The first practice of the day is over here in sweltering Davie, FL., and I want to share some early knowledge based on some interviews and what I saw at practice.
Everyone is here except defensive linemen Jason Taylor and Randy Starks. Coach Tony Sparano said Starks is an excused absence. Asked if Taylor is excused Sparano seemed uncomfortable for a moment before saying, "No."
Sparano said cornerback Michael Lehan, injured in an OTA practice on Wednesday, will be out a couple of weeks. He said the team would not be looking to add CB help.
Talked to offensive coordinator Dan Henning for a few minutes. He said he was originally asked to come to Miami in an advisory role of sorts. But after speaking with Sparano, he said he got "fired up" about the idea of becoming the offensive coordinator.
And while you can bet the Dolphins offense under Henning will stress running the football, he says that's not all you can do and be successful.
"You have to be strategically flexible," Henning said. "That has to do with who you have first, and what they have second. So if you have a big, burly offensive line group and guys that can run the football, you should lean on that. But if you have guys that are good at stopping that on the other side, you still have to be flexible enough strategically to move out and challenge them in another area.
"You just can't be one-dimensional. You're not going to get it done one-dimensional anymore."
Remember I told you a couple of days ago that defensive end Matt Roth is getting individual work with linebackers?
Well, Roth is working as the starting right defensive end in Miami's 3-4 scheme. But when backups take their repetitions, he is working as a linebacker also. Obviously, being able to have skills at two positions makes Roth more valuable, which is good because last year he showed questionable skills at DE.
I would tell you Bill Parcells included Roth among the list of players he likes along the defensive line when he talked to me about that unit for my story today.
Another tidbit is that Renaldo Hill, who missed much of last season with an ACL injury to his right knee, is at practice today. The guy started in 2006 and the early part of 2007 but is relegated to third-team work right now.
As he progresses from his injury, I believe his skills will flash -- in other words, I think he'll be competing for a starting job when he's healthy.
Charlie Anderson, signed as a free agent from Houston, is playing Taylor's spot. The other LBs are Joey Porter at SAM with Akin Ayodele and Reggie Torbor as the inside backers. Channing Crowder, still recovering from knee surgery at the end of last year, is limited in team drills.