The Dolphins May Have Found Their Man

Anthony Armstrong

A look at the wide receiver competition may have uncovered a player ready for action according to Dolphins coach Tony Sparano.

When the offseason training activities began it was assumed that receiver Brandon London was ready to do more than special teams and challenge for one of the six receiver roster spots on an inexperienced unit.

However, while London has the prototypical 6-4, 210-pound physique that vice president of football operations Bill Parcells seeks in a playmaking receiver, he has been passed on the imaginary depth chart by former AFL

star Anthony Armstrong, who spent last season on the practice squad watching home games from the stands.

It's been a combination of London not coming up with the acrobatic catches he did during practice sessions last season while Armstrong has. At 5-11, 175 pounds, Armstrong is built similarly to starter Ted Ginn Jr., who also has been drawing rave reviews from coaches and players alike.

"I can say that every day Anthony Armstrong has done something like that right now," coach Tony Sparano said of Armstrong's ability to catch deep passes in practice. "To the point I see these quarterbacks are trying to find him in matchups. ... Until I see it in a game I am still at 50 percent that way with the evaluation part of it.

"I need to see that go from the practice field to the game, and (then) I think we've got something."

Armstrong, 25, who has also taken turns returning kickoffs, knows that he will have to excel on special teams to beat out London, a special teams standout.

"I'm getting all the opportunities everyone else is getting," said Armstrong, who has been working predominately with the second unit. "I'm feeling more comfortable with the situation after being here a whole year.

"I can feel it in myself. I have confidence out there and know exactly what I'm supposed to be doing," added Armstrong, who had 85 receptions for 1,148 yards and 18 touchdowns in last season with the Dallas Desperados of the defunct AFL. "There really isn't that much hesitation. I'm just going out there, playing hard and hopefully the people upstairs see that."

All About Conditioning
--QB Chad Pennington said his priority in the offseason was to step up his conditioning program.

"No. 1, I want to stay healthy. I feel like when I stay healthy, I give my team a really good chance to win. History has proven things go pretty well when I stay healthy. Number two, is putting two consistent years back to back and building on this offense."

Berger On The Menu?
--C-OG Joe Berger was the latest lineman to take a turn with the first unit at right guard since Donald Thomas sustained a torn chest muscle last month. Coach Tony Sparano said that Berger is his backup center behind Jake Grove but that the coaching staff wanted to get him on film at right guard before they broke for vacation.

"I'm looking to play now," Berger said. "I've had four good seasons but not much on the field. There's something better out there I hope."

Heading To Break Early
--Coach Tony Sparano scratched two of the three remaining OTA days last week with Wednesday their last session before taking a break until the start of training camp Aug. 1. He was satisfied with the overall attendance during the offseason program and effort. But he was concerned about the execution in the red zone.

"We've got one thing that we really need to hit next week and we will take care of that and that will be it," Sparano said. "These guys deserve a little bit of down time and a little bit of time away from me."

Another Rookie Signed
--OT Andrew Gardner became the second Dolphins' draft pick to be signed when he agreed to terms Thursday. The sixth-rounder out of Georgia Tech has been backing up at both tackle positions during OTAs.

It's A Hands Game
--The Dolphins have been using a martial arts instructor -- former Nebraska and NFL lineman Jared Tomich -- to help improve the players' use of their hands.

"It's a hands game," said general manager Jeff Ireland. "For pretty much every position, you have to be able to use your hands, either getting off blocks or punts or separating into a route. Whatever it may be, it's a hands game."

Crowder Done Talking
--LB Channing Crowder said his war of words with Jets coach Rex Ryan is over. "I made y'all's job easy last week, huh? I can't give you the weekend, too."

Crowder admitted he got in, "trouble" for publicly lobbying for Jason Taylor's return to Miami a few months ago.

"They said I'm not a GM, I'm a linebacker," Crowder said. "'So just go out there and tackle people and quit talking to the media about trades and acquisitions and stuff.' "So I shut up."

A Baseball Career Awaits
--QB Pat White was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 48th round of the Major League Baseball Draft last week, but don't expect to see him in pinstripes anytime soon.

"I haven't talked to them. I'm thankful and grateful, but my focus is as a Miami Dolphin football player," White said.

QUOTE OF NOTE: "We look good in pajamas. We do. I have seen so many guys get crowned All-Pros in OTAs and they kind of disappear." -- Dolphins OLB Jason Taylor on not getting too excited about evaluating players in shorts and T-shirts.

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