> 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
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
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 concept."
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 season."
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.