« Sparano's take on Tuesday's OTA workout | Main | The most dominant player on the Dolphins? »

A look at the Dolphins cornerback position

The Dolphins are an intriguing team right now because they promise so many fascinating story lines based on the coming competition in training camp.

One position that is of particular interest to me is the cornerback spot. The group is bursting at the seams with competition. Outside of Will Allen, who pretty much has a lock on his starting spot, everything else is up for grabs.

A starting job in the base defense is up for grabs. A starting job in the nickel package is up for grabs. And two or three roster spots are up for grabs. It's a big grab bag, everybody!

Let's start with Miami's philosophy on cornerbacks so you can carry this into the future as the team makes roster decisions, draft decisions and decisions on free agents:

“I think a big part of our philosophy, when I say our philosophy, me, Bill [Parcells] and Jeff [Ireland], has always been to have big corners," coach Tony Sparano said. "It really has. So we like big corners. In fact, we’ll take smaller corners in some situations off the [draft] board. And they might just be good players for other people just maybe not for us. So we kind of really wanted to have big corners. It’s something that we believe in."


"They’re a little bit more physical and you can do maybe a few more things with them in some situations but I would also say yes. To answer your question. Randy Moss, now Terrell Owens. Those type of people in this division. Just knowing Terrell, just being with him and how he approaches some of the smaller corners, there’s certainly a history versus Randy, in those type of situations you better have some big, strong people that can compete against these guys because they’re big, strong, physical receivers that can’t take over a game and I think that you need to be prepared when you’re playing against them and of course for us, our division is first and foremost.”

OK, so that's one reason the Dolphins loved Vontae Davis (5-11 and 203 pounds) and Sean Smith (6-3 and 214) in the draft. That is also a reason Jason Allen (6-1, 200) has lasted as long as he has.

That settled, look at Miami's cornerback situation. Eric Green was basically handed the starting job at the start of this offseason and it was up to him not to give it up. All he had to do was improve at the same rate and pace as what rookies Davis or Smith did and the job was his because of his built-in experience.

He couldn't do it.

On Tuesday, after an excellent practice Monday, Smith passed Green. The Dolphins bounced Green to second-team and promoted Smith to first team. Now the competition for the starting job is officially on.

Smith had flashed while competing against second-team players so the Dolphins wanted to see what he might do against better players, against starting-caliber receivers. There is no doubt Smith may have some difficult moments against the varsity. But he will be evaluated on whether he seems over his head, whether he continues to improve with each practice repetition, and whether he can be around the ball as often against starters as he was against reserves.

Smith's improvement has been eye-popping for its speed. The first OTA session open to the media I noticed fellow rookie Patrick Turner was pretty much dominating Smith. Turner caught passes in front of and behind Smith. And even in tight coverage, Turner was catching the ball over Smith.

The OTA session open to the media last week told a different tale. Smith was all over Turner. Smith seemed to have jumped up a couple of notches and was now getting the better of the matchup.

So what does that mean?

It means Smith has flashed enough to suggest he can compete for the starting job. It means he is not only freakishly big for a corner, but is apparently a quick learner and is improving with the work. It means he's absorbing the coaching pretty well.

He hasn't won the competition by any means. In fact, he can just as easily fall back to second-team behind Green or Davis. But he's in the mix.

“He’s been getting better and better each practice and getting his hands on more footballs," Sparano said. "He is playing a little more confident. He had a real good practice yesterday. So as he starts to progress a little bit we just want to see him versus better people.  So everybody is kind of going to get an opportunity a little bit here to get some reps with that group and it was his day today.” 

Green can still recover. He is the safe fallback position. He is more experienced. You know what you're going to get with him when the pads go on. He is insurance.

The obvious question that remains is where that leaves Davis? Davis was, after all, the first-round selection. He is the guy who came to the Dolphins with a better draft grade and higher expectations. Well, he's fallen slightly behind the other two.

But that is not a permanent situation.

Davis can still make this a three-man race to the starting job. He will get some time with the starting unit to see if he plays up to the competition. I do not know why exactly he hasn't improved as rapidly as Smith to this point. I don't even know that Davis has done anything wrong. I do know Smith is just doing a lot of things right of late.

The Dolphins have 15 defensive backs in camp right now. Nine of those defensive backs are cornerbacks -- Green, Joey Thomas, Davis, Will Allen, Jason Allen, Will Billingsley, Smith, Nathan Jones and Scorpio Babers.

The Dolphins will keep between six and eight out of this group, depending on what happens at safety.

With Davis, Will Allen, and Smith pretty much on the team, that leaves maybe four roster spots open. No, I'm not giving Green a certain roster spot. He's likely to make the team. It would be a huge upset if he doesn't. But what if he's terrible in the preseason? He's got to earn his way on rather than be annointed.

That means there are six players vying for three or four spots. The breakdown of the five not yet mentioned:

Nathan Jones finished last season in the dime package and is running with the first team there. He's in a good spot to stick.

Jason Allen is running with the third team now but he's been a productive special teams player and he still represents a sizeable gash to the salary cap if he's cut. It'll be a tough call.

Babers is running with the third team also so he's a longshot. Thomas, frankly, shows as a special teams guy but has not really stood out in the practices I've watched, which admittedly are a small sample size of what is truly going on.

Billingsley has shown raw ability but is currently in a numbers crunch. He also is a longshot.



TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference A look at the Dolphins cornerback position:


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Lol! Menace, why you make imposter Chad Pennington twitter???? I know it was you because it said he was talking about downing a 40oz Porterhouse. lol

If everything works out in the secondary... a big IF given last year, our defense is looking pretty darn good. Gibril Wilson will give us lots of time near the line for safety blitzes and run stops, we have pass rushers (Porter & Taylor) and big Jason Ferguson in the middle. So if all goes well where do you think we'll rank... maybe top 5???

Don't forget. When the pads come on is when we find out who has what it takes. These boys aren't taking hits tight now. Once that is added into the equation, it's a whole new ball game!

First Baby!!

Vontae Davis is a hard hitter and much more physical player than Smith... I am happy that Smith is doing so well, but look for Davis to gain some ground when they start playing with more contact...

I bet j Allen sticks.

ALA. armando just said that Allen is a sure starter,can 't you think about some thing to add

This is boring. Mando tell us your prediction on who starts on off and def. What type of stats they should have if they stay healthy. give us more

Soulja. I got your Post from yesterday. Yeah ! our boy sean smith is looking good , but like you said, we need to wait until the pads come on . He seems to be a smart football player.

Sounds like we win another draft. We need a big corner to handle the Mosses and Owens of this division.

Mando you left out the fact that Davis played with the first team the other day. Sparano said he got Davis in one day and Smith got his chance yesterday.

I love the philosophy this regime has for filling a need. They simply don't draft one guy and hope he does the job. They draft two to fill the hole. It's such a smart philosophy.

We saw them do it by drafting Langford and Merling last year at DE and then drafting Thomas and Shawn Murphy at OG. This year they did it at CB with Davis and Smith and WR with Hartline and Turner

I guess they figure the odds are low that they miss on two guys. If one guy succeeds they hole is plugged. If both guys hit then it goes from a weakness to a position of strength.

Refreshing to see the franchise in such good hands after what Wannstedt started.

Mark. no offense , but This philosophy has been talked about a million times. There were story's written about it before and after the draft ( with examples ). it was talked about extensivley on here. This isn't a new revelation. LOL

Apparently, you either weren't listening, or you didn't understand the Coach when he said that they were moving CBs around nearly daily and a lot of guys are getting a shot at a starting spot. Smith's presence with the varsity yesterday was one of those "shots". You cannot conclude from one open OTA, especially in light of the coach's above comment, that Eric Green didn't hold onto his starting spot.

Why is it so hard for you to print what is stated rather than jump to conclusions which conflict with the facts?

you know dolphins will be a great team next year and the clues are;

1- the team's voice is only one guy,the coach
2-all the ink in the media is only about the positive mentality of this team.
3- all focus on the young and new players and who's better to start in every position ,not like the old days when all the media focused on one two guys.

Vontae Davis is gonna star oposite allen!!!!!

Agua, you are free to believe you know the whole story based on what the coach says for public consumption. I will give you that stuff.

And so you can buy into stuff like, "Ernest Wilford is working hard and improving," every week of practice even though he rarely is active on game day.

But I will also impart what I know based on what I'm told privately. Hope you understand the difference.

NJ PHIN FAN, I never said it wasn't talked about, I was just pointing out how refreshing it was for Miami management to attack the team deficiencies in this manner as opposed to picking one guy or a lot of the times none to plug the hole and just hoping the incumbents get better or some team releases an overpaid veteran.

armando, when you report info ,you should tell fans where it came from, private source or other wise without naming any source .this way they don't rush to respond without having some idea how is your opinion formed.

p.s...this is a good time to do live chat in the next 2 -4 days

Mark, I also like that it creates competition between the two rookies. I think Parcells and company wants as much competition as possible so that one guy doesn't walk in and think he is a lock for the job.

Mark. YUP! It is refreshing.

HvK, this is the full transcript of Tony Sparano's press conference Tuesday:


Nowhere in here does the coach say Davis took first-team snaps. And, in fact, Davis has not taken an entire practice of first-team snaps during any of the previous OTA's open to the media and Sparano has not said he has. Green had been first-team almost exclusively before yesterday.


Thank you for yesterday's OTA film. Have you checked on whether I will be able to get my special ops people into the dolphin facility to plant those listening devices we talked about yesterday? Please advise.

coach , i mailed it to you , as tuna taught us how to it.

p.s...i miss you

Good to see you're on your game today Mando. Deuces.


Correction. The tuna did not teach me how to cheat. I figured that all out on my own. After all, I am the smartest circus midget who ever lived.

P.S. Don't fret, we will be together soon. And I'll give you that foot rub I promised you.

I think that you have to have 4 caliber starting corners. Some teams use 3 wideout formations all day long. You have to have 3 corners here and at least 1 starting caliber to rotate. That said, I dont really care who the top two will be ei: allen and smith, as long as we have 4 good ones: allen, smith, davis, green.

It would be a shame if davis is not starting, but just shows you how smith would be the steal of the draft.


In a pinch, which of these dudes could play WR in the redzone? If turner goes down, do you insert a guy like smith on offense?

coach, you are dumb, they all did it but some did it better.

p.s...your choice of creepy words is great , do you on the water ?


My coach is busy right now. He's cutting up some ugly gray hoodies preparing for the upcoming season.

Hey, if you get a chance, can you drop a line to my bastard kid for me? My boss, er, wife doesn't let me talk to her. Thanks.

I ve read same thing about davis running with 1st team cuz allen missed some time


My coach is busy right now cutting up some ugly gray hoodies preparing for the upcoming season. He's not happy that you said he was dumb. You can forget that foot rub now. He's giving one to me instead.

Hey, if you get a chance, can you drop a line to my illegit kid for me? My boss....er....wife won't let me talk to her. Thanks.

gopats what you think about menace making imposter twitter of chad pennington?

I think Davis is the youngest out of the bunch and his head is probably swimming with info right now... Also, Davis playing on the second team doesn't mean he isn't playing well. There are only two spots. Smith is just playing better right now.

ive been watching my dvd's of games from last year and every time Joey Thomas was in the game, he was attacked and burned so im surprised hes even still there

Sean Smith getting first team reps is very good news. He was supposed to be a bit of a project. If he just gets meaningful playing time this year (never mind starting), that wouold be a huge win for the team.

carlito, tell me more about that story of cuban and chad.p

Nice to see Matt Roth doing well this offseason. Supposedly he was playing with a torn groin last year, and he still managed to have 5 sacks and be great against the run.
Now he actually knows the position (unlike last year when he switched positions in the middle of camp) and he is healthy. I am very interested to see what he can do this year. If he can manage 8 sacks, keep stuffing the run, and not be a liability in coverage, maybe he gets a contract extension to be the permanent starting OLB. He'll need to wreak havoc this year to get that contract. I'll be watching him a lot this year.

gopats go see Miami Herald sports page and read article. Some one made an imposter twitter account as Chad P. I know it must be the menace because article say that imposter posted this

"put down a 40-ounce Porterhouse, two baked potatoes, zucchini and a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon for dinner last Thursday night."

this sentence have mark of cuban menace all over it

carlito ,since i am smarter than you , that wasn't he cuban for three reasons;

1-the choice of wine is very funny , it's high end wine and the cuban never included wine in any comments before.

2-cuban doesn't believe in any veggie.
3-why would he say reader not a follower ,as you he never write any extra if he doesn't need to.

the person who wrote that could a team mate

Mando the story about smith in palm beach post blog said davis ran with starters because w allen missed practice. Maybe media wasn't allowed that day

Here are my thoughts on cornerbacks. When you are backed into a corner, you want a good corner back to have your back. My dad - who when none of us kids would scratch his back for him, would use the outside corner of the L shaped wall between the living and dining room to scratch his back. Then he would chase us kids around the house with an axe as we screamed in terror. Good old dad.

gopats you are very classless and trashy person to always talk bad about other people to make you feel much better. You are not smart like you think for 3 reasons.

1. cabernet sauvignon is not always high end wine, it is type of grape that can make wines both high and low end.

2. cabernet sauvignon goes good with red meat and the cuban knows this for sure. Baked potato and zucchini is hardly healthy vegetable.

3. I'm sure if we could read whole twitter post it would say that Chad P. ate this meal at Offerdahl's steak house with friend Parcells who ate old 96'er

Quite right, Carlito old boy! There are some wonderful wine bargains when shopping for a a good Cab. You don't necessarily need to break the so called 'bank', which incidentally, my
caddie-chaufer informs me is a place where people put money that is not properly invested.

- Best.

carlito, any brand has high end and low end but the one i buy and drink is high since we are talking on a blog , so i can say any thing but t really , the only thing on that post in common w/ cuban is the 40 oz steak.

p.s...are we be coming friends now ,? hope until further notice .

Thanks for the correction Mando. I watched the video and mistook when he said everyone was getting their opportunity and a previous video where he said he was getting Davis in there (i don't remember were "there" meant)

Keep up the good work.

That's right Davis was in on the first team the other morning when allen was out.

Gopats/carlito/menace. Who are you kidding ? The only wines you know and drink are boones- farm and MD 20/20. Grape and orange jubilee a You're drunken Bum.

ace has a big az of high end and loves long zuccini

Ok Guys, the rumor of the cuban as " chad p" is not true, the reason the menace mentions the 96 oz porter house from shulas is because that is a true story bout " The Tuna"

we need to know if cuban loves zucchini or not before we trust him again

B.t.w, the 96oz porterhouse is huge , you have to be "a Parcells size guy" (what ever that means) to even think about tackling that sucker

The Menace loves all steaks and loves bake potato's, also loves long walks on the beach, and the mussings of nathanal doddsworth.

The Menace loves all steaks and loves bake potato's, also loves long walks on the beach, and the mussings of nathanal doddsworth.

The Menace loves all steaks and loves bake potato's, also loves long walks on the beach, and the mussings of nathanal doddsworth.

cuban, in high end places people orders one thick porterhouse for 3 or 4 people and served as one piece or filet also served for 2 -4 people in one big piece grilled and served w/sauce on the side ,the server always cut the meat and served nicely on the plate to each.

p.s..are you sure the 96 oz was only for tuna ?

Did any one saw what Cuban posted on twitter ? did he really did what they say he did ? i for one believe it

Gopats, i witnessed this gastro-orgy myself in nov of last year, i still have nightmares of that nite.

Gopats, i witnessed this gastro-orgy myself in nov of last year, i still have nightmares of that nite.

I agree that our defense is going to be VASTLY improved this year. I see the middle as the weakness right now. Ferguson is solid but long in the tooth. I wouldn't expect him to last the entire year without an injury, plus he needs rest too. I'm not completely sold on the Channing-Akin tandem. I think Akin is a very very good backup, but we need an @ss kicker in there. I guess that will be addressed next draft. Secondary looks to be good for several years now. OLB is solid for this year. We'll need to upgrade starting next season though.

Talk about a long in the tooth defense, have you seen the senior citizens the Fagriots are going to run out this year? What a joke. They should trade for Vernon Gholston. Oh, wait, he sucks. Never mind.

1 2 »

The comments to this entry are closed.