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Long impresses at first day of Dolphins minicamp

DAVIE, Fla. -- Jake Long managed to make a big impression on a couple of his rookie teammates in his first practice with the Miami Dolphins on Friday.

The Dolphins opened their three-day rookie minicamp on Friday with 39 players, including Long, the first overall pick in the draft. On a simple running play toward the end of practice, the 6-foot-7, 315-pound tackle locked up defensive tackle Lionel Dotson, the Dolphins' seventh-round pick, and drove him to the ground.

 Earlier, he showed off his mobility to fourth-round pick Shawn Murphy, a guard.

"We were doing foot drills and just watching his feet, he has great body control," said Murphy, the son of former Atlanta Braves slugger Dale Murphy. "He's tough, he's strong, he's got arms that are about 10 feet long. He looks like a power forward out there."

For Long, Friday's practice represented an opportunity to begin showing why the Dolphins made him the top pick and gave him a five-year contract worth $57.75 million.

"There's definitely pressure," Long said. "I have that over my head every single day. That pushes me to go out and work as hard as I can and prove to people that I earned that No. 1 spot and earned the money."

Before Long went out for practice, Dolphins' head coach Tony Sparano said he wanted to see confidence, mobility and power from the mammoth tackle this weekend.

"Just on first impression, I see him go through bag drills, I see him do some of those things," said Sparano, a former offensive line coach. "In individual (drills), you can see some flashes and some power and some of those things, but we have a long way to go here."

Long wore number 79 on Friday, but said negotiations might begin soon with second-year guard Drew Mormino for number 77, which Long has worn since high school.

"We'll see what happens," Long said. "But I like 79. My little brother (Joe) wears 79; 79 is a great number, too."

One thing that remained the same from Long's college days was the presence of quarterback Chad Henne. His former Michigan teammate was drafted in the second round with the second of Miami's two picks in the round.

"I've been in some situations where we've gone out there and the quarterback, quite honestly, hasn't been able to get the play out of his mouth on Day 1," Sparano said. "Chad was very good that way today. He took control of the huddle, thought he managed the team fine at the line of scrimmage."

Henne, a four-year starter at Michigan, was the second quarterback taken in the second round by the Dolphins in the last two years following the selection of John Beck in 2007.

Henne, Beck and free agent acquisition Josh McCown will battle for the privilege of becoming Miami's fifth different opening-day starting quarterback in as many years.

"We have a quarterback competition here," Sparano said. "At the end of this, we're going to find out who the best quarterback is.

Henne said Friday he was completely healthy following a senior season where he battled knee and ankle problems, as well as a slightly separated throwing shoulder.

"I think definitely injuries hindered our season, especially myself," Henne said. "Especially going through a separation in my right shoulder. Five games I had to get injections to numb it up and try to play through it."

Also declaring himself 100 percent healthy on Friday was defensive end Phillip Merling, the first pick of the second round.

Merling, who underwent surgery for a sports hernia in March, said he felt good enough to have gone through a full-contact workout. There will be no full-contact practice this weekend. But the Dolphins will be back on the field for two practices Saturday.

"Today was fun. It was a short practice. I wanted to keep going," Long said. "I'm excited that we've got two tomorrow."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.

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