Though 37, Green should produce in a system he knows well.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
at N.Y. Jets
at Pittsburgh (M)
at New England
vs. N.Y. Giants (London)
The King 500
414Vonnie Holliday, linebacker
His seven sacks last year were a big boost over the goose egg he put up in '05, helped by a move from a 4-3 scheme in K.C. to a hybrid 3-4/4-3 in Miami. Now he'll benefit as well from coordinator Dom Capers's unfettered play-calling. "When [Nick] Saban was here," says Holliday, clearing his throat tellingly, "he was very involved in our defense. But once you learn it, you can let your athletic ability take over."
A somewhat, ahem, looser atmosphere under Cam Cameron will extend to the field, where versatility will be the watchword
After former Chargers offensive coordinator Cam Cameron replaced Nick Saban
as Dolphins coach last January, one of the priorities was to create a more open
and collegial environment -- starting with the locker room at the team's Davie,
Fla., practice facility. Before this summer, a maze of walls and locker stalls
segregated players by position, like office clones in (somewhat smelly)
cubicles. Now the walls are gone, the positions are intermingled, and couches,
chairs and flat-screen TVs in the center of the room see regular use. The
renovations made for a more welcoming atmosphere, just in time for the arrivals
of quarterback Trent Green, a Chiefs castoff; free-agent linebacker Joey Porter,
late of the Steelers; and rookie wideout Ted Ginn Jr., the No. 9 pick,
out of Ohio State. But don't think the new approach means Cameron is soft. "When
we first reported," says receiver Marty Booker, "he gave us a test where we had
to know running plays, protections, pass plays -- all that stuff."
Versatility will be especially important on defense, as the Dolphins continue
to work in a hybrid 3-4/4-3 scheme meant to take advantage of athletic
front-seven players such as Porter and All-Pro end Jason Taylor, who drops into
coverage as effortlessly as he rushes the passer. What's more, Taylor's cameo in
a pass-catching drill that also included second-year defensive back Will Allen
indicates that Cameron might play around with personnel combinations on both
sides of the ball. Ginn as a cornerback? Booker at QB? "Everybody," says Booker,
"has to know everything."
WHERE THEY'RE HEADED
Miami's willingness to experiment is borne of necessity, and nowhere is
the need greater than on the offensive line. That the Week 1 unit could
feature rookies Samson Satele (Hawaii) at center and Drew Mormino (Central
Michigan) at right guard doesn't bode well for the 37-year-old Green, who missed
eight games with a concussion caused by a devastating hit in last year's season
opener. But it's worth noting that Cameron's line in San Diego was similarly
inexperienced before coalescing into one of the league's most impregnable units.
The Dolphins' blockers have to do likewise -- only more quickly.
The first coach in Miami history whose expertise is on offense, Cameron,
who'll pull double duty as offensive coordinator and play-caller, brings a Don
Coryell -- style downfield passing attack from San Diego in hopes of sparking an
offense that ranked fourth to last in scoring in the NFL last year. Green, who
was acquired in a June trade with Kansas City, already has considerable
experience in the system; he learned it in Washington, where Cameron was his
position coach, and excelled in it in St. Louis and K.C. The only major
adjustment will be new terminology. "In Kansas City we'd call a 50 Bob;
here it's a 50 Slant," says Green. "[Otherwise] it's the same exact
Like the Chiefs' Tony Gonzalez and the Chargers' Antonio Gates, Pro Bowl
tight ends who have thrived in the system, the Dolphins' David Martin should
become a primary target. The free-agent pickup from Green Bay is big (6' 4", 265
pounds) and nimble -- and like the other two, was once more interested in
basketball. In Martin's case his high school hoops coach insisted that all his
players take up another sport in the off-season. After a breathless stint on the
cross-country team as a sophomore, Martin switched to football in his junior
year, figuring he'd "sit on the bench and get through it until basketball
Instead he developed into one of the most sought-after receiver prospects in
the nation, signing with Tennessee and starring at wideout. After being drafted
in the sixth round by the Packers in 2001, Martin was plagued by an assortment
of injuries, which prevented him from unseating Bubba Franks as the starter.
When he was healthy, Martin proved adept in the Packers' West Coast scheme; when
he was hurt, he spent a lot of time studying Franks's blocking technique. "That
was the one part of Gonzalez's game where he improved," says Green, "but David
is a lot more comfortable with it."
And if Cameron wants players who can do it all, Martin's eager to fulfill the
coach's wish. "A lot people wonder, Is he a blocking tight end or is he a
receiver?" the 28-year-old Martin says. "I don't want to be the guy they take
out at the goal line when it's time to block, or the guy they take out on third
down when it's time to pass. I want to be the whole package."
He'll have plenty of opportunity to make his case to Green, especially now
that their lockers adjoin. And while even a prolific effort from Martin isn't
likely to elevate the Dolphins much above last year's 6-10 record (they're tied
for the league's eighth-toughest schedule), the changes on and off the field
should set them up well for the future.
-- Andrew Lawrence