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NOTEBOOK: Cleanout Day Brings Mixed Emotions; Other Notes

Posted Jan 4, 2016

Players feel disappointment with the season but plan on working to do better moving forward.

The impressive season-ending 20-10 victory against the New England Patriots made the annual locker cleanout day a little less somber for the Dolphins, but it didn’t completely erase the feeling of frustration among the players.

“We got a win, so it’s not too bad,” defensive end Olivier Vernon said. “It just ends. It ends for us and then now we’ve got to watch everybody else play in the playoffs. It’s not what we wanted. That’s not what we expected. We thought we’d be the ones playing in the postseason and everybody watching us. We’ve just got to get back at it, get back to work.”

Among the dozen or so players who spoke to the media Monday, Vernon’s sentiment was prevalent.

“It’s definitely difficult,” linebacker Jelani Jenkins said. “We had high expectations and we weren’t able to live up to it like we wanted to, goals that we didn’t reach. But we learn from it.

“I think we had a lot of potential that we didn’t own up to and maximize. It was disappointing and we’ve got to see what we can do better moving forward and just try to get better next year.”


For Dolphins rookies, locker cleanout day was a new experience.

“It’s a little weird because you’ve been around guys for about six months now and now everyobdy is getting ready to part and go their own separate ways for a few months,” guard Jamil Douglas said. “It’s a little different, but it’s just part of the business.”

Said punter Matt Darr: “Some of these guys probably won’t be back in the locker room. It might be the last time you see them. It’s just another part of the learning process that I’ve got to go through and that’s what this whole season has been. Everything that’s happened has been a learning process; it’s been a first. So today is a first seeing guys pack up their bags and take off. So it’s kind of fitting for the theme of the whole season.”


Rookie free agent Matt Darr finished the season with the third-highest gross punting average in the NFL at 47.6, continuing a recent string of success at the position.

This marked the fourth time in five years the Dolphins had a punter finish in the top three after Brandon Fields did it from 2011-13.

“It’s a good feeling right now sitting here kind of being where I’m at after my rookie season,” Darr said. “I wish we could have done better as a team. It obviously was kind of disappointing in that aspect, but for me personally being able to look back on the season and see kind of the way I performed, not just in parts of the season but in the season as a whole I feel really good about it. I’m excited to get back to work and see what more there is and hopefully in seasons to come. I’d like to keep doing this for a long time. I hope this wasn’t the only season that I have a good year. I hope there’s more seasons to come that we look back and say, we can hang on our hat on what happened there.”


As Dolphins players left the Doctors Hospital Training Facility at Nova Southeasern University on Monday, the reality is that some of them will not be back next season.

The uncertainty certainly includes the players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents. Among those are Vernon, running back Lamar Miller, Rishard Matthews and defensive end Derrick Shelby, all of whom addressed the media Monday.

Vernon and Miller, two Miami natives who played at the University of Miami, both said they were hoping to return to the Dolphins.

“As I’ve said before, I’d love to be here and play for my city,” Vernon said, “but at the same time it’s all totally up to the guys upstairs (in the Dolphins front office).”

Said Miller: “Like I said before it’d be great to continue playing my NFL career here in my hometown. But this is a business and I’m going to sit down with my agent and we’re going to talk and go from there.”


RB Lamar Miller on his performance in 2015: “I think I did all right. Of course I wanted to get 1,000 yards. That was my goal coming into this season. But that didn’t happen. But I think I did a good job with my opportunities to try to help this team win and just try to make plays.”
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