Jimmy Butler out for Season Opener

The Miami Heat announced late Wednesday afternoon that Jimmy Butler would be out for the season opener against Memphis.

 

The exact reason for the absence has not been specified, NBA writer Tim Reynolds had this from head coach Erik Spoelstra.

 

This obviously throws a monkey wrench into not only the starting lineup, but the entire rotation along with defensive assignments on the perimeter.

Justise Winslow and Tyler Herro among others will be asked to carry more of the offense, it will be interesting to see who Spoelstra opens and closes with tonight.

Tip off from the American Airlines arena is 7:30pm EST

Check back for more updates as we learn more.

Follow @5ReasonsSports for the latest Miami Heat news.

Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins partner with GENYOUth and Miami Super Bowl Committee to battle food insecurity

If there’s one thing the Miami Dolphins are good at, it’s making an impact off the field. That’s precisely what they did on Tuesday morning, as the Miami Dolphins teamed up with GENYOUth and the Miami Super Bowl Committee to provide 100 grab and go breakfast cart systems to South Florida school districts.

The event celebrates the 100th anniversary of the National Football League, along with the start of the Florida Super School Breakfast Initiative. That initiative is what will deliver the 100 Grab and Go breakfast carts, increasing access to 10 million school meals for South Florida students.

As part of the celebration, kids were able to enjoy a good lunch, and the opportunity to participate in football drills hosted by Dolphins alumni Twan Russell, Troy Drayton, and Ed Perry.

But in truth, through all the celebration, this event also brings to light a very real problem not many know about. Evidently, many children in South Florida actually don’t get enough to eat. Research shows some disturbing statistics that further show the need for events like this.

  • 20% of children in Florida live in poverty.
  • 18% of children in Broward County live in poverty.
  • 22% of children in Miami-Dade County live in poverty.
  • 19% of children in Palm Beach County live in poverty.

In a country so rich in resources, that’s simply unacceptable. Kids need to be able to eat to function properly in school. Working on an empty stomach only makes learning that much harder. That is why the Dolphins and their partners put so much emphasis on this particular cause.

“The fact of the matter is that of course, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” said Magdalena Prieto, the General Manager for school food service in Palm Beach County. “And of the children can’t have breakfast, they can’t concentrate. This will give us an opportunity to reach more kids throughout the day with breakfast.”

“Think about it this way,” said Dolphins alumni and Youth Programs Ambassador Twan Russell. “I always believe you never know who you’re impacting. These kids have a destiny that was created for them before they were even born. And sometimes those destinies get derailed because kids are not performing at a high level in the classroom. By providing them a meal, now they ‘re coming into the classroom in better spirits. And who knows? What if we’re feeding the person that’s gonna cure AIDS, cure cancer, and we had a say in it because we’re providing them a meal?”

It’s hard to say what long-term impacts these efforts will have. Indeed, only time will tell. However, there’s no doubt that the kids who benefit from the team’s efforts are not looking at Miami’s on-field record. They are just thankful that the Dolphins’ off-field record has no equal.

Luis Sung has covered the Miami Dolphins for numerous outlets such as Dolphins Wire for six years. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung

Charles Barkley loves Dwyane, Herro & Heat?

What’s happening in the sports media world tonight?

Dwyane Wade told us on Twitter that he got some good news Monday. But no one could have anticipated this.

Joining forces with Charles Barkley on TNT?

Is everyone forgetting the way that Barkley has treated Dwyane Wade over the years, to the point that even Wade’s buddy (LeBron James) and wife (Gabrielle Union) had to step in and talk back?

I mean, just click on this history of the Barkley/Wade feud.

And that feud has gone beyond Wade. Barkley has never ceased taking shots at the Miami Heat. He didn’t think James should have signed with them. Then he said James should go back to Cleveland. Then he said the Cavaliers title meant more than the Heat title.

And on and on and on.

Now, suddenly, Barkley and Wade are teammates.

And of course, Shaquille O’Neal — whose relationship with Wade has been hot and cold since O’Neal forced his way out of Miami in 2008 — is Wade’s teammate again now too.

But now, what’s gotten into Barkley? He’s not just making jokes at Shaq’s expense in favor of Wade — saying that Wade carried Shaq to the 2006 title, but he’s praising Wade’s heir apparent as the Heat’s featured 2-guard.

But here’s the thing: Barkley didn’t just start liking Herro. The Basketball Hall of Famer is also part of Turner’s NCAA Tournament coverage, on which he is forced to fake it most of the time. He was, however, high on Herro prior to Miami drafting the Kentucky freshman. Very high.

Look:

Herro calls it drip.

But whatever.

Barkley liking the Heat now is such a stunner that it will take some getting used to. With Wade classing up Turner, and Paul Pierce still polluting ESPN’s studio shows with his terrible (sorry Charles) takes, we know where we will turn first for NBA analysis this season.

 

Cam’Ron Harris to lead run game at Pitt

Miami Hurricanes running back Cam’Ron Harris filled in admirably for fellow running back DeeJay Harris, who left last Saturday’s game against Georgia Tech due to an injury with 136 yards in 18 carries.

“I am just here to step up,” Harris said. “I was the next man up and here to take care of what I am supposed to do.”

Harris knew that the team resolve would not waiver due to key injuries on both offense and defense. When asked why he felt that way, his response was, “because of the mindset we came in today was to dominate practice.”

There’s a good chance that Dallas will miss Saturday’s road game against Pittsburgh due to his injury. With Harris now the lead running back, Robert Burns is now elevated to his backup. Harris displayed his confidence in Burns’ ability to play the Robin to his Batman.

“Robert’s been ready since Day 1,” Harris said, “since the Florida game. His name just hasn’t been called, now it’s called so he’s got be stepping up. If I get tired he’s gotta go in and execute.”

The Panthers run defense ranks seventh in the country at 90 yards per game. They lead the country in sacks, averaging 5.14 sacks per game, more than any other FBS team in the past decade. Their front four will surely stand as a daunting task for Harris and the Hurricanes. 

However, Harris believes that his team will be prepared based on their film study and practice.

“That’s why we came out here to practice,” Harris said. “to pick up blitzes.”

Dolphins Select LSU QB Joe Burrow in Latest Tankathon Mock Draft

Another week, another Tankathon mock draft

For those keeping track at home, each week I continue to document the latest draft order and mock draft at Tankathon.com. And although the Miami Dolphins have not had the first-overall pick in quite some time, the fine folks at Tankathon continue to make things interesting, to say the least.

In fact, prior to the Jets’ blowout loss to the Patriots on Monday Night, Tankathon posted their three-round mock draft and to the surprise of many, DID NOT have the Dolphins drafting a quarterback. Obviously, that was a mistake. Or perhaps they just weren’t sure which QB Miami might covet with the second-overall pick.

Well after a short deliberation with their trusty friends, and a nice retweet from yours truly, there was one QB that the masses believed to be the clear-cut favorite.

His name was Joe Burrow.

That’s right, folks. In Tankathon’s latest mock draft, the Miami Dolphins select LSU QB Joe Burrow.

Now I know, I know, he’s not the same type of prospect as Tua Tagovailoa. However, no one can argue with how well Burrow has played through seven games in 2019. Furthermore, if he continues to ascend over the next few weeks, while Tua recovers from an ankle injury, it is very possible that an NFL team could deem him the guy to carry their franchise to the promise land.

Tankathon.com 3-round mock draft 10/22

With the remaining two picks in the first round #10 & #22, the Miami Dolphins fill two voids on their depleted roster.  At #10, Miami selects Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb, who will make an immediate impact in Miami’s offense.

At #22, the Dolphins select Penn State pass-rusher, Yetur Gross-Matos.  Truth is, aside from Vince Biegel and Taco Charlton, Miami has struggled mightily to get pressure on the QB.  So, Gross-Matos would instantly fill a void and help fix one of the worst defenses in all of football.

With the 33rd-overall pick, the Dolphins pick arguably the most explosive running back in all of college football, Jonathan Taylor.  Taylor would fill an instant need with Kenyan Drake on his way out and Kalen Ballage seemingly irrelevant.  Mark Walton and Taylor would be a perfect 1-2 punch in Chad O’Shea’s offense.

At pick #62 the Dolphins land Iowa offensive lineman Alaric Jackson, to help sure up one of Miami’s weakest units.  Yes, Miami has $130M+ to spend in FA, but they will absolutely turn to the draft to fix their struggling offensive line.

Lastly, Miami selects Utah CB Jaylon Johnson to start opposite of Xavien Howard in the secondary.

This will change many more times between now and April 23, 2020. With that said, how do you feel with Tankathon’s latest mock draft?

Josh Houtz (@houtz) is a die-hard fan of the Miami Dolphins, and is okay (I guess) with #BlowForBurrow

Manny Diaz: Kicker Camden Price is “in the mix” vs. Pittsburgh

The cliche that is used for quarterback competitions is now relevant for the Miami Hurricanes when it comes to kicking.

If you have three kickers, you have none.

The last three Miami offensive drives against Georgia Tech ended with a missed field goals. The worst part is that none of them were longer than 35 yards.

Turner Davidson looked like the new kicker after a perfect performance against Virginia but after three made extra points, he missed a 34 yard field goal in the third quarter and Bubba Baxa came in to miss a 27-yarder in the fourth quarter. Davidson went back in and his 25-yarder got blocked and the Hurricanes went on to lose 28-21 in overtime.

“You’ve got to count on your guys to make kicks when we’ve got the ball [inside] the 20-yard line,” Miami head coach Manny Diaz said. “I mean, that’s got to be worth three. We’re not asking them to kick very difficult kicks. The thing is, they are kicks that they make at an almost 100-percent rate in practice, so they’ve got to be able to turn that over to the game.”

On the season, Miami is 6-of-13 on field goals, with missed or blocked kicks taking their toll in each of the Hurricanes’ four losses. The Hurricanes might be entering Saturday’s road game against Pittsburgh with another new kicker. Camden Price was unavailable for two games prior to last Saturday due to undisclosed reasons but was warming up during overtime as if he was going to kick the extra point should the Hurricanes have scored.

Should Price get his shot, the obstacle that he or any of the kickers must hurdle over is a mental. The pressure is already there it only rises which each miss until it turns into a downward spiral similar to being flushed down the toilet. These kickers may look elite in practice but the switch seemed to be turned off when the crowd is present but at some point that should change.

One thing is for certain, the support from teammates is there and is real.

“We can’t do anything but love them up, but there’s also a standard for them as well,” Miami linebacker Shaq Quarterman said. “It’s not above anybody. It’s not above me. It’s not above the coaches. So we love them up, but we hold them accountable.”

 

 

Preston Williams header

Preston Williams: ‘We believe in Fitz’

DAVIE  — Preston Williams’ expression immediately brightened Monday at the mention of veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s hell-bent dash to the end zone the previous day in Buffalo.

Fitzpatrick capped his 11-yard touchdown run by lowering his right shoulder and plowing into the final defender to cross the goal line.

“We believe in Fitz. We love Fitz,” said Williams, the rookie wide receiver. “He’s a hard-nosed quarterback.”

Six games into the season, the Dolphins still don’t have a win. But it is clear the young team has found a leader to rally behind in Fitzpatrick.

Fitz energizes young teammates

The easy-going 36-year-old quarterback came off the bench the previous week against Washington to direct two touchdown drives in a comeback that fell just short in a 17-16 near miss.

Sunday, Fitzpatrick started for the first time since Week 2 and had the Dolphins leading 14-9 in the second half before throwing an interception that provided the Bills impetus for a 31-21 victory.

More from Maven: Walton, Gesicki show promise in entertaining loss

Fitzpatrick’s touchdown gallop cut the margin to three points with 1:45 remaining before the Bills returned an onsides kick attempt for the clinching touchdown.

But Williams said the difference has been profound over the past five quarters since Fitzpatrick replaced second-year quarterback Josh Rosen.

“Energy, great leadership,” Williams said of Fitzpatrick. “Being a 14-, 15-year vet, just keeping everybody positive. Knowing that we’re a young team, Fitz is one of the only veterans here. We’re just taking his wisdom and knowledge and spreading [it] over all of us. We need that.”

Williams leads receivers

Williams, undrafted out Colorado State, has quickly become a go-to-receiver for both quarterbacks. He leads the team with 23 catches for 314 yards, a 13.7-yard average, and one touchdown.

But his fumble after a catch in the fourth quarter figured prominently in the Bills’ comeback Sunday.

Williams is a big target at 6 feet 5, and his talent has been apparent since offseason practices and training camp.

He acknowledged it has been a learning process. Early on there were some dropped passes.

“The game is slowing down to me. It was very fast the first couple games. My mindset was just trying to not mess up. Just trying to be more consistent,” Williams said.

While the fumble was a step back, Williams has become more assertive in his routes and reactions in recent weeks.

“I’m not known for dropping balls,” he said. “The game was kind of fast. Just trying to get chemistry with both quarterbacks at the time. You can see it’s getting better.”

Fitz may end victory drought

Following Sunday’s game Fitzpatrick said he believes he is the perfect man to lead this rebuilding team.

Despite the objective of the Dolphins front office to achieve the No. 1 draft pick in 2020, the past five quarters showed Fitzpatrick has the moxie to lead this unheralded bunch to a win or two.

“I want to bring an energy. I want what I’m doing out there to be infectious to other guys,” Fitzpatrick said. “We have a lot of young guys that haven’t really played much at this level, and we have some guys that are a year or two into it. But I want to be that ‘stable guy’ that they can look to when things get a little shaky, and I’ve been in this situation a lot before.”

Williams’ smile was evidence that he and his young teammates are eager to follow their bearded leader.

Craig Davis has covered South Florida sports and teams, including the Dolphins, for four decades. Follow him on Twitter @CraigDavisRuns

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Christian Wilkins remorseful about emotional outburst

Christian Wilkins

Dolphins rookie Christian Wilkins remorseful over emotional outburst

Football is an emotional game. When your team is 0-5 and desperately trying to hang onto any semblance of hope, that emotion can be amplified. That was the case with rookie defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, who found himself ejected from the game almost the moment it started.

Some would argue that the punch Wilkins threw wasn’t enough to warrant an ejection, but the referees felt differently. Wilkins sat out the rest of the game, watching as the Dolphins came close to pulling off their first victory of the season. Unfortunately for the players, they fell apart in the second half – a recurring pattern – and ultimately lost by a score of 21 to 31.

“I was just really extremely selfish.” Wilkins said after the game. “This is the ultimate team sport. It’s not just about me and I don’t think I’ve ever been more disappointed in myself about something, especially something that was in my control. It really, really shouldn’t have happened, there’s no place for it in this game and that is not the standard I hold myself to. Because I love this game I try to respect this game as much as possible and play it as competitively as possible. This game is meant to be competitive, not combative at all. I really let myself down and my teammates down in just a selfish moment so early in the game.”

Anyone who knows Christian Wilkins describes him as a humble, fun-loving guy who is passionate about football. Throwing a punch seems so out of character for him. Even Wilkins himself couldn’t believe he’d done it.

“It just happened so quickly, it was only the second play of the game.” Wilkins said. “I just tried to come into the game with some energy on edge and just fired up. It’s an emotional game. So again like I said it all happened so fast but there’s no place for it in this game and just no place for it for me because I don’t want that reputation on myself. That’s not something I’m proud of, that’s not something I intended on doing coming into this game or anything like that.”

Wilkins, 23, has not been the playmaker everyone expects him to be in his rookie year. Through six games, Wilkins has only 18 tackles and a pass deflection. Those aren’t the numbers of a first round draft pick. However, his role at Clemson was to open the way for other players to make players. That, also, isn’t happening. It’s hard to stay positive when losing seems to be the agenda. The level of talent is so low on the roster, there isn’t much anyone can do.

However, this one isolated incident should not be a cause for concern. Christian Wilkins isn’t the type of guy to regularly pick fights. It’s unlikely he’ll become the next Ndamukong Suh, with a reputation for dirty plays. Wilkins is clearly contrite over his mistake, and intends to not make it again.

“You know, it’s just a learning experience, too, you live and you learn.” He said. “That’s just a message to myself. A learning experience for my teammates and also a learning experience for people watching at home, kids watching at home. There’s no place for it, you have to play the game the right way.”

It’s clear that the tank is taking its toll on the players. Their desire to win does not coincide with the front office’s roster moves. No doubt, they will keep trying to compete and avoid the dreaded 0-16 season. If they can hang on until 2020, their suffering, hopefully, will be rewarded.

Luis Sung has covered the Miami Dolphins for numerous outlets such as Dolphins Wire for six years. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung

Do you believe in FitzMagic?

FitzMagic Believes he’s the ‘Perfect Man’ to Help Lead Young Dolphins Through Rebuild

When Ryan Fitzpatrick joined the Dolphins earlier this year, he was just thankful for an opportunity to start.  And although it hasn’t been all sunshine and roses, the 36-year old QB continues to show the world why he was given the nickname #FitzMagic.

Last week, Fitzpatrick was brought in late in the third quarter to try and spark Miami’s offense-and that’s exactly what he did.  His impressive performance earned him the starting QB spot for Miami’s Week 7 match-up vs Buffalo.  And the man known as #FitzMagic, didn’t disappoint.

Fitzpatrick looked sharp on Sunday, completing 21/31 for 282 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception.  It wasn’t a perfect game but the offense looked light years ahead of what we’ve become accustomed to throughout the first five games of the season.

That’s what he said

Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to get the win.  But Brian Flores liked what he saw from Fitzpatrick so much, that he named him the team’s starting QB for Monday Night’s game vs the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I thought he played well. I thought he moved the ball well offensively. I thought he made some good throws. I thought he got out of some trouble. They got a good pass rush, he got out of trouble a couple times and made some plays for us. We got to continue to build and get better, and finish a game. We gotta finish the game.”

When asked if Fitzpatrick did enough to warrant the start Monday at Pittsburgh, Flores kept things short and sweet.

“I mean, yeah, he played well. So, yes, he did.”

The Dolphins will take on the 2-4 Pittsburgh Steelers in Northwest Pennsylvania next Monday Night.  And if there was ever a game the Dolphins should be invested in winning, it’s this one.  After all, the Steelers traded their first-round pick to the Dolphins in exchange for DB Minkah Fitzpatrick.  The more games Pittsburgh loses, the better the draft pick.

So is it possible for the win-less Dolphins to overcome all odds and defeat the superior Steelers’ on prime time? Ryan Fitzpatrick was asked what he could do to help turn an 0-6 team around, much like he did a previous 0-8 team.

“Well, and I said this at the beginning, I think I’m the perfect man for the job, because I’ve been through it, I have zero ego, and all I want to do is go out there and win. I want to bring an energy. I want what I’m doing out there to be infectious to other guys. We have a lot of young guys that haven’t really played much at this level, and we have some guys that are a year or two into it. But I want to be that ‘stable guy’ that they can look to when things get a little shaky, and I’ve been in this situation a lot before. It’s something that I embrace. I’ve had a different career than a lot of different quarterbacks, but this has been a career that I’ve loved and a position that I like being in.”

In #FitzMagic We Trust

Josh Houtz (@houtz) is a die-hard fan of the Miami Dolphins, and believes in #FitzMagi

Miami Heat suspend Dion Waiters before zero tolerance season

“I let the culture slip.”

With those words — spoken after last season by Miami Heat president Pat Riley — you knew the next season would be different. Riley felt burned after he gave much-criticized lucrative long-term contracts to non-stars in 2016 and 2017 and then those players returned the reward by slacking on their conditioning.

And before it even begins, this season is different.

First, Riley banished James Johnson from training camp not for failing the conditioning test — he passed — but for failing to meet Riley’s special weight requirement.

Now, Dion Waiters, who had weight issues last season but got himself in better shape this offseason, has been told he isn’t “in Heat shape” by Erik Spoelstra (we posted that video), and has been steered toward a bench role as Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro have gotten preseason starts.

And he’s been openly unhappy about it.

So now he’s been suspended for one game.

Notice the language.

“Number of unacceptable incidents.”

Remember Waiters telling Ira Winderman that he wasn’t cool with coming off the bench, even after he flourished in that role against Charlotte in the third preseason game?

Remember this from Spoelstra about what he wants from Waiters, which Waiters then somewhat contradicted right after?

Here was Waiters:

There was some speculation that Waiters was away from the team for three days this week after Charlotte game because of a disciplinary action, though my sources did confirm an actual personal issue unrelated to his unhappiness.

Even so, it doesn’t seem to be stopping.

Here are some tweets that tell the story:

 

Instagram always remembers, and this doesn’t appear that it is going away anytime soon. Unless Waiters ends up elsewhere:

We know how this goes.

Just ask Hassan Whiteside. In Portland.