Newcomer Foster placed on PUP by Dolphins at start of camp
DAVIE, Fla. (AP) University of Michigan alum Stephen Ross has the Wolverines' fight song for his ring tone, and it went off as his other team - the Miami Dolphins - was about to take the field for the first training camp practice Friday morning.
The Dolphins owner pulled his cellphone out of his pocket and answered the call.
''Hello, Jim?'' Ross said.
Ross was joking, although he and Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh do talk often. And Harbaugh won't be the Dolphins' next coach, Ross said, because it would be too awkward prying him away from Ann Arbor.
''He's not coming here,'' Ross said. ''I've got my name on too many building up there. But we don't have to worry - we have a great guy.''
That's to be determined, starting with Friday's practice. The Dolphins opened camp under Adam Gase, their ninth coach since 2004, and his assignment is to end an eight-year playoff drought.
In July, even the Dolphins are optimistic.
''Everybody starts undefeated and with great expectations,'' Ross said. ''This year I'm particularly excited. I think we've done a lot in the organization over the last year. I'm excited as I can be.''
The Dolphins promoted Chris Grier to general manager in January, and he and executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum have brought in 45 new players for the new coaching staff.
Gase began sorting it all out on a typically sweltering summer morning. The energy level was high, and sustaining that will be the challenge, Gase said.
''The first day of practice, everybody's excited to get back out there,'' Gase said. ''The telling part's going to be when we're about six or seven days into this thing and in full pads. Where are we going to be then?''
Word of the first reinforcement came during practice, when the Dolphins learned defensive end Dion Jordan has been reinstated by the NFL after serving a suspension for 15 months for his latest violation of the league's substance abuse policy. Jordan can participate in meetings and conditioning work immediately, and is expected to join practice soon.
Miami began camp without five players who went on the active-physically unable to perform list, including four-time Pro Bowl running back Arian Foster, who is recovering from Achilles tendon surgery last season. Also put on PUP were cornerbacks Bobby McCain and Xavien Howard, running back Damien Williams and linebacker Zach Vigil.
All are day to day, Gase said, which means they could join practice soon.
The absences of McCain and Howard compound worries at cornerback, perhaps Miami's thinnest position. And there's little experience at running back without Foster, who signed a $1.5 million, one-year deal this month with Miami and is expected to compete for backup duty behind second-year pro Jay Ajayi.
Despite the injuries, camp began with players confident the Dolphins are headed in the right direction under their new coach.
''The culture we're building is good,'' quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. ''I think that guys have the right mindset as a team.''
Reviews of the squad's condition were mixed. Among those making a positive impression was four-time Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake, who is only nine months removed from Achilles tendon surgery.
''It doesn't surprise me, because the guy is a physical freak,'' Gase said.
But when asked if everyone passed the conditioning test, Gase managed a weak smile.
''Maybe not,'' he said.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL
Follow Steven Wine on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Steve-Wine. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/steven-wine