Day 1 Notebook: Rookie DEs Sport Colorful New Look; Other Notes

Posted Jul 27, 2012

Whenever any of the rookie defensive ends took off their helmets to reveal their new-look haircuts, they were very easy to spot.

Olivier Vernon, Jarrell Root, Chas Alecxih, Kheeston Randall, Isaako Aaitui, Derrick Shelby and Jacquies Smith all sported alternating blonde designs in their scalps. There was no rhyme or reason to them, other than veteran nose tackle Paul Soliai demanded it and did the coloring.

“I wish Randy (Starks) could take some of the blame but it was just something to make us bond together,” Soliai said. “All of the rookies came in with nice haircuts and we thought we’d change it up. They didn’t have an option and I had a good time painting their heads last night. They were mad at first but it’s just for a week or two and then they can dye it back. I learned the technique from my wife and she showed me in like 10 minutes how to mix it and put it on.”

Root was complaining that the cross in the middle of his head was crooked but he’s not new to changing his look. He’s had a Mohawk in the past, grew out his Afro and long dreadlocks, but each of those times he made the decision for himself.

“I had a choice. I could have said no and could have gotten hurt. I’m just kidding,” Root said. “It’s fun and you’ve got to have fun with it when we can and when we’ve got to go to work we go to work.”

As for Vernon, who grew up in Miami and has never played anywhere else after starring at the University of Miami in college, he was fortunate enough to have his mother out of town when his look changed. But he also had a Mohawk with the Hurricanes, so changing his look is nothing new to her.

“I sent her a picture and she thinks I did it myself,” Vernon said. “I’m just happy it’s over with now.”

TANNEHILL CONTRACT TALKS STILL ONGOING: Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill was the only one of the 90 players missing from today’s first practice of training camp as negotiations are still ongoing between his agent and the organization.

Tannehill was Miami’s first-round pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, taken No. 8 overall out of Texas A&M. He played for Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman while with the Aggies, and General Manager Jeff Ireland is hopeful that his future franchise quarterback will not be missing much more practice time.

“I think progress is being made, or it’s progressing I should say,” Ireland said after practice. “Communication is ongoing on both sides from Pat and our group and we will not discuss the details in public. It’s disappointing when you don’t have all of your players in, regardless of who it is. You want to have all of your players out there but things are progressing and we’re going to keep communicating until we get this thing done.”

Tannehill’s absence meant more snaps for the three other quarterbacks – Matt Moore, David Garrard and Pat Devlin. They were immersed in trying to execute the new offense at full speed in this initial practice so none of them were distracted by not having Tannehill there.

Both Moore and Garrard were sure to point out that because Tannehill has some familiarity with the offense being that Sherman ran a variation of at Texas A&M, he won’t be at as much of a disadvantage as other rookies in his situation. At the same time they acknowledged the importance of not missing practice.

“It’s a little unfortunate and I now they’re working through things and I’m sure he wants to be here,” Moore said. “One install last night was like 96 slides on our (iPad) so that was a lit of information that he’s missing. He’s a sharp guy and he obviously has a background in this offense but he’ll definitely be a step behind. Missing a day in training camp the way it is now with one practice and the walk-through, that’s a huge piece. He’ll have some stuff to make up but I’m sure he’ll be fine whenever he gets back.”

Head Coach Joe Philbin let Ireland’s statement speak for itself, but he reiterated the importance of having everyone at practice, especially at the beginning of camp.

“I’d be remiss to say that the 31 other colleagues that I have will agree, if you plan a practice as a coach, you want to have every player at practice,” he said. “I’m certainly no different in that regard.”

HARD KNOCKS CAMERAS BLENDING IN: In keeping with their reputation from previous seasons, the NFL Films crew shooting practice for HBO’s Hard Knocks: Training Camp With The Miami Dolphins have not been at all disruptive.

The cameramen, sound people and production people can be seen roaming the sidelines and getting up close shots inside the huddle, but the players and Coach Philbin haven’t had to alter their habits.

“Aside from the thing sticking in my chest here, the cameras I wasn’t really aware of to be honest,” Philbin said. “These guys are extremely professional, they know what they’re doing and we told the coaches in the meeting and the players that we’ve got to be ourselves. We’ve got a job do as does NFL Films.”

Garrard knew what to expect having been the subject of Hard Knocks with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2004 so he wasn’t bothered either. He mentioned how receptive the film crew is to a player’s request to talk later if they’re coming off the field and to give some space.

Cornerback Sean Smith is experiencing Hard Knocks for the first time but when he was at the University of Utah he got a little taste of what this was going to be like.

“My last year in college they did a documentary and we had cameras all around and throughout the locker rooms so it’s not a big deal. I’m not a guy who’s going to put on a show just because there’s a camera there. I’m going to act the way I do and for people who follow me on Twitter, they already know my personality. Now they’ll have a chance to actually see it on camera.”

YEATMAN MOVED FROM TE TO OT: Philbin explained the position switch made by Will Yeatman from tight end to tackle as something it was agreed gave Yeatman the best chance to make the roster this camp.

“He’s a guy that caught our eye with some of the things he did in the spring and we like his physicality and the effort that he plays with,” Philbin said. “We liked him as an in-line tight end and thought he had excellent growth potential with his height and arm length, but he was kind of fighting his weight to keep it in the low 270s. We thought his best chance to make this football team was probably at a position change and he was receptive to it.”

DOLPHINS TIDBITS: Veteran wide receiver Chad Johnson made his presence known with some acrobatic catches, but the most attention he got from the crowd on hand was after he caught a pass in the flat and tried to juke Smith in the open field before lowering his shoulder. Smith easily picked him up and planted him to the turf, talking a little trash after the play and reminding Johnson how much lighter he was than him. … Linebacker Koa Misi had the defensive highlight of practice, intercepting a pass thrown by Moore and returning it for a touchdown. … Wide receiver Davone Bess drew the loudest cheers for his diving catch of a bullet thrown by Moore right in front of the bleachers. … During the 40-minute portion held inside the bubble, one of the more popular drills was the gauntlet, where the running backs ran through a crowd of defenders lined up in either side into the end zone, all the while trying to avoid being stripped of the ball. … Tomorrow’s practice is Family Day, and there will be a Gatorade Junior Training Camp for kids, training camp facility tours, specialty food vendors, Miami Dolphins cheerleader autographs, player autographs, interactive games, inflatables and a prize wheel.
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