Coach Tony Sparano just finished his post-practice presser with the media and we are more intelligent as a result.
By the way, I love this guy! Everytime he talks, I learn something.
But I digress. As you read in the previous post, I hope, Matt Roth has been a big topic of conversation today. Check out the previous post to find out about his injury status following groin surgery three months ago.
Sparano said Roth has come a long way from last season. "His recognition of coverages and formations is outstanding," Sparano said. It has become so good, the coach said, that Roth is now reacting instinctively rather than thinking.
As a result, Roth is concentrating on his "punch" and "hand placement," which should get better this year. Roth will be the starting strongside linebacker unless something unforeseen happens.
Another player that is impressing coaches is Ted Ginn Jr. You know I wrote my Sunday column about the Dolphins search for a No. 1 receiver. I wrote Ginn has to become that guy. Some of you said the Dolphins don't need a No. 1 receiver to be effective.
And Sparano disagrees with you.
"It's important to me to have a clear No. 1 receiver," Sparano said. "... I'd like to find a clear No. 1 guy that I'm comfortable with and Chad [Pennington] is comfortable with that can come up with the big play."
And Ginn, I am convinced, continues to be the most likely candidate to be that guy because he is opening some eyes with his improvement this offseason -- improvement that is at or near the top of his class.
"Ted Ginn right now, if you said to me, 'Tell the me the player that in the seven or eight practices we've had has impressed you the most,' Ted Ginn is in the top two right now," Sparano said. "The way he's handling himself out there and the way the offense has started to slow down for him that way. I've seen him in some situations be pretty dominant."
Ted Ginn as "dominant." That is a welcome sentence for Dolphins fans.
"I've been impressed with what Ted Ginn has done," said Sparano, who declined to name the other player in his top two.
Guard Andy Alleman, who has missed practically all the OTA practices, continues to struggle with what Sparano called a sore back. "We can't get it comfortable enough for him to go out there do football things right now," the coach said.
On the quarterback front, look for colleague Jeff Darlington's interesting piece on an Internet Chad Pennington imposter coming in the next few hours online and in Wednesday's Miami Herald. And on the Chad Henne front, look for more good things said about Miami's current backup and future starter.
Sparano says he continues to see faster decision-making and clearer identification from Henne, who showed up to begin offseason work in the weight room and film room about six weeks before the rest of the players.
"Mentally, he's done a lot of work," Sparano said.
I told you in the previous post that rookie cornerback Sean Smith has jumped up to first-team work today. He apparently earned that status with his work in previous practice sessions. One interesting thing is Dolphins coaches didn't inform the rookie he was working with the first unit until just prior to the start of practice.
"First of all, we wanted to not give him too much time to think about the whole thing," Sparano said. "We just put him there this morning and told him he'd get reps with the first group.
"He's been getting better and better each practice. Had a real good practice yesterday. As he starts to progess we wanted to see him versus better people."
Finally, you should know the Dallas Cowboys have cut ties with OLB Greg Ellis. The player Bill Parcells converted from a defensive end to a linebacker is now a free agent and you'll likely hear speculation linking him to the Dolphins. Don't buy into it, as a source tells me he simply doesn't fit from a salary cap and depth chart standpoint.
Ellis, 33, will want somewhere between $2-$4 million per season from his next team. The Dolphins don't have that kind of space to spend on the OLB position, particularly with Roth still unsigned for the 2010 season. They also have half a dozen OLB types already on the roster, with all but two of those under the age of 30.
That doesn't totally shut the door on Ellis in Miami. But just about.
[BLOG NOTE: Be sure to click on the previous blog entery that tells you some of the things that happened during Tuesday's work on the field. And be certain to answer the question at the end of that post.]