DAVIE, Fla. (AP) â€” Defense won the day in the first full-pad scrimmage for the Miami Dolphins.
In front of an overflow crowd Saturday, wide receiver Brandon Marshall, quarterback Chad Henne and the rest of the offense were humbled by new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan?s disruptive unit. Cornerbacks Sean Smith and Nolan Carroll set the tone early by breaking up passes and forcing an interception, and then the likes of rookie defensive end Jared Odrick, free agent defensive end Charles Grant and free agent inside linebacker Karlos Dansby.
"(The defense) played really well. I thought they flew around, got their hands on the football and really did some good things defensively out there," Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano said. "A lot of people got involved, too. I think a lot of guys broke balls up out there, got their hands on footballs and pressured the quarterback, so it was good to see."
Smith, who along with cornerback Vontae Davis and just about every other defensive back on the team was victimized by Marshall in the first eight days of training camp, got the ball rolling when the first team offense and defense faced other for the first time. The second-year player out of Utah knew Henne was going to test him so he stuck with Marshall stride for stride down the left sideline, timed his jump perfectly and knocked the ball away at its highest point. Smith then pumped his fist and skipped back to the huddle.
Two plays later, Henne zipped a ball so hard on a deep slant to Marshall that it went right through his hands, and Marshall admitted he didn?t know Henne had that strong of an arm. He held on during the third 10-play sequence by the first unit and helped Henne engineer a scoring drive, but that didn?t bring much solace to either player.
"The defense did a great job today," said Marshall, who has caught at least 100 passes in three straight seasons. "I didn?t prepare myself coming out today mentally or physically and I?m disappointed in my play and the way I let my teammates down today."
Henne, who completed 13-of-21 passes, concurred.
"It was definitely a slow start and I wasn?t as effective as I wanted to be," he said. "But I kept on grinding it out and when a play presented itself I tried to stay in there and make the throw. Towards the end I felt like we were getting better but we?ve just got to fight through it."
Dansby was more than happy to gloat about how things went on his side of the ball, which included a play by the rookie Carroll where he broke up a screen pass by quarterback Tyler Thigpen and turned it into an interception for linebacker Charlie Anderson. That happened on the very first 12-play series between the second units.
"Everything that we learned in the film room we just tried to take it from the film room and put it out here on the field and today we had a great outing," Dansby said.
Three players missed the scrimmage in order to rest minor injuries, according to Sparano. Running back Patrick Cobbs (knee), wide receiver Greg Camarillo (groin) and center Jake Grove (leg) all sat out. Rookie linebacker Austin Spitler practiced for the first time in a week after being hospitalized with salmonella poisoning. He doesn?t know how he contracted it but believes it was before the start of training camp. Sparano limited him to 10 plays.