn’t be worth improving something good for something a little better.

All indications are pointing to the Dolphins simply shedding cap to shore up some things in house. Signing guys like Paul Soliai, Cameron Wake, and Kendall Langford long term will now be a little more manageable with the extra space.

With that said, we are inching closer and closer to pure football. Free agency talk has dominated the headlines since the NFL’s doors were reopened for business, but now it’s time to start cranking up our focus on the actual game.

That’s still not the easiest task, as the coverage of practice just doesn’t seem as in-depth as it used to be. I expect that to change soon, though, especially considering the Dolphins’ free agent acquisitions should be able to hit the practice field for the first time tomorrow.

Vernon Carey takes pay cut, moves to right guard
Vernon Carey and Tony Sparano won’t say it, but we all know what happened. Something was clearly up when Carey wasn’t present at Monday night’s practice at Sun Life Stadium. Carey was missing but hadn’t been cut.

Put two and two together and it was obvious that the Dolphins had asked Big Vern to take a pay cut. The Miami man, born and raised, willingly did to stay a member of his beloved Dolphins.

Taking less money wasn’t the only thing Miami had in store for Carey. He was seen lining up at right guard today in practice and after the workout Sparano confirmed that it would be a permanent move.

It’s a switch that has been speculated about in the past, but was essentially swept under the rug when Sparano said it wasn’t likely back in April. I guess we should have learned our lesson a long time ago when it comes to buying into anything this regime says.

At any rate, the Dolphins have found their new starting right guard, filling a huge need on the interior offensive line. The problem? They just opened up a huge hole at right tackle. Marc Colombo and Lydon Murtha will reportedly battle it out for the starting position. Not exactly reassuring considering Colombo is coming off of his worst season as pro and Murtha hasn’t given us any reason to believe he can be anything more than backup material.

The offensive line still seems like a mess to me. But what do I know? Sparano is the supposed O-line guru. My trust in his ability to carve a quality offensive line was fractured some last season when he shuffled, shuffled, and shuffled some more. The finished product? One of the worst run-blocking interior offensive lines in football. But since the offensive line is Sparano’s specialty, he deserves one more crack at this thing.

Dolphins, Kendall Langford talking contract extension
What exactly do the Dolphins have up their sleeves by improving their cap situation? Well, don’t expect a marquee free agent or blockbuster trade. It looks like the Dolphins are giving themselves a little wiggle room to extend the contracts of some of their key contributors.

They are reportedly now in talks with Kendall Langford, who is entering the final year of his rookie deal, about signing long term. The Dolphins obviously want to keep arguably the league’s most deep and dominant defensive line intact. They wouldn’t have brought back Tony McDaniel if that wasn’t a priority.

I wouldn’t mind seeing them hold off on getting Langford under contract long term, though. He’s clearly motivated to have the type of breakout season Paul Soliai had a year ago. Personally, I don’t think the two are comparable, as Langford is already a very solid player.

But if he could raise the bar in 2011, and take his game to the elite level, the saying “the sky is the limit” doesn’t even do this defensive line justice. Keeping him hungry for big-time money could serve as extra motivation for a breakout season.

Inconsistent day for Chad Henne
How did Chad Henne respond to the boos and Orton chants from Monday night? Well, he reportedly was in the midst of his best practice of camp to date, but then had a “brutal” 11-on-11 session.

Rookies Jimmy Wilson, Clyde Gates making an impression
Jimmy Wilson continues to make an impression on the media and coaches alike. He’s reportedly been very physical so far in camp and has registered a few interceptions as well. It’s still early, but it would appear that Tyrone Culver’s roster spot is in serious jeopardy. Could the Dolphins have found the future successor to Yeremiah Bell in the seventh round?

Meanwhile, fourth-round pick Clyde Gates is beginning to showcase the big-play ability the Dolphins drafted him for. He reportedly made the play of the day today, by catching a deep underthrown Chad Henne pass over Chris Clemons and took it all the way to house.

Ray Feinga absent
Ray Feinga has had himself an eventful first few days of camp, lining up with the first team at guard and tackle. He wasn’t present at practice today, though, but reportedly was given a personal day by Sparano and was expected back in Davie tonight.

Dolphins work out Tiki Barber
The Dolphins and I are on the same page about one thing. The backfield could use the presence of a capable workhorse as insurance for Daniel Thomas. They’ve lost me with any interest in a 36-year old Tiki Barber, though.

How exactly would Tiki be a better fit than Ricky Williams? Ricky is two years younger, more talented, and averaged a solid 4.2 yards per carry last season behind pitiful run blocking. But it was just a workout with Barber. Maybe I’m getting a little carried away.

Nic Grigsby could stand in the way of Ricky or Tiki signing with Miami. The Dolphins will reportedly get a feel for what their current group of backs can do before they seriously consider inking Barber or any other veteran back. Grigsby has impressed so far. If that trend continues, he could push for a roster spot.

Dolphins sign offensive tackle Micah Kia
The Dolphins came to terms with former UCLA Bruin offensive lineman Micah Kia. Kia could fill the roster void left by Carey moving to right guard or he could compete at guard himself. He’s a versatile body, so we’ll have to see what Sparano plans to do with him.

Tomorrow’s practice moved from 11 a.m. to 7:15 p.m.
In anticipation of the new CBA officially being ratified by tomorrow’s 4 p.m. deadline, the Dolphins have pushed back their practice to a night session. By doing so, we should get our first glimpse of Reggie Bush, Kevin Burnett, and Matt Moore in aqua and orange.

Source: Omar Kelly, Ben Volin, Ken LaVicka