DANA POINT, Calif. -- Just had breakfast with Tony Sparano.
I had the scrambled eggs and bacon and bagel with cream cheese and home fries.
He had oatmeal.
And he and I and about 10 other reporters talked Dolphins football. Some highlights:
Sparano confirmed my report in today's Miami Herald that Chad Henne will be getting a lot of playing time in the coming preseason and, is in fact, the future of the franchise at QB. [Update 5: "We want to get Henne as much work right now as we can get him, in the spring, as we get on in these OTAs and in preseason," he said. "That's our time to find out. That really is ... He'll play a lot. We'd like to see him a lot in the preseason."]
You might ask why all this love for Henne one year after Pennington had a stellar season? Why this eagerness to get him ready? Here's the most telling quote that should make you drool at the possibilities of a Miami passing game with Henne at the helm: "With him you see the ball jump off his hand," Sparano said.
Sparano mentioned John Beck as an afterthought almost. "It'll be tough to get John work," the coach said. Said he's in a tough situation and that his first worry should be competing with Henne. I think Beck's first worry should be getting traded. He is definitely available.
Sparano said the team will use recently acquired defensive lineman Tony McDaniel as a defensive end to start with, not a nose tackle. That can change later on. The nose tackle spot is manned by Jason Ferguson and Sparano included Joe Cohen and Paul Soliai as players who will get a chance to play there also.
Sparano made no secret of the fact the Dolphins are desperately looking for pass rush. Obviously that is an area that will be addressed in the draft, but Sparano said there are some players on the roster that intrigue him in that regard. They are Charlie Anderson, Derek Cameron Wake, Matt Roth and Erik Walden.
Sparano called newly acquired cornerback Eric Green a guy, "with something to prove." Not exactly a ringing endorsement.
[Update 2: Sparano said injured receiver Greg Camarillo and injured left guard Justin Smiley, "right now they're both doing really well," in the rehab. But he would not say if they will be ready to participate in the team's strength and conditioning program that begins March 30 or in OTA or minicamps.
[Update 3: Unlike some of you, Sparano has no question new starting center Jake Grove will be an upgrade over Samson Satele. Although Grove has struggled to stay on the field because of injuries and really isn't that much different in height and weight than the departed Satele, the coach is confident Grove will be there for games and will stronger at the point of attack against AFC East nose tackes: "We've done our due diligence with the whole thing, obviously," Sparano said. "Jeff and Bill have done a tremendous job of getting into the background of all these guys we've brought here. I don't think that was really a concern of ours at the time. It certainly isn't.
"When you talk to people about Jake and his strength totals and the way he works in the weight room, you certainly get the picture. From our end, our offseason program is something that is important to us and Jake's there on campus right now. He's involved in lifting right now and the program hasn't even started. So we feel like that's something that helped an awful lot of our players last year."
[Update 4: Sparano, a former offensive line coach, cannot hide his like for the offensive line situation. "One of the things, first of all, is these guys have to get healthy," he said. "That's not completely done yet. Guys like Donald Thomas and those kind of guys are a lot further along. So that's good to see. I just feel like in our division, your core, the inside three players, and having Jake Long and Vernon Carey now for a long time, that kind of solidifies an area a lot of these teams are still looking to find. They're all looking for tackles.
"But the core, having to play against [Kris] Jenkins, [Marcus] Stroud, [Vince] Wilfork, that group has to be physically strong enough, physically tough enough to do the things they need to do. I think that's the group, when you look at it, that needs to come along. Justin [Smiley] was playing better when he got injured. We make a move and have Jake Grove in there and that's an opportunity to upgrade that position. Then at the same time, you get Donald Thomas back and now you have [Shawn] Murphy, now you have [Andy] Alleman, and now you got guys that are providing some competition with Joe Berger. That will be a good problem for us."
Sparano said he looks for Ronnie Brown to "take the next step in his progression," now that he's 17 months removed from his knee surgery and has a healthy season to his credit.
[Update 1: On a none-breakfast-with-Tony-front: The NFL announced the top 25 players receiving performanced-based pay based on their playing time and their salary level. The Dolphins had two players that picked up a small fortune based on their playing time. Starting right guard Ikechuku Ndukwe collected $266,912 on top of his regular salary while tight end Anthony Fasano got an extra $252,901 above his regular salary based on his high playing time. Ndukwe ranked 17th among the 25 players collecting most from the program. Fasano was 24th. Beer is on them!]
[Update 6: Sparano said receiver Ernest Wilford will come to camp with the Dolphins, barring a sudden decision by some other team to trade for him, which is unlikely but you never say never. "The plan for Ernest right now will be that he will be in training camp and competing and doing those things," Sparano said.
That Wilford will go to camp, of course, is obvious and any child could figure that out. What you will read only here is the fact Wilford is available in trade for any team interested. The problem for the Dolphins is his bonus would accelerate but that's another matter. If Wilford somehow muddles through camp and makes the team at the last cut, he still might be a candidate for a pay cut, depending on whether the Dolphins can work the timing correctly. It's going to be a loooong road back from 2008 for Wilford.]
[Update 7: The NFL has released its complete draft order and per this, Miami's "undisclosed" seventh rounder to Jacksonville in the Tony McDaniel trade is No. 232, or the second of the three seventh-round picks Miami had before the trade. The Dolphins also have pick No. 214 and pick No. 237, which are both in the seventh round. No. 232 was Miami's own pick as 214 comes from Cleveland and 237 is from Carolina.]
I'll have more later after I transcribe the entire session. So please check back later. I'll be updating about once every 15-30 minutes.