Tony Sparano spent some time today talking with enigmatic outside linebacker Matt Roth. The coach said he wasn't cutting Roth on the spot, or trading him on the spot, or begging him to come back to practice.
"I like to get a feel for how he's feeling after these conditioners we have and that stuff," Sparano said. "It's just getting feedback. I'm constantly trying to get feedback of where he is and how he feels."
Sparano was asked if the Dolphins are closing in on the moment when they have to make a decision on Roth's roster status -- either trading him, or cutting him, or placing him on either the injured reserve or physically unable to perform list, or just getting him on the field and working.
"We'll see," Sparano said.
That answer should raise red flags. The last time Sparano said, "We'll see," the Dolphins cut Eric Green. The time before that when he said, "We'll see," the team signed Connor Barth to compete with Dan Carpenter.
We'll see translates to something is about to happen.
So what is about to happen?
The Dolphins will not be cutting Roth. No team simply releases a player that has worth and is that young unless the player has other "issues."
Moving him off the roster? It is still early to make a decision that would sideline Roth for a significant time, as Miami is not hurting for a roster spot. So putting him on injured reserve, which sidelines Roth for the season, or placing him on PUP, which sidelines him until after the sixth week of the season at the earliest, is probably not something the team must do now.
A trade? That is possible.
The Dolphins can envision a time that Matt Roth is not in their plans. That time is right now, in fact.
"The truth is, and I don't mean this in a bad way because I care about all my players, but you have to worry about the guys that are out there," Sparano said. "You have to go thinking what if [the situation] doesn't get ... I don't know. We'll see where this thing is. I have to worry about at this time, Jason Taylor, Quentin Moses, and the guys that are out there playing."
Sounds like Roth is gone. But it's hard to believe another NFL team will be giving up what Roth is worth at a time he's injured or hurt or whatever he is. It is also hard to believe the Dolphins would jettison Roth in a bargain sale. So the timing for a trade -- right now, at least -- simply doesn't feel right.
That leaves the possibility of Roth returning to practice in the near future. It would not be surprising to see Roth back on the field in the next week or so. If he fails to make it back by Sept. 5 when the team must finalize its 53-man roster, then all the other options, except for cutting him outright, open up.
But right now? We'll see.
As for the rest of the stuff surrounding the Dolphins, Sparano called it "business as usual."
On cutting Ernest Wilford: "I mentioned this a hundred times if I mentioned it once. When you play this many games in this few a days, you have to eventually get your team ready that you think will be your team."
On trading Andy Alleman and Ikechuku Ndukwe to Kansas City: "You're not trading away guys not feeling comfortable with some of the pieces you have here," Sparano said. "Now there are still some things that have to unfold over the next 10 days in that group. But I'm starting to feel more comfortable with that group and where we are and what I think the final vision might be."
On Greg Camarillo playing only 13 plays vs. Carolina while Patrick Turner got 20 meaning something: "We're planning on trying to get him involved a little more this week ... We have five guys, six guys, seven guys that we've been rolling through there. We're trying to get reps for [Anthony] Armstrong. We're trying to get [James] Robinson in the game. It's not an indictment on anybody right now. the the nice thing is some of these people we do have history with, we do know what they can do. So whether [Camarillo] gets 10 plays or 15 plays, it's not relevant to me. It really isn't. I see him out here getting a ton of plays in practice. He's coming along nicely."
On how Vontae Davis played vs. Carolina: "I was pleased with what Vontae did in the game. I liked his look, I said that after the game. Sometimes you can see a player in pregame and see his focus and I thought the kid was pretty focused. He went over and played on the other side which was a good benefit for us. I thought he was active in the game. He had several situations where he made one-on-one tackles and he closed the deal on most of those. And I thought when you watch the film in some of our man stuff, he was in good position most of the time. Now he did make a couple of mistakes in the course of the game that go unseen to the naked eye that we have to make sure we clean up."
On Miami's atrocious special teams play that included allowing a 58-yard punt return and suffering a 15-yard penalty on a kickoff: "We seen some guys get bumped out of their lanes a few times so lane discipline hurt us. [We had] guys not finishing, meaning they're getting to the play but they're not finishing, not tackling, not breaking down properly, a lot of fundamental stuff. It certainly wasn't scheme stuff."
The Dolphins worked on correcting their special teams problems in practice today.